Comelec sets Palawan split plebiscite on March 13, 2021
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set the plebiscite to divide Palawan on March 13, 2021, allowing the local voters to decide on the provincial split into three provinces.
Provincial Comelec spokesperson Jomel Ordas on Thursday confirmed that the poll body, ruling en banc on Dec. 16, approved Resolution No. 10682, the revised rules and regulations on the conduct of the Palawan plebiscite, and the election calendar of activities through Resolution No. 10687.
Ordas said they received the en banc resolution on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
3-in-1 vs One Palawan
Winston Arzaga, provincial information officer, in a separate interview on Thursday morning welcomed the development as “the right move” to let the public decide on splitting Palawan into three provinces namely Palawan Del Norte, Palawan Del Sur, and Palawan Oriental, ratifying Republic Act (RA) 11259 signed by President Duterte on April 5, 2019.
“While on its early stages, bill pa lang, we are already doing an information education campaign (IEC) about it,” Arzaga said, denying the claims of One Palawan Movement, a civic group opposing the move, that residents were against the split.
Cynthia Sumagaysay-Del Rosario, one of the convenors of One Palawan Movement, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, said at least 60 percent of the Palawan voters did not vote for Gov. Jose Alvarez in the last elections, to contradict the provincial government’s prediction of a “landslide win” in favor of the division.
Del Rosario pointed out that the total number of registered voters in Palawan in 2019 was 523,314 but Alvarez garnered only 207, 875 votes. The combined votes of the other candidates totaled 142,954, while those who did not cast their votes for governor were 172, 485. This means, he said, that 315,439 did not vote for Alvarez or about 60 percent of the province’s voters.
Arzaga said Del Rosario’s assertion “does not deserve a comment,” pointing out that the predicted numbers of the opposition lacked merits, or went through a survey.
Alvarez earlier said they were targeting the “undecided” individuals to convince them to favor the Palawan split.
Rules and guidelines
In the resolution promulgated on Dec. 16 by Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon, Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Antonio Kho Jr., the voter shall write Yes” or “Oo” if they favor the split and “No” or “Hindi” if they are against it; or its conceptual equivalent in the blank box after the question, “Pumapayag ka ba na hatiin ang probinsya ng Palawan sa tatlong probinsya na papangalanang: Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental at Palawan del Sur alinsunod sa Batas Republika bilang 11259 (Do you agree to divide Palawan into three provinces, namely, Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan del Sur as provided under Republic Act 11259)?”
The official ballots, which bear the date May 11, 2020, the initial schedule of the plebiscite that was reset due to the coronavirus pandemic, will remain valid and used in the March 2021 plebiscite, according to the resolution.
The voting will start at 7 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., except when there are voters present within 30 meters of the front of polling places, who have not yet cast their votes.
Counting of votes shall start from 3 p.m. onwards, with the municipal or provincial plebiscite board of canvassers convening not later than 6 p.m.
Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police will be assigned to conduct thermal checks on all persons before entering the voting centers. Those with a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celcius will not be allowed inside the polling precincts.
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