MANILA - Unexploited to its full potential that is estimated at $1 billion, a gas field in the heartland of the decades-long fighting in the south has become a source of cooking gas, a lawmaker with jurisdiction over the area said Friday.
The area beneath Lake Buluan in Maguindanao's Liguasan Marsh contains 68 billion cubic feet of gas, according to a government survey. It is also believed to contain oil and coal if deeper digging is made, said Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu.
The government distributed cooking stoves so that residents here can make use of the methane gas. Otherwise, it will just be wasted, Mangudadatu said in an interview on DZMM.
"Palagay ko in 25 years kayang-kaya madevelop iyan (I think it can be developed in 25 years). I am very optimistic that the Philippines will be the next Dubai," he said.
The Liguasan Marsh area has seen the bloodiest of clashes between government troops and Muslim rebels, including one encounter in Mamasapano town in 2015 that left 44 police commandos killed and scuttled peace negotiations.
Maguindanao folk are counting on the passage of a self-rule law in the south to enable the full development of the gas reserves.
"This is not just for Maguindanao province, but for the whole country," he said.