Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima backed Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian’s call for the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and other Department of Energy (DOE) officials over their involvement in the anomalous approval of share sales in the Malampaya gas field.
De Lima likewise supported the call for Cusi to relinquish his post for the approval of the sale of Malampaya to Udenna Corp. and its unit UC Malampaya Philippines, owned by businessman and Duterte’s close associate, Dennis Uy.
“Tumitindig ako kasama ni Sen. Win at iba pang mga kasamahan ko sa Senado upang aksyunan ang kwestyonableng kasunduan na ito na walang ibang makikinabang kung hindi ang mga kaalyado at crony ni Duterte, kasama na ang kanilang mga kasabwat na dayuhan,” she said.
“We simply cannot watch these officials facing serious allegations of malfeasance slink away from public view and let the passage of time wash away their sins. We, as duly elected Senators of the Republic, are compelled to demand so much more. We call for accountability.
“We demand that they answer for all their sins against the nation. Sa lahat ng panahon na inuna nila ang kanilang sariling interes bago bayan, kailangan nila itong pagbayaran,” she added.
In a privilege speech last Feb. 2, Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Gatchalian said Cusi and key officials of the DOE are “criminally and administratively liable for graft, gross neglect of duty, and grave misconduct and should immediately resign from their posts for railroading the approval of the sale of participating interest of Chevron in Malampaya gas field.”
Gatchalian said that DOE officials violated laws to give a seal of approval to the sale of the 45% participating interest in the Malampaya gas project of Chevron Malampaya LLC Philippines, now known as UC 38 LLC, to UC Malampaya, an indirect subsidiary of Udenna Corporation.
Last Oct. 25, 2019, UC Malampaya Philippines signed a sale and purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the shares of Chevron Malampaya LLC. Chevron Malampaya, a subsidiary of Chevron Philippines, Ltd., held a 45% non-operating interest in the gas field.
De Lima maintained that it is in relation to these most pressing and far-reaching concerns that people should all set aside their political colors and affiliations, and stand side by side to decry collusions that she deemed “most prejudicial to the interests of the Filipino people.”
She stressed that “Energy – a very crucial resource – is at the heart of this controversy. What does the future hold for our people? Duterte and his cronies would know because they are once again front and center of yet another controversy laced with their personal interests”.
The lady Senator from Bicol said Filipinos cannot just watch as Duterte “pays his debt of gratitude to his campaign contributors turned cronies, to his minions turned officials drunk on power.”
She concluded that “We are witnessing one of the worst cases of cronyism in the history of the Philippine Republic, reminiscent of how, during the Marcos regime, Meralco was taken and handed over to the then President’s brother-in-law, Kokoy Romualdez, during which time the public utility company somehow never turned a profit, as documented in, among others, an article by the Chicago Tribune”.
“Duterte, who once promised that he would not tolerate even a whiff of corruption, is, ironically, at the center of it all. Or is it really ironic? One cannot help but wonder whether this is a case of the allure of power that comes with his position and the nearly absolute control he accumulated over all the branches and institutions of government being his downfall, or if that was the plan all along from the very inception of his candidacy.
“History would say that it’s the latter, especially given who he has emulated from day one of his presidency, but that’s just my opinion,” she added. (30)