Saturday, June 16, 2012

P350 M needed for 5 new proposed districts

MANILA, Philippines - The creation of new legislative districts in Quezon City and key places such as Aklan, Bacolod City, Palawan and North Cotabato may spell additional expense for the national government.

The move would require at least P350 million to fund the upcoming five new legislative districts.

Under the law, each new district is mandated to get a yearly appropriation of P70 million in priority development assistance fund (PDAF).

Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are tasked to look into the measures as heads of the Senate committees on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, and on local government, respectively.

Pending approval before the Senate is Committee Report 140 that seeks to create another district out of the second legislative district of Quezon City. All members of the two committees signed the bill last March 27.

Also pending approval is the act providing for the reapportionment of the lone district of Aklan province, under Committee Report 177.

Under Committee Report 153, senators have approved a measure reapportioning the province of North Cotabato into three districts.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate finance committee, has made a reservation on the measure. Seventeen senators signed the report.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson has filed the counterpart measure, Senate Bill 2945. The committee report was “recommended for approval without amendment” last May 21.

Also last May 21, the Senate committee filed Committee Report 154 recommending approval of the act reapportioning the province of Palawan into three legislative districts. Sixteen senators approved the measure, with Drilon and Lacson posing to interpellate.

In October 2010, Drilon introduced Senate Bill 2568, which seeks to divide Bacolod into two legislative districts.

Sought for comment, Sen. Francis Escudero said the national government is mandated under the law to provide the PDAF for every legislative district, either old or new ones.

“It’s automatic, be it P70 million or P100 million, I’m not sure how much now… But it’s an automatic (appropriations) for every province which will have a new legislative district,” he said.

“That’s additional funds to come from the national government,” he added.

Bills creating new legislative districts come from the House of Representatives and are passed to the Senate. They are then returned to the House, and later signed by the President.

Escudero said new legislative districts created by October this year, the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy, would mean that congressional candidates can also join the midterm elections next year.

Escudero reminded though that congressmen are elected representatives of the people, and that the Constitution provides that a representative should be elected for every 200,000 population. - By Christina Mendez