AKLAN, Philippines – Antique residents have started a signature campaign, urging legislators from their province to sponsor a bill creating a second district, Vice Governor Edgardo Denosta said on Thursday, October 20.
The petition, launched on Monday, October 17, backs the separate resolutions approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) and the Liga ng Mga Barangay.
They all urge Senator Loren Legarda and her younger brother, lone district Representative Antonio Legarda, to file and shepherd the measure to passage. Loren served as Antique congresswoman during her term break from the Senate.
Campaigners likewise asked COO-NATTCO Partylist Representative Felimon Espares, who is also from Antique, to support their call.
Local officials and constituents pointed out that a new legislative district would increase the province’s share in the national budget and spur development.
The province, one of four on Panay island in Western Visayas, has a population of 612,974, based on the 2020 census. Its land area is 2,729.17 square kilometers, with 590 barangays in 18 municipalities.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said that 21.9% of families (32,000 families) in the province were considered poor in 2021.
Denosta authored the resolution passed by the SP on September 29. Now on his third and last term in office, the vice governor authored similar resolutions in 2016 and 2019.
The Liga ng Mga Barangay unanimously passed a similar resolution on October 5.
Governor Rhodora Cadiao earlier expressed support for the vice governor’s push.
“Antique province was already eligible for two districts since 2010, but as of this moment, there is no bill in both Congress (House of Representatives) and the Senate for that purpose,” Cadiao said.
The general population requirement for two districts is only 500,000.
Both the Legardas who are currently in Manila could not be sought for comment
Recently, the Commission of Audit named Caluya Island in Antique the seventh richest municipality with an income of P3.117 billion, mainly because it hosts the Semirara Mining and PowerCorporation. – Rappler.com