Senate OKs bill creating two Maguindanao provinces
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill creating the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.
With 22 affirmative votes, no negative votes or abstentions, senators passed House Bill No. 6413, which seeks to divide the present Maguindanao province to pave the way for the creation of two provinces.
Senator Francis Tolentino, who sponsored the bill as chairperson of the Senate local government committee, said the measure aims to accelerate the political, social, and economic development of the new provinces and ensure that government services are more accessible and more responsive to the needs of their respective constituents.
He said the creation of more public offices as a consequence of the division will further expand the democratic space for qualified and dedicated public servants to participate in the governance of the provinces.
Once enacted into law, Maguindanao del Norte will be composed of the following towns: Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay.
Maguindanao del Sur, meanwhile, will consist of Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Sharif Aguak, Sharif Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan, and South Upi.
Under the bill, the capital towns and seats of government of the two new provinces will be Datu Odin Sinsuat for Maguindanao del Norte and Buluan for Maguindanao del Sur.
Maguindanao has a population of 1,173,933 based on the 2015 official population count of the Philippine Statistics Authority and an estimated average annual regular income is P714.56 million as certified by the Bureau of Local Government Finance, Tolentino noted.
Furthermore, he said the two new provinces comply with the minimum land area requirement of 2,000 square kilometers or 200,000 hectares as certified by the Land Management Bureau.
In his co-sponsorship speech, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said the bill is “an embodiment of the aspiration of our brothers and sisters in Maguindanao to create a new province.”
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva, another co-sponsor of the bill, expressed solidarity with Maguindanao leaders in accelerating their economic progress while ensuring lasting peace and stability for their fast growing population, which is projected to reach 1.4 million in 2023.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian are also co-sponsors of the measure.
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