Udenna insists Malampaya deal legal, as citizens sue Cusi, firm


UDENNA Corp. (UC) of Davao businessman Dennis Uy maintained that the deal it sealed with a Chevron subsidiary that has a 45-percent stake in the Malampaya gas field is fair and above board.

“At this juncture, we maintain that the acquisition of UC Malampaya Phils. Pte.,Ltd. [UCMP] of the shares of Chevron Philippines in Chevron Malampaya LLC is within the parameters of the law,” said Udenna spokesman Atty. Raymond Zorilla.

He issued a statement following reports that Uy, Udenna officials and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi face graft charges before the Ombudsman over alleged anomalies in the deal.

“We have yet to receive the supposed complaint filed against Udenna officials before the Office of the Ombudsman and have learned about it only through media reports.

At the proper time and venue, we will address all allegations raised against the company to prove that everything is done aboveboard,” he said. The DOE, for its part, described the graft allegations against Secretary Cusi as purely political harassment.

“The Department could not but suspect that political motivation may be behind the reported complaint as DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi is also the incumbent President of the ruling party PDP-Laban headed by President Rodrigo Duterte,” said the agency on Tuesday evening.

Two of the alleged complainants are Filipino-Americans who were reportedly identified with the “Oust Duterte” movement in the United States.

“Clearly, this is harassment, but it comes with the territory, so we will just address it at the proper forum where it was filed.

“I have no doubt the truth will vindicate me and the innocent people dragged into this purported action obviously filed for the singular purpose of political propaganda.

“Those who reportedly filed this unwarranted action want to present themselves as patriots when the truth is they are not even residing in the country. They would want to dictate government policy while living comfortably abroad. I say let them come here, so they can be within reach of our justice system when we get to establish that they are guilty of perjury,” Cusi stressed.

The DOE chief said he would answer all allegations in the proper venue after formal receipt of the complaint.

Deal OK’d in April

The DOE approved in April  the sale and transfer of Chevron Malampaya LLC’s entire 45-percent stake in the Malampaya gas consortium to  UC Malampaya Pte. Ltd. owned by  Uy.

The sale, finalized in March last year, is worth $565 million.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Sherwin Gatchalian found clear violation on DOE’s part for approving the Chevron-Udenna deal despite “insufficient foundation” of legal basis to do so.

“To be honest about it, what I am getting here is that you legitimized an illegitimate transaction. [It’s as if] this transaction is not qualified [but you insisted on making it] qualified and legitimized it. That was a clear violation in the transaction. So, why despite the violation, [did] your department approve this transaction?” Gatchalian asked DOE officials at a recent hearing.

The DOE’s Energy Resource Development Bureau—the group that assessed Chevron’s transfer of its stakes to UC Malampaya—almost did not go through evaluating UC Malampaya technically because the transaction involved only the sale of shares and the second party remains to be the same company with the same set of employees and technical experts.

The DOE officials even presented the technical and legal aspects of UC Malampaya, which suddenly changed the name to UC38 when it needed to be financially evaluated. “You evaluated the technical and legal aspects of UC Malampaya [but when it came to the] financial aspect, it became UC38. Because UC Malampaya did not hurdle the financial evaluation,” said Gatchalian.

“I’m discouraged by the fact that you admitted that there is insufficient foundation for legal basis, yet you pursued the recommendation and ultimately the DOE secretary approved it. Such an important asset was sold to a company that, based on your findings, is unqualified,” said Gatchalian. DOE officials noted that Chevron Malampaya LLC initially said that a review of the transfer of the shares of its parent company Chevron Philippines Ltd. to UC Malampaya Philippines Pte. Ltd. was not necessary.

However, DOE-Energy Resource Development Bureau Director Cesar Dela Fuente said that when Chevron Malampaya requested for a change of name, the DOE insisted on a review of its deal with UC Malampaya.

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