GenSan officials endorse move to create separate congressional district

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 Feb) – City officials have endorsed ongoing moves for the creation of a separate congressional or legislative district for the city.

Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles said Wednesday the city government is fully supporting the passage of House Bill (HB) 4678 that seeks the city’s separation from the first district of South Cotabato and the creation of a lone legislative district for the area.

HB 4678 was filed by South Cotabato first district Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. last Dec. 13 and immediately referred by the House committee on rules to the committee on local government.

The House local government committee, which is chaired by Acharon, started the committee hearings on the matter earlier this month.

Nograles, City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. and Sangguniang Panglunsod Secretary Rosendo Roque had attended one of the hearings.

The vice mayor said “it’s high time” for the city to become a lone district and have a separate representation at the House of Representatives.

She said that the city has long been qualified to become a separate district, especially in terms of the population requirement.

She said the city’y population, based on the 2000 census, was already at 412,000 or way beyond the Constitutional requirement of 250,000.

In the 2015 census, the city’s population reached 594,000.

Nograles said Article 6, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “within three years following the return of every census, Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts” based on the standards provided.

“For over 21 years, the city council has passed numerous resolutions requesting Congress to pass a law for the creation of a lone district for the city,” she said.

South Cotabato’s 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. Niño, Norala, and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

Under HB 4678, Acharon is pushing for the reconfiguration of the present composition of South Cotabato’s first and second congressional districts.

Acharon, who is a former mayor here, said that with the separation of the city, the remaining towns of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan will comprise the first district.

In the 15th Congress, Acharon filed 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.”

But the measure failed to get past the preliminary discussions at the committee level until the congressional recess for the May 2013 elections. (MindaNews)