Outgoing Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Friday withdrew his libel and cyber-libel complaints against seven news organizations over their stories on the government’s Malampaya gas field deal with Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp.
In a Department of Energy (DOE) statement, Cusi said he wanted to “move forward” from what happened, noting the “valuable” friendships and relationships he had with the respondents. He added that he wanted to “preserve” these.
“Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi today (24 June) executed an affidavit of desistance with the Taguig City’s Prosecutor Office to withdraw the separate libel and cyber libel complaints,” the statement read.
“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,” he added.
Cusi earlier claimed that news organizations’ Malampaya deal stories, which quoted the graft complaint against him, damaged his reputation and good standing in government.
He was seeking P200 million in damages from ABS-CBN Corp, company CEO Carlo Katigbak and ABS-CBN News Digital chief Executive Editor Lynda Jumilla over the story.
Cusi also sued Rappler, GMA News Media, Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, Philstar Global Corporation, Philippine Business Daily Mirror Publishing, Inc., and BusinessWorld Publishing.
Most of the stories were based on the filing of a graft complaint before the Ombudsman against Cusi, billionaire Dennis Uy, and several others over the sale of Chevron’s stake in the Malampaya project to the Davao-based businessman’s Udenna Corp.
The complainants—Balgamel de Belen Domingo, Rodel Rodis, and Loida Nicolas Lewis—alleged that anomalies in the Malampaya Project resulted in “a minimum of over P21 to 42 billion in total losses to the government.”
The story also mentioned Cusi’s earlier defense of the Malampaya deal, where he denied it was a “midnight deal,” as well as Udenna’s statement that the transaction was above board.