(File photo)

Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) board chairman Jeffrey Y. Tan-Endriga has been accused by Austworks Corp. of demanding a P.40 per kilowatt-hour “off the book” cut from the sale of the electricity that will be generated by the waste-to-energy project in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City.

The accusation was made on Friday by Donna Quixote through Radyo Bandera Philippines’ “Kuskos Batikos” hosted by Elgin Damasco.

Quixote, the daughter of former New People’s Army (NPA)-Davao commander “Dodong Buktot” who is said to be “very close” to former special assistant to the president (SAP) Bong Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdia and President Rodrigo Duterte, said she witnessed Endriga asking for the P.40 per kilowatt-hour cut on March 1 in a meeting at Durban Hotel in Makati.

The amount is different from the P6.40 “suggested base price” per kilowatt-hour that Austworx Corp. will sell to PALECO from its proposed waste-to-energy facility that is still awaiting construction in Sta. Lourdes.

Present at this meeting were Endriga, Greg Burton of Austworks in Palawan; Charles Ng Sy, Austworks president; another Australian businessman and investor, Dominic Notter, and her.

Notter, who in a previous Palawan News article was identified as the representative of Langenburg Technologies, which is proposing a wastewater-to-energy project at the back of the New City Hall, is Quixote’s fiance and investor of Austworks .

“Una po noong dumating siya doon, syempre kumain muna siya. And then, parang narinig ko na ‘yong mga tinatanong ni Dominic. Sinabi ni Dominic na about sa P6.40 per kilowatt ang ibibigay niya na price sa PALECO tapos sinabi ni sir Jeff, ‘I agree with that, PALECO’s gonna pay P6.40’ pero kailangan si Dominic mag-bayad ng 40 centavos kay sir Jeff and sa mga tao to make this deal happen,” Quixote said in the morning radio program.

The amount is the suggested base price of the per kilowatt-hour power that Austworks will sell to PALECO.

She said Notter asked Endriga three times about who are the group of people that will be getting the 40 centavos cut, but Endriga allegedly did not reply.

“Tapos ‘yong si Dominic nag-ask kay sir Jeff three times who are these people [that are] getting the .40 centavos. And after that, nagtanong si Dominic hindi nag-reply si sir Jeff kay Dominic. Kaya nag-send ng message sa akin si sir Greg that time March 1, Friday, noong exactly 8:21 p.m. ‘yong naka-record sa cellphone ko na message at ito ang message niya ‘Can I see you for a second in the main entry and then emoticon smile.’ Pangalawang text niya, ‘Dominic using that point, he is asking for his target payday, he does not give a s**t about anyone else but what he is going to make,'” Quixote read from the text message exchange.

Quixote said Burton also called Endriga “a crocodile” after demanding to be given the cut “off the books.”

“And then I replied, ‘I know, even me, I’m shocked.’ Tapos nag-reply sa akin ulit si sir Greg, sabi niya ‘he is a crocodile’ with a crocodile emoticon,” she added.

Quixote said her fiance told Endriga that he is willing to donate to the city government’s “carbonless fuel fund,” but Endriga allegedly reiterated that the .40 centavos should be “off the books.”

She explained that Notter became part of the Austworks group because he has a 100 percent green technology that can produce electricity out of wastewater.

Davao mayor Inday Sara Duterte, she said, was the one that encouraged them to offer the technology to local government and power officials in the city that is experiencing power problems.

Quixote also said that after learning that the issue reached Mayor Lucilo Byron, who got mad at him, Endriga had sent her a message cursing her.

Her statement was also corroborated by city special project head Rod Saucelo who said that Notter had told them about Endriga’s demand for a share from the sales of the electricity.

He said Notter informed Mayor Bayron about Endriga’s demand in a recent meeting at the Mayor’s Office with PALECO project supervisor and acting general manager Nelson Lalas, and two PALECO engineers, and Quixote.

“Ako actually, nagulat din ako. Actually, nadidinig ko nga nanghihingi ng P.40 per kilowatt hour pero I did not expect na ilalabas ‘yon noong Dominic sa meeting na yon. Si mayor, that was the first time na narinig ni mayor na nanghingi nga si Jeffrey Tan-Endriga ng ganoon at syempre si mayor very frustrated din siya noong marinig niya,” Saucelo told the radio program.

