By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Former Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi faces a criminal complaint before the Valenzuela City Prosecutor’s Office following the filing of cyber libel charges made by Senator Win Gatchalian.
Gatchalian’s complaint was based on Cusi’s official statement posted on the DOE website on February 4, 2022, that casts malice on the reputation and integrity of the senator and the Senate Committee on Energy’s investigation during the 18th Congress on the issues surrounding the transfer of the 45% participating interest of Chevron Philippines in the Malampaya gas project.
According to Gatchalian, Cusi’s statement was defamatory because it characterizes the committee hearings as based solely on speculation and hearsay propagated by certain business interests.
“Cusi’s statement is clearly defamatory and obviously intended to cause dishonor, discredit, or contempt not merely of my position as a Senator of the Republic but more importantly of my integrity as a public servant,” Gatchalian said, adding that the integrity of the whole Senate as an institution was also put into question.
“A simple reading of Cusi’s statement shows that he characterizes the conduct of the Senate investigation as being tainted with bad faith for being highly irregular and politicized,” he added.
Cusi made his statement after Senate Resolution No. 137, proposed by Gatchalian and adopted by the Senate, was transmitted to the Office of the Ombudsman. The said resolution expressed the sense of the Senate to file the appropriate criminal and administrative charges for gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against the former Energy Secretary and other concerned DOE officials for approving and recommending the Chevron Philippines-UC Malampaya transaction contrary to law and regulation.
The senator also filed the Chairman’s Report, which was the basis of the said Senate Resolution, before the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
“Cusi’s statement was made with actual malice because from the very beginning, he knows that his statement is untruthful since he is aware that I or any of the members of the Senate Committee on Energy were never influenced by any business interest in the course of the Senate investigation,” Gatchalian said.
“He never called my attention to my alleged involvement in whatever he was ranting about nor did he raise the issue, whether formally or informally, during the Senate investigation. Cusi should have filed a complaint against me before the Senate Ethics Committee or the Office of the Ombudsman if he’s accusing me of committing a crime. Until the present, I have not received any formal complaint regarding this matter,” the senator concluded. (ai/mtvn)