After ally was kicked out, Cusi says Senate hearing ‘unwittingly’ used for politics | Inquirer News
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After ally was kicked out, Cusi says Senate hearing ‘unwittingly’ used for politics

/ 05:00 PM October 22, 2021
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi lamented that the Senate budget hearing where his ally was kicked out may have been used “unwittingly as a platform to advocate certain political interests.”

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi lamented that the Senate budget hearing where his ally was kicked out may have been used “unwittingly as a platform to advocate certain political interests.”

“It is really unfortunate that the hearing was marred by issues raised by a few members of the Senate that sought to portray the DOE as a perpetrator of fraud insofar as the Philippine Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) is concerned,” Cusi said in a letter addressed to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday.

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Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee E, presided over the said hearing on Thursday.

Gatchalian removed National Transmission Commission (TransCo) president Melvin Matibag from the hearing after the latter called the deliberations “political.”

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This, after Senator Manny Pacquiao accused the DOE of irregularities. Matibag and Pacquiao are officials of feuding factions of ruling party PDP-Laban.

Gatchalian said Matibag had no right to call the hearing political in nature as senators are entitled to ask policy questions.

“While the DOE recognizes the prerogative of the Committee to conduct its hearing in a manner that preserves the integrity and order of the proceedings, it is our view that the budget hearing may have been used unwittingly as a platform to advocate certain political interests,” Cusi wrote on his letter.

“The accusations hurled against the DOE and other entities, especially those included in the video that accompanied Senator Pacquiao’s opening statement, were malicious and full of inaccuracies if not outright lies and were obviously intended solely to malign personalities therein,” the energy chief said.

Further, Cusi said it was “unfair” that the personalities dragged into Pacquiao’s allegations “were not given the chance to be heard, since they were not present during the hearing.”

Nevertheless, Cusi assured Gatchalian that the DOE’s policies “are always within the bounds of the law and its mandate.”

“We respect the Senate as an equal branch of Government and will not falter in providing you our unwavering support towards our mutual objective of promoting the interest of the public,” Cusi added.

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Gatchalian also wrote to Cusi reminding all representatives of the DOE, including TransCo, “to conduct themselves with courtesy towards all attendees of Senate hearings and inquiries.”

“Any abusive, offensive, or otherwise improper speech or behavior will not be tolerated,” the senator said.

“As such, until Atty. Matibag is able to behave in a professional manner, I am constrained to prohibit his attendance to the remaining hearings of the Commission on Finance (Subcommittee E),” he added.

Matibag apologizes

In a separate letter to Gatchalian, Matibag apologized for his behavior during Thursday’s hearing, saying he did not intend to disrespect the senator’s committee.

“My actions were a righteous indignation on my part as I strongly felt that there was an abuse of legislative privilege by Senator Pacquiao,” he added.

“To reiterate, my actions were in no way intended to be an affront to your office, to the Committee or the Senate. I did not mean you any offense,” Matibag further told Gatchalian.

JPV

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TAGS: Atty. Melvin Matibag, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Nation, News, Senate, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian
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