by Riza T. Olchondra, 06 May 2015
from Philippine Daily Inquirer
State firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) was rocked by a top-level suspension on Wednesday.
PSALM president and CEO Emmanuel R. Ledesma confirmed reports of his suspension.
He said he respects the board’s decision, but has “reservations” as to its legal basis.
“I will have to clarify matters with the appointing authority. I am a presidential appointee, and I ultimately serve at the pleasure of the President,” Ledesma yesterday said in a text message.
He did not respond to requests for further comment.
The Department of Finance (DOF) yesterday said in a statement that PSALM had held a “principals board meeting” on May 5. Following deliberations, the DOF said, the board resolved to place Ledesma under preventive suspension for 90 days, effective immediately.
Lourdes S. Alzona, PSALM vice president for Finance, has been designated officer-in-charge of state firm, the DOF said.
The Governance Commission for GOCCs, through a representative, declined to comment on the matter.
PSALM, which is tasked to privatize the assets and manage debts of the National Power Corp. (Napocor), has been struggling with various issues of late. But at press time, officials have not clarified the circumstances that led to Ledesma’s suspension.
According to industry sources, the main reason behind the suspension was the reported change in PSALM’s mode of procurement for rehabilitation work of the Agus hydropower power plant.
In one recent development, which involved rehabilitation work of generating unit 4 of the Agus 6 hydropower plant, PSALM allegedly switched from competitive bidding to a negotiated transaction. Reportedly, this took place without Ledesma getting the approval of PSALM’s board of directors.
Also, it was alleged that under the previous terms of reference, financing was to be arranged by the winning bidder. But later, the terms were said to have been changed, such that the government must now provide the necessary financing to make the deal more attractive to bidders.
The resulting deal was reportedly stopped because it would have worsened the already poor power supply situation in Mindanao.
The Inquirer sought comments from Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla and Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, but none responded.