STOP DIVIDING PALAWAN INTO THREE

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On October 13, 2018, people were dismayed to find out that Palawan will soon be divided into three provinces (via Proposed Bill No. 8055 in the Senate) from a Facebook post of Senator Sonny Angara. The casualness in announcing that the said division is timely and needed stirred angry reactions from people, mostly Palaweños. It became the “most commented” post in Senator Angara’s FB page.

Sign this petition to say NO to the division of Palawan. Say NO to Proposed Bill 8055.

Dear Senators,

            We urge you to stop the approval of Proposed Bill 8055 because the people of Palawan were not thoroughly consulted about it.  Palaweños were deprived of their right to be consulted on a matter that will affect their lives. There was no “clamor” to divide Palawan into three provinces.  It is a dark plan conceived by Palawan politicians who desire to remain in power perpetually. It will benefit the politicians and the political dynasty in Palawan but not the people.

            We are disturbed that Palawan governor Jose Chavez Alvarez (“JCA”) has pushed for the exclusion of Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan, from the proposed bill because of its “highly urbanized city” (HUC) status.  Such position is wrong, autocratic, and makes the whole process exclusive.  The Senate should know that our 1987 Constitution and Local Government Code allow people “directly affected” to vote in a plebiscite.  The Supreme Court has ruled on several cases supporting this. Puerto Princesa City is part of Palawan and not of any other province or region. Lies and disinformation campaign cannot invalidate this simple truth.

            While proponents of the bill claim that dividing Palawan will bring progress and development because it will improve the delivery of basic social services, a huge majority of the Palaweños reject this claim.  For many Palaweños, having three provinces would mean more politicians, more opportunities for corruption, and more bloated bureaucracies.  The same people who failed to alleviate poverty in various areas in Palawan will dominate these new provinces, perpetuating their weak style of governance, as well as the same governance, social  and environmental issues that have made lives difficult for the Palaweños, especially the poor and marginalized.

            Creating three smaller provinces out of Palawan does not guarantee progress to each smaller unit. Provinces which have been divided are currently among the poorest provinces in the country (e.g. Zamboanga del Norte).  Progress does not happen equally among the divided (e.g. Davao Del Sur is more prosperous than Del Norte and Oriental) and there are provinces that have refused division and are doing quite well (e.g. Cebu, CamSur).

            Palawan is a unique place.  It is an island ecosystem that is rich in biodiversity and natural resources.  Its biodiversity corridors and landscapes transcend political boundaries. Dividing Palawan means dividing a key biodiversity area like Victoria Anepahan Mountain Range (VAMR) into two provinces.  The proposed bill failed to take into account the various natural resource laws and policies that affect Palawan.  It is the only province governed by a specific framework on its sustainable development, the SEP Law (RA 7611).  For Palawan, it cannot be just any development, it has to be the right kind.

            The division will impact the whole country, not just Palawan.  The huge cost required in creating provinces will be shouldered by the Filipino people.  Dividing Palawan will entail huge expenses, including the cost of holding a plebiscite, to be charged to all Filipino taxpayers.  This is unnecessary because Palaweños did not ask for the division in the first place.

            Filipinos don’t have to bear the brunt of this bad proposal, borne out of greed and self-interests of a few, bereft of public consultation, careful study, and wisdom. 

            We want Palawan to stay whole and united. Please reject pending bill number 8055.



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