MANILA – After Senator Manny Pacquiao included the Department of Energy (DOE) on his list of corrupt government agencies, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has answered these corruption allegations of his party-mate.
In a statement Monday, Cusi said Pacquiao must present “substantial and convincing evidence” to prove that there are acts of corruption in DOE.
“Any allegation of corruption is a serious matter. Senator Manny Pacquiao must himself prove it with substantial and convincing evidence. As with all whistleblowers, he should be held accountable for his statements, and be responsible enough not to issue a defamatory statement and then just up and leave,” the DOE chief said.
Pacquiao on Saturday claimed that the DOE awarded contracts worth billions of pesos to a startup company with low paid-up capital even without going through a bidding process.
“Billions are in the hands of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines which has been authorized by the DOE as the independent electricity stock market operator,” the senator said in Filipino during a virtual press conference last weekend.
Pacquiao has been naming government offices since President Rodrigo Duterte challenged the former to list corrupt agencies.
He also included the departments of Health, Environment and Natural Resources, and Social Welfare Development in his list of graft-tainted public offices.
“There was no corruption in the establishment of the IMO (Independent Market Operator). The establishment of a market operator [Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP)] was in compliance with the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) law,” Cusi said.
DOE Assistant Secretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. added the issues raised by the senator are “re-hashed” and have “fully and comprehensively discussed and explained in an inquiry at the lower House the propriety and legitimacy of the IEMOP pursuant to EPIRA.
“Sen. Pacquiao’s unfounded allegations involving billions of pesos seems to be an attempt to remain relevant so that people will continue to talk about him while he is abroad doing his job and getting paid millions of dollars,” Cusi further said.
Cusi and Pacquiao, both from the ruling political party PDP-Laban, had a rift after the former called for a national assembly without the permission of the latter.
Cusi is the party’s vice chair, while Pacquiao is the party president.
Duterte chairs the PDP-Laban. (PNA)