MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Saturday, July 23, vowed a "nationalistic approach" to a tax-related arbitration case filed by Shell Philippines Exploration BV against the Philippine government before an international body.
"In the end, a nationalistic approach is necessary to make a unified stand. This is in line with the Duterte administration’s vision of unity in our country," Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.
"The Philippine government must have a unified stand in all its decisions and actions just as we have shown in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue," Cusi added.
He also said that the Department of Energy (DOE) "will exhaust all possibilities and avenues to study options" regarding the case.
The DOE will then bring before President Rodrigo Duterte "recommendations that will have one objective: to protect and serve the best interests of our country and the Filipino people."
This comes after Shell Philippines on July 20 filed a request for an arbitration case before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
The request is pending before the ICSID.
The case stemmed from a report of the Philippine Commission on Audit (COA) in 2009 involving the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project.
The Malampaya project, which fuels 3 natural gas power plants, aims to supply 40%-45% of power in the Philippines’ biggest island group, Luzon.
The COA report in 2009 showed that the consortium behind the Malampaya project, led by Shell Philippines, owes the government P53.14 billion* ($1.13 billion) in unpaid corporate income taxes.
The Malampaya consortium appealed the COA’s findings in 2009, but COA dismissed their petition. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P47.13
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.