Proponents and oppositors of the division of Palawan into three separate provinces engaged in an online debate on Facebook Friday evening organized and hosted by Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE).
LENTE said it called for the conduct of the debate as part of the organization’s commitment to have both sides discuss their views before the March 13 plebiscite.
Board member Ryan Maminta represented the proponents while Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) and Save Palawan Movement (SPM) presented the “no” agenda. Speakers were given three minutes each to present their general points, three minutes address questions given by the moderator, and two minutes each to counter their opponent’s points.
Strengthened LGUs, no stakeholders consulted
For the proponents, Maminta presented the main reasons that if Palawan will be divided, it would strengthen Local Government Units (LGUs) stating that there would equal sharing of wealth between the three provinces. He also said once the province is divided, policies to address Palawan’s fast-growing population will be crafted.
“Sa ilang mga issue na kung saan ibinabato sa paglikha ng tatlong lalawigan tulad na lamang noong sa pagiging hindi inklusibo, hindi totoo ‘yan. Kasi ang paglikha nga ay sinasabi na para sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” said Maminta.
Anda on the other hand began her presentation by stating that Republic Act 11259 which creates the three Palawan provinces was passed without proper consultation with all Palawan stakeholders, and only elected officials participated in the decision-making process. She pointed out the lack of published studies that would prove Palawan’s local economy will indeed improve under three provinces.
“Ang tanong, ang mga katutubo ba ng Palawan ay nakakaalam ano ba ang layuniin nito at ano ang kahihinatnan nito?” said Mayo-Anda.
Other topics discussed were how the division of the province would impact Palawan’s biodiversity protection laws, which is primarily governed by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), economic impacts, the delivery of basic services especially to island provinces, and the general well-being of Palawan citizens.