A civil society group believes that dividing Palawan into three provinces will not provide enough solutions to the problems affecting its poorest residents.
Cynthia Del Rosario, campaigner for the Save Palawan Movement, made the remark on Tuesday after President Rodrigo signed Republic Act 11259 which seeks to break up Palawan into three provinces.
In a News To Go interview on GMA News TV, Del Rosario said the movement to divide Palawan into three provinces was only made to forward the interests of political actors in the province.
"Hindi kami naniniwala [na magdudulot ito ng progreso] dahil ang mga nagsulong nito ay kabilang sa mga political dynasties dito sa Palawan na napakatagal na nilang nag-rule," she said.
"Ang poverty dito ay pareho pa rin. Ang pinakamahihirap na sektor na katutubo, sila ay mahihirap pa rin. Hindi paghahati ng Palawan ang solusyon sa kailangan nila. Kahit sila ay ayaw nito," she added.
Palawan 1st District board member Winston Arzaga, in a separate News To Go interview, said that the delivery of basic services especially to residents living in far-flung areas of Palawan will be much easier if the province is divided into three.
But while Palawan is a big province, Del Rosario said it only has a small population, and that the delivery of basic services is a mandate of the municipal government and not of the provincial government as per the Local Government Code.
At the same time, Del Rosario said that the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), which is tasked to ensure environmental protection in the province, was also not consulted about the environmental effects of breaking up Palawan into three provinces.
"Mali yung sinasabi nila na ang PCSD daw ay mapapaganda pa dahil ni hindi nila kinonsulta ang PCSD. We even have a record na ininterview yung PCSD, hindi sila kinonsulta," she said.
"So yung mga consideration na ito ay hindi ginawa, itong mga bagay na ginawa para dapat sa proteksyon ng Palawan," she added.
Under RA 11259, the current Palawan province will be divided into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.
The three provinces will be created upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters of the affected areas in a plebiscite to be conducted and supervised by the Commission on Elections on May 11, 2020.
However, residents of Puerto Princesa, as a highly urbanized city, will not be qualified to vote in the plebiscite and for candidates for provincial elective posts. — Erwin Colcol/MDM, GMA News