THE state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. has failed to convince the Supreme Court to lift the status quo ante order on the proposed privatization of the 246-megawatt hydroelectric power plant (HEPP) component of Angat Dam in Bulacan.

In a two-page resolution dated June 29 but was released only recently, the high court found no merit in the request of PSALM to lift the stay order so that it could proceed with its negotiations with Korean Water Resources Development Corp. (K-Water).

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“The Court resolved to deny aforesaid Urgent Motion to Lift Status Quo Ante Order for lack of merit,” said in a notice of resolution signed by SC En Banc Assistant Clerk of Court Felipa Anama.

As the status quo order is in effect, the Court has yet to rule on the main petition filed by several non-government organizations led by Freedom from Debt Coalition questioning the planned sale of the hydro-electric facility.

The groups claimed PSALM committed grave abuse of discretion when it conducted the bidding of Angat HEPP “in secrecy and in disregard of the people’s right to information, right to water and in violation of its mandate and the Constitution.”

Last May 24, or exactly one week after he assumed office, Chief Justice Renato Corona issued the order preventing PSALM and other government agencies from proceeding with the sale of the HEPP facility to K-Water.

Corona ’s order received concurrence from other SC justices during a full-court session held on June 16.

In their petition, FDC together with co-petitioners Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment Through Alternative Legal Services Inc. (Ideals, Inc.), Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party, Alliance of Progressive Labor and Akbayan argued that the bidding process for the HEPP last January 11 should be nullified for being contrary to the Constitution, law and due process.

FDC claimed Psalm failed to “religiously comply” with its mandate under the EPIRA, in privatizing all the assets of the NPC, including the Angat HEPP, in violation of Presidential Decree 1445 (Auditing Code of the Philippines) and EPIRA itself.

They said Psalm acted with grave abuse of discretion when it started the bidding process for the Angat HEPP without providing the public important information in connection with its privation.

Petitioners further said there was also no transparency in the bidding process considering Psalm’s refusal to provide them certified true copies of documents relating to the sale of Angat HEPP and the profile of K-Water.

They also noted the respondents violated the National Economy and Patrimony provisions under Article XII, Section 2 of 1987 Constitution and the Water Code of the Philippines when it allowed the Korean water firm, which is a fully entity, to participate in the bidding process.

Angat is the single most important water source of Metro Manila as it provides 97 percent of the water needs of at least 12 million residents of the country’s capital and irrigates some 31,000 hectares of farms across 20 towns and municipalities in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Besides Psalm and K-Water, also named respondents in the case are the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and five other companies who took part in the bidding process for Angat HEPP.

The five are First Gen Northern Energy Corp., San Miguel Corp., SN Aboitiz Power-Pangasinan, Inc., Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp., and DMCI Power Corp.(JCV/Sunnex)