Acharon pushes for separate congressional district for GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 Feb) –Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. (South Cotabato, 1st District) plans to pursue before the House of Representatives this year the long-delayed creation of a separate congressional district for this city and the reconfiguration of the province’s legislative divisions.

Acharon disclosed such plan Thursday as he expressed support to mounting clamors from local officials in the area for the immediate review and reconfiguration of the province’s two congressional districts, a move that is seen to complement the ongoing development initiatives in the area.

“The city is already qualified to have its own congressional representation and I think it’s about time that we make this happen,” he said.

The city, which has a population of 529,542 based on the 2007 census, has long been classified as an independent and highly-urbanized locality but it has remained a part of South Cotabato’s first congressional district, along with the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan.

It was originally a component of the undivided Cotabato empire province until Congress approved its charter in 1968.

Acharon, who is a former mayor of this city, said they are currently drawing up the possible configuration of the existing legislative districts in South Cotabato province in the event the city becomes a separate district.

He said they are also evaluating whether the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan have passed the requirements to become a single legislative district.

Based on the 2007 census, the three municipalities posted a combined population of 223,994 or just 26,000 short of the 250,000 population requirement for the creation of a new congressional district.

“We’re just waiting for the approval by the President of the 2010 census so we can update the actual population of the area and complete the population requirement,” Acharon said.

He said there were also proposals to include the municipality of T’boli in the first district to accomplish the population requirement but noted that there were also moves for the reconfiguration of the present second congressional district into two legislative divisions.

South Cotabato’s second district comprises Koronadal City and the municipalities of Tantangan, Banga, Surallah, Norala, Sto. Nino, T’boli and Lake Sebu.

Last month, the South Cotabato provincial board passed Resolution No. 5, which sought for the separation of General Santos City from the province’s legislative configuration and the re-apportionment of the area’s existing districts.

Vice Gov. Elmo Tolosa, co-author of the resolution, said the proposal would significantly benefit the province in terms of increased allocation from the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF and guaranteed representation at the House of Representatives for local constituents.

Tolosa said they believe that being a first class province, there’s a need for the province to have more representation in Congress to cope with its rapid growth in terms of economic and social development.

With a population of 767,255 based on the 2007 actual census, the province’s total population was projected to increase to 813,053 this year based on its annual average growth rate of 1.46 percent. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)