GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 Aug) – Citing it will better serve the city’s interests, the city council here is pushing for the separation of this city from the first congressional or legislative district of South Cotabato and the creation of two congressional districts for the area.
In an urgent resolution, the council specifically asked the House of Representatives to pass a law that will set off the reconfiguration of South Cotabato’s first district and the establishment of the new congressional districts in the city.
“This Sanggunian strongly believes that the interest of the city and its people could be better represented in the country’s legislative branch if it is separated from its current congressional district and reorganized into two districts with duly elected representatives,” it said.
City Councilor Dominador Lagare III, who authored the resolution, said Tuesday the city is now qualified to be divided into two legislative districts as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.
He said Article VI, Section 5 of the Constitution provides that “each city with a population of at least 250,000 shall have at least one (1) representative, and that within three (3) years following the return of every census, the Philippine Congress shall make a reappointment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in the Constitution.”
Lagare said that based on the 2010 national census conducted by the National Statistics Office, the city’s total population already reached 538,086.
He said the city is now classified as a highly-urbanized city and that its population figures might have even “nearly doubled as of this time due to steady rise of population owing to high immigration and birth rates.”
“Notwithstanding the significant count of its populace, however, the city remains integrated up to the present to the first congressional district of the Province of South Cotabato, which also can stand alone as a separate congressional district,” Lagare said.
Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., who represents South Cotabato’s first district, was supposed to have re-filed a “modified” bill last month seeking the separation of this city into a new congressional district.
He earlier told reporters that the new measure focuses 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.
But online records of bills referred to the House committee on local government, which Acharon now heads, did not show any entry regarding the proposed measure.
South Cotabato’s first district presently comprises this city and the municipalities of Tupi, Tampakan and Polomolok.
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.
This city, which is considered as Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region’s financial and economic center, has long been classified as an independent and highly urbanized area.
It was originally a component of the undivided Cotabato empire province until Congress approved its charter in 1968.