Consumer groups file graft charges vs Gloria Arroyo
Two electricity consumers groups have filed graft and malversation cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now Pampanga representative, over the disbursement of P38.8 billion of the Malampaya funds that they said started during her presidency.
In a 24-page complaint filed on Sept. 28 at the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (Nasecore) and the Boses ng Konsyumer Alliance Inc. (BKAI) complained of 96 counts of graft and 96 counts of malversation against Arroyo.
The groups cited Presidential Decree No. 910 which created the Energy Development Board in 1976 and aimed to “intensify, strengthen, and consolidate government efforts relating to the exploration, exploitation and development of indigenous energy resources vital to economic growth.”
Pursuant to the decree, several service contracts were entered into by the government for the purpose of achieving “self-reliance” in the country’s energy requirements primarily through “intensified and coordinated exploration, exploitation and development” of indigenous energy resources to accelerate overall economic growth.
“From 1976 to early 2000, no President dared to circumvent the purpose for which this law was enacted; at least, not until respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power,” said the complainants Petronilo Ilagan of Nasecore and Rogelio Reyes of the BKAI.
According to them, one of the service contracts was the Camago-Malampaya Reservoir, or the natural gas project in Palawan.
The complainants said that between January 2002 to June 2013, the project contractor was able to remit a net share to the government of P173.280 billion from the proceeds of the petroleum operations, later known as the Malampaya Fund, P38.8 billion of which were disbursed as of May 21, 2012.
The disbursements, according to the complainants, started during the presidency of Arroyo, whom they accused of “taking advantage” of a provision of PD 910.
In particular, they said that the funds were released from 2006 to 2012.
The provision they were referring to was on the decree’s appropriations provision, which stated that the special fund formed shall be used to “finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.”
Arroyo “willfully and unlawfully disregarded” the law when the funds were disbursed for other purposes like agriculture and irrigation programs, calamity rehabilitation projects, relocation and housing projects, infrastructure projects, transportation, national security rehabilitation and improvement projects—the “Pantawid Pasada Program,” among others—according to the complainants.
“A closer scrutiny of the … disbursements from Malampaya fund would show that all had nothing to do with ‘energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government,’” the complainants stressed. INQ