PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — Palawan is launching an ambitious bid to break away from Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) region and, by congressional action, become the first separate administrative region in the country designed along the lines of environmental protection.
Vice Gov. David Ponce de Leon, who is acting governor, made the announcement on Tuesday during a forum convened by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) as part of the 15th anniversary celebration of the Strategic Environmental Plan Law for Palawan.
The plan calls for the passage of a law creating two new provinces out of the island, a scheme that local officials claim will speed up the development of the entire Palawan.
In an interview, Ponce de Leon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the bill being drafted would be sponsored in Congress by Representatives Antonio Alvarez and Abraham Mitra of Palawan’s two districts.
The bill, he said, would also convert Puerto Princesa, the capital, into an independent city and form a regional entity to be called the Palawan Environmental Administrative Region (PEAR).
“We are fast-tracking this proposal and we will complete the process from our end as soon as we finish consultations with local government units and municipalities,” Ponce de Leon said.
Most Palawan mayors are expected to rally behind the push and initiate the clamor on the lower level, according to Agutaya Mayor Zosimo Zabalo.
“This is a welcome development. We all have supported the earlier proposal to create a new region. We will conduct the necessary moves in our municipalities,” Zabalo said.
He said he would sponsor a resolution at a meeting of the Palawan Municipal Mayors’ League to support the initiative.
Board member Gil Acosta, one of the original proponents of a resolution calling for the creation of two new provinces, said he would re-file his resolution at the provincial board “once I get the proper political signal from the barangays and municipalities.”
Palawan’s projected royalty shares are expected to boost in the coming years following recent discoveries of oil and natural gas from exploration activities in oil and gas concession blocs around Palawan.