MALITA, Davao del Sur (MindaNews/28 October) – As of Monday afternoon, it was not yet known if Mindanao will have its 27th province – the proposed Davao Occidental province which will be carved out of Davao del Sur.
Pursuant to Republic Act 10360, the law creating Davao Occidental, the plebiscite on the proposed province was held together with the village elections on Monday. It will comprise the towns of Santa Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani.
But for some voters interviewed by MindaNews, the promise of a better life convinced them to vote in favor of the proposal.
Tailor Deborah Lavisores said she voted “yes” saying the creation of the new province could bring more employment opportunities to Malita, her hometown, which will become the capital if RA 10360 was ratified.
“Many of us believe that when Malita becomes the capital, it can also bring development and employment,” she said.
Davao del Sur currently has 14 towns and one city, Digos, the provincial capital. It has two legislative districts: District 1 comprising Digos City and the towns of Bansalan, Hagonoy, Magsaysay, Matanao, Padada and Sta. Cruz; and District 2 comprising the towns of Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Malalag, Malita, Santa Maria, Sulop, Sarangani and Don Marcelino.
Like Lavisores, lechon vendor Ian Fernandez also believes creating a new province will mean more development.
“That’s what we have heard from our local government officials,” said Fernandez, who has been a mobile lechon vendor for 10 years already.
But for Jomel Llaban of Hagonoy town who works as a carwash attendant in Digos City, he voted “yes” because that’s what his co-workers told him.
Apolinaria Ballito of Barangay Kinanga in Don Marcelino said she voted “yes” because she heard from the others that it can uplift their lives.
“Should we have some transactions in the capitol, we don’t need to travel for at least two hours to Digos City,” Ballito told Mindanews after casting her vote.
Don Marcelino is about 100 kilometers away from Digos.
In Sta. Maria, Norma Paglinawan, chair of the Office of the Senior Citizens Association, also believes that the creation of the new province could spark development.
Paglinawan disclosed that Mayor Rudy Mariscal has been reminding the employees and residents about the creation of Davao Occidental during convocation programs.
“We voted ‘yes’ because we believe that it could uplift the economy on this part of the province,” she said.
Almost all towns in Davao del Sur have installed tarpaulins marked “Yes to Davao Occidental,” bearing the picture of the mayors.
Some of these were installed right outside the elementary schools, which served as voting precincts as well.
However, Lavisores had reservations on the creation of the new province and making this town as the capital.
“Yes it may generate employment and spur development but for sure it will make the cost of living higher than usual,” Lavisores, who has been a tailor since 1973, said.
Fish trader Eva Egos said she voted ‘yes’ because she believes majority of the people here is for it.
“I voted yes because it would still win anyway. Besides, it doesn’t matter to us for as long as there’s enough fish in the sea,” Egos said in an interview in her stall at the coastal village of New Argao. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)