SC urged to resolve Malampaya fund mess case-A A +A
Thursday, August 22, 2013
A GROUP of Palawan residents asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to rule on a petition filed four years ago regarding the alleged unconstitutionality of a Palace order on the revenue-sharing scheme from the Malampaya gas project in the province.
The petitioners, led by Bishop Pedro Arigo, have assailed Executive Order 683 of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegedly giving the provincial governor and two congressmen a share of the P6-billion Malampaya fund.
Had the SC resolved the case earlier, the petitioners' lawyer Harry Roque said fugitive businesswoman Janet Napoles could have been prevented from "squandering" P900- million proceeds from the gas project.
A recent newspaper report said the money went to Napoles' dummy non-government organizations (NGOs) instead of communities in Luzon devastated by back-to-back storms "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" in 2009.
"With due respect to this Honorable Court, the petitioners, the people of Palawan, and the people of the Republic of the Philippines have waited long enough for this Honorable Court to write 'finis' to this plunder of public coffers," the motion read.
One of the petitioners, Gerry Ortega, was assassinated in January 2011 allegedly due to his exposes he had made as a radio broadcaster on the massive corruption involved in the government’s handling of the fund.
Prior to Arroyo's order, the Palawan government insisted that it has a 40-percent share of the gas project's proceeds under the Local Government Code.
But the National Government opposed this, claiming the natural gas reservoir is not under its territorial jurisdiction because it is located about 80 kilometers from Palawan’s coastline. The law provides that a municipality has control over marine resources within 15 kilometers from the shore.
EO 683 settled the issue by giving Palawan half of the disputed 40 percent to be used for development projects. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)