FRANCIS EARL CUETO AND JOMAR CANLAS
The Manila Times
FORMER executive secretary Ruben Torres has petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the transfer of shares in the Malampaya Project by Chevron Philippines Ltd. to UC Malampaya Philippines Pte Ltd. UC Malampaya is a subsidiary company of Udenna Corp. whose majority stockholder is business tycoon Dennis Uy, a staunch supporter of former president Rodrigo Duterte. The controversial transfer has been the subject of Senate investigations. A statement from the camp of Torres said the Malampaya Project marked the beginning of the natural gas industry in the country and is one of its largest industrial endeavors, providing revenues in excess of $12 billion. The companies involved in the project in Palawan are Shell Exploration B.V. with 45 percent shares, Chevron Malampaya LLC with 45 percent, and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) with 10 percent. Chevron Malampaya LLC is a subsidiary of Chevron Philippines Ltd. In 2019, Chevron Philippines and UC Malampaya signed an agreement for the purchase of shares and, in 2020, an Assignment of Membership Interests in Chevron Malampaya. Under the agreements, Chevron Philippines sold all its shares and transferred all its rights and interests in the Malampaya Project to UC Malampaya Philippines. The transactions were approved by former Department of Energy (DoE) secretary Alfonso Cusi. Chevron Malampaya — now a subsidiary of Udenna Corp., was renamed to UC 38 LLC. Named as respondents in the petition were Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla, Cusi, UC Malampaya Philippines, Chevron Philippines, and other senior DoE officials. Lotilla was included as a respondent since he is the current Energy chief without, however, attributing to him any fault or wrongdoing relative to the transactions which took place during Cusi’s incumbency. Torres, who was executive secretary under the late president Fidel V. Ramos, said the transfer of rights in the Malampaya Project was “without the requisite legal, technical, and financial evaluation required by law and regulation.” The Manila Times tried but failed to get a statement from the UC Malampaya.