Psalm: San Miguel’s no-billing claim untrue

By Jordeene B. Lagare – February 29, 2020
from The Manila Times

THE Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) on Friday refuted San Miguel Corp.’s claim that it learned of its payables from the media instead of the state-run corporation.

Earlier, SMC maintained its power arm, South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC), has not received any billing statement from Psalm regarding the unpaid amount of P23.94 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019 for administering the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan combined-cycle power plant in Batangas.

“SPPC has also not received any billing statement from Psalm claiming the alleged unpaid amount of P23.94 billion. Interestingly, Psalm has released the figure to the media instead of informing affected party SPPC or SMC. Based on Psalm’s last billing statement to SPPC, it is claiming just P15.63 billion,” SMC said last week.

But in a statement, Psalm claimed that it transmitted monthly invoices to SPPC and sent a number of demand letters. “Monthly billings sent to SPPC as Ilijan Independent Power Producer Administrator reflect the amounts due to Psalm.”

“Clearly, there is no truth to SPPC’s claim that it only learned about its payables to Psalm through statements released to the media. Psalm’s monthly billings, demand letters and court pleadings all prove that SPPC is aware, or ought to be aware, of its payables to Psalm,” said Psalm President and Chief Executive Officer Irene Joy Garcia.

On top of the monthly billings, Psalm sent many demand letters to SPPC over the past several years. During a committee hearing at the House of Representatives on February 26, Psalm submitted copies of the demand letters sent to the SMC unit, particularly those dated August 9, May 9 and September 3 in 2018.

“There were earlier letters sent to SPPC demanding payment. The specific amounts claimed in these letters were varying because of the different cut-off dates for SPPC’s accountabilities,” it added.

Moreover, Psalm said it filed its amended answer with counterclaim against SPPC late last year, amounting to P23,677,232,704.00 as of Nov. 30, 2019. SPPC was given a copy of the amended answer with counterclaim.

Earlier, the listed conglomerate urged the Department of Finance (DoF) and Psalm to wait for the court’s ruling on the ongoing case concerning the Ilijan power plant.

“Let us not undermine the integrity of the court and return to basics. We choose to be on the side of law instead of presenting a good yet misleading story. Let us stick to the facts of the case and let the court decide,” SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang said.

SMC said the subject of contention has been pending with the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court since 2015.

Over the weekend, the Finance department said Psalm was seeking to collect P33.62-billion worth of delinquent accounts from independent power producer administrators which were part of the P95-billion total unpaid charges to Psalm.

The DoF had said that SPPC incurred the highest unpaid account of P23.94 billion based on the company’s bid to become the independent power producer administrator of the Ilijan power facility.

Amid the legal tussle over the Ilijan contract, SPPC has paid a total of P314.6 billion as of end-January.