Palawan Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez during the 'Pakimanan ta si Gob' press conference.

Palawan Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez said the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc has already approved its calendar of activities for 2021, which includes the holding of the plebiscite some time in March but has yet to formally release it.

“Sinasadya siguro ng COMELEC na hindi pa ipadala, pero I believe COMELEC en banc approved it last week. Sadyang hindi pinadala dahil sa Pasko at New Year, maybe it will be in January. Baka March 13 nga talaga [ang] napili nilang date. Marami pang panahon [para maka-prepare para sa plebisito],” Governor Alvarez said during the Pakimanan ta si Gob on Tuesday.

The provincial COMELEC office had proposed a March 13 date for the holding of a plebiscite on the law (RA 11259) dividing Palawan into three smaller provinces.  While the date is still subject to approval by the Commission En Banc, a local poll body official said they have begun preparations for the exercise.

On October this year, the Provincial Government also successfully lobbied the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow the holding of a plebiscite amidst the pandemic to ratify the law dividing Palawan into three provinces.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who announced the holding of plebiscite through online press briefing, said that the government has approved a two-day voting period for the Palawan plebiscite by the first quarter of 2021.

During the two-day plebiscite, only five voters will be allowed in one room at a time, only those registered voters between the ages of 18 and 21 years old and those who are 60 years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women shall be exempt from mobility restrictions for the purpose of voting are allowed.

Comelec, in addition, was asked to develop safety mechanisms to also let patients of COVID-19 exercise their right to vote.