By Juan Escandor Jr. | Inquirer Southern Luzon
NAGA CITY—The Senate committee on local government will hold a hearing here Thursday on a bill proposing the division of the two-city, 35-town province of Camarines Sur into two provinces.
Ramon Cardenas, chief of staff of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who chairs the Senate committee on local government, said the hearing here will be the last before the bill is sent to the Senate floor.
The hearing will take place as Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV expressed opposition to the move to divide the province into two, saying “there is no compelling reason to do so.”
Dividing any province when there is no compelling reason to do so, the senator’s statement said, “is an unwise and risky move for us to take and this will likely set a bad precedent.”
The move to divide Camarines Sur is spearheaded by Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, of the province’s fourth district which would be part of the new province if the bill creating it becomes law.
The bill is being supported by Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s son, and Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., Arroyo’s long time budget chief.
The bill has pitted Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte against his father, Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte Sr., who supports the division of the province.
The House of Representatives last year approved the bill, HB 4820, that would create Nueva Camarines to be composed of the fourth district towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Lagonoy, Presentacion, San Jose, Siruma, Tinambac, Goa, Tigaon and Sangay and the fifth district towns of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bula, Buhi, Nabua and Iriga City.
The new province, should the bill become law, would be created only after it wins the approval of voters in the province in a plebiscite.
Trillanes, a member of Marcos’ committee and a Bicolano, said carving out a new province would just reduce the internal revenue allotment, or share in the national income, of both the existing province and the new one.
“If we divide CamSur now, what will stop other provinces, such as Quezon, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, from dividing their provinces? I suggest that we abandon this move and scrap the measure,” Trillanes’ statement said.