DOE, IEMOP counter Pacquiao’s jabs


(UPDATED) The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) have rebutted Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s accusations of corruption in the power sector.

Pacquiao had accused the DOE of authorizing IEMOP to commence operations with only Php7,000 in paid-up capital and that the latter gets billions of pesos in the process. The senator-cum-boxing champion claimed that the contract awarded to the spot market operator did not go through a bidding process.

“Any allegation of corruption is a serious matter. [Pacquiao] must himself prove it with substantial and convincing evidence. As with all whistle blowers, he should be held accountable for his statements, and be responsible enough not to issue a defamatory statement and then just up and leave,” Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

Pacquiao, PDP-Laban’s president, and Cusi, the ruling party’s vice chairman, had been in a spat for weeks over its leadership. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte serves as the party’s chairman. The senator is said to have plans to run for President in next year’s election, while Cusi’s bloc is planning to field in another candidate. Duterte had threatened to call Pacquiao a “liar” if he could not prove his allegations of corruption within his administration.

Energy Asec. Gerardo Erguiza, Jr. also hit back at Pacquiao, stressing that the DOE has fully and comprehensively discussed and explained IEMOP’s legitimacy.

“If Sen. Pacquiao did his assignment, he will learn that the issues raised are re-hashed and have already been subjected to a full Congressional inquiry by the Lower House,” he said.

Meanwhile, IEMOP lamented Pacquiao’s allegations.

“We find it unfortunate that IEMOP was dragged into politics thru false accusations of corruption. IEMOP, the independent market operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), is right now in the midst of very important developments in the electric power industry designed to ultimately benefit the consumers,” the spot market operator said.

IEMOP stressed that WESM plays a very vital role in the electric power industry, pointing out that the transition of the market operation to an Independent Market Operator is mandated by Section 30 of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

As IEMOP is a non-stock, non-profit corporation, it neither earns income nor profits. It also doesn’t distribute dividends. It said the cost of operating the WESM is recovered through market fees which are filed with and approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission and are recovered from generator trading participants. Given this, IEMOP said it does not earn billions of pesos from consumers and does not have any contract with the DOE.

“We therefore respectfully request Senator Manny Pacquiao to spare us from politics. The WESM has been operating already for fifteen years and has made significant contributions to the power industry,” IEMOP said.