Malampaya gas field (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday slammed the Senate resolution recommending charges against Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and other officials over the approval of what lawmakers alleged was an anomalous sale of shares in the Malampaya gas field.

In a statement, Duterte expressed "grave concern" over the Senate's adoption of the resolution, as it casts "undue, undeserved, and unwarranted aspersion" on key DOE officials.

"The government values the critical role and contribution of the Malampaya Gas Field to energy security. I will not allow this valuable resource to be jeopardized and embroiled in the political antics of some members of the Senate," he said.

Duterte affirmed that Cusi still has his full trust and confidence, and shall remain as the head of the energy department.

He maintained that the national interest has been protected and the government's rights remain intact amid the developments involving the share sale and purchase agreement.

"I am calling on our legislators to ensure that our ability to compete is not jeopardized by political intrigues and innuendoes. Leave business transactions in the capable hands of the business sector. Let us respect their business decisions while we protect our national interests," Duterte said.

The resolution, penned by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, recommends the filing of criminal and administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission against Cusi and other DOE officials for approving and recommending approval of the Chevron Philippines-UC Malampaya transaction.

Gatchalian said the officials violated laws for allegedly railroading the approval to the sale of the 45-percent participating interest in the Malampaya gas project of Chevron Malampaya LLC Philippines, now known as UC 38 LLC, to UC Malampaya, an indirect subsidiary of Udenna Corporation, despite the lack of financial qualification.

Duterte, however, said that the sale and purchase of the stock of Chevron Malampaya LLC was a private transaction between private entities that must be respected.

He also reiterated that both foreign and local investments are "vital" to the economy.

"We compete for them with other countries, and our ability to do so requires me to create and maintain an environment conducive to the entry of investors," he said.

Duterte said that while he recognizes the Senate's power to conduct congressional probes in aid of legislation, this should be exercised "with prudence and circumspection, devoid of reckless accusations, and focused on improving existing laws". (PNA)