Saucelo said Endriga had also called him to deny the P.40 cut he is being accused of by Austworks.

Endriga had also threatened not to sign a resolution which is important for Austworks to show investors that PALECO will indeed purchase the power their waste-to-energy project will generate.

“When he was trying to explain kung ano ‘yong nangyari, ‘yong 20 centavos daw, tinatanong ko, ‘Ano ‘yong 20 centavos na sinasabi mo?’ Iniiwasan niyang banggitin yong .40 centavos. Sa akin talaga, he didn’t make sense. Hindi ko talaga maintindihan kung ano ang kanyang sinasabi. Pero ang sabi ko sa kanya kung idadamay mo ‘yong resolusyon, na sinasabi mo na napagkasuduan na noong board na ipapasa na in favor of Austworks dahil dito sa nangyari ito, hindi lang si Dominic ang inaaway mo dito, inaaway mo… kasi as a result of what happened daw ay hindi na niya pipirmahan ‘yong resolusyon that was already agreed upon… sabi ko sa kanya kapag ginawa niya ‘yon ang magiging kaaway mo niyan ay hindi lang si Dominic, kung hindi ang city government, ang taongbayan, si mayor at pati ako na,” he said.

He said he cut their conversation because Endriga was not “really” making any sense.

Saucelo said they have no reason to believe that Quixote will lie about what she heard in the Manila meeting. Notter will not also make up stories to Bayron.

In defense of himself, Endriga told Palawan News in a phone interview that it is impossible for him to make a demand because the subsidized approved generation rate’s (SAGR) approval depends on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

He said he does not know what Quixote had heard, but the P6.40 was only a sample base price he mentioned to Notter, who was proposing a wastewater-to-energy project that is different from Austworks.

Endriga said he told Notter to lower the price to P6 “for example” so that his project could subsidize the city government’s electricity consumption per request by Bayron.

“Sabi ko pa nga ‘yong P.10 i-allocate mo sa subsidy for electricity ng city government. Pangalawa, kako, the rest you could share it with your partners as incentives or parang paghahatian. ‘Yon ang ibig kong sabihin. Tinanong niya (Dominic) kung sino, sinagot ko just like Austworks or PALECO,” he said.

Endriga said he does not remember making this suggestion to be “off the book” because there is no way it could be hidden from the public and everyone involved, especially since all energy project documents need to pass through government agencies.

He said the accusation is surprising because of the different versions he is hearing.

“Nagulat ako, iba-iba na ang version na pinalabas na iniipit ko raw ang Austworks para lang mangikil. Ha? Anong kinalaman ng Austworks? Ang pinag-uusapan namin ‘yong technology niya (Dominic) na wastewater-to-energy na hindi pa natin nakikita kung totoo o hindi. Kaya ang sabi ko sa kanya kung totoo man ‘yan, ipakita mo, doon tayo mag-usap. Paano ko siya kikikilan ay di pa nga niya napapakita… di bale sana kung diesel engine ‘yan o bunker… ay, naku. I don’t know kung anong motive nila. Sinisiraan nila ako. Okay pa sana kung sinabi nila na humingi ako ng isang milyon o one time big time. Pero ito? Paano naman ‘yon?” he said.

Endriga also explained he cannot demand a cut from the P6.40 neither can he insist on another 40 centavos on top of the amount because it will be “procedurally unthinkable” and every deal and agreement on the price must be approved by the ERC.

He said PALECO and every board of director know that it is not easy to charge an additional amount on top of the suggested base price.

“Kailangan lahat aprubado ng ERC. Common sense lang ‘yan, actually ‘yong sa Austworks di na namin binanggit ang presyo kasi talagang mataas, P12 ang singil nila. Wala naman silang fuel. Tapos sabi nga namin hayaan namin ang ERC na mag-compute nyan dahil idi-disclose naman ‘yong any document dyan na kung magkano at magpapa-justify sa kanilang rate. Hindi na kami nakialam. But again, anong kinalaman ng Austworks sa P6.40?” he said.

