Pala-one or Pala-three
Congress recently passed the division of Palawan into three provinces purportedly to pave way to the fast-changing need of economic development and availability of resources to the people of the island province.
But many still oppose to the move as this is not beneficial to the people. It will only benefit the politicians who like to build dynasty in the province. To the oppositors this is gerrymandering and nothing less.
Last week, the Senate approved Senate Bill 8055 authored by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who is the chairman of the Senate committee on local government. But Senator Risa Hontiveros who voted against it said that China would greatly benefit should Palawan be sliced into three.
Save Palawan Movement Campaigner Cynthia Del Rosario who leads the move to oppose the measures to divide Palawan claimed that there was no public consultation made and that politicians are the ones who will gain from it.
If the Palawan will be divided into three, the government will be spending more money to create positions, therefore, there will be three governors and three provincial government units. There will be more money needed to be spent for the salaries and operations of the three capitols.
However, this will also mean that people will no longer have to travel to the capital city of Puerto Princesa to transact business. It will be easier for them as resources will be more concentrated in their localities.
At the moment, there are 23 municipalities, of which 13 are mainland and 10 are spread across island towns, which are only accessible by ship, motor banca or airplane. People have to travel hours and even whole day just to visit the Puerto Princesa to transact.
As per the Commission on Audit Report in 2016, Palawan is sixth richest province in the country with equity of P8.2 billion. With 433 barangays in 23 municipalities, there are still areas and roads that are not yet paved, and people are still living in poverty.
The island province is rich in agricultural products and services, including mineral resources and logging. Palawan has one of the richest fishing sanctuaries in the Philippines. Around 45% of the supply of fish in Manila is being contributed by Palawan.
With having natural gas reserves of approximately 30,000 trillion cubic feet, Palawan is the only oil-producing province in the country.
Already known as one of the world best islands, Palawan tourism economy is booming.
With the proposed measure to divide the province, will this mean that the resources will be equally shared and distributed among Palaweños? How about the assets of the province? Will these become smaller and Palawan will no longer be holding the sixth richest province? Or, will this simply mean more politicians? Lesser campaign expenses? Easier electoral contests? And more political dynasties?
Can’t Palawan be the showcase of the Philippines when it comes to e-governance where business transactions like getting permits, licenses or clearances are done online? Can’t Palawan afford to just build more hospitals so that the people have quicker and easier access to medical care? Can’t Palawan stay as Pala-one or become Pala-three? We must weigh the pros and cons and decide intelligently in the plebiscite in 2020.