Zubiri sponsored House Bill 3312, which proposes the creation of the province of Bukidnon del Sur. The move was opposed by Acosta, who is pushing not to divide the province.
The square off between Acosta (1st District) and Zubiri (3rd District), according to the announcement furnished to MindaNews, will be on Oct. 18 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bukidnon State College gymnasium.
Zubiri proposed a new province with 10 municipalities, namely, Maramag, Quezon, Pangantucan, Don Carlos, Dangcagan, Kibawe, Kadinglan, Kataotao, Damulog and Kalilangan. The component cities of Malaybalay and Valencia will remain in the "Province of Bukidnon" with 10 other municipalities.
Critics of the move hit Zubiri for alleged political maneuvering over the public consultation process of the proposed legislation.
The municipalities of Kalilangan and Pangantucan are parts pf the present legislative district represented by Acosta. Earlier this year, Bukidnon media reported that Don Carlos town was chosen to be the proposed capital of Bukidnon del Sur in a plebiscite.
Zubiri, in earlier interviews, said the move will help improve management of Northern Mindanao's biggest province in area and population.
In a statement, Zubiri expressed optimism that splitting Bukidnon into two provinces would hasten the socio-economic growth of the whole area. The Senate is set to hear the proposed legislation again, after two hearings conducted in Manila and in Cagayan de Oro City.
According to Zubiri, the combined annual income of the 10 towns, which have an aggregate population of 423,000, totals more than P521 million.
The announcement said the forum is open to the public with invitations sent to representatives from the media, academe, civil society, non-government and political organizations, indigenous peoples and the business sector.
Event organizer Asterisk Events and Communications told MindaNews the two parties have already committed to attend the forum. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)