Sunday, November 30, 2008

New congressional district for Cotabato proposed

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 30, 2008) – North Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Mendoza has filed a bill seeking to establish a third congressional district in the province.

“This is all about providing the entire Cotabato province its fair share of national development funds and basic social services,” said Mendoza, who filed recently House Bill 4947.

“Since we have only two districts now, Cotabato is getting funds meant only for two districts. This is because while the province is already fully entitled to a third district, Congress has yet to be establishing the new district,” she said.

She said national agencies tend to apportion their funds, whether for education, health, social services, farm modernization or public works, along districting lines.

North Cotabato is divided into two congressional districts with Mendoza representing the First District and Rep. Bernado Pinol on the Second District.

Mendoza said her district, which is composed of 9 towns - Carmen, Kabacan, Banisilan, Alamada, Libungan, Pigkawayan, Midsayap, Pikit and Aleosan – had a population of more than 584,000 as of August 2007 and is qualified to have three congressional districts. The total population of the province is 958,643 as of 2000 Census.

The House of Representatives at present has 240 members and the Constitution provides a maximum of 250 congressional seats. Each of the members of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70-million Priority Development Assistance Fund annually.

In Zamboanga City, a similar proposal by Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco is also drawing huge support among residents. Zamboanga, which has a population of 774,000, is divided into two congressional districts with Climaco representing the First District and Rep. Erico Fabian on the Second District.Climaco said the new funding that goes with it could help develop many poor areas in Zamboanga City.

“A new congressional district would give us additional representation in Congress and additional voice and representation of the people in the House of Representatives,” she said.

Informal and random surveys by a local radio network, Radyo Agong-dxRZ, showed that many residents have been supporting Climaco's proposal. Many of those who joined the survey cited the benefits of the Priority Development Assistance Fund that the new congressional district could get from the House of Representatives.

The Priority Development Assistance Fund makes possible the implementation - in every congressional district - of small-scale, but significant projects which can not be part of large-scale projects of national agencies. These projects, mostly infrastructure, health, education and social aid packages, directly touch the lives of district constituents. (Mindanao Examiner)

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