PRESIDENT ARROYO RELEASES P300-M FINANCIAL AID TO PALAWAN

MANILA, December 13, 2003  (STAR) President Arroyo has issued Executive Order No. 254 authorizing the release of P300 million to Palawan from the government’s net share from the proceeds of the Camago-Malampaya gas project.

Provincial officials hailed the President’s move as a gesture of goodwill for Palawan.

"We are gladdened by this announcement of the President because it will help us implement our development projects," said Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes in a statement.

Palawan has a case pending with the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court seeking a declaration that the Camago-Malampaya gas field is within the territorial jurisdiction of the province.

The President, however, assured Palawan officials that the financial assistance would not prejudice any ongoing discussions or legal discourse on the national government’s territorial jurisdiction over the areas covered by Service Contract No. 38.

The court case stemmed from the national government’s position that the Malampaya gas field is located beyond the 15-kilometer limit of municipal waters, thus Palawan has no legal claims to the 40 percent share from the national wealth as stipulated in the Local Government Code. But Palawan officials argued otherwise.

In EO 254, the President authorized the release of funds from the government’s net share from SC No. 38 over the Camago-Malampaya natural gas reservoir as a form of financial assistance to the province.

Reyes, however, said the President’s action will not change Palawan’s position on the pending court case.

"We will not withdraw our petition for a declaratory relief. We will continue to pursue our legal battle that the Camago-Malampaya gas field is within the territorial jurisdiction of Palawan," he said.

Provincial information officer Rolando Bonoan Jr. disclosed that during the past weeks, there have been efforts among officials of the national government and the provincial government to reach a court-supervised settlement.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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