By Marvin Sy | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - The lobbying is strong and pressure is being exerted by the proponents and supporters of the bill creating a new province called Nueva Camarines in the Senate where the bill has yet to be taken up in the plenary session.
Camarines Sur Reps. Luis Villafuerte Sr. (third district) and Arnulfo Fuentebella (fourth district) have been making the rounds in the Senate to lobby for the approval of House Bill 4820, which they filed and was approved in the House of Representatives with a vote of 229-1.
But the bill has become politically charged and has led senators belonging to the Nacionalista Party (NP) to take a party stand against the approval of the measure.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said he has prepared the committee report on the bill, which is being circulated among the senators for signing.
Marcos admitted that there is pressure from the proponents to speed up the bill in the Senate because of time constraints with the preparations for the 2013 mid-term elections already underway.
“They are going around talking to the senators. But that is only natural,” Marcos said.
If the bill is approved by the Senate, a plebiscite among the residents of Camarines Sur would have to be conducted by the Commission on Elections for the law to take effect.
“I will sponsor the bill. I will file it and we will have a debate,” Marcos said.
The bill would pave the way for the splitting of Camarines Sur into two provinces, with the new one to be called Nueva Camarines.
Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr., the son of Rep. Villafuerte, has led the opposition to the proposed law and as a consequence, created a rift between him and his father.
The bill was supposed to be taken up last Wednesday at the height of the monsoon rains and flooding and was in fact the only bill lined up for the plenary session that day. However, Marcos did not arrive that day so consideration of the bill was deferred.
While Marcos said he was going to sponsor the bill, he did not say when he would do this.
Sen. Loren Legarda, who was among those who signed the committee report so that it could be reported out by Marcos in the plenary session, said the bill’s proponents would have to wait for some time before a vote could be taken on the bill because a lot of senators have expressed their intention to raise questions during the interpellation.
Getting a majority vote on the bill would also be a challenge because of the decision of the NP senators to vote against it.
The NP decision was made to support the position of Gov. Villafuerte, who is one of its members.
There are five NP members in the Senate, namely its president, Manuel Villar Jr., Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano, Marcos, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Sen. Joker Arroyo has also expressed his opposition to the bill, which he said would not be beneficial to all of the residents of the province.