Duterte signs law dividing Palawan into 3 provinces

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — An act splitting Palawan into three separate provinces has been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The act was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 2016 by Representatives Franz Josef George Alvarez, Frederick Abueg, and Gil Acosta.

A Senate Bill sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara was approved in November 2018.

Signed on April 5 but released only on Saturday, Republic Act (RA) No. 11259, or the "Charter of the Provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur," divides the island into three.

It will take effect 15 days upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general and local circulation.

Palawan del Norte is made up of the municipalities of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacao, Taytay and El Nido. Its capital is Taytay.

Palawan Oriental is comprised of Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cayancillo and San Vicente. Its capital is Roxas.

Palawan del Sur - named as the mother province - covers the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Española, Brooke's Point, Bataraza, Balabac and Kalayaan. Its capital is Brooke's Point.

Under the RA, each province will have a provincial governor, provincial vice governor, and a sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial council) among other local officials.

Article 2 of the RA states, "The provincial governor, as the chief executive of the provincial government, shall exercise such powers and perform such duties and functions as provided for in the Local Government Code of 1991, as amended, and other laws."

The provincial vice governor, meanwhile, shall be the presiding officer of the sangguniang panlalawigan.

However, Article 9, section 51 of the RA states, "The Provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur shall be created upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters of the affected areas in a plebiscite conducted and supervised by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the second Monday of May 2020 following the effectivity of this Charter."

The election of the provincial officials will happen on the second Monday of May 2022, it added.

It also said, "The residents of the City of Puerto Princesa, as a highly urbanized city, shall not be qualified to vote in the plebiscite and for candidates for the provincial and elective positions."