The national government is keeping a neutral stance on the proposed division of Palawan into three provinces.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, while in Puerto Princesa City for a regional visit on Friday, declined to take a stand on the contentious issue.
“Hayaan na muna natin ang taong bayan ng Palawan ang mag-desisyon tungkol dyan. It’s a sensitive topic at dapat free mabigyan ang mga tao to make that decision. Let the majority decide,” Nograles said.
Presidential daughter and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte, in an earlier statement, opposed the division citing that unless the funding problem can be addressed, dividing LGUs should be avoided.
“Hindi magandang idea na hati-hatiin ang isang lugar dahil liliit ang budget,” Sara Duterte said.
Lawyer Grizelda Mayo-Anda, one of the legal counsel of the opposition, said she was pleased with Nograles’s statement citing that the national government showing no bias in adopting a specific position gives them an opportunity to engage the public.
“As a way forward, we will continuously conduct information and education campaigns (IEC) based on our limited capacity to call the attention of the public to think hard about the impact of division on their lives. In the absence of studies from the proponents, there is no guarantee that we will achieve healthy and balanced economic and environmental growth,” Anda said.
Meanwhile, provincial information officer Winston Arzaga claims that the pro-division party continuously grows in number citing the “effectiveness” of their IEC.
“Tama naman yung sinabi ni Nograles kaya kami sa provincial government ay walang tigil na nagsasagawa ng IEC. Yung mga tao, mas naliliwanagan na maganda ito para sa atin,” Arzaga said.
Republic Act (RA) 11259, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 5, divides Palawan into the provinces of Palawan del Norte; Palawan Oriental; and Palawan del Sur, with the latter as the mother province.
The new provinces will be created upon the approval of the majority through a plebiscite to be conducted and supervised by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on May 11, 2020.