MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the dismissal of Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Jose Vicente Salazar, who was found guilty of two counts of simple misconduct and one count of grave misconduct in connection with various administrative charges filed against him by concerned ERC employees.
The decision was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by authority of the President on Friday.
A statement issued by the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs on Monday, said the dismissal from Grave Misconduct carries with it all accessory penalties, including the perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
Concerned ERC employees have alleged, among others, that Salazar usurped the power of the ERC as a collegial body when he unilaterally issued orders in connection with the application for the renewal of the Electric Power Purchase Agreements (EPPAs) to several distribution utilities; and when he appointed certain ERC officials and employees without the imprimatur of the other Commissioner.
Salazar was also named by the late ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr. in the rigging of the selection process for an audio visual presentation (AVP) project in favor of a certain Luis Morelos.
Villa, who chaired the agency’s bids and awards committee (BAC), killed himself on November 9 after allegedly being pressured to approve procurement contracts and hiring consultants without proper bidding and procedure.
The ERC chair had previously denied any wrongdoing in all the charges filed against him.
In the decision, the Office of the President said that Salazar was guilty of simple misconduct relative to the renewal of the EPPAs of the distribution futilities, as well as appointing ERC officers and personnel without the concurrence and approval of the ERC Commissioners.
“In both infractions, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule were not adequately proven,” the decision read.
In the case of the AVP project however, the Office of the President found Salazar guilty of grave misconduct.
“However, with respect to the mater of the procurement of the AVP project, all elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, and flagrant disregard to established rule have been sufficiently demonstrated, as manifested in the various ways in which respondent Salazar tried to ensure that Morelos would get the project,” the decision read.
“Corruption as an element of grave misconduct consists in the act of an official or employee who unlawfully or wrongly uses his/her station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another, at the expense of the rights of others. Accordingly, this Office finds respondent Salazar guilty of Grave Misconduct,” the decision said.
The rules provide that if the respondent is found guilty of two or more offenses, the penalty to be imposed should be that corresponding to the most serious offense and the rest shall be considered as aggravating circumstances.