GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 May) — The re-filing of a bill that seeks the separation of this city into a new congressional or legislative district will be the top priority if reelected South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. when the 16th Congress begins its sessions on July 1.
Acharon said his office is now preparing the necessary requirements for the filing of the measure, which sets the reconfiguration of the first and second legislative districts of South Cotabato to pave the way for the creation of a new legislative district in the area.
“The city has long been qualified to have its own separate legislative district, so (the passage of) this measure is long overdue,” he said.
The official said the separation into a new district also augurs well with the city’s development goals and direction.
Acharon, who is a former mayor of this city, was reelected last May 13 for a second term to the House of Representatives under the administration-backed Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition-Achiever’s with Integrity Movement (LP-NPC-AIM) ticket.
He convincingly won over reelected Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao’s younger brother Rogelio of the People’s Champ Movement-United Nationalist Alliance.
Acharon initially filed House Bill (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,” on March 19, 2012.
It was referred to the House committee on local government on May 7 but failed to get past the preliminary discussions until the 15th Congress went on recess last February for the May 13 elections.
South Cotabato (2nd District) Second District Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who co-authored HB 6038, earlier admitted that they ran out of time to have the measure calendared for committee hearings as it was filed “quite late.”
Fuentes, who was elected governor of South Cotabato, expressed support for the re-filing and passage of the bill during her campaigns.
Her successor at the House, close ally Ferdinand Hernandez of the LP-NPC, had also endorsed the separation of this city into a new legislative district.
Under HB 6038, the present composition of South Cotabato’s first and second congressional will be reapportioned 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.Nino, Norala, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
The proposed measure provided that South Cotabato’s first district will be reshaped, comprising the towns of Polomolok, Tupi, Tampakan and T’boli.
Koronadal City, which is a component city and capital of South Cotabato, and the six remaining towns will compose the province’s second district.
This 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)