More expansive sectoral consultations need to be conducted first before the mulled reapportionment of Bohol into five legislative districts can push through at the House of Representatives, said Rep. Alexie Tutor of the third district.
According to Tutor, groups such as the Bohol chapters of the Mayors’ League of the Philippines and Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines would also have to express their stand on the long-proposed redistricting.
“Sa akong giingon kabahin ana, we have to consult also sa different sectors but I haven’t hear from the VLMP and LMP,” said Tutor.
Tutor noted that mayors in her district have expressed reservations over the plan, while barangay officials were divided in terms of support for the planned redistricting.
She added that the stand of barangay officials in her district could also change considering the pending Sangguniang Kabataan and Baranay elections which could pave the way for the installment of a new set of village officers.
“Talking about my district, so far, in terms of the mayors, mura’g gusto sila na statuts quo sa ta as of now and the Liga ng mga Barangays nagkalahi-lahi labinay kay nagkaduol na ang barangay elections so we would not know unsa na pud ilang stand after naa nay mga bag-o na officials sila,” said Tutor.
As for the the three members of the House of Representatives in the province, all three of them including Tutor favor the reapportionment of Bohol into four or five distrcits.
Tutor, Rep. Edgar Chatto and Rep. Vaness Aumentado of the first and second districts, respectively, earlier issued a joint statement expressing support for the initiative.
Earlier, the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Philippine Councilors’ League (PCL) Bohol chapter passed resolutions supporting the redistricting.
The Liga ng mga Barangay, through its president ex-official Provincial Board Member Romulo Cepedoza, also called for further division of Bohol into five legislative districts from the current three districts.
LMB Bohol, which is composed of the 1,109 barangay captains of the province, passed a resolution urging the province’s three House of Representatives members to craft a bill that would establish the additional districts.
Cepedoza earlier said that Bohol already has a population of 1,394,329 based on the 2020 Census of Population and Housing.
Citing the Constitution, he claimed that the current population entitled the province to two more legislative districts.
“As provided for in Article VI, Section 5, Paragraph 3 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, each city or province with a population of at least 250,000 shall have at least one representative. In other words, the population requirement is 250,000 people per district,” he said.
Not ‘sine qua non’
However, the Supreme Court (SC) in Aquino III vs. Comelec has held that the 250,000 population requirement only applies to cities seeking their first legislative district and does not apply to provinces.
“Plainly read, Section 5(3) of the Constitution requires a 250,000 minimum population only for a city to be entitled to a representative, but not so for a province,” the Court stated.
In this case, then-Senator Benigno Aquino III challenged the constitutionality of a law which created a new district for Camarines Sur despite the said district having a population of only 176,383.
The SC denied Aquino’s petition, ruling that a population of 250,000 is not an indispensable requirement in the creation of a new district within a province.
“Our ruling is that population is not the only factor but is just one of several other factors in the composition of the additional district. Such settlement is in accord with both the text of the Constitution and the spirit of the letter, so very clearly given form in the Constitutional debates on the exact issue presented by this petition.”
The High Court, in Mariano, Jr. vs. Comelec, also ruled that a population of 250,000 is only the minimum population requirement for a city to have “at least one” representative. Another 250,000 people are not needed for the creation of an additional district or districts. Consequently, it allowed Makati City to have two districts at the time even if it only had a population of 450,000.
“Said section [Article VI, Section 5 (3)] provides, inter alia, that a city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall have at least one representative. Even granting that the population of Makati as of the 1990 census stood at four hundred fifty thousand (450,000), its legislative district may still be increased since it has met the minimum population requirement of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000),” the Court stated. (ad)