Palawan town reelects anti-mining mayor

Keith Anthony Fabro
'You can rest assured that I will continue to serve with a heart for the townspeople and environment. I believe when you're serving the people, you're also serving God,' says Mayor-elect Mary Jean Feliciano

ANTI-MINING. Mary Jean Feliciano has been reelected as mayor of Brooke's Point town in southern Palawan. Photo by Joemarian Casidsid

PALAWAN, Philippines – Anti-mining advocate Mary Jean Feliciano has been reelected as mayor of Brooke’s Point town in southern Palawan. 

The feisty Feliciano was proclaimed mayor on Thursday, May 16, after garnering 19,198 votes over rival and former mayor Narciso Leoncio’s 14,361 votes.

She led the mayoral race by 4,837 votes and is set for her third and last term. The mayor-elect ran under the Partido Pagbabago ng Palawan (PPP), the province’s ruling party headed by reelected Governor Jose Alvarez.

“You can rest assured that I will continue to serve with a heart for the townspeople and environment. I believe when you’re serving the people, you’re also serving God,” Feliciano said in her Facebook post Friday.

This election was the third time the two clashed. In 2016, Feliciano defeated Leoncio by a narrow margin of 2,312 votes. In 2013, she also outranked Leoncio, and another former mayor, Myrna Lacanilao.

Staunch anti-mining critic Feliciano made headlines in February 2018 when she led the demolition of a mining firm’s facilities operating in her town without valid permits. In May 2017, Feliciano slammed the same company for clearing a primary forest sans tree-cutting permits.

Throughout her previous terms, her battlecry has been to keep her town mining-free to preserve its rich biodiversity. This earned her the respect of environmental advocacy groups in the province.

However, Feliciano’s pro-Palawan division stance didn’t sit well with the same groups that vehemently oppose the move for supposed lack of public consultations and cost-benefit analysis.

Despite criticisms that the move would only benefit politicians who want to perpetuate themselves in power, Feliciano maintained people in far-flung areas stand to benefit from it, as they would get to enjoy fast delivery of basic government services.

Republic Act No. 11259 designates Brooke’s Point as the capital of Palawan del Sur province. The other provinces are Palawan del Norte and Palawan Oriental, with Taytay and Roxas towns as their respective government centers.

The law, however, is subject to people’s approval through a plebiscite slated on the second Monday of May 2020. – Rappler.com

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