(File photo)

A word war between Capitol and critics of the move to divide Palawan into three provinces has erupted this week, as both sides began to step up their campaign in anticipation of next year’s plebiscite on the controversial measure.

In an online interview Sunday, the civil society group One Palawan urged Palaweños to reject Republic Act 11259 and warned that the scheduled plebiscite will be marred by vote-buying.

One Palawan lead campaigner Cynthia Sumagaysay expressed concern over what she claimed was widespread vote buying during the recent midterm elections.

“They know what to do, they will just execute the same formula they used in the recent election,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario also warned that the provincial government could use government resources to campaign for a Yes vote in the plebiscite.

“They railroaded the bill without public consultations, and now they will use government resources and the taxpayers’ money to pursue what they want,” she said.

Asked if their group has evidence on their claim of vote buying during the last elections, Del Rosario admitted, however, these were only allegations.

“Kung ano man ang ginawa nila, they will deny, of course, but people know,” she said.

Capitol denies charges

Reacting to the group’s statement, the Provincial Information Office (PIO) denied there was vote buying during the last elections, and accused critics of the division measure as “paid hacks” of politicians who lost in the polls.

The Capitol statement singled out former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who supported a losing mayoral bet, and Arthur Ventura, who lost the gubernatorial race to incumbent governor Jose Ch. Alvarez, as behind the campaign for No votes.

“Hindi na din nakapagtataka na pati sa 3n1 (referring to the division measure-ed.) ay dadalahin ng mga Hagedorn at Ventura ang walang-kupas na patutsada na silay’ natalo gawa ng vote buying at hindi dahil ayaw sa kanila ng tao,” the PIO stated when sought for a reaction.

“Palaweños are not for sale. Hindi bobo ang mga taga Palawan para lang madiktahan. Presented with facts, Palaweños can competently choose the end that will suit us,” the statement added.

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