MANILA MalacaAang on Monday brushed aside a senator's claims that splitting Palawan into three provinces may strengthen China's position in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte's signing of the new law dividing Palawan noting that it has no connection to the sea row.
(There is) no connection. Kahit naman walang probinsiya kung gusto mag-infiltrate ng mga lokong 'yun e (Even if there are no new provinces, if they want to infiltrate, they easily could), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, the lone senator who voted against the measure dividing Palawan, earlier warned that it might give China the chance to infiltrate and influence smaller local government units.
Panelo acknowledged that splitting Palawan may give off the impression that it would fatten the bureaucracy but pointed out that it has its own rationale, which includes responding to the needs of the residents.
Every bill, when it is introduced, there is a rationale behind (it), Panelo said, citing Palawan Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez, who said that the new law will give the districts better representation and more revenue.
Every creation nga precisely is to respond to the needs, to the delivery of basic services 'yung problema ng tao dun sa mga lugar na 'yun (the problems of the people in that particular area), Panelo said.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11259 on April 5 but a copy of the law was released to the media on Saturday (April 13).
The three provinces will be created if ratified through a plebiscite to be held in the affected areas on the second Monday of May 2020.
Under the new law, 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 with Brooke's Point as capital.
Palawan del Norte will consist of the municipalities of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linacapan, Taytay, and El Nido with Taytay as capital, while Palawan Oriental will be composed of the municipalities of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo, and San Vicente with Roxas as capital.
Puerto Princesa City will not be part of the plebiscite and proposed division being a highly urbanized city (HUC).
The election of the new officials for the three provinces will be during the May 2022 national and local polls.
Prior to the May 2022 elections, officials will continue to serve their unexpired terms until after the election of new provincial officials. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency