MALACAÑANG is currently investigating the officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for allegedly receiving over P15 million to fund their “extravagant” trips from 2009 to 2015, a Palace official said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea conducted an investigation against five ERC officials, including its officer-in-charge Alfredo Non, who are facing charges of graft, indirect bribery and technical malversation before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The matter pertaining to extravagant trips allegedly made by ERC officials, being presidential appointees, is still under investigation by the Office of the Executive Secretary,” Abella said in a statement.

A complaint was filed in July against Non; ERC commissioners Josefina Asirit, Gloria Taruc, and Geronimo Sta. Ana; and ERC director of market operations service Debora Anastacia Layugan at the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving money from the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC).

In the complaint, the ERC executives were accused of using the money they accepted from PEMC, an ERC-regulated entity operating the Wholesale Electric Spot Market, to finance their “extravagant travels” abroad that are not included in their mandate.

The five respondents’ actions purportedly showed a “clear and blatant violation of the law and ERC decisions.”

According to PEMC report, the ERC officials used the funds from February 2008 to August 2015 to cover their airline tickets, hotel accommodation, clothing allowance for their travels.

The travels covered the meetings and conferences in the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany and New Zealand, as well in local trips like Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

In a letter dated August 18, acting Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Ryan Alvin Acosta asked the accused to refute the allegations hurled against them.

Acosta sent the letter to five ERC officials following a June complaint of Rodolfo Javellana Jr., president of United Filipino consumers and Commuters, regarding their lavish travels.

Javellana accused them of committing "serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and violation of Section 7 of Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees." (SunStar Philippines)