Palawan will deploy its three representatives in Congress to block the province’s inclusion in the new independent region that will be created under the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez (1st district, Palawan) said all three Palawan congressmen will fight against the province’s inclusion in the BBL once the bill reaches the House of Representatives for deliberation.
“All three of us have discussed this and we agreed we will oppose Palawan’s exclusion and the sentiments of our district,” Alvarez said.
The BBL, the measure that would implement the 2014 peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was bypassed by the previous Congress in the wake of claims that some of its provisions were unconstitutional.
The passage of the bill was also hampered by the public and congressional backlash over the Mamasapano clash, which left 44 police commandos dead in 2015. The BBL would have created a new Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao with greater economic and political powers.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella believes lawmakers will agree with the provisions of the new draft BBL, which was submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte before his second State of the Nation Address, July 24.
The provincial legislature this week also passed a resolution expressing Palawan’s opposition to its inclusion in the new independent region.
Rep. Gil Acosta (3rd district, Palawan) said that even Muslims in Palawan have expressed opposition in the inclusion of the province, pointing out to the outcomes of previous plebiscites held in the province over Moro autonomous regions.
“It is on this basis that the three of us are opposing it and we want to explain this to President Duterte,” Acosta said.
Rep. Eric Abueg (2nd district, Palawan) pointed out that there had been four plebiscites held in Palawan during the terms of then President Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos and Benigno Aquino Jr., wherein the negative votes cast “were more than eighty-five percent (85%) of the total votes.”
Abueg formally manifested his views by filing a House Resolution 1514, which directs the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL “to exclude the province of Palawan and the city of Puerto Princesa in the proposed Bangsamoro entity.”
He noted that the total population of Palawan, including the City of Puerto Princesa, as of the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office is 994,340, with the Muslim population consisting of only seven to eight percent.