The Department of Energy (DoE) has renewed a bid to use royalty payments from the Malampaya gas-to-power facility to bring down electricity rates.
Since he assumed the Cabinet post last year, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has been calling on Congress to pass a bill on investing Malampaya funds in energy resource and infrastructure development initiatives.
Cusi said it would relieve consumers from the burden of paying add-on costs in their monthly electricity bills.
The DoE, however, has no say in the disbursement of the Malampaya fund beyond remitting the royalty payments to the Bureau of the Treasury.
After a House budget briefing, the Energy chief claimed that some legislators were interested in the legislation.
He also noted the department had informed President Rodrigo Duterte about the matter. The President, however, has yet to reply.
DoE data show the Malampaya fund at P241.37 million as of June this year.
Palawan wants a ‘slice’
But it is not only the DoE that wants to get its hands on the money.
During the budget briefing, Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque noted ongoing Supreme Court litigation on whether the province of Palawan has a right to 40 percent of the gross revenue from the gas-to-power facility.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case in November 2009, but has yet to issue a resolution.
In April, Duterte pledged to resolve the conflict between the national government and Palawan regarding the proceeds from the Malampaya gas field.
Shell Philippines Exploration BV and Chevron Malampaya LLC operate the facility, with the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) representing the government in the Malampaya consortium.
The Malampaya gas field is expected to be depleted in 2020.