The provincial government has opted to keep mum on the reported decision of the Supreme Court (SC) negating Palawan’s claim to a share of the Malampaya gas royalty amounting to an estimated P120 billion.
Acting provincial information office Caesar Sammy Magbanua said Wednesday Governor Jose Alvarez was “slightly surprised” by the decision reported in the media on Tuesday but has yet to be officially released by the high tribunal.
”Ang sabi ni governor ay gusto niya munang mabasa ang kabuan ng sinasabi na desisyon bago mag-comment ang probinsya at gumawa ng susunod na steps. Medyo nagulat din siya kasi nga unanimous ang vote na ang ibig sabihin ayaw talaga ng gobyerno na bigyan tayo ng share,” he said.
He pointed out, however, that even at the start of Alvarez’ leadership of the province, the governor has already been saying that Palaweños should not base their hopes and confidence on the Malampaya shares.
“Kahit noon pa naman sinasabi niya na huwag masyadong aasa sa share mula sa Malampaya. Dapat tuloy-tuloy lang ang development dahil maraming paraan na magagawa. Saka na siya magco-comment kapag nabasa na niya,” Magbanua said.
Earlier, Alvarez said he was keeping his hands off the Malampaya share issue despite senatorial candidate Harry Roque’s announcement in the recently held Palarong Panlalawigan that President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to offer a compromise deal for Palawan’s full energization.
“Hindi ako makikialam muna dahil baka magalit ang Supreme Court kaya ang pinakamaganda sa akin ay manahimik o maghintay lang,” Alvarez earlier stated.
At least one board member, Winston Arzaga, has denounced the reported SC decision, however, claiming that the ruling “already stole Palawan’s future.”
“It is a very frustrating and sad day for all Palaweños — it seems that they stole a big part of Palawan. Also, parang kinuha na rin nila ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kababayan. But our governor will find legal actions… pero nakakapanlumong balita ‘to sa ating lahat,” Arzaga said.
Board member Albert Rama said that although the ruling will “somehow affect” Palawan’s development, Alvarez’ leadership never really depended on it.
He said the provincial government and all national government offices concerned should sit again to “maybe” discuss a “fair decision” regarding the Malampaya gas share for Palawan.
“Medyo may effect din ang decision kasi nga ini-expect rin ng marami ang gas share to fuel Palawan’s economic development. Sana umupo ulit at pag-usapan kasi baka meron namang fair na decision. Pero ang province naman hindi talaga iniaasa ng malaki ang development sa Malampaya. Noon pa sinasabi na ni governor huwag mag-expect,” Rama said.
Since 2006, the Palawan provincial government has been trying to claim its 40 percent share from the Malampaya gas based on Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
The national government, particularly during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, claimed that the gas field where the share will be derived is outside Palawan’s jurisdiction, hence, it is not entitled to any proceeds.
The Malampaya natural gas project has been operating off the shores of Palawan since 2001, providing revenues that have been fought over by the local and national governments.
It is being operated by the Malampaya Joint Venture Partners composed of Shell Philippines Exploration BV, Chevron Malampaya LLC, and Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC). (with reports from Genn Cansino Magdayao)
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