Atty. Edwin Gastanes said he believes the residents of southern Palawan should have an option in the May 2022 elections as he offers himself as a candidate for the congressional seat in the second district of the province.

In an interview with Palawan News through The Profile, Gastanes said he is again offering the voting public an option even after losing the 2004 elections. In his second attempt at politics, he believes that major problems in southern Palawan, such as social justice, calamity, and poverty, must be immediately addressed.

“What I want to do is to present again, present myself to the people. Tell them who am I and then let them decide come election day. But I know how to manage a campaign,” he said.

Gastanes said that the outcome of the election is entirely up to the people who vote. He said that the plebiscite was a good example of how people in the area decided.

“When you say mabigat (ang mga kalalaban) that’s a pre-judgement. If you look at the results of 3-in-1, you cannot that they are mabigat already. But they have the stature, they have the resources and they are holding currently (the) positions. But it all depends on the people,” he said.

Major problems
According to Gastanes, one of the major issues confronting southern Palawan is social justice, as people appear to have lost faith in police officers’ ability to solve crimes due to fear.

“Hindi kailangan takot ang mga tao sa isang community. Look what has happened in the past years in second district, maraming unsolved crimes. Crimes happen, all over the world, the city, provinces but there must be a very high average in solving the crimes. I will not mention names but crimes have been unsolved,” he said.

He also said the number of calamities and disasters has noticeably increased in Palawan, which resulted in floods, damage, and casualties. There are also a lot of people in the second district who are poor and hungry, he said.

Plans and dreams for 2nd District
Observing that not much effort is given to the agriculture industry, Gastanes plans to focus on giving help to farmers and fishermen, especially with the effect of the pandemic.

“There has been stagnancy in terms of development, in terms of people’s participation, that’s one. Number two, not much effort has been given to the biggest block of population in Southern Palawan. Because this is the bread basket, these are rice farmers, corn farmers, and fishermen. Not too much efforts have been given them. I want to focus on that,” he said.

Gastanes believes that strict regulation must be implemented on mining companies to avoid the damage they could cause to the farmland and affect the food sufficiency and resiliency of Palawan. He added that if the farmlands were not safe and secure, 70 to 80 percent of families would suffer economically.

“No more (mining companies should establish in Palawan), no more. In 2004, I said tama na ‘yang RTN, ‘wag na natin dagdagan. I will do the same. Tingnan natin, strict regulation should be applied. Ang mina kasi ay governed not only by local laws but by national law, nandiyan na ‘yan. Kailangan istrikto ang pagbabantay sa kanila, talagang nakakasira sila, patigilin. Kung maayos naman sila—mining is always destructive. Mining by definition is always destructive,” he said.

Lack of proper health is also noticeable in Palawan, and education must be attained by everyone, according to Gastanes. He added that there will be a tourism industry in Southern Palawan, especially if the peace and order problems are resolved.