NO TO THE SPLITTING OF PALAWAN PROVINCE!!!
YES TO SAFEGUARDING PALAWAN SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY!!!
Time might soon run out for Palawan, as we have known it until present time.
On May 20 a plebiscite will be held on the island to decide whether the it will be split into three provinces: Palawan del Norte (Northern Palawan), Palawan Oriental (Central Palawan), and Palawan del Sur (Southern Palawan).
Republic Act 11259 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 5, 2019 to provide for the holding of such plebiscite.
According to local activists and NGOs supporting the Save Palawan Movement (SPM), the division of Palawan would not only open the island’s extensive natural resources to potential mismanagement but would allow extractive and destructive industries, such as large-scale mining and plantations, to take root and destroy even further the rich ecosystems.
Palawan also known as the “Philippine Last Frontier” is well known for having some of the richest biodiversity in Southeast Asia. For this reason, the entire island was declared by the UNESCO as a Man and Biosphere Reserve . The island is home to some of the oldest trees in the southern hemisphere, more than 200 endemic species and more than a 100 endangered species according to the IUCN Red List.
Palawan is also is home to the Indigenous Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Batak. In fact, the island is sometimes referred to as “the Cradle of Philippine Civilization” because of its significant archaeological discoveries.
Jose Alvarez, the governor of Palawan, well known for his aggressive approach toward intensive use of natural resources, claims that dividing Palawan into 3 provinces would speed up the delivery of basic services to residents and further boost the provincial economy.
Instead SPM, and other supporting NGOs such as CALG (Coalition against Land Grabbing) firmly believe that the planned division of Palawan is totally an unnecessary measure and a major step-back on the real development needs of the province and its communities. They argue that this was a policy direction that was conceived and forced to the residents of Palawan province by its political leadership without the benefit of methodical studies, planning and genuine consultations particularly involving the communities at large, which have so much stake on it.
The NGOs in Palawan have no doubt that RA 11259 is, indeed, the product of a strong political lobby staged by the provincial government and its allies in Congress and the executive branch. SPM believes that the measure contradicts many important provisions of the Constitution pertaining to public participation and consultations, the empowerment of local government units for good governance and the principle of sharing of proceeds from the national wealth. It believes that the planned division is not a development agenda as its proponents wanted the public to believe and is instead a direct attempt at gerrymandering.
SPM and those opposing the splitting of Palawan claims that this:
1) is not the appropriate answer to the existing weak governance, corruption, and natural resource use issues in the province and that this is mainly motivated by partisan political concerns;
2) will only aggravate the threats and challenges already facing the environment and further expose the vulnerability of poor communities to the harsh impacts of environmental destruction and climate change;
3) will have huge costs entailed in creating three provinces, as well as in holding a plebiscite. At the end of the day, taxpayers would be the primary bearers of such costs.
Palawaños never asked for their province to be split. Rather then division, SPM and supporting NGOs, are asking for the government to focus instead on the empowerment of local government to strongly implement wildlife laws, the IPRA law (RA. 8371) for indigenous peoples’ ancestral land recognition and demarcation and a sustainable management of natural resources. Overall, rather than splitting the province into three, the local government should be strengthen down to the municipal and barangay levels.
SPM is aware it is facing an immense challenge to turn back RA 11259 and the dismemberment of Palawan, knowing that the message has to reach out to the widest public as hard as that it can in order to inform it. This is why a clear and concise audio-visual document has just been produced to highlight the immense threats that Palawan faces, if RA 11259 is validated in a plebiscite. As of now, this document is only available in Tagalog and it is really worth watching!
PLEASE, HAVE A LOOK AND CIRCULATE IT WIDELY
LET’S BE UNITED IN SUPPORTING THE “ONE PALAWAN” CAMPAIGN
LET’S SAY A FIRM NO TO THE SPLITTING OF PALAWAN FOR THE BENEFIT OF AN AMBITIOUS AN UNSCRUPULOUS POLITICAL CLASS.
Maraming salamat po!
The CALG Team
Coalition against Land Grabbing (Philippines)
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