PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) 11259, dividing Palawan into three “distinct and independent” provinces that will be known as Palawan del Norte, Palawan Orient, and Palawan del Sur.
Under RA 11259 inked by Duterte on April 5, the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur shall be comprised of all the islands of the present province of Palawan.
“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 newly-signed law read.
Palawan del Norte is composed of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacan, Taytay, and El Nido, while Palawan Oriental consists of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo, and San Vicente.
Meantime, Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Balabac, and Kalayaan are now under Palawan del Sur.
The provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur would be created upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters of the affected areas.
The plebiscite will be conducted and supervised by the Commission on Elections on the second Monday of May 2020.
Following the plebiscite, the funds, obligations and assets of all kinds of the present Palawan province would be distributed among the three provinces.
According to the law, the capital towns and seats of government of the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur would be the municipalities of Taytay, Roxas, and Brooke’s Point, respectively.
Each province constitutes a political body corporate and such is endowed with the attributes of perpetual succession and possessed of the powers which pertain to a provincial corporation to be exercised in compliance with RA 11259 and the Local Government Code of 1991.
The law states that each province would have corporate powers to exercise continuous succession in its corporate name; sue and be sued; use a corporate seal; acquire and convey real or personal property; and enter into contracts.
Each province should also have a common seal registered with the Local Government department and may alter the same at its pleasure.
Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur and their officials should not be exempt from liability for death or injury to persons or damage to property, RA 11259 provides.
Each province would have its own legislative district comprising of the municipalities enumerated under the law and effective upon the election of their representatives in May 2022.
The incumbent representatives of the present Palawan province would continue to represent their respective legislative districts until new representatives have been duly elected, are qualified, and assume office.
The new provinces will be entitled to equitable shares in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their respective terrestrial and maritime jurisdiction.
They will also have a combined share of not less than 40 percent of the national government’s gross collection to spur economic development and upgrade quality of life of their inhabitants.
RA 11259 mandates the supervision of a provincial governor and provincial vice governor in each newly-created province.
Each province should also have regular members of sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial board), secretary to the sangguniang panlalawigan, treasurer, assessor, accountant, budget officer, planning and development coordinator, engineer, health officer, administrator, legal officer, agriculturist, social welfare and development officer, veterinarian, and general services officer.
The provincial governor may also appoint an architect, population officer, environment and natural resources officer, cooperatives officer, and information officer.
The official residence and office of the provincial governor should be in the capital of the province. All elective and appointed provincial officials would also hold office in the provincial capital.
RA 11259 also directs the establishment of at least five fire stations and a prosecution service in each province.
Malacañang released a copy of the law on Saturday, April 13. (SunStar Philippines)