Throwing support to Kalayaan’s hope to transfer political affiliation from the 1st to the 2nd District, a resolution asking Palawan 2nd District Rep. Jose Alvarez to sponsor a bill in Congress to make the change happen has been filed by Board Member Ryan Maminta to the Provincial Board.

Maminta’s resolution, which was filed on October 11, was an offshoot of a resolution from the Municipal Council of Kalayaan, authored by Councilor Eugenio Bito-onon, Jr., that asked for the transfer so that basic services could be given to its constituents more quickly and better.

Councilor Maurice Phillip Albayda said in a telephone interview on Monday that their request was also to further strengthen the country’s territorial claim in the region.

Albayda said the idea came from Bito-onon, which was later adopted by their core group “Sulong Kalayaan.”

“Nag-brainstorm kami ng mga possible na pwedeng mangyari. So, it turned out na maganda naman at very sensible and at the same time, hindi militarized yung approach,” Albayda said.

“And, of course, para mas mapabilis yung delivery ng basic services gawa ng mas malapit yung Quezon kesa sa mag-north kami, nasa 24-27 hours lang ang biyahe compared sa north, at wala kaming property sa north to be a jump off station,” he added.

Maminta said in a separate interview that Kalayaan has been identifying with the 2nd District and has an extension office in Barangay Berong, Quezon, which is the place on the mainland that is closest to Pag-asa Island.

In 2014, Kalayaan opened an extension office in Berong called the Kalayaan Resource Center, which serves as a transit point to Pag-asa Island. This was done to meet a long-term need to improve access (in and out) and mobility of goods, people, and services to Pag-asa and the rest of the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

He also said that the town has been taking part in events like the annual Civil Service Southern Palawan Friendship Meet and has made several partnerships with towns in the 2nd Congressional District.

“Berong is part of Quezon, which is in the 2nd District, so isa sa bentahe yun at yung identification nila sa 2nd District will be formalized,” Maminta said.

“And when it comes to congressional allocation at iba pang pondo nanggagaling sa national government, ang sharing nyan, mas kaunti yung naghahati so sa tingin ko, mas mabibigyan sila ng pansin,” he added.

Mainland foothold
Albayda also said that they plan to set up a land base in mainland Palawan to get rid of the “artificiality of the population in the town.” They will also ask Congress to help them set up an organization called the WPS Development and Research Agency, which will also be based in Berong.

“Kasi diba pag sinabing Kalayaan, ganito lang, iilan lang ang population, whereas kapag may mainland foothold tayo ay mapapalakas pa natin yung research and development,” he noted.

“Kapag ganoon, pati yung disaster response ay mas mapapalakas natin dahil maglalagay ng mga satellite (office), at dire-diretso na yun, yung mga bumi-biyahe papuntang Pag-asa, mga mangingisda, mamo-monitor na kasi mayroon na tayong station doon sa (Sitio) Katuwayan, Brgy. Berong,” he further explained.

No vested interest
Albayda also said that they are now waiting for the action of the Provincial Board, where Maminta’s resolution has been sent to the Committee on Local Government for further review.

He added that they will also try to get approval from the Philippine Councilors’ League (PCL) and the Association of Barangay Captains.

Albayda said that if the issue should be put to a vote, they are ready to do so.

“There is no vested interest here. We are not after our position but the development and the longevity of our existence as a municipality,” he stated.

Maminta, however, said he believes that a referendum is no longer required.

“Ang referendum ay may specific requirement like creation of new local governments and division of local government units,” he said.

“And besides, may special treatment naman ang WPS sa national government. So, I also have another resolution to file like the construction of facilities and other infrastructure doon sa mga kini-claim nating isla dyan,” he said.

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