Hontiveros: Who is ‘mystery shopper’ behind Udenna’s purchase of Malampaya stake?
MANILA, Philippines — A “mystery buyer” is allegedly behind the Udenna Corporation’s purchase of a majority stake in the Malampaya gas field project, Senator Risa Hontiveros claimed on Tuesday.
In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Hontiveros called out Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for filing libel and cyber libel cases against journalists and media organizations who reported the filing of complaints against him and Udenna chief executive officer Dennis Uy before the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to Hontiveros, instead of filing the cases, Cusi should just answer the questions as to whether selling the shares of Chevron and Shell B.V. — giving Udenna’s UC Malampaya 90 percent of the stake in Malampaya — is beneficial to the country.
“Sec. Cusi, ito lang naman po: Ibinebenta na ba natin ang Pilipinas sa Tsina? Por kilo na ba ang bentahan ng ating mga strategic assets? Mula sa rollout ng Dito telecoms, tapos ang COMELEC deal, at ngayon naman, dito mismo, sa Malampaya at sa Recto Bank kung saan nabigyan din ng DOE ang Udenna ng service contracts,” the Senator asked.
“Ang gusto natin, syempre, masang Pilipino ang makikinabang sa kita ng mga resources na iyan. Pero may midnight sale yata ng likas yaman at iba pang serbisyo bago mag 2022, na hindi natin alam. Sino kaya si mystery shopper?” she added.
Hontiveros explained that the reason why she has suspicions that a so-called “mystery shopper” is behind UC Malampaya’s purchase is because the company has no background in energy exploration.
Hence, she said that the company might bring a foreign partner to operate Malampaya, which supplies most of the country’s natural gas and accounts for at least 20 percent of the country’s power requirements.
“Well the other factor that’s important to investigate would be Udenna’s actual capacity to undertake the full implementation of its contract obligations kasi hindi naman kilala ang Udenna pagdating sa experience nila sa energy exploration. Almost non-existent ang background ng Udenna sa energy exploration,” Hontiveros said.
“And Udenna may therefore be bringing in a foreign partner to help it exploit the resources in Malampaya and in Recto Bank,” she added.
Asked what is the nationality of the secret patron, Hontiveros said she is not aware of that yet. However, she underscored that Udenna, headed by Uy who is a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been involved in key operations in the country — from telecommunications, election logistics, and recently, the energy sector.
“Di pa malinaw, kaya nga tinanong ko sino si mystery shopper. There just seems to be a pattern of the entry of the Udenna group through Dito Telecoms, through the Comelec logistics contract, and now here in Malampaya,” Hontiveros claimed.
“And through entry into our critical industries or critical sectors of our economy, so with the shadow of a certain foreign country in the background. Lalo na ito ‘yong bansa na talagang tinatapatan tayo sa sarili nating teritoryo sa West Philippine Sea,” she added.
Last October, private complainants claimed that Cusi, Uy, and other Department of Energy (DOE) officials were conspiring to provide Udenna the shares of Chevron and Shell B.V, each comprising 45 percent of the stake.
It could be remembered that in November 2019, it was announced that UC Malampaya bought nearly half of Malampaya from Chevron. It was then scrutinized in the Senate just this May 2021.
The same UC Malampaya is seen to acquire the 45 percent share of Shell Philippines Exploration BV — doubling its stake in the project to 90 percent.
According to the complainants, identified as Balgamel De Belen Domingo, Rodel Rodis, and Loida Nicolas Lewis, the respondents violated not only Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, but also the provisions of P.D. No. 87 and R.A. No. 387 or the Petroleum Act of 1949.
But Cusi said that the complaints are mere harassment, noting that some of the complainants — apparently Rodis and Lewis — make it appear that they are patriots when the arey not even in the Philippines.
INQUIRER.net has sought the side of Cusi and Udenna Corporation to comment on the issue, but both have not responded as of posting time.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.