By Cheryl A. Galili
PUERTO PRINCESA and Palawan government officials are appealing to the Kilusan Love Malampaya (KLM), a civil society group defending the province’s rightful revenue claim from the Malampaya natural gas project offshore, not to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) against executive order (EO) 683.
Governor Joel T. Reyes, along with 2nd Palawan District Rep. Abraham Mitra, 1st Palawan District Office Rep. Tony Alvarez and Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn have also issued the same appeal to the Catholic Church and other individuals that and who are opposed to the implementation of the EO if they care for the welfare of the development of the city and province.
The appeal came in the midst of a pronouncement by lawyer Harry Roque of KLM that they will file a TRO against the executive order in Manila as it is illegal and not the 40% share the province is entitled to get from the Malampaya.
“This EO that the President signed only gives a portion to Palawan. It doesn’t follow the 60%-40% that’s in the Local Government Code. It’s only 20% that the President is giving because the 40% is still disputed. The intended beneficiaries which are education and environment protection are not followed. Instead the fund will be used like it’s pork barrel of the governor and the two congressmen and this is what we oppose because, it’s against the law; second, it’s not supposed to be a pork barrel by the politicians,” Roque said during a radio interview that was transcribed by the Provincial Information Office (PIO).
To this, Hagedorn said that although everybody has the right to question the legality of the EO, he also said that the fund signed in the agreement from the Malampaya is a “hope” for the city’s infrastructure and other development projects to strengthen its tourism industry and growth in the barangays.
In interviews over the radio, Baham said Roque is not from Palawan therefore, does not know the needs of its people. He dispelled what the lawyer said that they’ll be spending the fund like “pork barrel.”
“Dividing the share is just pointing at the method on how it will be used for the development of Palawan. We are not going to handle the implementation of the project but the agencies,” he said, citing the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) role in road improvements and rehabilitations.
He challenged members of the KLM to go to remote areas and see what the people need. More schools, he explained, are needed, as well as more roads to reach remotely situated communities.
In related news, Reyes said the case the province filed against the national government has no development until now except the signing of a provisional agreement and the EO.
Recently, he went to the office of Andaya and brought him their request for the release of the 20% signed in agreement in the EO. Andaya reportedly replied that it will be released as soon as they have formulated the implementing rules and regulation.
Reyes added too that they will already be submitting the first batch of priority projects from the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) of the province.
It can be recalled that prior to the 2004 elections, the national government released a P600-million Malampaya fund for the province through E.O. Nos. 254 and 254-A.
The national government and provincial government agreed for the common utilization of the net government share of the Malampaya until June 30, 2010, or until the Court decides on the case with finality.