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Malampaya sale above-board



Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi fired another tirade against his detractors, insisting the $4.5-billion Malampaya natural gas sale is above-board and added his agency went beyond its mandate to prioritize public interest in the transaction.

In a television interview on Wednesday, Cusi slammed the group of Filipinos “trying to discredit the administration.”

“I know who instigated this case… It’s a group of Filipinos who would like to discredit the administration. They filed a case, and I am willing to bet that they will find out that we have done beyond what is required,” Cusi said.

“In due time, that will come out because this is pure harassment; this is political,” he added.

Cusi was referring to a criminal case filed against him, businessman Dennis Uy, Chevron Philippines officials, and several others by Balgamel de Belen Domingo, Rodel Rodis, and Lewis before the Ombudsman.

In a 48-page complaint about violating RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the trio alleged several anomalies in the Malampaya project, resulting in over P21 to P42 billion in losses to the government.

Cusi explained that regardless of whether the company owners who bought the stake in Malampaya have money or not, the sale is deemed legal as long as the deal passes the consortium level.

“International auditors review the sale. They cannot sell it and approve it if the buyer has no money. I already said that the members of the board reviewed his transaction,” he said.

“This issue is a case of damned if I do, damned if I don’t,” he added.

Pilipinas Shell Exploration B.V. (SPEX), the operator of the Malampaya gas project, sold its entire 45-percent stake in the project to a unit of Uy’s Udenna Group through Malampaya Energy.
The sale is still subject to the approval of Department of Energy (DoE).

SPEX has a pending request with the DoE for the SC 38 contract extension.

The Malampaya consortium — which was then composed of SPEX, Chevron, and state-run Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corporation — has been asking for an extension since 2012.

The request was refiled in 2017. But four years later, the DoE remains undecided.