Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. insisted Wednesday, July 7 that there was no connection between the agency and the so-called independent market operator (IMO) for electricity that Senator Manny Pacquiao had tagged in alleged corruption.
“Malayo po sa bituka ‘yun dahil hindi naman po involved ang DOE diyan sa pagpapatakbo ng independent market operator (That’s far from the innards because the DOE isn’t involved in running the independent market operator),” Erguiza said during the Laging Handa virtual press briefing,.
“Malayo sa bituka” is a Filipino expression that means something isn’t fatal or is unconnected to another matter. Based on Erguiza’s remarks, he seemed to mean the latter.
“Ang ginawa lang po ng DOE from the start is to come out with a policy po nung pinatayo yung IMO. Pagdating sa operation, sa lahat ho, wala hong pakialam ang DOE dyan (The only thing that DOE did from the start was to come out with a policy to establish the IMO. When it comes to its operation, the DOE doesn’t care about that),” he said.
Boxing hero-turned-policitian Pacquiao has recently made it his personal quest to expose alleged corruption in the Duterte administration. He has identified the DOE as one of the agencies marred by supposed irregularities.
Pacquiao, who is currently in the United States training for his August 21 bout with American welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., had earlier claimed that the IMO–a private company called the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines or IEMOP–had been “raking in billions” from the electric bills that Filipino consumers pay.
DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a statement Monday that there was no corruption in the department and that the establishment of the IEMOP was provided for under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA.
Meanwhile, Erguiza in the same interview somewhat mocked the claim of the Pacquiao camp that they had thick documents to support the corruption claim.
“Kasi ang mga dokumento lang naman dito, walang kasingkapal ng notebook eh–incorporation papers, ‘yung policy, ‘yung batas, wala…kasingnipis lang ng notebook yan (The documents involved here shouldn’t be thicker than a notebook–the incorporation papers, the policy, the law, that’s it…it’s just as thin as a notebook).
“Kaya ‘yung makapal na ganyan, I don’t think…kahit tignan natin isa isa ‘yan, walang kuneksyon ‘yan sa IMO (As for their thick documents, I don’t think…even if we go through that page by page, that will have no connection with IMO),” Erguiza said.
He said DOE would welcome Pacquiao should he substantiate his allegations.