Roque pledges to pursue Palawan's fight for share of Malampaya income

Published January 21, 2022, 9:47 PM

by Ben Rosario

Peoples Reform Party senatorial aspirant Harry Roque vowed Thursday, Jan. 20 to pursue his fight for the grant of 40 percent rightful share of income of the Palaweños from the Camago-Malampaya natural gas project if elected to the Senate.

“I will continue that fight in the Senate,” said the former presidential spokesman.

Roque, who was among the ten senatorial bets adopted by the BBM-Sara UniTeam reiterated his pledge as he led the turnover of sacks of rice and gallons of water for the residents of Taytay, Palawan who were affected by Typhoon Odette. The provincial government has been insistent on getting a 40 percent share from the Malampaya gas project.

Officials have been fighting for their claimed rights as they cited territorial jurisdiction over the Camago-Malampaya reservoir.

Since 2001, the Malampaya joint venture partners of Shell Philippines Exploration BV, Chevron Malampaya LLC, and Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) have been operating the Malampaya gas project.

Roque 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 reservoir is 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 disagreed with the High Court ruling even as he pointed out that 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.