The Committee on Local Government, chaired by Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., conducted its second reading on House Bill 4820 last May 31. The said bill seeks to combine the fourth and fifth districts of Camarines Sur to form a new province to be called Nueva Camarines. The main author of the said bill is deputy speaker and Camarines Sur fourth district Representative Arnulfo Fuentebella. Representatives Luis R. Villafuerte, Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, and Rolando Andaya enlisted themselves as co-authors.
According to Rep. Fuentebella, the bill is intended to benefit the people of Camarines Sur who are longing for good governance and solutions to extreme poverty being experienced by the province’s far-flung barangays. He believes that the creation of a new province will give its constituents a positive stance in terms of progress and development.
Should the bill be approved, the province of Nueva Camarines will consist of the municipalities of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Buhi, Bula, Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Nabua, Presentacion, Sagñay, San Jose, Siruma, Tigaon and Tinambac. Tigaon is proposed to be the capital of Nueva Camarines, but a satellite seat of the government may be established preferably in the City of Iriga or in any municipality within the First Legislative District of Nueva Camarines as may be determined by the majority of the members of the sangguniang panlalawigan subject to the provision by the host local government unit of a disposable and alienable public land for the purpose.
The bill, however, faces several comments and oppositions. Governor L-Ray Villafuerte, the main oppositor, argues that HB 4820 is pure gerrymandering and it is a flawed bill that is contrary to the Local Government Code of 1991 due to lack of consultation and thorough study. Senators Antonio Trillanes and Gringo Honasan, on the other hand, raised the issue of reduced Internal Revenue Allotment among the provinces with the creation of Nueva Camarines.
But Rep. Fuenteballa ensures that the bill complies with the legal requirements for a new province under the Local Government Code of 1991. These requirements are: average income of not less than P20 million, population of not less than 250,000 and land area of not less than 2,000 square kilometers. He also assures that the division would maintain the first-class classification of both Camarines Sur and Nueva Camarines.