Philippine Bar Association asks DOE to probe Malampaya deal

Philippine Bar Association asks DOE to probe Malampaya deal
© Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo visited the two gas platforms Nido and Matinloc in Malampaya, northwest of Palawan on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Photo courtesy: Philippine Navy

The Philippine Bar Association (PBA) on Monday urged the Department of Energy to investigate the “questionable transfer” of the Malampaya gas-to-power facility to Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy’s conglomerate Udenna Corporation.

The PBA stressed that Malampaya, a facility located off-shore Palawan that contributes over 40% of the power in Luzon, is in the hands of an “untested and unknown entity.”

“It is not a simple matter of making the transaction transparent and understandable, and therefore acceptable. Malampaya is a critical piece of our national sovereignty and security,” the PBA said in a statement.

“The transaction requires immediate review. We call on the DOE to put National interest first, and attend to the matters that became the convenient premise for this questionable transfer,” it added.

After acquiring the 45% operating interest of the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), Uy conglomerate now holds 90% control of the gas field.

According to the PBA, SPEX had managed Malaya competently, adding that it should be left to them than an entity with security risks.

“Malampaya is a crown jewel of the country’s energy infrastructure. That it ended up in the hands of an entity that is not technically or financially sound is beyond negligent, it is criminal,” it said.

The PBA also called on the Senate to continue its probe on the transfer and urged the Ombudsman to “exercise its powers.”

“We applaud the Senate for its efforts and call on it to continue its probe. We ask the Ombudsman to exercise its powers in a timely manner before everything is too late. And we join the rest of the citizenry in demanding answers,” it said.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi previously said that the transaction is beyond the agency’s purview, which the PBA found unsatisfactory.

Udenna Corp. has refuted claims that the government will be financially disadvantaged after it acquired controlling stakes in Malampaya.

“There’s a misunderstanding from certain sectors of the business community. Saying there’s a lot for the government to lose if the government does not participate,” Udenna president Raymundo Martin Escalona had said.—LDF, GMA News

This article Philippine Bar Association asks DOE to probe Malampaya deal was originally published in GMA News Online.

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