Monday, September 27, 2010

Rape with Consent?


  Rape with Consent? by Erick San Juan



The Aquino administration’s effort to investigate all Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) and other government agencies, where rampant expenditures and other perks are being given to government officials, is a welcome change. True to his words, PNoy is trying hard to eradicate corruption in order to achieve his commitments to those who voted for him (and for those who are still doubtful about his sincerity and capabilities to fulfill this).


Adding to the government’s list of offices that has to be investigated is the Malampaya. Just recently the “Commission on Audit has found that the government lost P53.140 billion between 2003 and 2009 from its share of the net proceeds from the sale of natural gas and condensates from the Malampaya project.”


This came about because the corporate income taxes of the project’s service contractors were deducted from the government’s 60 percent share, the COA said in its 2009 report on the Department of Energy. (Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer 9/18/2010 )


Then research group IBON urges the Aquino government to demand the service contractors of Malampaya Gas Project to immediately pay the Philippine government its share of the project’s income and refund the amount of taxes that the government practically paid on their behalf.


The understated proceeds are said to amount to Php53 billion because contractors Shell Exploration, Chevron and PNOC have been deducting their corporate income tax from the government’s 60%-share of the gas project since 2004. IBON notes that ironically, these lost revenues occurred during the period when Filipino consumers were reeling from sky-high prices of petroleum while the economy faced huge budget deficits.


The above mentioned reports appeared recently but I have been consistently urging the government for some years now, especially through my daily radio program (over DZXQ 1350khz, Mon. to Fri. 4:30-5:30 p.m. ), to look into the government shares in the Malampaya project. This is not new to all my regular listeners and I even mentioned about this a few times in some of my articles. Actually, the Malampaya exploration was a project of the late President Ferdinand Marcos with the late Armand Hammer, owner of Occidental Petroleum which was changed to Oxy and then Shell-BP. But like any ordinary Filipino will ask, why was the Malampaya oil and gas project given to Shell?


Let me quote a portion of Emil Jurado’s  column that was published in Manila Standard Today dated January 8, 2010 – “And then there was this sweetheart deal between Cory and Shell that exempted Shell from income tax payments in the multi-billion Malampaya project off Palawan . This still holds true today and the amount involved is P70 billion, according to records. Cory was said to be very close to the then Shell Philippines president, Cesar Buenaventura who showered her with attention and flowers daily.” After a while, Buenaventura was given the Knighthood of her majesty, the Queen of England.


Sadly, this Malampaya issue had to come out in the late President Cory’s son term, but like Hacienda Luisita, PNoy must tackle this very important matter that is very near to every Filipino’s stomach that involves two giant oil companies – Shell and Chevron.


This matter had to be addressed as soon as possible especially now that there is an impending electricity rate increase because the power distribution company gets its supply from the Malampaya natural gas through WESM.


The Filipino people is now hit with a triple whammy "chubibo" courtesy of the oligarchs here and abroad.  Are we going to just sit and be shortchanged again? And again? President Noynoy and DOE secretary Rene Almendras cant do something if we wil not get our acts together. Wake up Pinoy!

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