The Provincial Development Council (PDC), chaired by Palawan Governor Dennis Socrates, held its first semester full council meeting of the year, with 37 of the 43 members present, including city mayors or their representatives and representatives from civil society organizations.

In his opening remarks, Governor Socrates emphasized the importance of moral and spiritual duties in public service, stating, “The purpose of human existence is to know, love, and serve God, and to share this eternal happiness.” He highlighted the role of government as an authentic human reality, aiming to promote justice and the common good.

The governor noted to the PDC members that the duties of government workers are clearly outlined by existing rules and regulations, but stressed that the primary objective of the government is to promote justice—not merely the justice of sending criminals to jail, but distributive justice, ensuring that everyone receives what is due to them from collective resources. Taxes, he said, must be applied to the common good, which is the ultimate goal of society.

“The final cause of the community as community, ang huling dapat kahantungan ng sambayanan bilang sambayanan. And the common good, kabutihang panlahat, is in the language of the Second Vatican Council. The sum total of social conditions that enable people to achieve their end. Ang kabutihang panlahat ay ang kalipunan ng mga kalalagayang panlipunan nagbibigay daan upang makamit ng bawat tao ang kanyang kaganapan,” he said.

He said that politicians are responsible for making occasional political decisions. These decisions fall within the bounds of their authority but are not strictly determined by law or morality.

Ideally, these decisions should reflect the will of the majority, such as appointments from a list of qualified applicants, budgeting allocations, and potential regulations for human behavior.

“Still our political decisions have to re-down for the common good. And for the common have immense the complexity political decisions also require deep reflection and wide consultation,” he stated.

The PDC meeting mostly revolved around the approval of different sector-specific investment programs for the year 2025.

These projects addressed areas such as governance, economy, human development, general welfare, and the environment.

The council has also granted approval and support to the CY 2025 Annual Investment Program and has made revisions to the Provincial Development Investment Program for the period of 2024-2030, which has been submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Key endorsements made during the meeting included the Provincial Stakeholders’ Congress on Mining and the Environment Stakeholder’s Agreement, as well as the DSWD project “Panahon ng Pagkilos: Community Driven Climate Action.”

The council also called for the strict enforcement of Provincial Ordinance No. 1426-14, which regulates fees for commercial sand and gravel permits.

They also supported the expansion of the SPS-Alay sa Kabataang Palaweño Program to include partnerships with local tertiary institutions and technical vocational skills providers. The 3rd Supplemental Investment Program for CY 2024 was also approved and endorsed.

Governor Socrates reiterated the need for good governance, defining it as transparency, accountability, adherence to the rule of law, and participation. “Good governance means we want to make the system work,” he said, identifying corruption as its main enemy. “Corruption is defined by Transparency International as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”

He called for public officers to avoid conflicts of interest, emphasizing, they should not have any financial interest, directly or indirectly, in transactions where they intervene in their official capacity.

Socrates also touched on the importance of sustainable development, aiming to balance environmental protection with economic development to improve the quality of life for current and future generations. He stressed the need for dialogue and cooperation among all stakeholders to achieve this balance.

He expressed gratitude for the active participation of the council members and conveyed a hopeful vision for the future of Palawan.

“The project of Palawan progress is a continuing one. We need to transform Palawan’s forests into gardens. We are moving up in terms of understanding, articulating, and actualizing good governance,” he said.