Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Palace keeps distance from Napocor coal deal

By Paolo Romero
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PLACER, Masbate – MalacaƱang yesterday kept its distance from the brewing controversy over a nearly P1-billion coal supply deal between the state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) and an obscure and under capitalized firm, even as officials said they are presuming regularity in the awarding of the contract.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he was not aware of the full details of the contract.

“I don’t have good information on that (deal). I don’t even know whom they (Napocor) talked with,” Ermita told reporters here.

The executive secretary was here along with other Cabinet members for a meeting on rehabilitation efforts presided over by President Arroyo.

He later called up Napocor president Cyril del Callar and asked for details about the contract.

Ermita said Del Callar informed him that the contract went through fair and transparent bidding and that the firm, Transpacific Consolidated Resources Inc. (TCRI), had foreign partners.

He said he was assuming that the transaction was regular and aboveboard. He said Napocor would clarify the matter to those concerned.

Among the incorporators of TCRI were a certain Leslie and Ressie Ducut, earlier alleged to be relatives of newly appointed Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut.

Ducut denied the incorporators were her relatives.

Ermita reiterated the Palace’s support for Ducut, whose qualifications, he said, “cannot be questioned.”

“Especially now that the cat is out of the bag about the contract, I’m very sure the former congresswoman will look into it and any connection of any of her friends. I’m quite sure she will exert effort to disprove allegations,” he said.

Ducut in a telephone interview maintained she was qualified even as she said she was taking all criticisms against her in stride.

“My track record is there for the public to see. My former constituents can attest to my performance, having been elected three straight terms to Congress,” she told The STAR.

“But I understand all these criticisms and I welcome them, it’s part of democracy, but I assure my detractors that I will do my best in the new job as I have done in my other public service posts,” she said.

No politics

Not to be left out in the cold, power industry players and consumer groups are hoping Ducut will stick to her word and not let political pressures get in the way of decision-making at the commission.

Sources from the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA) and Philippine Electric Power Owners Association (PEPOA) said they expect Ducut will honor her commitment.

The sources said this is basically the industry’s stand in a “wait-and-see” situation.

“As long as she will be true to her word that she will never succumb to political pressures, but that remains to be seen,” a source said.

Ducut, who faced criticism days before she assumed office last July 14, gave assurances that her apparent connection with President Arroyo and Bong Pineda will not affect her discretion.

While preferring to “give her a chance,” National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore) president Pete Ilagan said at the end of the day it will be the appointing body that would be responsible for all the actions of Ducut.

Don't forget...NO POLITICS Mr. Ducut, do your job well, if the congress or senate grills you on greedy and selfish reasons..Then why not tell them the Truth..The truth that they are a bunch of PIGS!!

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