By Camille A. Aguinaldo, November 19 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Business World

THE SENATE on Monday passed on third and final reading the bill dividing Palawan into three provinces: Palawan Del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan Del Sur.

House Bill No. 8055, sponsored by Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara who is also chair of the Senate committee on local government, was approved with 14 affirmative votes, one negative from Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, and zero abstention.

Under the bill, Palawan del Sur will be considered the “mother province” and will be composed of the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Espanola, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Balacbac, and Kalayaan.

Palawan del Norte will cover the municipalities of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linacapan, Taytay, and El Nido.

Palawan Oriental will include the municipalities of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo, and San Vicente.

The three proposed provinces will be created upon approval through a plebiscite in the province, to be conducted in 2020.

Explaining her lone negative vote, Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said a divided Palawan may strengthen China’s position in the disputed waters in South China Sea.

She added that not all of the stakeholders were consulted on the proposal.

“Instead of having to face a single, strong provincial government which can mobilize the entire island in its own defense, China will now have the opportunity to infiltrate and influence smaller local government units,” she said in a statement.

“For something as important as what the bill seeks to accomplish, it is my opinion that our committee did not reach out to all affected sectors, particularly the non-government organizations, the religious and the private sector,” she added. — Camille A. Aguinaldo