Press Release
November 18, 2016

Sen. Gatchalian Considers Inquiry into Villa Suicide Note Allegations

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Win Gatchalian is considering mounting an official Senate investigation into corruption allegations made against prominent officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) by the late ERC Director Francisco Villa, Jr. in suicide notes discovered after Villa took his own life on November 9.

"The allegations made by the late Director Villa indicate the possibility of widespread corruption within one of the most important government regulatory bodies. It might be prudent for the Senate Committee on Energy to investigate this matter in order to protect the interests of electricity consumers," said Gatchalian.

In his interpellation on the proposed budget of the Department of Energy during the Senate plenary session on Thursday, Gatchalian referred to the ERC as "the Supreme Court of the power industry" due to its broad decision-making powers within the energy sector.

In particular, Gatchalian pointed out that the ERC is the body responsible for granting several types of critical permits necessary for power industry players to operate.

"The ERC is tasked to insulate the power industry from vested interests and corruption. Corruption within the body itself could result in the proliferation of anti-competitive behavior which would be disastrous to the stability of our electricity supply. ERC officials should be ready with a solid explanation which will put any doubts regarding their integrity to rest," said Gatchalian.

However, Gatchalian promised that any investigation undertaken by his committee would be an objective one which would afford all interested parties with ample opportunities to present their respective sides of the story.

"The investigation would be impartial, with the integrity of the power sector as the foremost concern. We won't make any pre-judgments, but we will certainly seek out the truth. A good man and respected public servant took his own life over this. We owe it to his memory to at least look into the allegations he made," said Gatchalian.

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