Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez stated on Wednesday that relevant government agencies that will be mobilized for the plebiscite on the question of dividing Palawan into three province are already prepared.
While the special poll, originally scheduled last May 11, has been indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic emergency, Governor Alvarez said these agencies are prepared once the poll body finally determines a date for the political exercise.
“Nakuha na natin ang DepEd, PNP, DILG ay handa na sila. Lastly ay ‘yong DOH, they are willing to conduct plebiscite agad nakakamask lahat. Hindi ka rin naman aabot ng matagal doon kasi yes or no lang, kunti din ang boboto siguro,” Alvarez said at the Capitol’s online program “Pakimanan Ta Si Gob”.
“Mangyayari talaga ang plebisito at COMELEC lang ang magtatakda ng petsa,” he added.
Alvarez said the plebiscite will happen depending on the recommendation of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) based on Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines.
“Dahil ‘yan ay batas na, walang makakapigil nyan. Ang makakapigil lang dyan ay ‘yong petition ng mga taga-city na dinala nila sa Supreme Court dahil unconstitutional daw pero napagpasyahan na ‘yon. Dahil may pandemic, na-postpone ng COMELEC ang plebisito, but as soon as the pandemic subsides, the COMELEC will schedule a new date in order to do it,” he said.
“But the COMELEC have to refer with the IATF dahil hindi lang ito bastang health emergency dahil hindi natin nakikita ang kalaban,” Alvarez added.
He said that concerned agencies, such as the Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Health (DOH) are also prepared in case the plebiscite will be conducted in the middle of the pandemic.
Palawan which is currently under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) may also be allowed to conduct election while implementing minimum health standards, he said.
He said that voters do not need to stay longer in the precinct because they will only need to choose whether yes or no, however, the final decision will still be subjected to the approval of the IATF.
“In fact, ngayon ay puwede na tayo dahil MGCQ na, may flights na at yong COVID recovery natin ay very remarkable. Sa Palawan ay walang namamatay sa COVID except doon sa isang may sakit na talaga. Ang sekreto lang naman sa COVID ay isolation lang talaga,” Alvarez said.
The COMELEC earlier decided to defer the holding of the plebiscite on the division of Palawan to a later date “when the COVID-19 situation in the province improves.”