28 January 2010

A pyrrhic victory for PALAKA?

UPDATE (1:35 PM): The SC decision voiding the Malolos City congressional district is now accessible here.

THIS PHILIPPINE STAR story should give pause to the unabated media war being prosecuted by the media groups of Rep. Dato Arroyo and San Fernando Mayor Perry Mabulo, aided by Gov. L-Ray "Bebe Ko" Villafuerte.

If the SC decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio were to serve as precedent, they may just end up -- together with DBM Secretary Nonoy Andaya and Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the bill reapportioning what used to be the 1st and 2nd Districts of Camarines Sur -- holding an empty bag, owners of a pyrrhic victory that caps the total unraveling of yet another best-laid scheme of mice and men by the Partido Lakas-Kampi (PALAKA) coalition.

The key portion of the story, found towards the end, deserves to be quoted fully:

‘Invalidate splitting of Camsur’

Meanwhile, sources in the House of Representatives said the SC could also invalidate the splitting of the first congressional district of Camarines Sur.

They said like Malolos, the two districts do not meet the population requirement of 250,000 per legislative constituency as prescribed by the Constitution.

President Arroyo’s son Diosdado is the incumbent representative of Camarines Sur’s first district, which has been split into two.

The new district is composed of the towns of Libmanan, Pamplona, Pasacao, Minalabac, and San Fernando, and the second district has the towns of Gainza and Milaor.

Libmanan is Rep. Arroyo’s adopted town. He is seeking reelection in the new legislative constituency, now denominated as the second district.

What remained in the original first district are the towns of Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot, and Cabusao.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., who represented the district for nearly nine years, is seeking to reclaim his House seat. The Andayas are from Ragay.

The present second district becomes the third district and is composed of the remaining towns of Pili, Campo, Camaligan, Canaman, Magarao, Bombon, and Calabanga, and Naga City.

Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the law splitting the first district, represents the second (now third) district.

The third district becomes the fourth. It will continue to compose the towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Sangay, San Jose, Tigaon, Tinambac, and Siruma.

The fourth district becomes fifth. Like the fourth, its composition -- Iriga City and the towns of Baao, Bato, Buhi, Bula, and Nabua – remains intact.

Secretary Andaya, a lawyer, said if he and Rep. Arroyo win on May 10, they would both lose their congressional seats if the Supreme Courts declares the splitting of the first district as unconstitutional.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo have asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the division of the first district for failing to meet the population requirement.

Local officials, led by Gov. Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Rep. Villafuerte’s son, initially opposed the splitting of the first district because they wanted a general redistricting of the province, which they said was entitled to six districts, instead of five.

In their letter to the Senate, they said Rep. Villafuerte’s bill would cripple the existing first district in terms of population.

“The remaining towns of Del Gallego, Lupi, Ragay, Sipocot, and Cabusao have a combined population of 176,383, 30 percent short of the population requirement prescribed by the Constitution,” they said.

When Rep. Villafuerte’s bill was pending in the Senate, Aquino had suggested that all the existing districts be reconstituted so that each would hurdle the population standard and the province would be entitled to six, instead of five districts. But his suggestion was ignored.
As my friend from Minalabac puts it colorfully, "gurang nang komedyante, nasuwi sa entablado."


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