The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill dividing Palawan—the country’s largest province—into three new provinces, namely Palawan Del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan Del Sur.
House Bill No. 8055 was sponsored by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, and was passed with 14 affirmative votes, one negative vote from Senator Risa Hontiveros and zero abstention.
Under the bill, the province of Palawan del Norte will be composed of the municipalities of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linacapan, Taytay and El Nido.
The province of Palawan Oriental, in turn, will be comprised of the municipalities of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo, and San Vicente.
The province of Palawan del Sur, which will be considered as the “mother province,” will be composed of the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Espanola, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Balacbac, and Kalayaan.
The three proposed provinces will be created upon the approval of majority of voters in the affected areas in a plebiscite to be conducted in 2020, Angara said.
Angara said due to the “vastness” of Palawan, an archipelago of 1,800 islands with a population of at least 1.1 million, the division of the existing province under the bill will comply with the requirements for the creation of a province set forth by the Local Government Code.
He said the three proposed provinces will meet the land area requirement, and that Palawan del Norte and Palawan Oriental are expected to satisfy the population requirement imposed by law by 2020.
“If we speak of economic potential, Palawan is a powerhouse. Its local growth rate has been clocked at bristling 7 percent per annum for many years now. And this was achieved with a total ban on the exploitation of natural resources over a wide swath of its land,” Angara added.