Palawan gov’t optimistic Duterte will sign ‘division bill’

(File photo)

The provincial leadership of Palawan is optimistic that Senate Bill No. 8055 creating the three provinces will be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte before the year ends after it passed the second reading on Wednesday.

According to a source of Palawan News, there was no contentious issue raised by the senators during the deliberation, which led to its unanimous approval.

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Committee on Local Government.

The third reading is set next week but the proponents of the bill are certain it will be approved.

“What we will do is to bring this to the House of Representatives as there are formal amendments in the wording of the provisions to reflect the latest regulations that the House version did not carry. It has to be returned to the House for it to concur,“ the source said.

After the House of Representatives adopts the changes, the bill is considered harmonized, according to the source, and will then be brought to President Duterte for his signature.

Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez said after the midterm election, an “exhaustive discussion” on the creation of the three provinces shall be done with the people of Palawan who are the direct and main stakeholders of the plan.

“Meron tayong one full year para mapag-usapan ito. Dapat alam ng tao kung ano ito at sila ang masusunod. Hindi puwedeng boboto na lang sila na hindi nila nalalaman kung ano ito,” Rep. Alvarez said.

According to the bill, the plebiscite is scheduled in 2020. If Palaweños favor the creation of the three provinces, the election of political officials for each province will be conducted during the national elections in 2022.

The three provinces to be created are Palawan del Norte, Palawan del Sur, and Palawan Oriental. The proposed seats of each province will be the towns of Brooke’s Point (del Sur), Roxas ( Oriental), Taytay (del Norte).

These towns are located strategically and are bigger in terms of land and population and economically capable compared to other adjacent towns.

In an earlier interview, Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez shunned criticisms particularly from the One Palawan group that claimed the bill lacked of consultation and for excluding Puerto Princesa from participating in the decision.

Alvarez said when Puerto Princesa City decided to become an independent city it also did not consult the municipalities of the province.

“Para bang silang nagdidikta sa probinsya, samantalang hindi naman sila bumoboto dito. Noong nag plebisito ang Puerto para maging highly-ubanized  city ay hindi naman kinunsulta ang probinsya. Ngayon lang sila maingay,” Alvarez said

The One Palawan group has submitted their letter opposing the plan to President Duterte during his visit to the city Saturday and copies of it were also sent to some senators.

According to Rep. Alvarez, there were many committee meetings and technical working group discussions about the bill but the One Palawan did not voice out their opposition only until recently.

“Dapat nagpadala sila ng representative sa mga meetings,” Rep. Alvarez said.

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