MANILA - "Lutong macau." (It was rigged.)
This is how Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian described the sale of Chevron’s stake in the Malampaya project to Udenna Corp owned by billionaire Dennis Uy, which was approved by the Department of Energy.
"After conducting 3 hearings, after going through all the documents, which all came from DOE, ang masasabi ko lang ay lutong macau itong transaction and lutong macau 'yung approval," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
"Lutong macau" is a colloquial term that means a decision has been rigged or is a pre-arranged victory or success.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said hearings conducted by the Senate panel revealed DOE violated Presidential Decree 87 and its own department circular in approving the Chevron sale.
He said 2 Udenna Corp subsidiaries, UC Malampaya and UC38, were evaluated separately for their legal and financial capabilities respectively.
"We saw in their own evaluation that UC Malampaya has negative working capital. You don’t customize an evaluation because one of the criteria, they will fall short. You have to be consistent," he said.
The senator said because of this transaction, "energy security is now at risk."
"The whole point of government approving this is so that we are assured—tayo as consumers, as buyers of electricity are assured of energy security. Malampaya is no ordinary asset. It powers 4 million homes, it powers over 30 percent of our energy mix. If that asset falls into the hands of unqualified operators, we have a big problem. Our economy will be sacrificed," he said.
Gatchalian said there is basis to file a complaint against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Udenna CEO Dennis Uy, and several others before the Ombudsman. The complainants have alleged that anomalies resulted in "a minimum of over P21 to 42 billion in total losses to the government."
"The Ombudsman case has a basis and those things that they alleged in that case—which I read—all came out from the documents and the hearings that we had," he said.
Gatchalian said the DOE should not use the same argument it used in approving the deal between Udenna and Chevron when it reviews the Uy-led company's deal with oil firm Shell.
He noted that only the government's approval is lacking in the deal between Udenna and Shell. The transaction would increase Udenna's total shareholding in the Malampaya field to 90 percent.
"We will not allow DOE to use the defective process. We will not allow the DOE to evaluate the Shell-Udenna deal using the process that they used in the past because that’s clearly defective," he said.