MANILA – A senatorial candidate is looking at either China or Israel as the country's partner in exploring the natural gas deposits in Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao province.
"I think kailangan natin ibang country dito to explore the methane gas. Actually, may pumunta na doon na taga-China at taga-Israel," said Maguindanao Rep. Zajid "Dong" Mangudadatu on ANC's Headstart Wednesday.
The area beneath Lake Buluan in Maguindanao's Liguasan Marsh contains 68 billion cubic feet of gas, Mangudadatu said.
He said tapping the oil reserves could generate over a trillion pesos in revenue and provide jobs to many Filipinos.
"Nakapayaman ng Maguindanao province. Kung wala lang kaguluhan dyan, 'yan ang mag-aahon sa ating bansa because of the deposits of the natural gas methane," he said.
In the interview, the candidate said he still trusts China despite the maritime dispute over the Philippines' territorial waters.
"Yes, I will recommend China. Alam naman po natin ang China napakayamang bansa," he said.
China has been ramping up island-building and militarization activities in the South China Sea, ignoring an international tribunal’s invalidation of its 9-dash line claim in 2016, a ruling that favored a Philippine complaint.
"Sa West Philippine Sea naman the UNCLOS favored our country na talagang ating 'yan," he said.
The Philippines, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has set aside the ruling in pursuit of closer economic ties with China.
Aside from China and Israel, he added that the Middle East or other countries that are used to oil exploration could also be tapped by the Philippines.
Last year, Duterte assured that the government will not claim the untapped oil and gas reserves in Maguindanao. He said it belongs to the Moro people.