The multi-billion peso Malampaya deal has been branded as “illegal and invalid” by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who claimed Department of Energy (DOE) officials “bent the rules” to accommodate favored buyer Udenna Corporation.
In 2019, Udenna Corporation announced that its subsidiary, UC Malampaya Philippines, bought out Chevron Malampaya LLC which has a 45% stake in the Malampaya gas field in the West Philippine Sea, absent a public bidding.
According to Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate energy committee, certain whiz kids in the DOE manipulated the rules in determining the capability of newbie UC Malampaya as it wasn’t financially qualified to participate in the Malampaya power project together with Shell Philippines and Petron Exploration, to the detriment of the interests of Filipino taxpayers.
Gatchalian revealed he would be asking the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (headed by Sen. Richard Gordon) to also look into the questionable approval of the Udenna takeover by the DOE as there is the element of graft involved.
Malampaya, which is seen to be depleted by 2027, is crucial as it supplies some 20% of the country’s electricity requirements through the supply of natural gas to five power plants in Luzon.
Previously, DOE and Udenna officials were slapped with graft charges by Fil-Ams Loida Nicolas Lewis, Rodel Rodis and Balgamel de Belen Domingo before the Office of the Ombudsman for their role in the Malampaya deal which was deemed “grossly disadvantageous” to the government.
Photo: Manila Bulletin