With PH’s national interest as ‘guide’
CAGAYAN de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Monday urged the Marcos administration to already proceed with exploring the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for gas and oil.
“Let’s do it, let’s look for gas and oil in the WPS, especially in Recto Bank off Palawan, which reportedly holds natural gas deposits that are bigger than those in Malampaya, which by the way, is drying up in a few years,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the government should not think of what the Chinese would say and should be guided only by the national interest.
“They will always protest even if the exploration areas are not part of their territory. They are the interloper there,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez urged the administration, through the Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), to implement the service contract to search for gas in Recto Bank, which is within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
“Recto Bank could potentially replace Malampaya, which supplies a large part of the fuel requirements of power plants energizing Metro Manila and Luzon,” he said.
He said natural gas is cheaper than other fuels, and the closure of Malampaya in a few years, without a replacement, would mean higher electricity costs in Luzon.
The Mindanao lawmaker noted that the Duterte government had been trying since 2018 to iron out an exploration agreement with China that is compliant with the Philippine Constitution.
However, the former President terminated the talks before he stepped down last June.
“So let’s do it on our own. They should not dictate what we should do in our own territory. They should not force us to violate our own Constitution,” he said.
He said if some Chinese companies want to participate in oil and gas exploration, they could do so as sub-contractors.
Earlier, PNOC-EC president and chief executive officer Franz Alvarez, a former Palawan congressman, said his agency wants to make progress in some exploration areas in Isabela and Palawan.
However, those areas do not include Recto Bank, where Forum Energy, a company identified with businessman Manny Pangilinan, had been awarded a service contract.