Mañalac defends involvement in ‘unconstitutional’ exploration deal
(PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PNA)
Former Energy Undersecretary Eduardo Mañalac — a staunch critic of the current Malampaya consortium — admitted that he took part in a tripartite agreement, which was supposed to open the country’s natural resources to other countries, without government supervision.
Speaking at a forum organized by the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea over the weekend, Mañalac said that the decision, which was opposed by no less than the Supreme Court, only followed government orders and directives related to a policy of energy independence.
Mañalac had brokered the Joint Maritime Seismic Understanding with China National Offshore Oil Corp. and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp., allowing seismic work on a 142,886-square-kilometer area in the West Philippine Sea.
Mañalac signed the agreements in his capacity as then Philippine National Oil Company president and chief executive officer.
“The tripartite agreement for the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking or JMSU is a three-year cooperative agreement between CNOOC, Vietnam and PNOC to jointly gather seismic data in certain areas of the South China Sea,” Mañalac said.
Back then, Mañalac explained that the agenda was to develop the Philippines’ indigenous petroleum resources, promote renewable power, increase the use of alternative fuels, form strategic regional alliances and strengthen energy conservation programs.
“The JMSU was part of our five-point energy independence agenda to find new and indigenous petroleum reserves. It is not my idea. It is the idea of the government as part of its energy independence strategy,” he added.
Last January, the Supreme Court declared the JMSU deal as unconstitutional due to its breach of Section 2, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution.
But Mañalac contended that the PNOC, under his leadership, had been “extremely careful and consistent in ensuring the constitutionality of the JSMU.”
Manalac also recalled that his decision to sell 5 percent of the government’s stake in PNOC-Exploration Corp. way back in 2005, like his JMSU involvement, was also prompted by external forces.
“The reason given to sell the PNOC-EC share at the time was that, if you remember, PNOC paid a hundred plus million for the 10 percent (stake). So what the government was saying was we have to pay that. We have to raise the money,” he said.
Mañalac served as an Energy Undersecretary from 2003 to 2004 before he was laterally transferred to PNOC president from 2004 to 2006.
Last week, Mañalac lambasted the extension of the Malampaya service contract for another 15 years due to the alleged lack of expertise of the current operator led by Prime Energy of businessman Enrique K. Razon.
Razon said Mañalac’s claims against Malampaya were unsubstantiated.
Based on the latest estimates of the Department of Energy, the gas field near Malampaya is estimated to have about 210 billion cubic feet of gas.
The Malampaya project uses indigenous natural gas to reduce the country’s oil imports. It also generates significant revenues for the local government that already amounted to $13.14 billion or over P1 trillion.
Malampaya has been powering up to 20 percent of Luzon’s total electricity requirements. It supplies natural gas to power four power generation plants in Batangas with a combined capacity of 2,011 megawatts.
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