Cusi drops libel case vs. news orgs, journalists

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 24) – Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has dropped the libel and cyber-libel cases he filed against news organizations and journalists who published a story on his involvement in a graft complaint over the Malampaya gas field buyout.

Cusi executed on Friday an affidavit of desistance before the Taguig City’s Prosecutor Office, withdrawing the complaints he filed against reporters, editors, and executives of Rappler, ABS-CBN, BusinessWorld, Philstar, Manila Bulletin, GMA News Online, and Business Mirror last Nov. 29.

“Despite the hurt feelings and damage done to my name, a deeper reflection on what has transpired has led to the realization that the many interactions with the respondents have undeniably resulted in the forging of valued friendships and professional relationships. The filing of cases was precisely brought about by the hurt feelings from unverified actions or words,” Cusi said.

Cusi, known Duterte crony Dennis Uy, and 24 others were sued for graft before the Office of the Ombudsman in October last year for the sale of Chevron's 45% share in Malampaya to Uy's Udenna Corporation in 2019.

Shell Exploration BV also sold its shares in Malampaya, giving Udenna a 90% controlling stake. The remaining 10% is maintained by the state through the Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation.

The respondent-news organizations reported the graft case involving Cusi and Uy.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian denounced the filing of libel cases by Cusi as he emphasized this would further motivate the Senate to investigate the controversial buyout of the Malampaya gas field.

The offshore gas field located northwest of Palawan is a source of gas for most power plants in the country, but its reserves are already being depleted.