Bill making GenSan separate district filed anew

Bill making GenSan separate district filed anew

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 July) — A bill seeking the separation of this city into a new congressional or legislative district was filed anew today by South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. as the 16th Congress officially started its term.

Acharon said his office has re-filed a “modified” measure focusing on the reconfiguration of South Cotabato province’s first congressional district to pave the way for the creation of a new lone district for the city.

The province’s first district presently comprises this city and the municipalities of Tupi, Tampakan and Polomolok.

“The new version sets the separation of the city into a new district while the three municipalities will remain and compose the new first district,” he said in a radio interview.

In the 15th Congress, Acharon 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.”

After its filing on March 19, 2012, the bill was referred to the House committee on local government on May 7 but it failed to get past the preliminary discussions.

Under HB 6038, the present composition of South Cotabato’s first and second congressional districts would be reapportioned to carve out a separate or lone congressional district for this city.

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.

Acharon said the previous bill included T’boli town in the first district reconfiguration to comply with the population requirement of 250,000 for a congressional district.

But in the re-filed version, he said they decided to exclude T’boli and no longer alter the present composition of the second district.

He said South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes disclosed that plans are also underway for the creation of another district out of the present composition of the second district so they decided to leave it as it is.

“Our only problem now is the compliance of the three remaining towns of the first district to the population requirement since their combined count based on the 2010 Census is only 232,000,” he said.

Acharon acknowledged that aside from the official population census of the National Statistics Office, they have no other basis in proving whether the three towns have already reached the required 250,000 population for a single congressional district.

“But we will not get the needed details unless we file the bill. So we decided to re-file it, hoping that the committee on local government can find a way to verify the area’s actual population count during the hearings,” he added.

Acharon earlier said the city’s separation into a new district augurs well for its 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.

He convincingly won over reelected Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao’s younger brother Rogelio of the People’s Champ Movement-United Nationalist Alliance.

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)