Palawan’s civil society groups forming the One Palawan coalition on Wednesday formally endorsed the candidacy of Arthur Ventura and lawyer Jaime Josol for governor and vice governor respectively.
Fr. Roderick Caabay said in an online press conference they decided to actively take part in the province’s electoral political arena to advance their advocacy issues and have screened their candidates according to their stand.
“Nagkaroon ng self-scoring ang mga mismong kandidato para sa kanilang mga sarili. Pagkatapos noon ay nag-scoring din ang ating screening committee at ang pinakamataas sa tumatakbo sa gobernador at bise-gobernador ang siyang naging nominado ng One Palawan. Pito ang proseso ang dinaanan nila bago pa sila dumaan sa criteria,” Fr. Caabay said.
Among the issues the group said they considered as criteria for supporting their candidates were the candidates’ stance on the environment, good governance, land rights, political dynasty and the West Philippine Sea.
Outlining his platform of government, Ventura vowed to promote good governance and a harmonious relationship among different sectors of society.
He also took a stand against mining expansion and the planned construction of coal-fired power plant in the province which he said will have negative impacts on the environment.
“Pangangalagaan natin ang kalikasan sapagka’t ang siyang pinakaunang kayamanan ng ating lalawigang Palawan– lalabanan natin ang pagkasira nito– na dulot ng mga proyektong nakasisira ng kalikasan tulad ng coal-fired power plant. Itong malawakang plantasyon na nakakasira ng kagubatan at buhay-ilang tulad nang nakikita natin sa Sur,” Ventura said.
“Ipairal natin ang total commercial logging ban– ipapatigil natin ang aplikasyon ng pagmimina, malaki man o maliit. I-review natin ang mga application nito. Siguraduhin nila na ito ay ayon sa hinihingi ng batas, hindi tulad ng naririnig natin na kapag kaibigan, kapamilya, kapartido ang nag-a-apply ng permit, nandiyan agad environmental clearance certificate,” he added.
Atty. Josol, on the other hand, said he will apply his knowledge and experiences as a former law professor and city council consultant. he also served as provincial board member in 1986 to 1992.
“Dito papasok ang ating kaalaman bilang abogado at magiging patas tayo. Kapag may kaso ang local government officials ay ibabase natin sa ebidensya at hindi sa kagustuhan ng nakaupong gobernador,” he said.
To reach far-flung areas, Josol said they envision to put up mini capitols in every towns to minimize the need to travel to Puerto Princesa City for government transactions.
One Palawan had led the opposition in the recent Palawan plebiscite in March 2021 that nullified RA 11259, a law passed by Congress dividing the province into three provinces.
The civic group dubbed their endorsement as “One Palawan for Good Governance”, stating that this is to reflect the public clamor emerging from their successful campaign during the plebiscite.
“Ang One Palawan ay hindi tayo isang political arm. Ang One Palawan ay may dalawang bahagi, una ay adbokasiya para sa environment, part of that also ay adbokasiya para sa political education,” Fr. Caabay said.
“Itong ginagawa natin, One Palawan for Good Governance, gusto natin na ang mga tumatakbo ay hindi lamang ‘yong mga dating politiko– One Palawan is a movement that endorses candidates na pagpili ng mga tao, pagpipiliang matino,” he added.
Ventura previously lost to governor Jose Alvarez during the last local elections.