By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. has been urged to finally accept the offer of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President and CEO Ramon Ang to pay in advance its multi-billion obligations for administering the Ilijan Power Plant in Batangas.
During Wednesday’s hearing of the House committee on public accounts, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said PSALM should not hesitate to accept the offer of SMC which could have been used by the conglomerate to put up more power plants.
SMC’s South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC)—the subsidiary that runs the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan Power Plant—has been locked in a legal battle with PSALM since 2015 over the computation of generation charges for Ang’s firm.
“I’d like to thank the SPPC that they pay on the capital payment—P22 billion,” said Rodriguez.
“They could have used it to be able to put up more plants to provide energy for the people. But no, it is going to give up P22 billion,” he added.
PSALM legal counsel Irene Garcia said they are already studying the proposal being offered by SMC.
“We will study it,” Garcia told the House panel during the SMC’s presentation of their proposal to advance its multi-billion obligations.
Garcia stressed that if PSALM accepts the offer, it would be “without prejudice” in pursuing its previous billings to SPPC amounting to P23.9 billion.
The SMC subsidiary had contested in a complaint filed with the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court more than five years ago. The case is still pending.
Committee on public accounts chair Mike Defensor said he would support a decision on the part of PSALM if they will accept SMC’s offer.
Defensor stressed that the money that will be collected from SMC can be used to “augment the funds of the Department of Health and government hospitals in containing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and in treating patients.”
During the hearing, some congressmen urged SMC-SPPC and PSALM to agree on a compromise for the P23.9 billion in previous billings.
But both sides said they would just await the court’s decision on the SPPC complaint.