The Udenna unit that that bought Chevron’s 45% stake in the Malampaya gas-to-power project is foreign-owned, according to retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday, Carpio pointed out that UC Malampaya is a Singapore-registered firm, which violates the provisions of the 1987 Constitution stating that natural resources can only be exploited by Filipinos and that Filipinos must hold a 60% share in joint ventures.
Carpio clarified that while multinational oil firms Chevron and Shell owned 90% of Malampaya, their contracts were signed prior to the current charter.
UC Malampaya bought Chevron’s stake for $565 million in March 2020 and was approved by the Department of Energy (DOE) last April. A month later, Udenna, this time through Malampaya Energy XP, bought Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.’s 45% stake for $460 million.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) has also joined calls for the DOE to revoke the transfer of Malampaya’s shares to Udenna, particularly asking the department to put the national interest above all else. The PBA is the country’s oldest voluntary national organization of lawyers.
The group argued that Malampaya’s original operators have run the facility competently for decades and that the public interest is better served by letting them continue rather than transferring the facility to an entity that presents significant security risks.
“It is a facility that sits right smack in an area that has grave national security implications,” the PBA further emphasized. As such, the lawyers group said the government should have “not been shy in applying a militarized pandemic approach…in guarding a precious national asset.”
“That it ended up the hands of an entity that is not technically or financially sound is beyond negligent, it is criminal,” it declared.
It then urged the Senate to continue its probe into the Udenna deals and the Office of the Ombudsman to expedite the complaints filed before it. Graft cases have been filed against Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi and Udenna owner Dennis Uy over the Malampaya scandal.
Davao-based Uy was one of Duterte’s biggest financiers in the 2016 elections.