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Senate OKs new districts for General Santos City, Southern Leyte, Isabela

MANILA, Philippines – Voting unanimously, the Senate on Monday, September 3, approved a set of bills creating new legislative districts for General Santos City, Southern Leyte, and Isabela.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, authored and sponsored House Bills (HB) No. 5162, 6331, and 7778. The measures were first proposed then approved by the House of Representatives, as rules require that local bills emanate from the chamber.

The bills, once signed into law, would also provide for the election of a congressional representative for each new district.

HB 5162 seeks to separate General Santos City from the 1st District of South Cotabato to constitute a lone district.

"Now that more opportunities in tourism and agriculture are opening in this city, it [is] important for GenSan to have a strong voice in the national government, as well as a new and separate representative who would serve the city's interests," Angara said.

Senator Manny Pacquiao, who hails from the city and co-sponsored the bill, said it is "high time to create a legislative district for General Santos City and grant the sole highly urbanized city in Soccsksargen...a voice in the Philippine Congress."

Article VI, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution states that "each city with a population of at least 250,000 shall have at least one representative." According to the 2015 census, the city has a population of 594,446.

Southern Leyte, Isabela provinces

HB 6331 also seeks to divide Southern Leyte into two legislative districts from the current one.

Under the bill, the 1st District would be composed of Maasin City and the municipalities of Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Malitbog, Tomas Oppus, and Bontoc.

The 2nd District would be composed of the municipalities of Sogod, Libagon, Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, San Ricardo, Saint Bernard, Anahawan, San Juan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan, and Silago.

As for HB 7778, it seeks reapportion Isabela, the largest province in Luzon, into 6 legislative districts from the existing 4.

Under the bill, Isabela would be divided into:

– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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