NAGA CITY: With 242 amendments, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Laws, and six other senators have recommended for approval on Aug 16, 2012 House Bill (HB) 4820 that carves out the Nueva Camarines province from the two-city, 35-town Camarines Sur province.
Posted on the Senate website on Aug. 22, 2012, Santiago and vice chairperson Edgardo Angara and regular committee members Senators Franklin Drilon, Manuel “Lito” M Lapid, and Francis Pangilinan had affixed their signatures to the approval of HB 4820 with amendments.
But of the six regular members of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Laws, four of them did not affix their signatures including Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Panfilo Lacson, Antonio F Trillanes IV, and Aquilino Pimentel III.
Committee’s ex-oficio members President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III also affixed their signatures to endorse the creation of Nueva Camarines.
Among the ex-oficio members who did not sign the recommendation for approval with amendments of HB 4820 were Minority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The last public hearing for the controversial HB 4820 that heightened the family feud of the Villafuertes in Camarines Sur province was held last month.
During the last hearing, Rep Luis R Villafuerte and his son Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte, and grandson Miguel Villafuerte stunned the crowd of over 10,000 spectators at the Naga City Coliseum as they exchanged personal comments with each other.
HB 4820 combines and carves out from the present Camarines Sur the fourth district towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Lagonoy, Presentacion, San Jose, Siruma, Tinambac, Goa, Tigaon and Sagñay, and the fifth district towns of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bula, Buhi, Nabua, and Iriga City.
HB 4820 was a brainchild of Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella and co-authored by Representatives Villafuerte, Rolando Andaya Jr., and Diosdado Arroyo, all of Camarines Sur province, except Rep. Salvio Fortuno who opposed the bill.
The proponents of HB 4820 argued that the proposal to split Camarines Sur has complied with the legal requirements under R.A. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991 which include an average income of not less than P20M, population of not less than 250,000, and land area of not less than 2,000sqkm.
They said the division will maintain the first-class classification of both Camarines Sur and Nueva Camarines which he said follows the condition of the law that “the income classification of the original local government unit (LGU) shall not fall below its current classification prior to such division.”
They further claimed that their study showed that when divided the mother province of Camarines Sur will have an average annual income of P283.48 million while Nueva Camarines P223.4 million with a population of 892,203 and 801,618, respectively.
Both provinces exceed the 2,000sqkm land area requirement at 2,531.60sqkm for Camarines Sur and 2,970sqkm for Nueva Caceres.
But Gov Villafuerte disagreed with the proposal saying that the split was motivated by the political interests of the Fuentebellas who had been controlling the political reins of the Partido district for more than a century now.
The governor argued that the splitting of Camarines Sur into two provinces would jeopardize the tourism potentials of the province that he said placed it in the world tourism map.
Opposing the approval of HB 4820, Sen Joker Arroyo said that 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 said that Camarines Sur ranked number 11 out of the 80 provinces in the Philippines and a premier province in the Bicol region 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 first-class province.
Arroyo also criticized the choice of putting the capital of the to-be-created “Nueva Camarines” in the third-class town of Tigaon, the hometown of the Fuentebellas and added that the proposed provincial capital as temporary “is misleading".
Gov Villafuerte said that with the filing of candidacy on Oct 1-5, there is no more time for the Commission on Election to prepare and conduct the plebiscite.
The governor challenged the Fuentebellas to just run for elective positions in Camarines Sur as he pushed his son Miguel to run for governor which aggravated the feud with his father Rep Villafuerte who had announced he would come back as governor of the province. – Bicol Mail