The provincial government on Tuesday welcomed the Senate’s vote passing the measure that seeks to divide Palawan into three new provinces.
In a statement, it lauded the Senate vote “amidst last-ditch attempts to stonewall it and prevent the rest of residents from deciding the matter in a plebiscite.”
In a press statement, public information officer Ceasar Sammy Magbanua said the Senate held its ground and voted for the creation of the three provinces despite Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ appeal for reconsideration.
“The Senate firmly held its ground and voted on the measure despite a senator’s surprise turnaround and belated appeal to reopen consideration allegedly prompted by a letter from a local church leader,” the Capitol’s press statement said.
It cited that previously, the opposition senator was the one who openly declared that Palaweños should be respected to make their own choice in the plebiscite that according to the Senate bill will be in 2020.
The statement further said that during the third and final reading, the Senate did not once discuss the so-called “right” of “a handful of Puerto Princesa City anti-people militants to vote in the plebiscite that was allegedly denied by the bill.
Earlier, the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) and the OnePalawan campaign launched an online signature campaign against the proposal to divide the province, claiming it was not properly consulted and it was unfair to exclude Puerto Princesa City from the plebiscite.
“It’s quite certain that the Senate saw right through the utter foolishness and incredible irrationality of the stance of some legal charlatans who desperately attempted to lecture the institution on the so-called right of a HUC (highly urbanized city) to vote on matters not affecting them,” the statement claimed.
It said opponents of the bill from the city should just bring their business of rewriting laws or lecturing lawmaking to lawmakers elsewhere and not in the very institution that enacts it.
The provincial government’s statement further claimed the Senate rejected as well the claim that the proposal lacked public consultation and “gave more credibility to the consensus of the people that there is enough mass support to decide the reorganization of the province in a plebiscite.”
“It is unfortunate that the official position of the Roman Catholic Church through the Vicariate of Taytay came too late and was not considered,” it said.
Despite this, the province said the leaders who are at the receiving end of the hate mail of the Vicariate, have forgiven the ill motive ascription to the proposal of bringing government closer to the people.
The statement suggested that residents in northern Palawan “should just ignore why the Vicariate chose to advocate the selfish interests of the anti-Palaweño critic from Puerto Princesa instead of them, the common Palaweño from the barrios whose welfare is at stake.”
“A dialogue between the Taytay Vicariate and division proponents should be brokered so that the former can share a lesson or two about its experience in dividing Palawan. It will be recalled that the then Vicariate of Palawan previously split into two—the Vicariate of Puerto Princesa and Vicariate of Taytay. If splitting is good for the faithful, then it can probably be good for the rest of the people, Catholic or non-Catholic alike, insofar as management efficiency is concerned,” the provincial government statement pointed out.
The province claimed too that the assertion that the division will benefit China is baseless and unfounded.
“It is a clear insult to our sovereignty as a nation and a desperate attempt of the enemies of democracy to stifle the people’s power and capacity to decide for themselves,” it said.
The province said it is degrading on the part of the critics to require a foreigner to boost their losing proposition by bringing China into the issue, a move it called “classic desperate motivated by the inherent weakness of their stance.”
Availing foreign “expert” opinion betrays the untenability of the position of the opponents of the bill and demonstrates the absurd lengths they would go through just to prevent Palawan from moving on without Puerto Princesa City, the statement said.
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