COTABATOCITY – The Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Bangsamoro) has express dismay and apprehension on government’s ‘comfort and receptiveness’ stance on the programmed exploration of Exxon Mobil Corporation, a US-based oil firm, in the country.

Department of Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes bragged that Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, is set to explore the rich-sea of Sulu – the home to one of the world heritage sites, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, for crude oil deposits this year.

Sulu Sea connects the South China Sea and Celebes Sea which serves as route for tuna and other varieties of fishes going in and out the Pacific Ocean.

Bai Ali Indayla, Suara Bangsamoro’s national secretary-general, frets on the imminent aftermath of exploration to the people of Sulu which have had enough of never-ending wars, kidnaps, hamlets and killings since American occupation.

“The affirmation of Secretary Reyes that ‘Exxon Mobil will not go into any area unless the reserves are large scale or large amount of quality of oil’ is a proof that the United States of America has long been probing the vastness and productiveness of the Philippines soil in the guise of Balikatan exercises and humanitarian missions,” Indayla said.

Secretary Reyes also boasts that the oil in the Philippines such as the one produced in Galoc oil field in Palawan Basin owned by Australia-based, Otto Energy Ltd., will be sold to local refineries like Shell and Petron and would translate to a lower price of gasoline.

Moreover, ExxonMobil is into number of global operating divisions such as Upstream (oil exploration, extraction, shipping, and wholesale operations), Downstream (marketing, refining, and retail operations), Chemical division and many others. Thus, Exxon Mobil does explore, produce and sell crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

“The government’s claim is a big deceit to the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino people in general. Exxon Mobil is not only into exploration but wants total control to oil-rich nations like it did in several countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Angola, Sudan, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. In the Philippines, they had started in Galoc which is north of Sulu Sea and has extended in the nearby area, Calauit oil field, also in Palawan Basin,” Indayla explained.

“The Exxon Mobil’s exploration in Sulu sea, which would spend $110 million for exploration alone, is just a genesis to roster of large-scale explorations in other oil-rich areas of the country. Despite government’s concession to foreign oil companies to explore the Philippine Basin, the country continuously import oil and experience mounting increases of prices in petroleum as well as basic commodities,” Indayla stressed.

The Suara Bangsamoro strongly opposes the exploration of Exxon Mobil in Sulu Sea for it would not only affect and devastate the environment and people’s livelihood, which majority are fishermen, but also a testament to the long-list of documents that Filipino people vend their natural resources to foreign countries.

Indayla added, “Foreign countries especially the US have long been the ones benefiting the wealth of our natural resources. It’s not the Filipino people. We are putting our hands to a tiger’s mouth by allowing them utilize and exploit our own reserves,” Indayla said.

“We are calling the government to safeguard the welfare of the people first before the interest of foreign corporations. With their presence, is Philippine’s economy developing? Did it change the impoverished lives of the Filipino people especially the Moro? But, after all, the Philippine constitution guarantees several provisions and exempts taxes to all foreign corporations like oil companies,” Indayla said. #

Suara Bangsamoro
23 June 2008