Press Release
March 17, 2021

De Lima commends Palaweños for exercising their rights and for their extraordinary manifestation of democracy

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima lauded the residents of Palawan for the result of the recently concluded plebiscite on the ratification of Republic Act (RA) No. 11259, intending to divide the province of Palawan into three separate provinces.

De Lima, a staunch social justice and human rights champion, said the praiseworthy move of Palaweños is a beacon of democracy in the country and a strong reminder of the importance of valuing and participating in the democratic process.

"The people of Palawan have spoken. I laud and congratulate Palaweños for this historic victory and embodiment of democracy," she said.

"Sa kabila ng matinding udyok mula sa mga nasa kapangyarihan para baguhin ang nakagisnan, nanindigan ang mga kababayan natin sa Palawan kung ano ang sa tingin nila ay makatarungan at tunay na makabubuti sa kanilang lalawigan. Mulat nilang tinimbang at pinagdesisyunan ang nararapat sa kanilang pamamalakad at para sa kanilang kinabukasan," she added.

Last March 16, the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) Provincial Plebiscite Board of Canvassers proclaimed that the "no" vote won in the plebiscite that asked residents if they agreed to ratify RA No. 11259 splitting Palawan into three provinces.

RA No. 11259, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 5, 2019, would have split Palawan into the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.

COMELEC official results showed that 172,304 voted "no" for dividing Palawan into three while 122,223 voted for "yes", as of 5:00 pm, March 16. According to the poll body, the plebiscite for RA No. 11259 posted a 60.06 percent voter turnout.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said she also commends the residents of Palawan for their "no" vote because such move could help prevent further attempts by China for a territorial expansion.

"As early as 2018, top international political risk analyst Anders Corr already warned that splitting Palawan would end up benefitting China amid its continued encroachment in the West Philippine Sea. As such, such move by the Palaweños is beneficial for Filipinos," De Lima noted.

It may be recalled that Corr, an expert in China's influence operations, earlier said that "China would likely welcome the breakup of Palawan, because the country sees the Philippine province as having important strategic military and resource uses."

Meanwhile, the hashtag #NoTo3in1Palawan trended on Twitter as Palawan voters took part in a plebiscite last March 14, with one netizen writing that "Palawan should be one solid and unified province. Dividing the island into three provinces would only worsen the existing problems."

Likewise, netizens lauded the residents of Palawan for rejecting RA 11529 when official results of the plebiscite came out.


"'Overwhelming No votes' sa Palawan ay HUDYAT ba na si Duterte ITINATAKWIL na ang Taong-bayan?" another said.

It can be recalled that the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) previously accused the measure creating the Provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur, of having a gerrymandering agenda that will run counter to laws and policies meant to protect the biodiversity and natural resources of Palawan.

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