The die is cast for the division of Palawan into three new provinces. The Provincial Board’s Local Government and Rules Committees had recommended the creation of Northern, Southern and Eastern Palawan provinces. The committee report is expected to be adopted by the SP during plenary discussions, after which the Resolution will be sent to the Governor for final approval. From thereon, it will be the task of Palawan’s representatives in Congress to do the spadework for its early realization.
As proposed, Northern Palawan will be composed of the four Calamianes towns of Coron, Busuanga, Culion and Linapacan and the two mainland economic powerhouses of Taytay and El Nido. Southern Palawan is essentially the present Second congressional district with the addition of Aborlan, which will be returned to the south after it was made part of Puerto Princesa’s legislative district.
It’s the composition of Eastern Palawan which drew vigorous discussions among members of the joint committee. As originally proposed, the new province will have Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay and Cagayancillo as its municipalities. It was only on the eleventh-hour that San Vicente’s Board member Cherry Pie Acosta batted for the inclusion of her town, which is ironically located on the western coast of Palawan. Its nearness to Roxas, however, and the fact that most of its inhabitants trace their roots to Agutaya, are some of the reasons cited to justify her belated move. It was also pointed out that San Vicente will give Eastern Palawan its own tourism growth area that comes with a brand new airport as a transport hub for the new province. Now I hear a proposal to make SanVic the capital of the new province. San Vicente is a game-changer in the entire configuration. But one should know when to limit one’s hopes.
BRIEFLY NOTED: Board Member Bon Ponce de Leon vigorously engaged his Co-Chair, BM Toto Pineda, in a discussion on the merits of including Cuyo, Magsaysay and Agutaya in a Northern Palawan province with Coron as capital. Board Bon’s proposal is in fact similar to his father’s, former Vice Governor Dave Ponce de Leon, who himself championed the idea in previous attempts to divide Palawan. And for a while, It has gained a lot of headway and excitement with the thought of Coron becoming the seat of government of the new province – until the leaders of the affected municipalities voiced out their preference for Eastern Palawan with Roxas as capital town……Board Member Onsoy Ola, who together with this writer, earlier proposed the creation of Oriental Palawan, opted to support the entry of San Vicente as part of Eastern Palawan. He, too, must have seen the light which BM Pie earlier saw.
AND BY THE WAY: There was a time, in the not so distant past, when Marawi City stood as a beacon of hope for high school graduates who dreamed of going to college through scholarship grant by the Mindanao State University. At the Palawan National High School during those halcyon days, the announcement of the yearly passers was eagerly awaited. As expected, most honor graduates passed the exams and went to Marawi. They would eventually return home armed with diplomas, ready to work where their MSU education could be put to better use. I know a few of them like our current Provincial Assessor Nerie Rodriguez, former District Engineer Danny Alagao, Atty. Dodoy Paredes, Gen. Ed Matillano, Atty. Lucas Licerio, former City ENRO Roger Daquer, City Civil Registrar Abner Maduro, and countless others who made their university proud.
It must be heartrending for these bunch of hardy MSUans to see the destruction of Marawi right before their very eyes. And as lives were shattered amidst a city in ruins, there is a general feeling of hopelessness in the capacity of government to do the right thing in resuscitating what was once a beautiful city by the lake. A tall order for the Duterte administration as it weaves its way through the labyrinth that is Marawi.