Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) here have agreed it is the right time to begin the process of dividing Palawan into three provinces to open more tourism opportunities and speed up delivery of basic social services to the people.
The resolution, final version of four merged proposals and was approved by the SP on December 12, awaits the signature of Governor Jose Alvarez next year, said Board Member Cherry Pie Acosta.
“There were actually four proposals that included mine. It was about clustering the municipalities to establish three provinces, and it was united with the rest and was approved unanimously,” Acosta said.
Under the resolution, the three provinces would be called Northern, Southern, and East Central Palawan.
The municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Quezon, Rizal, Balabac, and Bataraza will not be broken down, and will remain as part of Southern Palawan.
Kalayaan in the West Philippines Sea, which is near Southern Palawan, will also be included in the proposed Southern Palawan province.
“Since Kalayaan officials said they are nearer the town of Quezon in the south, we’re opting to include it in the Southern Palawan cluster,” Acosta said.
Northern Palawan, on the other hand, will be composed of Taytay, El Nido, Coron, Linapacan and Busuanga.
The towns of Roxas, San Vicente, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, and Cagayancillo, which used to be part of Northern Palawan, are being proposed to comprise the East Central Palawan province.
“These municipalities have tourism and agriculture potentials, and bringing them together in one province would be beneficial in the long run,” Acosta added.
Acosta said once the governor signed the approved SP measure, it would be forwarded to the three House representatives of Palawan – Reps. Gil Acosta Sr., Eric Abueg, and Franz Chicoy Alvarez.
“It’s still going to involve a lot of process, a lot of work – more consultations will be done; there will be a referendum maybe in 2019 or 2022 – but we’re ready to work hard for this,” she said.
She said the division is also being eyed to ensure that government leadership would be much closer to the people living in small and isolated areas.
“Imagine, there is an area in Coron called Tara that is already near Mindoro and I cannot even go there sometimes as it’s far. Sometimes, I also don’t want to go because what will I do? Just shake hands with them and give them nothing as funds are limited?” she said.
With more public officials to lead, services will be brought nearer to residents living in distant areas. At least three governors, three vice governors and 30 board members would share in bringing economic growth to the clustered areas, she said.
It will be destined too, for Federalism, which is being backed by “no other than President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“Instead of joining the proposed MIMAROPA state, we can be one federal state, and, hopefully by then, we are already three provinces,” she said. (PNA)