Most of Palawan’s 472 polling places promptly opened at 7 a.m. on Saturday to welcome voters to decide on whether the province should be divided into three distinct local government entities or retain the status quo.
Except for the island town of Kalayaan, which is distantly located in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and where the delivery of plebiscite paraphernalia was delayed due to rough weather conditions on Friday, “most of the polling places opened on time,” Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said.
“So far, everything we’re seeing is good. Most of the polling places that have reported to us opened on time. Although it rained in some areas, voters continue to arrive). Social distancing and other health precautions are being observed,” said Jimenez in Filipino, who is currently in Palawan.
The province has 490,639 registered voters in 23 municipalities where the plebiscite is being conducted.
“Hopefully, this continues and more voters would come,” Jimenez added in Filipino.
He confirmed the “logistical challenge” in Kalayaan due to bad weather but said a Philippine Air Force aircraft was ready to take off to the island town in the WPS.
“We had a problem in Kalayaan yesterday [Friday]. The people who were supposed to deliver the ballots had to return due to the strong waves. But this has been remedied,” Jimenez said in Filipino, adding they were anticipating a slight delay in the opening of the polling places on the island.
As of press time, provincial Comelec spokesperson Jomel Ordas said a military plane left for Kalayaan at 9:40 a.m. and was expected to arrive there at noon with plebiscite supplies and personnel.
Jimenez, however, said there is no immediate plan to extend the voting hours in Kalayaan.“With only 200 registered voters in Kalayaan, it is expected that voting will be completed within the originally allotted time, with voting hours being flexibly extended as needed, after the 3 p.m. deadline,” he said. SOVEREIGNPH