By Minerva BC Newman and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Alegria, Cebu – President Duterte led over the weekend the ceremonial valve opening of the Alegria Oilfield Polyard-3 Well Site, here, noting that “Alegria is rich” and that the oil and gas fields of this southwestern town of Cebu would generate numerous job opportunities and income for Filipinos.
Duterte, upon his arrival at the event on Saturday, was briefed by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and China International Mining Petroleum (CIMP) Assistant Country Manager Edgar Benedict Cutiingco.
“Dato ang Alegria (Alegria is rich),” the President said as he addressed the crowd gathered in Barangay Montpeller, here.
The Alegria oilfield serves as a major breakthrough in the Philippine oil and gas industry. It covers a total area of 197,000 hectares with about 42,749 hectares devoted to the production area.
He said the production of oil and gas here would help Alegria town become progressive.
Duterte then addressed local officials, telling them to prepare for a massive migration into their town. “Prepare for an expansive human and economic development. Madaghan nang mga tawo diri. (People will flock here.) Prepare for that and do not forget your fellowmen here,” he said.
“It is a magnet that draws people together. But since we are Filipinos, you should accommodate them and partake of the bounties of what God has given us in the bowels of the earth,” Duterte said.
He urged Alegria town officials to improve the town’s urban planning and land use and to spend the income for local infrastructure, improve living conditions of the people here and promote gainful employment for the people of Alegria.
“I can see your own airstrip here, which you can be proud of as your means of transportation from Alegria to other parts of the province and back,” Duterte said.
The Alegria oilfield serves as a breakthrough in the Philippine oil and gas industry.
The oilfield is currently operated by China International Mining Petroleum Company Ltd. with its partners Skywealth Group Holdings Ltd. And Phil-Mal Energy International Inc. with a US $30.80-million (about P1.61 billion) investment.
Alegria mayor Verna Magallon, on the other hand welcomed these positive developments in her town. She told Manila Bulletin that with the income derived from the shared benefits of 18 percent to the town and 14 percent to the host barangay, we expect to improve our municipality classification from a 4th class town to a 3rd class municipality.
Magallon added she will prioritize the provision of potable water and electricity to all the barangays because those are the urgent needs today.
“Eventually, we will improve our health services (free medicines), more social benefits for the senior citizens and persons with disabilities as well as infrastructure support to organic agriculture in the barangays. We want to develop Alegria as the organic vegetable garden in Cebu and in the region,” Magallon said.
Share your blessings
“So prepare for that because I said gihatag sa Gino-o sa inyo eh (God gave you that blessing). And do not forget your fellowmen. Muanhi sila ngari (If they come here), then you’ll support them. Nanginabuhi lang pud na (They’re just making a living),” he added.
“So I hope that you don’t lose sight of the fact that we are all Filipinos. And although gibutang na si Gino-o diri para sa tanang Pilipino (although God placed that here, that’s also for all Filipinos),” he continued.
Not like Malampaya
The President, however, said that he will not allow the oilfield to be like Malampaya gas field which failed to pay its tax liabilities to the government.
“Ang nakadaot, kay sa Malampaya, gibinuangan nila ang tao, wala nila gihatag ang share. Ayaw ana. Kung unsa gani – seventy… P72 billion – nga wa mahatag sa probinsya (What really soured things in Malampaya was they deceived the people. They refused to give the people their share. Don’t do that. P72 billion. They didn’t give it to the province),” he said.
“Ako, dili ko ana. Kung unsay inyo, inyo. Walay kuan, walay Bisaya o walay Ilocano, walay Maranao, walay… Basta fair tanan. Kung unsay inyo, inyo na. Ayaw mo’g panguha og lain kung di ninyo (I won’t allow that. Whatever is yours is yours regardless of whether you’re Bisaya or Ilocano or Maranao. It will be fair for all. Whatever belongs to you is yours. Don’t take what is not yours),” he added.