MANILA (UPDATE 2) - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law dividing western Luzon tourist haven Palawan into three distinct and independent provinces.
Under Republic Act No. 11259, the province is now divided into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan del Sur, which shall be the mother province.
"The terrestrial jurisdictions of the newly created provinces shall be within the present metes and bounds of all the municipalities that comprise the respective provinces," the law stated.
Duterte approved the measure on April 5, 2019 and it shall take effect 15 days upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general and local circulation.
The creation of the new provinces would require a plebiscite to be held on the second Monday of May 2020 and supervised by the Commission on Elections.
Each province, meanwhile, shall have its legislative districts effective upon the election and qualification of representatives to be held on the second Monday of May 2022.
Under the law, Puerto Princesa City shall have its own legislative district by the same year. Its residents shall not be qualified to vote in the 2020 plebiscite and for candidates in the provincial elective positions.
Incumbent representatives of the present province shall continue to represent their respective legislative districts until new representatives shall have been duly elected, qualified and assumed office.
The House of Representatives passed the measure on Aug. 29, 2018 and then amended by the Senate on Nov. 19, 2018. The House concurred with amendments on Jan. 23, 2019.
The new provinces and localities under them are as follows:
Palawan del Norte:
- Taytay (Capital town and seat of government)
- El Nido
- Roxas (Capital town and seat of government)
- San Vicente
Palawan del Sur:
- Brooke's Point (Capital town and seat of government)
NOT POLITICAL MOVE
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez on Saturday dismissed critics claiming that the move is merely gerrymandering.
"We experience difficulty in managing our large province. We are doing what is best for the province. It's not gerrymandering," Alvarez said in an interview on ANC's "Rundown."
Alvarez explained that it's not a political move as no one in the hierarchy now, like himself as governor, would continue.
"I asked framers of the law to remove a provision which says after my third term I can still run as governor. I said no. It's not a matter of political convenience," he said.
The governor said that with the three provinces, it would now be easier to manage Palawan.
"Ngayon kasi, the whole province, the biggest province in the whole country. We're doing this for the future generation," he said.
He likewise allayed fears that dividing Palawan would only make it beneficial for China to advance its claim in the West Philippine Sea.
"If China will take over Palawan there is no force that can repel them if there is an invastion, but I don't think they'll do that. They will not do that," Alvarez said.
He added, "As far as the three provinces are concerned, we do not feel an invasion of China."