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Energy dep’t denounces lawyers’ ‘thoughtless’ meddling in Malampaya issue

THE ENERGY department on Monday denounced the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for what it called a “thoughtless” involvement in the Malampaya issue.

“It is unfortunate for the IBP to issue a sweeping statement against the Malampaya transaction without first checking the facts and applicable laws,” it said in a statement, days after the lawyers’ group asked the Department of Energy (DoE) to scrap the Malampaya sale to Udenna Energy Corp.

“The DoE and its officials have been unduly maligned. And the IBP’s ‘thoughtless’ involvement, allowing itself to be used by unscrupulous interest groups, greatly disappoints,” it added.

Last week, the IBP urged the department to cancel the sale of a 45% stake in the Malampaya project to Udenna Energy Corp. in 2019 and to delay the final approval of another 45% sale from sale this year.

“While the Senate investigation is ongoing, (we) call on the DoE to rescind its approval of (Chevron Malampaya LLC’s) transfer of its 45% interest in Malampaya to Udenna subsidiary UC Malampaya (Pte Ltd.), and to hold in abeyance its approval of Shell Philippines Exploration BV’s (SPEx) transfer of its 45% to another Udenna subsidiary, Malampaya Energy XP,” the IBP said in a statement on Nov. 24.

The IBP echoed the allegations of senators and interest groups that Udenna is financially and technically incapable of operating the exploration, and that such incompetence opens the possibility of inviting foreign parties with interests that are hostile to the Philippines, a move they said will be a threat to the country’s strategic energy resources.

The Senate Committee on Energy has been reviewing the Malampaya transactions since last year.

Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros filed a resolution last week urging the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the acquisition of the stakes in Service Contract 38 (SC 38), the resource block that covers areas in the West Philippine Sea including the Malampaya gas field.

Three citizens have also filed a criminal complaint before the Ombudsman against Energy Secretary Afredo G. Cusi, Udenna Energy Corp.’s Dennis A. Uy, and other officials involved in the controversial deal.

On Monday, another lawyers’ group lambasted the DoE and the questionable Malampaya transaction.

“What the DoE itself calls the backbone of the country’s power generation mix, is now in the hands of an untested and unknown authority,” the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) said in a statement.

The DoE said it will respond to any allegation against it in the proper forum and in due time. — Marielle C. Lucenio

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