ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte – Amid the unabated increase in fuel prices, Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso vows to work for the full development of the natural gas reserves in the Liguasan Marsh located in Maguindanao province, which forms part of the Bangsa Moro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“May awa ang Diyos, kung palarin tayong maging pangulo ng bansa, I will see to it that the natural gas deposit in Liguasan Marsh will be fully developed so that our country will not be always dependent on imported fuel which is subject to price increases lalu na kapag may nangyayaring sigalot gaya ng sa Ukraine at Russia,” Moreno said.
According to a government survey, the area beneath Lake Buluan in Maguindanao’s Liguasan Marsh contains an estimated 68 billion cubic feet of gas worth at least $1 billion or P52 billion It is also believed to contain oil and coal if deeper digging is made.
“As we all know, there is a recent development that the Liguasan Marsh has deposits of natural gas and possible oil. So nagpapatunay talaga na ang Mindanao ang maaring magligtas sa ating bansa sa pangangailangan natin sa araw-araw at darating na panahon partikular sa langis na siyang nagiging problema ng hirap ng buhay ng tao kasi nga naka-depende tayo sa inaangkat nating mga krudo sa ibat-ibang bansa. E pagka-nagkakaroon ng insidente tulad ng pagsabog ng isang planta ng langis sa Middle East at sa giyera sa Ukraine e nagkakagalawan ng presyo at yang presyo na yan wala tayong control. World market price yan, so based on supply and demand,” Moreno explained.
Former Maguindanao Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu had said the unexploited gas field has become a source of cooking gas for residents. The provincial government of Maguindanao even distributed cooking stoves so that residents can make use of the methane gas freely coming out of the marshland.
“Palagay ko in 25 years kayang-kaya madevelop iyan I am very optimistic that the Philippines will be the next Dubai,” Cong. Mangudadatu once said in an interview.
The Mangudadatus of Maguindanao led by Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu have thrown their support to the presidential candidacy of Moreno. During a sortie in Maguindanao in February 20, at least 50,000 residents of Buluan welcomed Moreno and his senatorial candidates with the Mangudadatus pledging their full support to make him win in BARMM.
In the same interview, Moreno lauded President Rodrigo Duterte when he asked the BIR in his weekly televised public address aired Tuesday night why it has not yet collected a certain estate tax . Without naming names, the President said the BIR should not be reminded about its mandate to collect the said estate tax.
“Well, tama si Pangulong Duterte doon dahil yun naman ay due sa ating bansa. It only shows that yung pagkakapantay-pantay ipapairal niya. Eto, bagay lamang na makuha ng tao. E kung talagang tumatakbo tayo para tulungan at itaas ang antas ng pamumuhay ng tao, I think yung involved na pamilya na yon na siya rin namang kandidato, ay dito na niya ipakita yung tunay niyang pagmamahal sa taong bayan na ibigay niya yong marapat lamang para sa tao at para sa bansa,” Moreno said.
Moreno said an initial amount of P2 billion is needed to initially explore the Liguasan Marsh to have a clearer estimate of how much natural gas, and even oil, is deposited under the 220,000-hectare wetland that borders the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
“Now, If, and if, patunay na ang Mindanao ang makakapagligtas sa buong Pilipinas, then if I have P203 billion pesos na makokolekta sa isang pamilya na 30 years ng due at talagang ang desisyon naman ng Korte Suprema ay final and executory, at even the President as you have said last night na inaatasan nang kunin ito, just imagine, it will only cost P2 billion to initially explore Liguasan Marsh na makakatulong sa atin na makuha natin initially yung methane gas na kayang mag-produce ng sapat na kuryente o gamitin para makapag-produce ng kuryente sa buong bansa,” Moreno pointed out.
Moreno added “So, magiging sustainable o kumbaga stabilized ang presyo ng kuryente, ang presyo ng krudo kasi hindi na tayo dependent sa pag-aangkat ng mga bagay na ito. So, Mindanao is the key to our stability para sa langis, sa methane, at natural gas. So hindi mo na kailangang pumunta pa ng dagat, nandito na sa lupa ng Mindanao. And I’m happy to hear that, and I am optimistic that someday, somehow, with the P203 billion, magagamit ito sa tamang paraan at mapapakinabangan ito ng ordinaryong tao na nangangailangan ng tulong ngayon.”
Records show that BARMM’s Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) has granted a provisional registration to ES Maulana Global Ventures Company Inc. as an investor in the Bangsamoro region. ES Maulana is owned by Cotabato City-based engineer Esmael Maulana and is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company has paid a non-refundable P2 million to the Department of Energy (DoE) to obtain the service contract. The firm’s proposed petroleum investment in the BARMM was lodged under DoE’s Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program.
ES Maulana was the only applicant for the exploration and development of predetermined areas in Block 10 in Cotabato Basin and Block 6 in the Sulu Seas Basin.
According to the company’s brief, it has acquired Block 10 of the Cotabato Basin with an area of 384,000 hectares and the Liguasan Marsh and Sulu Sea Basin Block 6, straddling about 1.3 million hectares.
The DoE has yet to award the service contracts for the petroleum projects in BARMM despite the fact that the company’s proposed investment for the Cotabato and Sulu basins would amount to nearly P1 billion.
Awarding of the service contract for ES Maulana was held in abeyance by the DoE, pending discussions at the Inter-governmental Relations Body involving petroleum investments in the Bangsamoro region.
The Office of the President will be the one to finally approve the contract. President Rodrigo Duterte has assured that untapped oil reserves believed to be beneath the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao will not be claimed by the government saying it belongs to the Moro people.
The President said oil exploration in the area will likely attract business and spur development.
“So, I agree with the President and I hope na makuha ito (natural gas) soon dahil sa hirap ng bilihin, maraming nawawalan ng trabaho, marami pa tayong gawain na kailangan ng imprastraktura partikular na yung utilities, kuryente, maraming lugar,” Moreno said.#