A provincial board member here filed a resolution Tuesday that expresses “vigorous objection of the people of Palawan” to the inclusion of the province in the Bangsamoro jurisdiction under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Board Member David Francis Ponce de Leon said there had been five attempts to include Palawan in the Bangsamoro territory, but all failed because of the “overwhelming rejection” by residents who voted 95 percent against.
“Even the Muslim residents peacefully residing in the municipalities of Balabac, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, and Sofronio Española in southern Palawan joined in voting against the same (inclusion),” De Leon said.
He added that if a plebiscite happens now in Palawan, he is confident Palawan will reject the inclusion.
“If we have a plebiscite now, I’m sure the votes will be against the inclusion. We’ve already asked southern Palawan before, and they didn’t want it. Yes, I think No will still win,” he said.
Other board members had backed Ponce de Leon’s resolution, saying Palawan had always voted to be excluded from a Moro autonomous territory.
“Our Muslim brothers here are not even in favor of this. We have to really look out for this, let’s not allow the inclusion of Palawan in this proposed Bangsamoro state,” Roseller Pineda said.
Board Member Leoncio Ola complained against Palawan’s repeated inclusion in an autonomous unit based in Mindanao.
“In the past administration, they also want to include Palawan. It’s a never-ending attempt, and we already said no before,” Ola said.
Ponce de Leon said if there is a need to gather signatures to strongly convey Palawan’s Bangsamoro region refusal, he is ready to do it.
“If it’s necessary (to gather signatures), we will do so, and we will ask for your help… for the media’s help to provide information to Palaweños to oppose this,” he said.
Palawan’s proposed inclusion is stated in the draft under Section 4, Article XV, which provides for the inclusion of contiguous territories and provinces, as well as other geographic areas mentioned in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement, in the said territory by virtue of a plebiscite to be held five years after the ratification of the BBL.