Pacquiao, Cusi face off in Senate; Gatchalian ousts Matibag from budget hearing

Maris Federez   •   October 21, 2021   •   431

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing on the budget of the Department of Energy on Thursday went sour as Senator Manny Pacquiao took the floor to question DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Pacquiao and Cusi are members of two opposing factions of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

In the committee hearing, Pacquiao asked Cusi about the alleged “tongpats” or markup in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

The lawmaker also questioned why the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEM-C) remains as a market operator despite the existence of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP).

“Nakita natin kung paano sinindikato ang mga nasa kapangyarihan ang EPIRA law. Kung yung trabahong para sa isa ay ginawang dalawa kaya doble doble ang bayarin ng mga consumers,” Pacquiao said.

Cusi then explained that PEM-C still manages IEMOP which was created in 2018 as part of the transition stage.

The DOE official also denied the alleged corruption and insisted that they abide by the regulations set by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

“Wala pong corruption. Bakit po ang capitalization ng IEMOP is only 7,000? Kasi nga non-profit, non-stock corporation […] Wala pong kinikita yan,” Cusi said.

“Ito pong sinasabing accusation na ganyan, masakit din po ano. And I hope it can be done outside the walls of Senate at kung may kailangan ikaso, ikaso,” he added.

Pacquiao also questioned the alleged relationship between Attorney Matibag who is the president and CEO of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) and PEM-C, which Matibag himself answered.

“If Sen. Pacquiao only read the EPIRA Law, buo ang kwento nito eh. TRANSCO noon ang operator muna, bago nag PEM-C […] Wala na TransCo diyan. Alam niyo let’s call a spade a spade dito sa hearing na ‘to. This is all political, Sen. Pacquiao. Alam naman natin to, ito yung pinapasabi mo nung bago ka umalis eh. Na sinasabi mo meron kang pasabog,” Matibag said.

This resulted in a heated argument between Pacquiao and Matibag.

It was at this juncture that Senator Sherwin Gatchalian who chaired the committee stepped in and dismissed Matibag from the hearing.

“This is my committee and you have no right calling this hearing a political hearing. The senators are entitled to ask policy questions,” Gatchalian said.

“You’re out of order. You’re no longer recognized. We’ve given you a chance to answer the policy questions but instead, you insulted this committee by calling it a political hearing. Hindi naman fair ‘yon,” he added.

Pacquiao also slammed Matibag’s action.

“Bastos itong si Atty. Matibag eh. Sayang yung pagka-lawyer niya, eh parang walang pinag-aralan,” he said.

“Wag po kayong mainit, wag po kayo magagalit sa’kin katulad ng ginawa ni Atty. Matibag […] Nabastusan ako,” he continued.

Cusi, on the other hand, apologized on Matibag’s behalf.

“I have to apologize for the interaction if you were offended by Atty. Matibag. I have to make that apology considering that he comes from the DOE family, so my apologies,” he said.

The committee set another hearing for the budget of the other attached agencies of the DOE. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

DOE exploring mangrove’s potential in managing carbon dioxide emissions

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday said it is looking into the potential of mangrove sequestration in managing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fire power plants as part of the Philippines’ commitment to successfully realize the energy transition without sacrificing energy security.

In a statement, the DOE said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has issued a memorandum directing the Energy Policy and Planning Bureau to examine existing studies, or submit its own study on the “possibility of putting up mangroves for CO2 emission reduction from coal-fired power plants”; and seek technical assistance from development partners for such a study.

“The study, if proven, could help the Philippines in fulfilling the CO2 requirements without sacrificing our goal to achieve energy security given our energy-neutral portfolio,” Cusi said in his memo dated November 24.

With the global community racing to find ways to curb the adverse impact of climate change on the planet, the DOE said mangroves continue to gain scientific interest due to their ability to stockpile significant amounts of carbon in their wood and soil, instead of releasing it back into the atmosphere.

“We recognize the need to attain our energy security in a sustainable manner,” Cusi said.

“However, while there still is a percentage of our power needs that is being provided by coal, we should actively explore the potential of out-of-the-box solutions that could reduce the harmful greenhouse gas emissions of coal plants,” he added.

The Philippines has earlier urged the international community to start implementing actions on the fulfillment of the nations’ commitments and obligations to humanity to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

Pacquiao, Go, willing to be tested amid claim that one presidential bet uses cocaine

Maris Federez   •   November 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Manny Pacquiao and Christopher ‘Bong’ Go said they are willing to undergo drug tests following President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that one presidential candidate was a cocaine user.

“We have a candidate using cocaine,” Duterte said during a speech held in Oriental Mindoro province.

“He is a very weak leader,” Duterte said about the unnamed candidate.

“He might win hands down. If that is what the Filipino wants, go ahead,” he added.

In a message sent to reporters, Pacquiao said undergoing drug testing among all government officials must be mandatory.

“Mandatory drug test must be required for anyone who wants to work in government, elective or appointed,” Pacquiao said.

He vowed that should he win the elections, he will make drug testing a requirement in his administration without prejudice to those who have already gone rehabilitation have turned their back on the illegal vice.

Pacquiao also encouraged other candidates to be open to the idea and have themselves tested for drug use.

“Although I’m not in a position to judge anyone on this issue, I am willing to undergo drug test anytime and anywhere. Sana ganyan din ang ating mga kapwa kandidato. Mas maganda kung hair follicle test para mas sigurado,” Pacquiao said.

Meanwhile, Senator Bong Go reiterated that, even if it is not required by law, he is willing to get tested anytime, anywhere.

“Katulad ng sinabi ko noon, kung ako ang tatanungin at kung ‘yan ang gusto ng taumbayan — anytime, anywhere ay willing naman ako magpa-drug test,” Go said.

“Ito ay para maipakita natin sa mga botante na fit for public service ang mga tumatakbo,” he added.

Go also underscored upholding the rights of Filipinos to be ensured that candidates have a clean lifestyle to be able to lead the nation.

“Karapatan ng mga mamamayang Pilipino malaman na malinis ang mga kandidato bago sila pumili ng mga mamumuno sa kanila. Wala dapat tinatago para makapili ng tama ang taumbayan,” he emphasized.  —/mbmf

Suspension of fuel excise tax, detrimental to economic recovery — DOF

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) expressed before the House Committee on Energy its opposition to the proposed suspension of excise tax on petroleum products.

The DOF warned that suspending the imposition of excise tax on fuel will cost the government about Php131.4 billion in revenue for 2022 which, according to the agency, is detrimental to economic recovery.

“The unrealized public spending and the investments from the foregone revenues will also be detrimental to our economic recovery and long-term growth,” said DOF director Euvimil Nina Asuncion.

Asuncion said that providing a targeted subsidy to the transportation sector will be more equitable than removing all fuel excise taxes which may only subsidize the consumption of higher-income households.

The Department of Energy (DOE), however, estimated suspending the excise tax on petroleum products will lower pump prices by about Php8 to Php10 per liter.

“We specifically proposed the suspension of the excise tax because of the urgency in addressing the plight our kababayans,” said DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

House Committee on Energy chairperson Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo confirmed that he will push for the amendment of oil deregulation law and the suspension of the imposition of excise tax on fuel products. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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