Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Masinloc probe starts today

A CONGRESSIONAL investigation is set today into the questionable acquisition of the Masinloc power plant in Zambales by what has been described as a bankrupt company despite the departure for abroad of officials reportedly involved in the controversial transaction.

Rep. Alipio “Tikbong” Badelles (Lakas, Lanao del Norte) said he tried, but failed, several times to contact officials of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the agency tasked in the privatization of the government’s energy assets, to confirm their attendance in the inquiry to be conducted by the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) at the Senate.

He said Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, a PSALM director, has sought a postponement of the JCPC meeting because he would be “out of the country,” as well as the other officials of the agency who could be joining the trip.

“I have been contacting them but they were not responding,” according to Badelles, chairman of the House committee on energy.

The investigation will focus on the circumstances behind the sale of the 600-megawatt Masinloc plant to YNN Pacific Consortium, a Filipino-Chinese company, that has been described by Rep. Teodoro Casiño as a “totally bankrupt” firm that had to sell its shares to the Ranhill-Berhad of Malaysia to bail it of its obligations.

Invited to attend the hearing, to be conducted at the Senate, were Lotilla, Finance Secretary and PSALM chairman Margarito Teves, PSALM President Nieves Osorio, Energy Regulatory Commission Rodolfo Albano, Manila Electric Co. (MERALCO) chairman Manolo Lopez, YNN Pacific owner Sunny Sun and PSALM consultant Garry Makasiar, who brokered the deal.

Badelles recalled that YNN Pacific, which won the bidding for the sale of the energy plant, has continuously failed to produce the upfront payment of $227 million to acquire the firm, despite the two deadlines given earlier by PSALM.

As a result, the government forfeited its $14 million performance bond for the transaction.

Raul S. Beltran - Journal Online


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