Bill dividing Palawan hurdles House committee

(File photo)

The House Committee on Local Government voted to pass the bill that proposes to divide Palawan into three provinces during its meeting Tuesday.

This was confirmed by 1st Palawan District Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez, saying the proposal met all the requirements as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority and Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF).

Under the Constitution, new provinces must have P20 million income, land areas that are not less than 2,000 square kilometers and populations that are 250,000.

House Bill 7413, which proposes the creation of the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur, is authored by Alvarez and 2nd Palawan District Rep. Eric Abueg, and 3rd Palawan District Rep. Gil Acosta.

Congressman Alvarez said that he is expecting the Lower House to act on the bill after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte in July.

“Anytime after that (SONA) madali na lang sa resumption ng session,” Alvarez said.

The plebiscite, he said, will be held in 2019 while the election of the new set of officials for the proposed provinces will be in 2022.

He said there was no contentious issue raised by the 55-member Committee on Local Government chaired by Cotabato 1st District Rep. Pedro Acharon, Jr., during the meeting which elated Palawan officials who trooped to Manila.

The measure was initiated by the provincial board as an agenda of the Palawan provincial government. The resolution, approved in December last year, said the division of Palawan is needed to spur economic growth in the province and to bring government services closer to the population.

Under the proposal, Northern Palawan, which is dubbed as Palawan Del Norte, will be composed of the towns of El Nido, Taytay, Coron, Linapacan, Culion, and Busuanga.

The Palawan Oriental will include San Vicente, Roxas, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, and Cagayancillo while Southern Palawan, dubbed as Palawan Del Sur, will be composed by the towns of Kalayaan, Aborlan, Narra, Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Quezon, Bataraza and Balabac.

“Wala naman itong disadvantage kasi mas maganda ‘yong micro-management. Pinapaliit natin ang area hindi katulad ngayon na napakalaki ng Palawan. From macro punta tayo sa micro,” Board Member Roseller Pineda said in an earlier interview of Palawan News.

Board Member Albert Rama who was present during the committee meeting said that the bill stipulates that the seat of government in Palawan Del Sur is the town of Brooke’s Point. In Palawan Del Norte (northern Palawan), the seat of government is Roxas town.

The towns of Brooke’s Point and Narra are competing to be the seat of government in Palawan Del Sur.

“Kung ano ang nasa bill ( na seat of gevernment), syempre ang presumption doon, inaprubahan yun,” Rama said.

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