7 February 2017
Francisco Jose Villa Jr. (shown in the picture above), director of Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) killed himself allegedly due to corruption in the commission. ERC Chairperson and CEO Jose Vicente Salazar, was named in Villa’s suicide note for favouring Luis Morelos for the ERC’s audio-visual presentation (AVP) in a rigged selection system. Salazar claims that Morelos was providing the services for free. ERC officials said the AVP project was never awarded and claimed Morelos didn’t even bid for the project. There are several conflicting statements.
Why did Villa commit suicide for a consultancy service which was free? Here is the smoking gun. Commissioner Josefina Patricia Asirit said the commissioners did not know about the alleged shredding of documents in the aftermath of Villa’s death. It becomes clearer now. Rigged contract was for a substantial sum. After Villa’s death, culprits shredded the documents and are now claiming the consultancy was for free.
When some commissioners initiated an internal enquiry after Villa’s death, Salazar stopped it. Salazar said that an internal inquiry would be self-serving and he stopped the enquiry so that other agencies could investigate the case.
Villa’s sister Charie, broadcast journalist, earlier said her brother was “pressured to approve contracts for procurements and hiring consultants without proper bidding and procedure as bids and awards committee chairman.” Villa had written 3 suicide notes dated August 23, 24, and 25, which were shown to the media by the Villa family.
Also on Monday, a House Resolution was filed requesting the House of Representatives to investigate. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also probing allegations of corruption.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself demanded the resignation of ERC officials on Monday. President called on the Congress to dissolve or reorganize the ERC and replace it with a new body. President said that he was aware of the irregularities in the ERC. He expressed his disgust over the hiring of “hundreds” of consultants wasting government funds. “I was just keeping quiet until the (Villa’s) suicide came out,” he said.
Energy commissions are corrupt in many other countries as well.
But Salazar and other commissioners have not vacated their posts. Salazar wants a meeting with the President, which would vindicate him and his fellow commissioners. Former President Benigno Aquino III appointed Salazar to a 7-year term as chairman of the ERC.