MANILA (UPDATED)- Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Friday said he is ready to face the court and the charges recommended against him by the Senate, following the allegations on the Malampaya deal.
A Senate resolution earlier in the day recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Cusi and other energy officials for alleged corruption, gross neglect of duty, and misconduct.
This stems from the controversial buyout of the Malampaya gas field by business tycoon Dennis Uy.
On Wednesday, Senator Win Gatchalian told Cusi and other energy officials to resign.
"I am elated that I now have the chance to be given my day in court," Cusi said in a statement.
"I assure everyone that I am ready to face any and all charges brought against me in the proper forum," he added.
Cusi also reiterated that the deals were legal and aboveboard, saying that the committee hearing against him was politicized.
"I am prepared to explain and prove that all of the actions of the Department of Energy regarding the sale and transfer of shares of Malampaya are legal, aboveboard and in accordance with the powers and mandate of the Department," he said.
"It is evident that the hearings were merely intended to force me out of office in order to frustrate and invalidate what are legally binding transactions involving ownership of shares of Malampaya contractors," Cusi added.
Earlier in the day, Gatchalian said the deals were questionable because UC Malampaya had "no money" because their working capital was negative.
"Lumabas sa imbestigasyon na negative yung kanyang working capital, negative $137 million. Ang ibig sabihin nito, walang pera yung UC Malampaya na pagmamayri ari ng Udenna, at dahil nga walang pera ito, bakit pa inaprubahan ang transaction na ito?" he said.
(The investigation showed that their working capital was negative $137 million. This means that UC-Malampaya, owned by Udenna, does not have money. If that is the case, why was the transaction approved?)
If the Ombudsman investigation progresses quickly, he said, they may be able to use it to invalidate the Udenna-Chevron deal which happened in 2020.
“Yun ang pinag-aaralan namin, dahil sa aking palagay dahil ang pag apruba ng gobyerno ay defective, hindi na aayon sa batas, yung transaction hindi dapat matuloy," he said.
(That is what we are studying on. I think the government's approval is defective and against the law, therefore, the transaction should not have proceeded.)
DUTERTE SAYS WON'T SACK CUSI
In a statement hours after Cusi released his, President Rodrigo Duterte said the energy secretary has his full support, adding that investments are important to the country's economy.
Duterte accused the senators of putting in "bad light" the developments on the Malampaya sale.
"Let me reiterate: Energy Secretary Cusi has my full trust and confidence and shall remain at the helm of the department he heads," he said.
"This casts undue, undeserved, and unwarranted aspersion on the part of some of our key government officials. This is grossly unfair to them and to the public," he added.
A graft complaint was filed before the Ombudsman least year against Uy and Cusi over the matter.
The complainants alleged that anomalies in the Malampaya Project resulted in "a minimum of over P21 to 42 billion in total losses to the government.”