Joker Arroyo: Probe CamSur ‘gerrymandering’
Bicolano senator says bill dividing province benefits only political clansBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A senator has called for an investigation of what he said were gerrymandering tactics that he said were seen in a bill dividing Camarines Sur into two provinces.
Sen. Joker Arroyo, a native of Camarines Sur, asked the Senate to investigate whether the bill seeking to divide the province into two and create a Nueva Camarines was just an attempt to gerrymander the province, or create new political districts to benefit the bill’s proponents.
Arroyo and Sen. Franklin Drilon raised questions on the inclusion of the bill in the Senate’s calendar last Tuesday which surprised them since the senator in charge of the calendar, Vicente Sotto III, had announced that Tuesday would be the day he delivers a privilege speech to counter charges that he plagiarized material he used in a previous speech against the reproductive health bill.
“This is a case of gerrymandering and therefore the Senate has a duty to see to it or to inquire whether there is gerrymandering,” Arroyo said.
“To provide feuding families in the province the solution [to their conflict], instead of [settling it in] an election, [they] resolve it by partitioning the province and assigning … sections to families,” the Bicolano senator said.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the local government committee, said he has prepared a committee report but is now drafting a new one because of the new inputs he received from camps pushing for and opposed to the bill.
He said he foresees lengthy debate on the Nueva Camarines bill.
Arroyo said the move to insert the bill in the Senate agenda without completing requirements was an attempt to “impair” Senate rules.
Arroyo warned that previous attempts to divide “big” provinces in Luzon may have succeeded in Congress but were rejected by the people in plebiscites.
He said splitting Camarines Sur could further drag the province down the list of progressive provinces.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had dismissed the brouhaha over the Nueva Camarines bill saying the Senate’s job to pass it was just “ministerial.”
Marcos, however, said he needed to study the bill closely because of the strong reactions it elicited from people who would be affected by it.
Under the rules, a local bill emanates from the House and needs the concurrence of the Senate before the President signs it into law.
Once given Malacañang’s nod, the law would be subjected to a plebiscite where the people of Camarines Sur would be asked whether they agree to carve the area to be called Nueva Camarines from the existing Camarines Sur.