GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 November)– South Cotabato officials remained optimistic of getting the approval of the House of Representatives by next year to a pending bill that seeks the separation of this city into a new congressional or legislative district.
South Cotabato Second District Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Friday she had requested the House’s committee on local government to immediately set the hearings for House Bill (HB) 6038 and work on its passage before the 15th Congress ends its sessions in June 2013.
HB 6038, which is co-authored by Fuentes, is “an act reapportioning the composition of the first and second legislative districts in the province of South Cotabato and thereby creating a new legislative district from such reapportionment.”
Fuentes said she discussed the matter recently with Negros Oriental Second District Rep. George Arnai, the House’s local government committee chair, and asked for the bill’s inclusion in the agenda of the committee’s remaining sessions.
“Our target now is to have it passed by next year and have the elections for the reconfigured districts in 2016,” she said.
Fuentes conceded that they ran out of time with their earlier target to have the measure passed in time for the May 2013 midterm national and local elections as it was filed “quite late.”
House records showed that South Cotabato First District Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. filed the bill last March 19, and subsequently referred to the committee on local government on May 7.
HB 6038 mainly provides for the reapportionment of the present composition of South Cotabato’s first and second congressional or legislative districts to facilitate the creation of a separate or lone congressional district for this city.
The first district presently comprises this city and the municipalities of Tupi, Tampakan and Polomolok in South Cotabato.
The second district is composed of Koronadal City and the municipalities of Tantangan, Banga, T’boli, Surallah, Sto.Nino, Norala, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
Under the proposed measure, Fuentes said South Cotabato’s first district will be reshaped into the towns of Polomolok, Tupi, Tampakan and T’boli.
She said Koronadal City, which is a component city and capital of South Cotabato, and the six remaining towns will compose the province’s second district.
But Fuentes said there’s a possibility that a new legislative district will emerge in the area by 2016 due to the fast-paced development in Koronadal City, which is also the regional seat and center of Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region, and several towns in the province.
“By then, Koronadal and possibly along with Tantangan, would be eligible to become a separate third district,” she said.
General Santos City, which has a population of 538,086 based on the 2010 census, has long been classified as an independent and highly-urbanized locality but has remained a part of South Cotabato’s first congressional district.
It was originally a component of the undivided Cotabato empire province until Congress approved its charter in 1968. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)