By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The public and the economy may suffer should the Congress push through with giving the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) a meager P1,000 budget for 2018.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, on Thursday said the House of Representative’s decision last week to give the ERC a measly annual budget for next year was “too drastic” to solve the controversies in the troubled agency.
“I think it’s too drastic. Masyadong drastic yung remedy dahil let’s also remember na hindi lang ERC ang mapepenalize kundi tayong lahat na gumagamit ng kuryente. Nakasalalay tayo sa ERC pagdating sa kuryente (It’s too drastic because, let’s also remember, not only ERC will be penalized but all of us who consume electricity. We depend on ERC when it comes to electicity),” Gatchalian said after a budget hearing Thursday.
Gatchalian said he fears that the provision of a meager P1,000 budget to the ERC would in effect, abolish the agency and would produce problems in power supply.
“It’s an important regulator in the energy sector. Ang aking kinakatakutan, dahil wala tayong regulator, wala tayong bagong supply ng kuryente… By next year, wala tayong papasok na bagong supply ng kuryente…magkakaroon ng problema sa pag-apruba ng bagong supply ng kuryente, apektado ang negosyo, ang taong bayan, industriya. Problema sa ating ekonomiya,” he said.
Gatchalian said he also believes that restraining the commission’s allocation will not solve the corruption among its officials, who, he said, should be penalized alone.
“Pag inabolish yung ERC, yung 400 employees na wala namang kinalaman sa kurapsyon, mawawalan ng trabaho,” he added.