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Nueva Camarines bill ‘buried’

NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur, Philippines—The controversial House Bill 4820 that sought to divide Camarines Sur into two provinces by creating Nueva Camarines was “finally buried” when it was bypassed by the Senate in the last session of the 15th Congress, a congressman said here on Friday.

Camarines fifth district Representative Salvio Fortuno, the lone congressman who opposed the division of Camarines Sur, said HB 4820, or an Act Creating the Province of Nueva Camarines, had failed to win the approval of the senators when the Senate adjourned without a quorum on Thursday.

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“The long wake of the dead HB 4820 has ended and it was finally buried last (Thursday) night,” Fortuno told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview Friday.

Fortuno was the only congressman who opposed the bill when it was approved by 288 congressmen last year.

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Under HB 4820, Nueva Camarines would have been carved out from the present fourth-district municipalities of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Lagonoy, Presentacion, San Jose, Siruma, Tinambac, Goa, Tigaon and Sañgay and the fifth-district towns of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bula, Buhi and Nabua and Iriga City.

HB 4820 was taken up in the Senate since last year but failed to get approval as Senators Joker Arroyo, Antonio Trillanes, Manuel Villar and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. opposed it.

Fortuno said Marcos, the chair of the Senate committee on local government, was not present during the last session of the Senate and there was no quorum until adjournment.

A brainchild of outgoing fourth district Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, patriarch of the Fuentebella clan that has dominated the province’s Partido district for over a century, HB 4820 was supported by other Camarines Sur congressmen—Representatives Luis R. Villafuerte (3rd district), Rolando Andaya Jr. (1st district) and Diosdado Arroyo (2nd district).

Seen as a gerrymandering move in favor of the Fuentebellas for them to secure their own provincial turf, HB 4820 was opposed by Fortuno and outgoing Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte.

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