SouthCot officials want separate congressional district for GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 January) — South Cotabato officials want a separate congressional district for this city.

The ten-town, one-city province presently has two disctricts, with GenSan in the first.

In a resolution, the 13-person provincial board urged South Cotabato Representatives Pedro Acharon Jr. (1st district) and Daisy Avance-Fuentes (2nd dstrict) to push before the House of Representatives the immediate restructuring of the province’s current legislative set-up to complement the area’s socio-economic advances during the past years.

Board member Ernesto Catedral, chair of the board’s committee on justice and legal matters, said the move mainly seeks the separation of this city from the province’s first congressional district since it is already a chartered and highly-urbanized city.

General Santos City “has long been an independent or chartered city yet it remains a component city of the province in terms of congressional representation. I think it’s about time that this is properly threshed out because it also affects the development of the province,” Catedral said.

The city’s charter was approved by Congress 1968 but it has remained a part of South Cotabato’s first district, along with the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan.

South Cotabato’s first congressional district is represented by Acharon, who is a former mayor of this city. The incumbent mayor, Darlene Antonino-Custodio, held the post for nine years or three
until last year.

Catedral said that based on initial studies made by his committee, the three municipalities in the first district are already eligible in terms of the required income and population to comprise a
congressional district.

The towns of Polomolok and Tupi, which hosts the pineapple plantations of multinational firm Dole Philippines and other industrial companies, are presently among the province’s top income earners.

Tampakan town is currently the main base of foreign-backed mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc., which is pursuing a large-scale copper and gold mining project in the area.

In the event General Santos City becomes a separate congressional district, Catedral said Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan may automatically compose the first district, while maintaining a status quo in the second district.

The second district presently covers Koronadal City and the municipalities of Tantangan, Banga, Surallah, Norala, Sto. Nino, T’boli and Lake Sebu.

“We’re still studying this proposal but it so far appears very promising, considering the significant progress that we’ve gained these past years in the socio-economic and political fronts,” he said.

Catedral did not provide details of the realignment under the proposed three-district system but several proposals earlier came out regarding the possibility of creating a separate congressional district for Koronadal City and nearby Tantangan town.

The proposal cited the creation of another district for the municipalities of Banga, Surallah, Norala, Sto. Nino, T’boli and Lake Sebu, which currently comprise South Cotabato’s upper valley area.

“This will be a major break for the province once it materializes, given the prospects of having separate development funds for each district and enhanced representation in Congress,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)