Open Letter to the President

Honorable Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Malacanang Palace
Jose Laurel St., San Miguel
Metro Manila

Dear Mr. President,

It has come to our attention that Jose Vicente B. Salazar has recently been appointed Undersecretary for Policy and Legal Affairs of DITC. This is contrary to the penalty meted to him by no less than the Office of the President signed by Salvador C. Medialdea, Executive Secretary, under the authority of President Rodrigo Duterte on October 6, 2017, in a document titled, Administrative Case Against Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jose Vicente B. Salazar; OP-DC Case No. 17-D-094. To quote: “As for the applicable penalty, the rules provide that if the respondent is found guilty of two (2) or more different offenses, the penalty to be imposed should be that corresponding to the most serious offense and the rest shall be considered as aggravating circumstances. Grave Misconduct is a grave offense punishable by dismissal from the service, which carries with it cancellation of eligibility, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, bar from taking civil service examinations, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.”

Hence, it is with great distress that we are writing this open letter to you, accompanied by the Great Spirit of faith, hope, and love as Filipinos. If only he was given more years in this life, he would have continued his sterling performance as an honest civil servant in the Energy Regulatory Commission of the Philippines, where he rose through the ranks as Director of the Planning and Information Services and Chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee of ERC. After thirteen years, he was finally reaching the arch of his career where
he could have made a difference in the ever-complicated energy distribution system of our country, like our father did to our nation’s law enforcement and judicial system throughout his illustrious career.

Unfortunately, in the early morning of November 9, 2016, our brother, Francisco Jose Villa, Jr., shot himself dead with our father’s Smith & Wesson 38 revolver inside our home in Paranaque. The police officer who responded to the call that fateful morning gave his conclusion to our sister, Charie Villa, that it was the job that caused it, based on three suicide letters addressed to Jesus that were found inside his bedroom during their investigation.

“In his suicide note, Atty. Villa wrote: ‘I have fears about my BAC work. Our mistakes may bring on COA observations and disallowances. Those may affect me financially. My greatest fear in the BAC is the AVP by Luis Morelos which the Chairman and CEO Jose Vicente B. Salazar chosen (sic) through a rigged selection system. That will be a criminal act. According to the ERC Commissioners, factual antecedents, as shown by several comments and statements, prove their claim that respondent Salazar influenced and/or exerted undue pressure on the BAC members and rigged the selection of Luis A.L. Morelos (Morelos) for the procurement of the ERC AVP contract.” (Pg. 3, Administrative Case Against Energy Regulatory CommissionChairman and Chief Executive Officer Jose Vicente B. Salazar; OP-DC Case No. 17-D-094.)

In fact, there were several incidents of harassment at work reported to us by concerned ERC employees which they also documented in their letter to President Rodrigo Duterte (June 5, 2017) To quote:
“Incidentally, we know that Chairman Salazar designated the late Director Villa as in charge of logistics for the said birthday celebration, giving him two (2) weeks before the said date to make the necessary preparations, and making known to Director Villa that he had invited some very important guests. Since Director Villa was unable to meet Chairman Salazar’s expectations, he was subjected to reprimand almost daily by Chairman Salazar, which prompted Director Villa to tell one of his staff that he wanted to take his life due to pressure of work. Four (4) days before the said birthday celebration, Director Villa filed a leave of absence and a day before the birthday celebration, took his own life.”

It only caused us grief to be reminded that while our brother’s ashes laid inside the chapel of Sanctuario de San Antonio on November 10, 2016, Chairman Salazar was in his birthday party with guests who were enumerated in the said letter to President Duterte at his newly renovated office on the 16th floor of ERC. (Enclosed are photos taken during the party.) He was seen earlier during the day at the wake of our brother by no less than our sister, Charie Villa.

