Senatorial candidate and former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (middle) with San Vicente mayor Amy Alvarez during his turnover on January 20, 2022, of relief goods and roofing materials for the victims of Typhoon Odette. (Photo from Harry Roque verified FB page)

Senatorial aspirant Harry Roque of UniTeam would continue his fight for the 40 percent rightful share of income of the Palaweños from the Camago-Malampaya natural gas project if he is elected this May.

“I will continue that fight in the Senate,” Roque assured Palaweños on Thursday, January 20, during the turnover of sacks of rice and gallons of water for the residents of some towns in the province affected by Typhoon Odette.

Since 2006, the Palawan provincial government has been attempting to collect its 40 percent share of the Malampaya gas, citing territorial jurisdiction over the Camago-Malampaya reservoir.

The relief goods and roofing materials donated by senatorial candidate Harry Roque to the victims of Typhoon Odette in San Vicente municipality, northern Palawan. (Photo from Harry Roque verified FB page)

The Malampaya gas project has been operated by the Malampaya joint venture partners of Shell Philippines Exploration BV, Chevron Malampaya LLC, and Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) since 2001.

Roque, a former presidential spokesperson, handled the Regional Trial Court (RTC) case for the petitioners all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 2018, Supreme Court declared that the province is not entitled to an equitable share from the proceeds of the project since no law grants Palawan a territorial jurisdiction over the area where the project was located.

In 2020, the High Court denied the Motion for Reconsideration, saying the gas reservoirs were located on the continental shelf, beyond Palawan’s territorial jurisdiction. It also said the Constitution did not apportion the territories of the Philippines among the local government units (LGUs), and that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea conferred no continental shelves on LGUs.

Roque did not agree with the Supreme Court. He said the case was dismissed due to an “erroneous ruling based on a misunderstanding that the province of Palawan’s creation did not state that the Malampaya oil field is within Palawan’s territorial authority.

“In my opinion, with all due respect to the Supreme Court, the decision was wrong,” he said.

“While we assert that Kalayaan which is 600 km away is part of Palawan; Malampaya, which is only 80 km away from mainland Palawan, is not,” Roque said.

Such “regrettable mistake,” he said, could only be corrected through legislation by giving Palawan’s rightful share of income.