Creation of SoCot 3rd district gains headway

Deputy Speaker and South Cotabato second district Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez (Photo grab from Rep. Hernandez’s Facebook page)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Efforts to create another legislative district in South Cotabato province have gained ground after the approval of the proposed measure by the House of Representatives committee on local government.

Deputy Speaker and South Cotabato Second District Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez said Thursday the committee approved in a hearing House Bill 9421 on July 21, which seeks to reapportion the province’s second legislative district and create the third district.

He filed the bill last May 24 and was referred by the House committee on rules to the committee on local government two days later.

“We are earnestly hoping for the passage of this bill during the third regular session,” he said in a statement.

Hernandez said the measure intends to amend the provisions of Republic Act 11243 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in March 2019 that initially reapportioned the province’s first district and established this city as a separate district.

It placed the city as the province’s third district despite being a chartered locality and with its voters not participating in the provincial elections.

He said the proposed new third legislative district will comprise the municipalities of Lake Sebu, Norala, Sto. Niño, Surallah, and T’boli, which are currently under the second district.

It leaves Koronadal City and the municipalities of Banga and Tantangan in the existing second district.

The first district is composed of Polomolok, Tupi, and Tampakan towns.

Citing the 2015 census, the remaining areas under the second district has a combined population of 302,176 while the proposed third district has 351,023.

Hernandez said the new district is composed of “contiguous, compact, and adjacent” territories, complying with the provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

“Given the total population and wide land area of the current composition of the second legislative district of our province, it is our view that reapportioning the said district and establishing a third one will be beneficial to the constituents of the said towns,” he said.

The new configuration will primarily benefit residents of the five upper valley municipalities, especially the members of the indigenous groups in Lake Sebu and T’boli.

“They will be sufficiently and properly represented in the Congress. This will also allow another representative to lobby for funds, propose programs and projects, and champion measures for the betterment of the proposed legislative district and the rest of the province,” Hernandez said. (PNA)

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