Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) is urging the public to think and reflect on the implications of their votes in the upcoming plebiscite for the division of Palawan on March 13.
In his pastoral letter signed February 2 and posted on Saturday (February 13), Mesiona underscored the importance of the plebiscite on the future of Palaweños.
“Bilang inyong obispo ako po ay sumusulat uli sa inyo upang ipaalala ang inyong malaking tungkulin na alamin, pag-isipan, at pagnilayan ang tunay na implikasyon ng usaping ito bago kayo bumoto sa araw ng plebisito,” Mesiona appealed on his letter.
The freedom to vote which is part of the democratic process that gives people the power to decide for the betterment of the society, should not be wasted by being detached from the issue, uninformed, and by selling votes to higher monetary value, he added.
“Tandaan po natin na ang pagboto ay sagrado, kaya pahalagahan natin ito,” he said.
Mesiona reiterated his 2019 pastoral letter calling for the formation of “Circles of Discernment” or small groups where there will be discussions and reflections on what is right and good.
From his letter, there should be four bases to consider in forming decisions such as looking into what is the common good, sustainable development through preserving the environment, giving importance to the indigenous people (IPs) as original citizens residing in the province who usually experience inequality in important societal issues, and the implication to marginalized sector.
Attached on the post of the AVPP on their Facebook page is an information material containing the stand and claims of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sides involved in the division of Palawan, citing the contents of 3-in-1 Palawan and One Palawan flyers.
The guide to the flow of ‘circles of discernment’ for the guidance of the public is also posted along with the prayer dedicated for the upcoming plebiscite.
“Ako ay nakikiusap sa ating iba’t ibang mga grupong relihiyoso at civil society na tumulong sa pag-organisa ng patas na information drive, sampu ng mass media outlets—print at broadcast—na magbigay din ng patas na oras upang maipaliwanag ang dalawang magkatunggaling posisyon upang ang ating mga mamamayan ay makagawa ng isang informed at principled na desisyon,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11259 on April 5, 2019, the law dividing Palawan into three provinces, which will be named Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.
The division of Palawan and creation of three provinces will take effect upon approval of a majority of voters through the plebiscite that excludes Puerto Princesa City registered voters.