“Kung mayroong kontrobersyal na RH Bill, meron namang mahiwagang Nueva Camarines bill,” quipped Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to begin his sponsorship speech on the report of the Senate Committee on Local Government on the bill proposing the creation of a new province to be called “Nueva Camarines”. The proposal seeks to extract the Nueva Camarines from the 4th and 5th legislative districts of the 1st class province of Camarines Sur.
Senator Bongbong Marcos said that while proponents of the division have argued that the province of Camarines Sur has become so enormous to manage, the Committee has however chosen to adopt the counter-argument that Camarines Sur’s large population and vast land area should be viewed rather as “assets” than a liability. Senator Marcos quoted official data and figures showing substantial reduction in the incidence of poverty in Camarines Sur, owing to robust tourism and its award-winning business and investment-enabling environment, like a PEZA-approved information technology park and tourism economic zone.
“At a time when the indicators of economic and other aspects of development in the province of Camarines Sur have demonstrated to be on the right track and that they should be sustained, the proposition that the province should be divided spells a disruption of the observed progress and compromised the momentum for development. Is there a compelling reason to risk the said momentum?,” Senator Marcos posited.
On the other hand, Chairman Bongbong cited the uneven distribution to the proposed new province of the existing basic social services being offered by Camarines Sur, like businesses, health care, education, and water and sanitary facilities, as a debilitating argument to the creation of Nueva Camarines.
Senator Marcos concluded that, “it is not the right time to pursue a measure for the division of the province of Camarines Sur.” But in the spirit of compromise, recognizing the “divisiveness” that has been caused by the measure, the Committee on Local Government proposed that the present 4th district of Camarines Sur be converted into, and be the sole component of, Nueva Camarines. That way, the 4th district, as a new province, can focus and train its attention and resources exclusively onto itself on the path to economic development.
As of press time, the sponsor of the bill awaits interpellations from other Senators who have signified their intention to pose probing questions on the wisdom of the bill.