Where did the P20-B Malampaya fund go?
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy reiterated only a very small portion of the total Malampaya fund disbursements of P20 billion during the Arroyo administration went to "energy related projects".
Documents furnished by the DOE show that P250 million went to barangay electrification for poorest provinces in 2006, the only energy-related project.
There were around P53 million that went to the repair and purchase of generators and lubricants but were coursed through the Department of Science and Technology, Coast Guard and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The rest of the P20 billion went to projects of the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and National Defense.
But Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the disbursement of funds to non-energy related projects are allowed under the law during Marcos time, and even during the Arroyo administration when Malacanang then issued Executive Order 848 authorizing the President to use the Malampaya fund to any project that she deemed fit.
According to Petilla, during the Aquino administration, all projects funded by the Malampaya fund are energy-related.
These include fuel for far flung island provinces, loan facility for the generator sets, Pantawid Pasada, Hamilton cutters and other armaments totaling P15billlion.
Asked how the Malampaya fund should be managed after the reported misuse during the previous administration, Petilla said the fund should still be within the president's control but a law should be passed to limit the use to energy related projects.
Petilla siad the P20 billion used for projects unrelated to energy could have been used for the following:
1. Energize 100% of all sitios (30,000 sitios unenergized) in the country which needs P15 billion to P18 billion;
2. Give out 8.5 million liters more diesel for a part 2 of the Pantawid Pasada;
3. Install 150 megawatts of solar panels amounting to P18 billion;
4. Rehabilitate hydropower facilities in Mindanao to boost power supply and minimize the power interruption there.
The Malampaya fund is established from royalties and shares of the government in energy explorations with the end goal of funding energy development projects. Since 2001, the Malampaya fund has ballooned to P167 billlion. The fund is still estimated to increase by P110 to P115 billion until 2024 when the Malampaya natural gas would have been depleted.
On the issue of the fund's misuse, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said it is time for President Aquino order Malampaya fund and other discretionary funds like PCSO and Pagcor funds to be returned to the National Treasury and for projects to be funded by these funds to pass through Congress.
According to Diokno, this will eliminate wide discretion on the part of the President.
"Even if we accept that he is honest, pero papaano naman ang magiging susunod na presidente, kaya dapat maayos na ang sistema ng pamamahala," he said.