Lady lawyer eyed as next PSALM CEO

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 15, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

A lady lawyer who is currently consultant of the Department of Finance (DOF) on energy-related matters is reportedly being groomed as the next president and chief executive officer (CEO) of state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).

According to sources privy to the matter, University of the Philippines Law School alumna Irene Joy J. Besido-Garcia is already being introduced to executive works at PSALM, while waiting for formal appointment to head the state-owned company.

Garcia is widely known on her connection with the Kapunan Law firm, which is founded and headed by celebrity lawyer and political personality Lorna Kapunan.

While transitioning, it was noted that Garcia is now engaged with works at PSALM as DOF consultant, although her legal background does not really touch much on the energy sector’s state of affairs.

PSALM has been headed by officers-in-charge since 2015, at the exit of its last Malacañang-designated President and CEO Emmanuel R. Ledesma.

First, the OIC task was given to its vice president for finance Lourdes S. Alzona and just turned over recently to Arnold C. Francisco, the company’s vice president for Asset Management Group.

The state-run firm still has massive concerns on its “to-do-list,” chiefly in managing the power sector’s monstrous liabilities and in the continuing privatization of the National Power Corporation’s assets.

It has been scheduling divestment plans for the supply contract of the Mindanao coal-fired power facility; as well as that of the 650-megawatt thermal power plant – but privatization plans for both power assets have yet to be given clear direction by relevant government agencies.

The other assets targeted for divestment are those of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex (at post-rehabilitation phase) as well as other hydropower assets, such as the supply contracts of Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) and Casecnan facilities.

The real estate assets of NPC are also being prepared at the auction block as these add to the scale of privatization proceeds that could pare PSALM’s humungous liabilities.

The bigger and lingering dilemma of PSALM is on retiring NPC-transferred liabilities – that based on calculation, may still hover at R500 billion at the end of its corporate life in 2026.

There had been proposals from the Departments of Finance and Energy previously to apply part of the Malampaya proceeds to wipe out huge fraction of PSALM’s outstanding obligations, but until now, that is still awaiting go-signal from Congress.