Billionaire Davao-based entrepreneur Dennis Uy and Energy Secretary Al Cusi (incidentally, a fellow billionaire) have been charged with graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the alleged questionable buyout of the government’s Malampaya natural gas project in the West Philippine Sea.
Per the complaint filed by US-based Fil-Am activist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, lawyer Rodel Rodis and Belen Domingo, the sale to Uy’s Udenna Corp. was allegedly grossly disadvantageous to the government, in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The complainants claimed the government effectively lost billions of pesos in profits when the Department of Energy, led by Sec. Cusi et al., cleared the way for Udenna to acquire a majority stake in Malampaya in 2019.
The government, they alleged, could have realized P42 billion if it had allowed the remaining three years of the Malampaya contract to lapse, instead of selling out to Udenna.
With its friends in the Duterte government, Udenna managed to secure a 90 percent controlling stake in Malampaya, with the balance in the hands of the state via PNOC Exploration Corp.
The complainants said the Malampaya deal was okayed by higher-ups despite an admission during a Senate public hearing that Udenna “has no experience” in any aspect of oil and gas exploration and production, and holds no service contract in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world.
“Clearly this is harassment and it comes with the territory,” according to Cusi who is deeply embroiled in local politics as head of the administration PDP-Laban party.
“I have no doubt the truth will vindicate me …in this action clearly filed for the singular purpose of political propaganda,” Cusi said, as he challenged the petitioners (who he said are not even residing in the Philippines) to come back and pursue the case if they believe in its forthrightness.
In a statement released to the media, Udenna said the acquisition of Malampaya shares is “within the parameters of the law.”
Photo: CNN Philippines