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Oil and gas exploration in areas covered by ancestral domain will push through

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Despite the fact that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are still in the process of settling the issue of ancestral domain (AD) Malacanang announced that oil and gas explorations in areas considered as ancestral domain will push through in a bid to reduce importation of oil and gas.

During the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said the government is not suspending the exploration of the country’s oil and natural gas resources.

Carandang was reacting to the statement of the MILF which called on the Aquino government to first settle the issue of ancestral domain (AD) before any exploration or investment takes place.

“Nag-aangkat po tayo ng 90 percent na pangangailangan natin ng langis from other countries. If we can do anything to reduce this number of oil and gas that importation and perhaps produce it ourselves, the net effect will be positive for the economy,” he added.

Reports said Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF Central Committee Secretariat, issued a statement calling the government to suspend the oil and gas exploration process in Sulu and Cotabato.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the total investment potential of the 4th Philippine Energy Contracting Round amounted to US $7.5 billion. The contract areas cover at least 10 million hectares that could hold rich reserves in northwest Palawan, east Palawan and the Sulu Sea.

MILF and government negotiators met in formal talks last June 27 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The issue of the ancestral domain was among the concerns raised during the peace talks.

President Benigno S. Aquino III earlier bared the revived investor confidence specifically in the energy sector, citing over a hundred companies that expressed readiness to participate in the exploration process and efforts to strengthen the country’s oil and natural gas resources.

President Aquino noted the signing of a new contract, for the construction of a power plant in Luzon that will not only lower the price of energy but also provide a more reliable source.

(PCOO/PIA9-BST)




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