Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said he will not resign following the call of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian amid the controversy over the sale of Chevron’s 45% share in the Malampaya gas-to-power project to Udenna Corporation.
“I would like to assure the public that I remain committed to discharging my duties as Secretary of Energy to the best of my abilities,” Cusi said in a statement to the media Friday night.
“It is evident that the hearings were merely intended to force me out of office in order to frustrate and invalidate what are legally binding transactions involving ownership of shares of Malampaya contractors,” he added.
The Senate Committee on Energy, which Gatchalian chairs, concluded its hearings on the Malampaya controversy in mid-December 2020. Aside from the Chevron-Udenna deal, the sale of Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.’s 45% stake, also to Udenna, was discussed. PNOC-Exploration Corporation, which owns the remaining ten percent, blocked the Shell-Udenna deal.
Gatchalian, in his privilege speech on Wednesday, urged Cusi to step down. The senator also recommended the filing of civil and criminal charges against Cusi and 11 other current and former officials of the Department of Energy (DOE).
The committee report, which details the findings on the Chevron-Udenna transaction and the recommended charges, was brought by Gatchalian and his lawyers to the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday morning.
Cusi welcomed the development, while insisting the legality of the deal.
“Once again, for the record, I assure everyone that I am ready to face any and all charges brought against me in the proper forum. I am prepared to explain and prove that all of the actions of the [DOE] regarding the sale and transfer of shares of Malampaya are legal, aboveboard and in accordance with the powers and mandate of the Department,” Cusi said.
The secretary said he is elated that the matter has been brought to the proper legal forum, “where evidence, logic and reason are used as bases for determining whether or not an irregularity has been committed.”
“That had not been the case at the Committee hearing where innuendoes, speculation and hearsay propagated by certain business interests dictated the course of the so-called ‘investigation,'” Cusi remarked.
“I find it unfortunate that the Malampaya issue has been politicized by those whose business interests must have been put in jeopardy as I stayed on course and performed my duties as Energy Secretary,” he added.
Cusi called on the public to go beyond what he believes is politicking.
“I trust that, in time, I will be vindicated before the proper court of the malicious and baseless accusations heaped against my person and the DOE,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that, in the course of the Committee hearings, Sen. Gatchalian had chosen to lend his ear to those adversarial business interests. It was obvious in these hearings that Sen. Gatchalian has sought to undermine the DOE’s ability to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the proposal covering the said sale of shares.”
Cusi said it is even more unfortunate that Gatchalian fueled a gross misunderstanding of the issue to the public by calling the deal “defective,” “lutong Macau,” and “graft-ridden,” which the secretary said is an insult to DOE officials and employees.
“At the end of the day, it is undisputed that [Service Contract] 38 or the Malampaya Deep Water Gas to Power Project continues to operate seamlessly and optimally despite the sale of shares,” Cusi concluded.