Gatchalian hits DOE for saying Senate probe into Malampaya deals causing delays

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2021 03:52 PM

Malampaya gas project. Shell Philippines Exploration BV, Handout
Malampaya gas project. Shell Philippines Exploration BV, Handout


MANILA - The head of the Senate panel on energy on Wednesday dismissed the Department of Energy’s criticism that the body’s review of the Udenna-Malampaya deal was causing “undue delay” for the firms involved in the transaction.

“It is unfair to accuse the Senate of delaying any timeline or work program of the consortium,” said Senate Committee on Energy chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian in a statement.

“It is our responsibility to hold departments to account especially on questionable transactions,” Gatchalian said. 

Gatchalian’s remark followed the DOE’s statement that the Senate probe into the Udenna-Malamapaya deals was causing "undue delay to the timeline of the consortium corporations."

Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp acquired Chevron's stake in the Malampaya project in March before purchasing the controlling stake from Royal Dutch Shell in May. 

The Chevron-Udenna deal was completed in March 2020 but it was only in April 2021 when the DOE approved the transaction, Gatchalian said. 

He said it is the responsibility of the consortium to fulfill their work program committed to the government and if there's any delay, it is the DOE's responsibility "to hold the consortium accountable."

"So, why blame the Senate?", Gatchalian said. 

Aside from answering the DOE's accusations, Gatchalian highlighted the "lack of clarity and uncertainty" on the remaining natural gas reserves in Malampaya.

"It is imperative that the DOE apprise the Filipino public of the plans of the government in ensuring continuous energy supply," he said. 

“Filipino consumers rin po kami, kaya karapatan po naming magtanong at panagutin kung mayroon mang nagkasala (We are also Filipino consumers so we have the right to hold anyone who made a mistake accountable),” he added.

Gatchalian earlier referred the Udenna-Chevron deal as “lutong macau” or rigged, saying the DOE favored the firm of Uy, who was one of the biggest contributors to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign in 2016. 

The DOE however insists that the deal was above board and called Gatchalian’s lutong macau remark “misguided.”

A graft complaint has been filed before the Ombudsman against against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Uy over the sale of Chevron's stake in Malampaya to Udenna Corp. One of the complainants called the Udenna-Malampaya deals the most incredible crony deal in history.

Cusi said the case was "pure harassment." Udenna Corp said "the share sales were above board and legal."

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-- with a report from Agence France-Presse