Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Joker: No to divided CamSur

Senator Bongbong Marcos with local officials in Naga City. – Photo courtesy of BicolMail


NAGA CITY: Senator Joke Arroyo, who grew up in Naga City but was not able to come here for the Senate hearing, stood firm on his ground against the division of Camarines Sur in a letter read at the opening of the hearing held here Thursday last week.

Arroyo,  a member of the Senate Committee on Local Government, sent the contra position to committee chair Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. which the latter read before the jampacked crowd of the Naga City Coliseum here.

Marcos explained that Arroyo cannot attend the hearing because he was tasked to represent the Senate at the Supreme Court on the issue of representation at the Judicial Bar Council.

In the open letter, Arroyo said in the conclusion: “Based on the evidence presented  by both sides so far, the division of Camarines Sur will not benefit its people, namely: the inhabitants of the first, second, and third districts. Only the inhabitants of the fourth district, Partido, will benefit therefrom.”

Arroyo argued that Camarines Sur ranked number 11 in size out of the 80 provinces in the Philippines and a division of the premier province in Bicol will lose its title as the most “uragon” in the region.

He said the division of Camarines Sur will reduce the two provinces created into second-class from fist-class province.

Arroyo also criticized the choice of putting the capital of the to be created “Nueva Camarines” in a third-class town of Tigaon, the hometown of the Fuentebellas and added that the proposed provincial capital as temporary “is misleading.”

CamSur third district Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte, boasting that the division of CamSur has unified Fourth District Representative and Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella, First District Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr, and Second District Rep. Diodado Arroyo, emphasized full compliance of requirements of creating a new province based on the Constitution and the Local Government Code.

 “Once we have complied with the requirements (income, population, land area), the creation of the new province is valid, legal ,and constitutional,” he reiterated.

Villafuerte challenged those opposing the split bill to show that the proposition to divide Camarines Sur has not complied with the requirements which according to him their House bill had in fact “several times over complied with the requirements.”

He said the mother province has been declared as first-class by the Department of Finance, having an income of not less than P450M, and will remain first-class even when divided.

Villafuerte expressed sadness that “his friend Joker” is joking and that the latter is wrong.

But Marcos butted in to clarify that what Arroyo was saying was because there were already so many first-class provinces there is a re-evaluation going on as to the classification.

 “There are 44 other first-class provinces and the country is top heavy with first-class provinces. It has more first-class provinces than second-, third-, and fourth-class provinces combined. 

"Hence, the move to reclassify the provinces. Once it is undertaken, both the remaining provinces will be reduced to second-class provinces,” Marcos read the exact lines of Arroyo’s letter.

Villafuerte, still not convinced, asserted that the Nueva Camarines once created will have a minimum of P689M income as a starting basis to remain first-class.

Arguing against the division of Camarines Sur in which the benefits would only redound to the interests of the Fuentebella political clan, Vice Gov. Fortunato Peña challenged Deputy Speaker Fuentebella and his relatives to refrain from running elective offices should the Nueva Camarines be created.

Mum on his kin running for an elective position in the proposed Nueva Camarines, Fuentebella told the crowd that he will not run for any elective position.

Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen turned her back from supporting the move to divide Camarines Sur into two provinces for three issues relating to the provisions of the bill.

Gazmen  said  she is against the provisions of putting the seat of government of proposed Nueva Caceres at Tigaon, Camarines Sur; the number of representation of members of the provincial board; and the creation of interim provincial government.

She recounted that she had been budging about the change of the seat of government somewhere halfway between the fourth and fifth district but it was not heeded by proponents of Nueva Caceres.

Gazmen criticized the ratio of representation at the provincial board where both fourth and fifth districts will have three members each.

 “We (fifth district) must have more board members given our area and population,” she quipped.

She explained that she is against the creation of the interim government after the plebiscite and opts that an election of provincial officials must immediately follow.

Gazmen argued that there is no need for an appointment of a governor which the congressmen of Camarines Sur to recommend.

 “Look, in case the province is already divided, what’s the use of all congressmen recommending the governor when the other congressmen will not be part of the new province already,” she argued.

Gazmen initially endorsed the move to divide Camarines Sur into two provinces based on the concept presented to her but upon study of the provision she found out there are provisions that must be amended.

She said she requested from the proponents of split Camarines Sur to consider her proposal for amendments but she was told that it must be taken at the Senate.

 “Upon studying the provisions, I found out that the fifth district will become miserable,” Gazmen said.

She said the proponents have promised her to amend the provision but when she asked for the copy of the amended provision she was ignored.

 “Well, I was not born yesterday. One lesson I’ve learned is that I must study it first before supporting it. – Bicol Mail

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