Endriga said he was only suggesting because Notter was asking about what he should do for his wastewater-to-energy project.

He reiterated that he was only suggesting to Notter to make their group’s generation rate at P6 and to set aside the 40 centavos to subsidize the electricity of the city government because PALECO’s system does not allow “offsetting.”

“Nag-su-suggest ako sa kanila. Sabi kong ganyan, kung kaya mong gawing P6 ang generation rate mo at ‘yong 40 centavos i-set aside mo para i-subsidize ‘yong kuryente ng city government kasi hindi puwedeng i-offset sa bill ng PALECO kasi dadaan ‘yan ng distribution charge… may add on si PALECO kaya magiging P9 yan. Nakalagay ‘yan sa resibo. Ang ibig kung sabihin, baka di nila naiintindihan, ‘yong P6 set aside for generation cost or activity, ‘yong OPEX (operation expenditure), ‘yong 40 centavos hindi ko sinasabi na ibigay sa akin kung hindi i-allocate mo… kasi I discouraged them to subsidize the city government para meron silang limit kasi kung hindi, maaabuso ‘yong paggamit ng kuryente. Baka mapunta na lang ‘yong kikitain niya sa pag-subsidize,” Endriga said.

He said he told Notter to set aside instead one centavo per kilowatt-hour for the subsidy of the city government, and the 39 centavos can be shared to partners like Austworks and PALECO.

“PALECO ang sinabi ko. Hindi ko sinabing ako. Baka ang pagkaintindi niya ay ako, hindi PALECO. PALECO ang sinasabi ko at Austworks. Hindi ko ito inaasahan ang gagawin nila,” he said.

Endriga admits that meeting the group unofficially was a mistake but he did not realize that Notter would miscomprehend what he said and make up a story about it with Bayron.

He said although the meeting was unsanctioned, it was part of the Chairman’s Report he submitted recently to the PALECO board meeting.

On the accusation that he had asked for P22,000 to be deposited to his bank account supposedly to pay a KTV Bar, Endriga said it was his money that Sy borrowed for an activity that Austworks has nothing to do about.

“Humiram sa akin ng pera si Charles at ibang lakad ‘yon walang kinalaman ang Austworks sa lakad noon. Ang mahirap baka siningil ni Charles sa kanila gamit ang pangalan ko. Mas bata sa akin ito, mga 38 to 40 ‘yan na Chinoy. Kaya di ko akalain na ginamit ako sa pagbayad hindi na nga ako nag-expect na babayaran niya ako dahil almost four days na ata bago niya nabayaran. Grabe naman, overkill na ako nito sa ginawa nila,” he said.

He also denied asking to be billeted in three-star hotels or demanding for posh accommodations whenever he goes to Manila.

Endriga also vehemently denied requesting Austworks to give him “female entertainers” whenever they meet.

“Sobra-sobra naman na ito. Sasabihin pa nila nagde-demand daw ako ng accommodation, nagde-demand daw ako ng babae, parang gusto ko sabihin gaano ba karami ang babae niya? Bakit ako maghahanap sa kanya? Diyos ko naman. Parang ako ‘yong dayuhan at siya ang taga-rito. Never kaming pumunta sa ganyan. Meron sa ibang grupo, totoo ‘yan, pero sa kanila hindi. Yong presidente nila ang sigeng invite sa akin na mag-punta sa ganyan pero hindi ko tinanggap ang invitation niya kasi that night madaling araw ang alis ko ayokong mapuyat. Gusto nila mag-bar hopping ay maaga ang alis ko,” he stated.

Asked if he plans to resolve the matter legally against Notter and Austworks, Endriga said he has no money to pay for a lawyer.

But he reiterated that to be accused of demanding for a cut is not going to be possible because Palawan’s power is subsidized.

“Yong P6.40 tapos pumatong pa daw ako ng 40 centavos, fabricated, fake news ang ginagawa nila dahil mali-mali ang sinasabi nila. Nag-suggest ako, hindi pala nila naintindihan. Ako pa ang lumabas na masama dito,” he said.