Once thought to be dead after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV fought over the alleged railroading of the measure, the contoversial Camarines Sur (CamSur) bill is again on the move with Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada pushing for its passage before the Christmas break.
Estrada in the last session day of the week asked about the status of the bill creating Nueva Camarines from the fourth district of Camarines Sur before getting Trillanes to commit that he’d continue his interpellation of bill sponsor Sen. Ferdinand Marcos next week.
The Senate Pro Tempore indicated on the floor that Trillanes’ desire to ask questions as regards the committee report on Senate Bill No. 4820 was the only matter keeping the CamSur bill from passing the Senate.
“We, legislators, do not have any right to decide for the people of Nueva Camarines. It is only the people of Nueva Camarines who will decide if they want to divide their own province. We cannot prevent the people if they want their province to progress or to develop or not,” Estrada said.
Estrada first asked Marcos about the lack of activity in the plenary as regards the CamSur bill. Marcos countered by indicating the bill was no longer as urgent and that the Senate had to contend with other important measures such as the national budget and the sin tax bill.
“We are in the period of interpellation on that bill but because there were many bills that were being rushed before we break on Dec. 21 we have deferred it … besides, the truth of the matter is the situation is that the issue is moot,” Marcos said.
“None of the candidates in this coming election will be able to run because they haven’t been able to file for what are today nonexistent positions. That is why we have been comfortable in deferring it and making way for the other very important bills that are pending,” Marcos added.
Estrada insisted that whether or not the matter was moot wasn’t the issue. He then invoked “the constitutional right to self-determination of the people of Camarines Sur.”
Estrada said the creation of the new province was up to the Camarines Sur electorate to decide in a plebiscite.
Marcos then said he’d take up the matter with Trillanes to continue the stalled interpellation.
Trillanes said he would be ready to proceed with the second of his three-part interpellation next week. He, nonetheless, mentioned that there were more important bills than the CamSur bill.
“I would like to inform the body that I’ll be ready next week because I assumed also that this bill of local import should not supersede the more important bills that we have before us like the budget the [freedom of information], even the [reproductive health] bill,” Trillanes said.
“But since apparently it’s very much important to the gentleman from San Juan, we can accommodate his request,” Trillanes added.
“Thank you. Hopefully you will be true to your word so we can dispose of the issue, hopefully before we go on Christmas break,” Estrada said.