The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Palawan has yet to receive any updates on the holding of the plebiscite to create three new provinces considering the extended suspension of the voter registration period.

COMELEC Palawan representative Jomel Ordas said that they are waiting for a memorandum stating how voter-related concerns relating to the plebiscite, which has been postponed since early April, will proceed.

“Kasi sa ngayon, existing pa rin ‘yong postponement ng plebiscite as per Memorandum COVID19-6 of COMELEC Secretary dated April 7, 2020. Kaya antay pa rin kami ng bagong memo or directive from COMELEC main, ano ang susunod na gagawin in connection with the plebiscite,” Ordas said in an interview July 3.

Ordas declined to answer further questions and instead suggested to contact the main COMELEC office.

Nationwide voter registration has been postponed until August 31 due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, according to an advisory by the COMELEC dated June 30.

The plebiscite, which seeks to validate Republic Act 11259 signed in April 2019 by President Rodrigo Duterte, will finalize the division of Palawan into three provinces. It has long been endorsed by the current provincial government, with Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez as the main proponent.

Alvarez recently stated that the plebiscite is to be held sometime in July. However, provincial information officer Winston Arzaga believes that it may be held in August due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Wala pang ibinababa na memorandum ang COMELEC pero sa tingin ko talaga ay ngayong taon or this August, ‘yan ay sariling pananaw ko. Matutuloy ‘yan kasi may batas ‘yan, nagkataon lang may pandemic kaya hindi nagawa,” Arzaga said June 2.

with reports from Genn Magdayao