Energy top man takes leave in the aftermath of director’s suicide


By Jun Nucum
FilAm Star Correspondent

PASIG CITY – In the middle of the investigation surrounding the agency he heads, Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar, filed for a month’s leave of absence heeding the call for him to step aside temporarily to give investigators a free hand on alleged corruption at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

In a statement, Salazar announced that his one month leave was effective immediately.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on helping in the ongoing and planned inquiries regarding issues related to the Energy Regulatory Commission, particularly those allegedly raised by the late Director Francisco Jose ‘Jun’ Villa Jr., prior to his recent death.”

Villa committed suicide on November 9 and left behind suicide notes alleging irregularities in the awarding of an audio-video presentation (AVP) project of the agency.

Salazar disclosed further that he believes that by focusing on this concern, the inquiries can be brought to a speedier and fitting conclusion.

“This is in the best interest of the ERC. The faster the facts can be brought out in the open, the sooner we can put the matter to rest,” Salazar added.

During Salazar’s leave of absence, Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana will be the officer-in-charge of the Office of the Chairman.

Meanwhile, ERC officials and employees held a general assembly in the aftermath of Salazar’s leave of absence.

In the assembly, reliable sources revealed that the assembly agreed to refrain from unnecessarily making comments on the allegations against the agency in the hope that the efforts of investigators will proceed unhampered.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier asked for Salazar to take a leave from work for the duration of the investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).