Four mayors in Palawan are standing by Republic Act 11259 and the plebiscite that will happen in May 2020 that will decide the separation of the province into three smaller units amidst claims that the move will only serve the political interests of a few.
Brooke’s Point mayor Mary Jean Feliciano said she is backing the creation of the three provinces as it will be “beneficial for all Palaweños.”
“It’s a dream come true sa mga taga-southern municipalities dahil matagal na po natin inilakad ‘yan na dito ang magiging kapitolyo [ng Palawan del sur],” Feliciano said.
According to the Act, Brooke’s Point will be the capital of Palawan del Sur which will be composed also of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Sofronio Española, Bataraza, Balabac, and Kalayaan.
Mayor Romy Salvame said in an interview that the majority of residents and barangay officials in his town are also in favor of cutting up Palawan into three provinces to speed up the delivery of basic social and health services, as well as infrastructure development in the northern area.
“Masaya tayo kasi nga dito na ang magiging sentro ng kalakalan, mas magiging maganda ang industriya natin ng turismo sa northern Palawan,” Salvame said.
Previously, Governor Jose Alvarez said the provincial government is eyeing the construction of an international airport in Barangay Abongan, Taytay, which will be longer than the San Vicente Airport and can handle Airbus 8330s that could transport around 290 passengers directly from Europe.
Governor Alvarez said in May 2018 that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has already approved the site of this international airport.
“Tourists do not like to travel where they need to get down an aircraft, and then board another to travel. What they like is 10-20 minutes or a maximum of half an hour they are already on the beaches or resorts relaxing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Culion mayor Virginia de Vera said the division will help boost the economy of the island municipalities and agrees will expedite the delivery of basic services to residents living in isolated communities.
“Mas matututukan na ang napakalaking probinsya na ito, halos hindi na kami maabot ng gobyerno dito sa Culion kaya naniniwala tayo na solusyon ang paghahati para maibigay ang sapat sa serbisyo sa mamamayan,” De Vera said.
On the other hand, Coron mayor Ajerico Barracoso refused to issue any statement regarding the matter.
But he said it will be okay with him if the division wins in the plebiscite.
“No comment muna pero kung ano ang kalalabasan sa plebisito ay okay naman ako doon. ‘Yong mga residente hindi ko pa masabi unless tanungin natin sila [kaya hintayin na lang natin],” he said.
The new law called “The Charter of the Provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur” was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 5.
Palawan del Norte will be composed of the towns of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacan, Taytay (capital town), and El Nido while Palawan Oriental will be separated with the town of Roxas (the capital town), Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay , Cagayancillo, and San Vicente.
Alvarez said the division of Palawan “will be advantageous to residents living in far-flung areas.”
Alvarez also slammed residents of Puerto Princesa City for opposing the division.
“When the city decided to become independent as a highly urbanized city, it also did not consult the municipalities of the province,” he claimed.
“Para bang sila ang nagdidikta sa probinsya, samantalang hindi naman sila bumuboto dito. Noong nag-plebisito ang Puerto para maging highly-urbanized city ay hindi rin naman kinonsulta ang probinsya. Ngayon sila ang maingay,” the governor said.
“Lahat naman may karapatan, kung ano ang saloobin nila sabihin nila. Wala naman tayong problema doon, sasagutin namin lahat ‘yan. Mayroong isang taon para mangampanya ang mga against at pro,” he added.
One Palawan, the organization opposing the move, said it is wrong to hold the plebiscite for the division of Palawan that has “no clamor” and “no public consultation.”
It is unfair for residents of Puerto Princesa City despite being already a highly-urbanized city, is not qualified to vote during the plebiscite and to elect provincial officials, the group said in an earlier statement.