PCCI expresses support for Malampaya probe

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THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) expressed its support for an investigation into the sale of stakes in the Malampaya operators, as previously requested by other business groups.

PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said in a virtual briefing Thursday that the Malampaya stake sale raises many questions that need to be looked at.

“We should actually look into it and… really find out what is going on. We want to be able to see both sides of the coin. We want this to be ventilated properly,” Mr. Yujuico said.

Mr. Yujuico said the PCCI is still gathering facts and has no comment on the actual merits of the stake sales.

“The PCCI is a very careful organization. Until such time that we have all of the data and the facts, I believe it might be premature to comment on that transaction. But as soon as we have, we are going to comment on this,” he added.

On Wednesday, various business associations urged the government to examine the sale of shares in the foreign companies operating the Malampaya gas field.

The associations include the Energy Lawyers Association of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Filipina CEO Circle, the Integrity Initiative, Inc., the Investment Houses Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Women’s Economic Network, and the Women’s Business Council Philippines.

“The government should scrutinize the buyer’s financial and technical capabilities and interests and should reserve, enforce and exercise its right to block and invalidate transfers of shares and control that may be disadvantageous to the Filipino people,” the groups said in a statement.

In March 2020, Udenna group unit UC Malampaya Philippines Pte. Ltd. acquired a 45% stake in the gas-to-power project previously held by Chevron Malampaya, which received the approval of the Department of Energy (DoE).

In May this year, Shell Petroleum N.V. concluded an agreement with another Udenna subsidiary, Malampaya Energy XP Pte Ltd., for the sale of its 45% stake to the latter. The stake is held by project operator Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. Currently, the DoE is validating the technical, financial, and legal aspects of the deal.

Pending conclusion of the review, Udenna is poised to hold a 90% interest in Malampaya, while the remaining 10% is held by Philippine National Oil Co.

The PCCI announced in the briefing that it will host the 47th Philippine Business Conference & Expo on Nov. 17- 18, which will focus on the need to rebuild the economy by adopting innovative processes and technologies.

“The role of innovation and technology has proven to be imperative to hasten the country’s economic development and in building a resilient and inclusive economy,” Mr. Yujuico said.

“As a business chamber, we have a major role to play in creating the ecosystem where the culture of innovation can flourish among our people, especially the youth and business enterprises, particularly micro, small, and medium enterprises,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave