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MANILA — Palawan residents are set to cast their “yes” or “no” votes Saturday in a plebiscite to decide whether or not the province would be divided into three. 

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said a total of 490,639 registered Palaweño voters from 23 municipalities are expected to participate in the plebiscite, the first such exercise held amid movement and gathering restrictions because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

While polls have opened there were some delays in the arrival of ballot boxes and election paraphernalia in other areas like in the Andres Soriano Elementary School in Roxas town. 

Teachers manning polling precincts there were expecting the arrival of ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia at around 5 a.m. but they came 15 minutes before polls opened.

There were already some early voters waiting for the polls to open. 

A majority of “yes” votes will divide Palawan into the provinces of Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan del Sur. Puerto Princesa is exempted from the plebiscite because it is a highly urbanized city.

Voters are screened first before they could vote to comply with health protocols amid the threat of COVID-19. 

The Comelec said there are 2,959 clustered precincts; 487 isolation polling places; 14 accessible polling places; 487 voting centers; and 3 accessible voting centers for indigenous peoples.

Canvassing venues will be held at the provincial and municipal legislative session halls.

The plebiscite is required under Republic Act No. 11259 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 2019. The poll body initially set the plebiscite in May 2020 but was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

— With a report from Adrian Ayalin



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