FORMER Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Commissioner Alfredo J. Non is no stranger to charges filed with the Office of the Ombudsman having been embroiled in an earlier case where he was suspended without pay for a period of one (1) year for violating Republic Act No. 3019 (RA 3019) or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act back in 2017.
Recently, former ERC Commissioner Non was once again involved in another case filed by Atty. Paris Real, a Meralco consumer and an intervenor in various Meralco cases, with the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 due to his negligence and inexcusable failure to act on the regulatory reset process of Meralco and other Distribution Utilities (DUs).
Former Commissioner Non was the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the ERC from 30 June 2015 until a new Chairman was appointed in 2017. He was also the Oversight Commissioner who presided over public consultations and hearings regarding the rules and regulations governing rate setting for DUs, particularly those related to the Performance-Based Rate Setting (PBR) System.
In the Complaint, it was alleged that, during his tenure, former Commissioner Non did not perform his duties which prohibited DUs in the entire country to have an updated distribution rate “for more than seven (7) years since the lapse of the 3RP for the First Entrants, and more than ten (10) years since the lapse of 2RP for the Second Entrants”.
Notably, the Complaint emphasized that former Commissioner Non “is guilty of gross inexcusable negligence due to his repeated inaction and neglect to conduct or cause the ERC to hold the regulatory reset process and determine the rates to be charged without justifiable cause”.
Atty. Real likewise stated that due to the gross inexcusable negligence of former Commissioner Non “the current power rates charged by the DUs were not properly evaluated and reviewed by the ERC, as no timely adjustments were made for each regulatory period. Thus, the power rates charged by the DUs are overcharged to the prejudice of the consumers.
” In fact, were it not for the initiative of Meralco to refund to its customers last 2021, customers would not have had an opportunity to enjoy any form of refund/reduction in their electricity bills.
Regrettably, while the present ERC Commissioners are trying to resolve the issues which former Commissioner Non failed to find a solution, the fact that consumers were already deprived “of their right to just and reasonable rates which the ERC and Respondent Non was mandated to protect and enforce” remains undisputed.
When asked on the trigger for the filing of the Complaint before the Ombudsman, Atty. Real responded that government officials even after their term should be made responsible for blatant inactions that prejudiced consumers – – this is what you call accountability. Lately, Commissioner Non has been actively raising issues regarding the PBR system when in fact these matters could have been settled during his tenure had he acted in a timely manner. “What the former Commissioner has done or actually failed to do during his tenure is truly a disservice to the Filipino consumers,” added Atty. Real.
Atty. Real reiterated that the indiscriminate failure of former Commissioner Non to comply with his mandate to protect the interest of the consumers and the public in general, constitutes a blatant violation of the law and indictment of the criminal charge for violating RA 3019. The Complaint thus states that, Commissioner Non “should lose and be stripped of all retirement and gratuity benefits and be ordered to return all retirement pay and benefits he has thus far received under any law”.111