However, we consider it our duty not only to the memory of our good
brother, but also to our country to attest to the facts laid out by the said document issued by the Office of President Rodrigo Duterte after a thorough investigation. This is proof to the kind of man that your administration has recently empowered with policy-making and legal affairs of this vital and lucrative industry of information technology. A man, guilty of the many violations cited in the document mentioned above, shamelessly “fiddled like Nero” at his lavishly catered birthday party with guests in high places of the government, all identified on page four of the said letter to President Duterte. It must be noted that the rest of his staff were in mourning for one of their own, as Salazar partied on. In fact, Salazar rushed the renovation of his office on the entire 16th floor of the ERC so that he could throw this, inappropriate birthday party. To quote the said document on page seven: “The ERC Commissioners also cited the renovation of the Board Room and the Office of the Chairman as another instance of respondent Salazar’s alleged violation of RA No. 9184. According to them, the working paper post-audit for 2015- 2016 revealed the utilization of almost One Million Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,400,000.00) for the entire renovation but the same was done with separate job orders, disbursement vouchers, and official receipts, each amounting to not greater than Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00), a clear case of splitting of contracts. Furthermore, the entire renovation did not go through the proper procurement process. Allegedly, during a BAC meeting presided by Atty. Alfredo P. Vergara, Jr. (Vergara), Director of the ERC Legal Service, the BAC resolved to undertake the bidding of the already completed boardroom with the hope that the hired contractor, Primeart Builders Inc. (Primeart), would win.”

Our brother was reported to have expressed his disapproval for this huge expense considering the plans of the agency to move to another office building in the future. He tried to stop it in the same way that he
rightfully and diligently enforced the process of bidding, however “rigged the selection of Luis A.L. Morelos (Morelos) for the procurement of the ERC AVP contract” ended up, as evidenced on pages three to six of the aforementioned document. When that failed, he did not stop. In fact, there were traces of his attempt to right the wrong inside ERC that we observed as we walked into his office, after that heart-wrenching memoriam presented by our late brother’s faithful team at the ERC on November 14, 2016. On top or his
desk was our father’s copy of the handbook of the Office of the Ombudsman with post it notes that revealed his attempt to navigate legal avenues to address graft and corruption inside ERC. As we looked around the
floor of his office, tons of documents and busy bulletin boards suggested to us the mountain of tasks and responsibilities that he faced. It made us realize why he did what he did.

Even Chairman Salazar pointed this out in his speech during the memoriam. After his opening line, “Jun was not ordinary,” he mentioned among other things how he offered our brother “extra pay” for him and his team. This was also mentioned by the concerned ERC employees on page two of the said letter to President Duterte, as quoted below: “During the tribute for the late Director Francisco Villa, Jr. held last November 14, 2016, Chairman Salazar’s predisposition of bribing people became evident when he narrated to us that at one point he personally told Atty. Villa how much he appreciated the work of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), which Atty. Villa headed, and made known his intention to give the BAC members additional monetary allowance on top of the honorarium they were receiving, when we know that Director Villa was very much averse to such types of machinations. Besides, we wondered how and why would Chairman Salazar do that? Where would he get the funds for it?”

It did not surprise us to learn that our brother flatly refused it. Being our father’s son, he did so with the same prudence when he refused to renovate the sixteenth floor for millions of pesos that our impoverished nation
could barely afford to spend, much less to waste.

Ramon Tulfo, in his article in the Inquirer dated November 19, 2016 titled, He’d Rather Die Than Steal, he wrote, “Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Director Francisco Jose Villa , Jr took after his father and namesake, Francisco, an honest police chief of Pasay City. Francisco Jr, 54 would rather die than steal from the government. That’s what Villa did when he shot himself with a .38-caliber revolver, the type carried by policemen in the days of yore, which he probably inherited from his honest dad.”

Which all leads to this open and public appeal to you, to take this God-given chance to make the right decision that will hopefully serve as an example and edify the soul of our government. That is to rescind the appointment of Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar. To enforce the decision of your predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, to bar him from public service forever.

Respectfully yours,

The Bereaved Family
The Late Francisco Jose S Villa

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