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President Duterte has encouraged Palawan to eventually share its huge royalty from the Malampaya natural gas project with other provinces to spur development.
The President acknowledged that Palawan could be become the richest province in the country once it receives its share of the Malampaya funds.
“Alam mo ‘pag ibinigay ko sa inyo ‘yan sa Palawan, you will be the richest province in the entire Philippines. What will you do with the R72 billion by the way? Anong gawain ninyo? ‘Di ibigay na lang niyo sa iba kasi good naman kayo dito,” Duterte said in a media interview during his visit to Palawan last Thursday.
“I need money to build houses. Nag-aagawan na nga ‘yung mga Kadamay,” he said, referring to the takeover of government housing units by an urban poor group in Bulacan.
Duterte assured that he would give Palawan its fair share of the earnings from the $4.5-billion Malampaya gas project, a joint undertaking of the government and the private sector.
“Bago lang kasi akong Presidente. Tingnan ko kung may pera pa ibigay ko sa inyo. It’s rightfully yours so why would we claim it?” he said.
Duterte said his past two predecessors were unable to give the funds but assured the people of Palawan he would not forget the debt owed to the province.
Since 2006, the Palawan provincial government has been asking for its 40-percent share from the Malampaya funds in accordance with the country’s laws on the entitlement of local government units where the natural resources are found.
The national government, however, insisted the Malampaya oil field was outside Palawan’s jurisdiction and therefore not entitled to any proceeds.
The conflict is currently the subject of a case pending before the Supreme Court.
The Malampaya natural gas field fuels three power stations that generate a total of 2,700 megawatts, accounting for 45 percent of Luzon’s power generation needs. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)