National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) president Melvin Matibag on Friday challenged presidential aspirant and Senator Manny Pacquiao to prove his corruption allegations against officials of the Department of Energy (DoE).
Pacquiao should prove his ground by filing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman or in the Senate, Matibag said.
“I challenge him to file cases. He is making it appear that TransCo is involved in corruption when there is insufficient evidence,” Matibag said in an interview with Daily Tribune’s News on Cue.
“I viewed the presentation of Sen. Pacquiao as a personal attack against me and even and my family member — my wife. That was a budget hearing. If he really has something against us, he must file a complaint directly to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee or the Ombudsman,” he stressed.
Matibag criticized Pacquiao for allegedly utilizing the committee hearing to “spread fake news” and for using his “parliamentary privileges and immunity” to hurl accusations against him.
To recall, the TransCo chief was declared “out of order” and was asked to leave the hearing by Senator Win Gatchalian, who was presiding over the Senate Finance Subcommittee’s hearing into DoE’s proposed budget for 2022 last Thursday.
Gatchalian called him out for branding the proceedings “political” after Pacquiao presented a video, questioning him for his alleged links with “syndicates” in the DoE. The boxing icon particularly pointed out in the video Matibag’s alleged association with the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (EIMOP).
The senator said EIMOP is responsible for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which allegedly puts “hidden charges” in electricity bills.
For DoE chief Alfonso Cusi, EIMOP is not part of the budget of the agency. He also noted that EIMOP’s operations are in accordance with the EPIRA Law.
Pacquiao and Cusi are warring for control of the PDP Laban.
For Matibag, Pacquiao’s presentation of a video linking him to alleged syndicates is tantamount to “cyber libel”.
“What he did was actually cyber libel. It is an abuse of power of a senator. As I’ve said, I respect the institution of the Senate and its proceedings, but his actions cannot be tolerated,” Matibag said.
“I respect the right to ask questions, but we also need to look at the evidence, corresponding obligations,” he added.
“TransCo doesn’t really have anything to do with it, so I was surprised by his video presentation. Every time he alleges corruption, my face shows in the video as well as in the matrix. Why is that?” Matibag said.
“We can do a face-off in any court. Let us debate on the issue since he thinks I am uneducated. Let him produce his evidence. Do not just form conjectures,” he stated.
Cusi defended Matibag, saying: “While DoE recognizes the prerogative of the Committee to conduct its hearing in a manner that preserves the integrity and order of the proceedings, it is our view that the budget hearing may have been used unwittingly as a platform to advocate certain political interest.”
with Joshua Lao and Sundy Locus