GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 Jan) – Officials here and in nearby South Cotabato province have renewed their bid for the separation of this city into a new congressional or legislative district.
South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. filed House Bill (HB) 4678 last month that seeks the creation of a lone legislative district for the city.
This city, which is classified as an independent and highly-urbanized locality, is presently a part of the province’s first district.
HB 4678, which was officially filed Dec. 13, was immediately referred by the House committee on rules to the committee on local government, which Acharon chairs.
In filing the proposed measure, Acharon said it is time for the city to stand as a lone congressional district as it has long been qualified for it.
Citing results of the 2015 Census on Population and Housing, he said the city had a total population of around 594,000 and an annual average population growth rate of 1.91 percent since 2010.
In line with the measure, Acharon is pushing for the reconfiguration of the present composition of South Cotabato’s first and second congressional districts to carve out 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. Niño, Norala, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
Acharon, who is a former mayor here, said that with the separation of the city, the remaining towns of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan will comprise the first district.
He said the three municipalities are already qualified to become a separate district as their combined population reach 262,090.
Based on the 2015 census, he said Polomolok has a population of 152,789 and posted an average annual growth rate of 1.92 percent. Tupi has a population of 69,976 while Tampakan has 39,525.
“This clearly shows that the reconstitution of the first district of South Cotabato is in order so as to ensure that they are not deprived of equal representation,” Acharon said.
He added that the approval of the measure will “give life to the Constitutional mandate of ensuring due and equal representation for all.”
In the 15th Congress, Acharon filed HB 6038 or “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.”
But the measure failed to get past the preliminary discussions at the committee level until the congressional recess for the May 2013 elections. (MindaNews)