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Governor Jose Chavez Alvarez is inclined to have Bataraza as component city for the soon-to-be province of Palawan del Sur.
The COMELEC recently has announced that next year the plebiscite for the division of Palawan into three separate provinces will be held in May 2020, including the proposed Palawan del Sur, composed of towns from. Aborlan to Balabac.
Last week, Gov. Alvarez announced that they are pushing for the cityhood of Bataraza, which host a major mining company.
The town’s P200-Million annual revenue and land area qualifies it to become a city.
The municipality of Bataraza has been the host of the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) in Barangay Rio Tuba.
Like in other aspiring cities, the cityhood is perceived to increase the economic activities of a locality and is expected to increase its population since jobseekers from nearby town and traders alike will be lured to seek greener pasture in the an emerging city.
Bataraza Mayor Abraham Ibba said that their town is up for some drastic changes in terms of progress since Governor Alvarez wanted to make it a city by 2020.
As expected, the measure has been favorably accepted by the townsfolk as they are looking into benefits that the cityhood may bring economically.
Bataraza is also strategically located with the Buliluyan Port, an important seaport that has a close link to Malaysian state of Kudat, which is less than 200 kilometers away. The reopening of Kudat-Buliluyan sea route is presently ironed out.
The construction of an airport in Bataraza is already in the pipeline, which Gov. Alvarez said that this will be not only a domestic airport but an international airport, with flights to Manila, Cebu, Mindanao and international connecting flights to neighboring Southeast Asian countries including the neighboring country of Malaysia and Indonesia.
Once converted into a city through the passage of a law, Bataraza will be the country’s closest city to Malaysia.
The question remain whether Bataraza is really prepared to become a city or not. It is important, that strategic development plans should be carefully laid out to enable it to prepare for its possible conversion into a city.
Whatever the development masterplan for Palawan, we are hopeful and this should not compromise the province’s tag as the country’s last ecological frontier. Palawan is one of the country’s remaining large forest and has the largest mangrove forest. Palawan is also the only province protected and enshrined by the Republic Act 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act.