Amid corruption issue: House slaps ERC with P1,000-budget for 2018

  • House appropriated P1,000-budget for ERC amid corruption mess
  • Solons explained they wanted to send a strong message to ERC officials
  • They are hoping measly budget to force ERC to shape up, implement internal reforms

MANILA, Philippines – In a rare show of solidarity, majority and minority members of the House of Representatives agreed to appropriate only P1,000 as the 2018 budget for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) following allegations of corruption among its top officials.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, the one who sponsored the motion which was seconded by Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, said they hope the symbolically-low budget would serve as a stern message to the ERC officials to clean up their mess.

“I think that would send a very strong message that the House of Representatives really wants the problems in ERC fixed,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying. … ‘Yun talaga ang ina-ano ni [That was what] Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez) wants, that he wants to send a very, very strong message. And it has been a very long time since Congress has approved a one peso or equivalent to 1,000 peso budget for any agency.”

Lobregat added that he had actually been instructed by Alvarez beforehand to sponsor the P1,000-budget.

“Actually nag-meeting kami ni Speaker and the ERC is riddled with a lot of controversies, a lot of problems and at this point in time sabi ni Speaker mas mabuti siguro na bigyan natin ng one peso. Ang problema ng one peso, ‘yung budget natin is by the thousand. So at least ‘yung sponsored ko is one thousand-peso budget,” he added.

[Actually, we had a meeting with the Speaker and the ERC is riddled with a lot of controversies, a lot of problems and at this point the Speaker said it would be better if we give them one peso. The problem with one peso is that our budget is given by the thousand. So at least my sponsored budget is the one thousand-peso budget.]

Allegations of corruption within the ERC came to light after director Francisco Jose “Jun” Villa Jr. killed himself and left a letter tagging Chairperson Jose Vicente Salazar as the mastermind behind the rigged bidding of an infomercial project.

Salazar, who has refused to resign from his post, has since been suspended and is facing both administrative and graft charges.