Davao Occidental: Mindanao’s 27th province

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 Oct)— Voters of Davao del Sur will not only vote for their barangay chair and seven councilors on Monday, they will also vote “yes” or “no” to the creation of the province of Davao Occidental.

If ratified, Davao Occidental, which will comprise the municipalities of Santa Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani, will be Mindanao’s 27th province.

Pursuant to Republic Act 10360, the law creating Davao Occidental, its capital will be in Malita town.

27map_dvoccDavao Occidental will be carved out of Davao del Sur’s 14 towns and one city. At present, Davao del Sur has two legislative districts: District 1 comprising Digos City and the towns of Bansalan, Hagonoy, Magsaysay, Matanao, Padada and Sta. Cruz; and District 2 comprising the towns of Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Malalag, Malita, Santa Maria, Sulop, Sarangani and Don Marcelino.

When residents of Davao del Sur approve the creation of Davao Occidental, the five-town Davao Occidental will have a lone legislative district “to commence in the next national and local elections” or 2016 while the nine-town and one-city Davao del Sur will also comprise a lone legislative district

But RA 10360 provides that the incumbent representatives of the present Davao del Sur “shall continue to represent their respective legislative districts until the expiration of their term of office.”

The second district is the turf of the family of the incumbent governor Claude Bautista. The Bautistas have been dominating politics in the present eight-town district with his father and brothers serving Congress since 1987 and as mayor of Malita.

Claude is the second Bautista to be elected governor. The first was Benjamin Bautista, Jr., who was elected vice governor in 2001 and assumed the post of Governor when then Governor Reynerio Llanos died in October 2002. Bautista, Jr. was elected governor in 2004.

The  Bautistas’ father, Benjamin Bautista Sr., was mayor of Malita town in the 1960s and served as Assemblyman from 1978 to 1984 and as Representative of the second district from 1987 to 1998.

Franklin, the incumbent governor’s brother, served as Representative from 1998 to 2001 followed by Claude form 2001 to 2007.

Instead of running for a third term in 2007, Claude ran for governor of Davao del Sur but lost to then reelectionist Governor Douglas Cagas. In 2013, Bautista won against Douglas’ son, Marc Douglas.

Franklin was the second district’s representative from 2007 and is completing his third term.

The governor’s brother, Franklin and then Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, were the principal authors of then House Bill 4451, which proposed the law creating the province of Davao Occidental.  (MindaNews)