Press Release
September 3, 2018

Senate approves new legislative districts for General Santos City, Southern Leyte, Isabela Province

A set of bills on the creation of new legislative districts for General Santos City, Southern Leyte and Isabela were approved on third and final reading by the Senate.

House Bills No (HBN). 5162, 6331 and 7778 were authored and sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government. HBN 5162 and 7778 were approved with 17 affirmative votes and zero negative vote and abstention, while HBN 6331 was approved with 18 affirmative votes and zero negative vote and abstention.

HBN 5162 sought to separate General Santos City from the first legislative district of South Cotabato to constitute the lone legislative district of General Santos City.

"Now that more opportunities in tourism and agriculture are opening in this city, it was 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.

HBN 5162 was also co-sponsored by Senator Manny Pacquiao, who said that it was "high time to create a legislative district for General Santos City and grant the sole highly-urbanized city in SOCCSKSARGEN with a voice in the Philippine Congress."

HBN 6331, in turn, sought to reapportion the Southern Leyte, which currently has a lone legislative district, into two legislative districts.

Under the bill, the first legislative district for Southern Leyte would be composed of Maasin City and the municipalities of Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Malitbog, Tomas Oppus and Bontoc.

The second legislative 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.

"In consideration of the size of the province, it was only right that Southern Leyte has proper representation in Congress which would focus on its constituents' concerns and relay these to the national government," Angara said.

Likewise, HBN 7778 sought to reapportion Isabela - the largest province in Luzon - into six legislative districts from the existing four.

Angara said that under the bill, the province would be divided into the first legislative district (Ilagan City and municipalities of Cabagan, Delfin Albano, Divilacan, Maconacon, Tumauini, San Pablo, Santa Maria, Sto. Tomas), the second legislative district (the municipalities of Benito Soliven, Palanan, Naguilian, Reina Mercedes, San Mariano, Gamu), the third legislative district (municipalities of Alicia, Cabatuan, San Mateo, Ramon and Angadanan), the fourth legislative district (Santiago City and municipalities of Cordon, Dinapiguie, San Agustin and Jones), the fifth legislative district (municipalities of Aurora, Burgos, Luna, Mallig, Quezon, Quirino, Roxas and San Manuel) and the sixth district (Cauayan City and municipalities of Echague, San Guillermo and San Isidro).

"By increasing the number of legislative districts in the province, the people of Isabela would be given more opportunities to participate and be heard in issues of public importance," he said.

Angara noted that according to Article VI, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution, "Each city with a population of at least 250,000 shall have at least one representative."

Citing the 2015 census, Angara said that General Santos City has a population of 594,446 while Isabela province has a total population of 1,593,566. He added that Southern Leyte's population too has doubled "in the intervening years."

"It is clear that the aforementioned had met the constitutional requirements to have their own representation in Congress," he said.

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