Thank you, Palawan

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

It was a battle between David and Goliath. That is how advocates for One Palawan described their struggle vs the strong political forces and massive resources of the proponents of Republic Act 11259 which splits Palawan into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.

Despite an earlier March 10, 2020, the Supreme Court decision (15-0) that favored R.A. 11259 and despite having only few resources and just social/traditional media support, the no votes still won in the last March 13 plebiscite.

Our heartfelt gratitude, applause, and salute to the grassroots-initiated One Palawan for their inspiring, courageous fight to oppose the split of Palawan.

Thank you sincerely also to all who voted for PalawONE, the 19 out of 23 municipalities and all the 172,304 who voted no against the 122,223 who voted yes. Maraming, maraming salamat po at mabuhay kayo.  This plebiscite victory was truly a resounding triumph, not only for the Palaweños but for all the Filipino people.

During this difficult, challenging period where politicians think they can shamelessly push their own agenda, our Palawan brothers and sisters bravely showed the powerful that the “desire of a few cannot win over the desire of the majority.”

The strong messages of those who voted no in Palawan – “courage amidst fear, power to the people!”

May pag-asa, just remember PalaWON!

Amidst EJKs, the Anti-Terror Law, the unabashed abuse of power and public funds at present, the NO victory in Palawan is a truly, inspiring breath of fresh air of hope, of triumph of spirit, of good vs evil, of truth vs lies, of volunteerism/bayanihan, of the people’s collective, united effort as their greatest wealth and power.

Ardent, relentless campaign and unity, not only within Palawan but all throughout the country, made that historic win of the NO votes possible.

For sure, this will not be the last attempt to split Palawan or other areas of our country. Politicians will use this justification for the split -- to better serve their constituents. Why have politicians not served their constituents better and earlier? For whom is the split?  For their constituents or for themselves, for the perpetration of their power and their family dynasty?

One Palawan showed us that the Filipino people can win over even powerful dynasties and parties. A resurrected local EDSA, People Power in Palawan.

The no vote for PalawONE also saved the rich history and abundant resources of that province not only for the Palawenos but for all the Filipino people.

Remember the Tabon Caves and the Tabon Man who lived in Palawan for more than 50,000 years? And Palawan’s historic ties with Borneo and other Asian neighbors.

Spanish historian, Antonio Pigafetta, mentioned “Pulaoan” or “Polaoan” also called “la terra de missione” (“the land of promise”) because the starving Spanish crew were “welcomed to the island with rice cooked in bamboo tubes, rice wine, bananas, pigs, goats, chickens, coconuts, sugarcane, and other supplies.”

Culturally-rich Palawan is also home to our indigenous people --  the  Palaw'an, Batak, Tagbanwa, and Tau't Bato who are from the interiors and highlands of Palawan, as well as the Calamianes Islands.

The no victory also protected the rest of the Philippines from possible foreign intrusion given the strategic geographic location of this archipelagic and largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction which stretch between “Mindoro in the northeast and Borneo in the southwest, and, between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea. “The disputed Spratly Islands are considered part of Palawan by the Philippines.”

The no victory gratefully saved Palawan’s rich natural resources: rich biodiversity, rocky coves, beaches, virgin forests, mountain ranges, minerals, rich fishing grounds, pearls, riverine arteries (for irrigation) , crops, natural gas/ oil reserves and more.

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