The Puerto Princesa City Council’s committee of the whole will continue its hearing next week of the controversy involving Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) board chair Jeffrey Tan-Endriga who allegedly demanded a P.40 per kilowatt-hour “off the book” cut from the sale of electricity that will be produced by a proposed wastewater-to-power project.
The accusation against Endriga was made by green energy developer and proponent Dominic Notter of the Matrix of Life LLC which has a business relationship with Langenburg Technologies.
Councilor Jimmy Carbonell, chair of the committee of the whole, said Wednesday they are considering another hearing next week to hear other information regarding the issue to make appropriate recommendations.
“Titingnan naming lahat [na mga councilors] para umabot kami doon sa punto nang pagbibigay ng rekomendasyon. Sa level ng city council ay puwede nang gawin ‘yon maliban na lamang kung mayroon pang mga impormasyon na darating pa ay baka titingnan din ng committee of the whole,” said Carbonell.
At the hearing on Wednesday, Endriga explained what were said and heard on March 1 in a meeting with Notter and the Austworks Corp. group at Durban Hotel in Manila should not be taken seriously because they were made while they were under the influence of alcohol.
Endriga said that what he said were misunderstood and he has no intention to ask for a cut or suggest any form of illegal transaction regarding Notter’s wastewater-to-power proposal.
“May ganoon [na nag-transpire] kaya hindi mo dapat puwedeng patulan ito, inuman, eh. Kaya nga dapat hindi na sini-seryoso. Kung official meeting ito bakit ka naghahain ng beer, bakit ka nagpupulutan? [Nang] dumating ako roon marami na silang nainom, siguro ahead na siguro sila ng mga two bottles. Ay, ako naka-apat pa yata ako. So ‘yon kuwentuhang inuman ‘yon, hindi formal meeting,” said Endriga.
The “misunderstanding” could have been avoided if Notter did not take it seriously, he said.
Endriga maintained during the hearing that he is not guilty of what he is being accused of by Notter.
“Wala akong malice, wala akong intension, wala akong bad faith. My concern as the chairman of the board of Palawan Electric Cooperative is the general welfare of our MCOs (member-consumer-owners),” he said.
Endriga reiterated it was an informal meeting set by him and Charles Ng Sy, the president of Austworks.
He said he was the one who invited Sy for a drink to clarify matters pertaining to the “buy-out” that allegedly occurred between Notter and Austworks and also to discuss their other personal businesses.
Endriga said he did not know Notter will be present in the meeting and referred to it as “ambush conversation.”
“Kaibigan ko kasi siya (Charles Ng Sy), meron kaming ibang business na pinag-uusapan na hindi connected sa ano (mang trabaho ko sa PALECO) kasi negosyante naman [din] ako,” said Endriga.
Endriga said it will be impossible for him to demand a cut from Notter due to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that places the subsidized approved generation rate (SAGR) under strict scrutiny.
In his defense, Endriga said he only suggested that Notter may lower the price to P6 and use the remaining P.40 for the incentives of his partners and to subsidized the electricity of the city government.
“Kaya ‘yang .40 centavos na ‘yan, sample lang ‘yan, walang katotohanan ‘yan. Ibig-sabihin nag-sample lang ako ng isang numero para magkaroon siya ng idea. Kaya nga sinasabi ko kanina, hindi niya alam ‘yong pinagsasabi niya, ‘yong proseso na dapat pagdaanan,” he added.
Present in the committee hearing on March 13 were Radyo Bandera Philippines’ “Kuskos Batikos” host Elgin Damasco; PALECO project supervisor and acting general manager Nelson Lalas; and Nestor Saavedra; city government flagship project head Rod Saucelo, and other concerned individuals.
Notter and Burton were no show at the hearing.
Meanwhile, Saucelo said during the hearing that Notter agreed earlier with Mayor Lucilo Bayron that in order to prove his proposed technology really works, he must first power-up the two City Hall buildings with the kind of electricity that will be generated from wastewater and saltwater.
Saucelo said this will Notter’s “proof of concept” to the city government.
Saucelo added he was disappointed with Endriga for failing to fulfill his commitments.
“Merong instance na nagkasabay kami ni Mr. Endriga sa airport tapos nangumusta ako, ang sabi niya may kulang daw ang Austworks na ganito tapos tinawagan ko si Mr. Greg Burton, [sinabi ko] ‘meron daw kayong kulang na ganito.’ Galit na galit si Mr. Burton ang sabi niya, ‘matagal na naming sinubmit ‘yan.’ So sa madaling salita all these years wala hong nangyari, walang aksyon ang PALECO. I don’t know for what reason kung bakit di nila inaksyunan,” said Saucelo.
Saucelo said Austworks technology is suitable for Puerto Princesa City’s electricity dilemma and that it could be one of the answers for its solid waste management problems.
Saucelo also noted that it was on March 5 during a meeting with Mayor Bayron that Notter brought up his accusations against Endriga
“I cannot help but think dirty, kasi three years itong (Austworks) pinakiusap ng city government ang waste-to-energy project na ito [pero] walang aksyon. Kaya noong merong nagtanong sa akin, noong [may] nag-interview sa akin na, ‘Posible kaya na nag-aantay?’ sabi ko, ‘posible’,” he added.
On the other hand, Lalas said they will no longer investigate the issue about Endriga, but will have a serious discussion about it with the members of the PALECO board.
“Sa amin po sa management naman, we keep doing our jobs to improve PALECO,” said Lalas.
He added they do not see the controversy affecting their overall work.