House passes bill splitting CamSurBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Voting 229-1, the House of Representatives on Wednesday night overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading a bill creating the province of Nueva Camarines in the Bicol region.
The four congressmen from Camarines Sur who were its authors on Thursday hailed the passage of House Bill No. 4820.
“This triumph belongs to the people of Camarines Sur who are clamoring for good governance and honest-to-goodness solutions to the extreme poverty prevailing in the province’s far-flung barangays,” said Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, who represents CamSur’s 4th district.
Fuentebella authored House Bill No. 4728, which the House passed as HB 4820, to reflect the amendments the local government committee made to the proposal to carve the new province of Nueva Camarines out of the 4th and 5th districts of Camarines Sur.
The House local government committee, chaired by Negros Oriental Rep. George Arnaiz, conducted public hearings and debates on the issue of creating a new province.
Representatives Luis Villafuerte Sr., Diosdado Arroyo and Rolando Andaya Jr., the three other Camarines Sur congressmen, were coauthors of the bill.
A number of congressmen said they voted in favor of the measure because it reflected the needs, aspirations and desires of the people of Camarines Sur.
They said they had no doubt the Senate would also see the rationale behind the bill and approve it, too.
Rep. Salvio Fortuno was the only Camarines Sur congressman to oppose the creation of the new province.
At least 24 of the 35 mayors of Camarines Sur, along with many other local government executives down to the barangay level, had trooped to the House committee hearings to express support for the bill.
Villafuerte said Camarines Sur had become too big and unwieldy and splitting it up would benefit its residents.
“As a governor for 15 years (I can say with authority) that it is impossible for any governor of CamSur to visit its 1,036 barangays,” he said. Villafuerte’s son Luis Raymund “Lray” is the current Camarines Sur governor.
“It’s very difficult. We have mountains, coastal areas and impassable roads. But with a division in physical territory and a division of income sources, the two provinces should be able to concentrate and equitably distribute [benefits] fairly to their respective territorial jurisdictions,” Villafuerte said.
Arnaiz on Thursday issued a statement debunking the claim of Governor Villafuerte and Fortuno that the bill did not go through public hearings and debates.
Arnaiz noted that the governor and Fortuno even brought three busloads of supporters to the June 7, 2011, hearing.
‘Water under the bridge’
But for Fuentebella, “that’s already water under the bridge. I would like to ask Governor Villafuerte and Representative Fortuno to heed the resounding voice of the people of Camarines Sur who are, after all, our constituents, fellow Bicolanos and fellow Filipinos.”
“At the end of the day, it is the people of Camarines Sur who will decide if they approve of the creation of this new province,” he said.
Tags: Bicol Region , Camarines Sur , CamSur , Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella , Diosdado Arroyo and Rolando Andaya Jr. , Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte , House Bill No. 4820 , House of Representatives , Negros Oriental Rep. George Arnaiz , Nueva Camarines , Representatives Luis Villafuerte Sr.