By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles has scored the camp of National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) president Melvin Matibag for supposedly defending the operating agreement between the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and a company with a P7,000 capital to run the multi-billion wholesale electricity spot market (WESM).
Nograles, senior vice-chair of the House committee on energy and representative of PBA Party-list, made the remarks following the statement released by the camp of Matibag, through TransCo spokesman Andres de Jesus that the operating agreement entered by PEMC—a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC)—with the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, Inc. (IEMOP) was “above board.”
Nograles reminded de Jesus that his statement “conveniently sets aside so many Republic Acts that we’re violated by the transfer of market operations from a GOCC (like PEMC) to a private entity.”
He stressed that PEMC and the people behind its deal with IEMOP “usurped the power of the President of the Republic of the Philippines by allowing the transfer of government-owned assets to a private company without his approval.”
“I am sure that President Rodrigo Duterte is unaware of this deal,” said Nograles.
“Sigurado ako blindsided ang Pangulo dahil bago pa mailipat ng PEMC mga assets na ngayong ginagamit ng IEMOP, kakailanganin ang pirma ng Pangulo, ayon sa RA 10149,” he added,
Nograles earlier explained that the PEMC–IEMOP WESM deal may be a violation of Republic Act 10149 or “GOCC Governance Act of 2011.”
The said law according Nograles requires that any GOCC like PEMC “must first seek endorsement from the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG) and thereafter the president’s approval, before transferring any asset or function to any private entity” like IEMOP.
“They are citing provisions of the EPIRA Law but are sidestepping on other laws like the Procurement Law, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Plunder Act, the GCG Act, among others. The overriding consideration on all government transactions should be public interest and our people’s welfare,” said Nograles.
Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc in an article last week revealed a possible conflict of interest involving Matibag in the IEMOP-PEMC deal, since his wife, Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes A. Garcia-Matibag is not just only an ordinary incorporator, but an official of IEMOP being its first treasurer.
Documents obtained by Politiko/Abante later verified that Mrs. Matibag was indeed the treasurer of IEMOP when it was incorporated in May 2018, and when it forged a deal with PEMC for running in WESM later in September 2018.
De Jesus in a statement last Thursday cleared Matibag and his wife, Ma. Rene Ann Lourdes A. Garcia-Matibag over the alleged irregularities, saying that “the mere insinuation that TransCo—or Atty. Matibag himself—can influence the DoE is not just libelous: it is, in itself, completely preposterous.”
Philreca Party-list Rep. Presley de Jesus on Tuesday stressed there is indeed a potential conflict of interest for allowing the IEMOP in the WESM contract considering the fact that one of its incorporators is connected with a top official of the Department of Energy (DoE), which is Matibag.
In another interview with Bondoc in his program over radio DWIZ, Nograles said the scheme used by IEMOP is worst than the Mindanao-based Kapa Investments, considering that from a paid up capital of P7,000 in May 2018, IEMOP has became a multi-million outfit by the end of 2018, with a total declared income of more than P100 million per month.
“Mas daig pa ang Kapa (Investments). Ang nangyari, ang balik sa kanila P100 million per month. More than P100 million per month collected from every electric consumer and they are hoping in next few months madadagdagan pa maku-kolekta nila,” said Nograles.
On Friday, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi ordered a review of the PEMC-IEMOP deal, in which Nograles hopes that “should shed light” on how and why a then four-moth old company IEMOP—with only P7,000 capitalization—was able to clinch a contract to manage the country’s wholesale electricity spot market “without any competitive bidding and in full disregard of existing laws against graft and corruption.”
“I welcome the decision of the DoE to finally step in and look into this dubious deal with IEMOP,” said Nograles.