Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Solon refiles Angeles lone district bill

By Dante M. Fabian, Sun Star

* Approval of bill a means to spur development of city
* Election of district's 1st rep to coincide with national polls in 2007

ANGELES CITY -- Representative Francis "Blueboy" Nepomuceno has revived a move to constitute this city as a lone congressional district under House Bill (HB) 5317, even as he seeks for its immediate passage.

Local groups hoped to see the implementation of the lone district bill before the synchronized elections in 2004 after it was approved in the House of Representatives a few years ago.

But due to the opposition of only one senator, the measure, despite having been approved for First and Second Reading in the Philippine Senate, was junked.

"But due to political and personal reasons of the city mayor of Angeles City (Carmelo Tarzan Lazatin, the lone oppositor) and unjustifiable motion to reconsider its approval by a single member of the Upper House, the Bill was rejected," Nepomuceno disclosed in the explanatory note of HB 5317.

Nepomuceno re-filed the lone district bill titled "An Act Constituting Angeles City In the Province Of Pampanga Into A Lone Congressional District And For Other Purposes" in Congress last February 28.

Upon its passage by Congress and Senate, Nepomuceno's bill would constitute the city into a lone congressional district separate and distinct from the First District of Pampanga.

Under Nepomuceno's bill, it will separate the city as a lone district consisting of all barangays within its political jurisdiction, from Mabalacat and Magalang which shall remain to constitute the First District.

HB 5317 provides that the election of the first representative for the Lone District of Angeles City shall coincide with the national elections to be held in 2007.

"The recent conversion of Clark Field into the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) and its declaration as an international port of entry completed the transformation of Angeles City into a highly urbanized center of population not only in the province of Pampanga but also in Central Luzon," Nepomuceno explained.

"This bill seeks to give due recognition to this development by constituting Angeles City into a lone congressional district, separate and distinct from the First District of Pampanga, which presently includes the municipalities of Mabalacat and Magalang," he said.

He added that separating Angeles, as a chartered city, from the two municipalities would only be proper since under Section 12, Article 10 of the Constitution, cities that are recognized by law as highly urbanized are to be considered independent of the province where they are located.

As reported in the Census of Population for the year 2000 alone, the First District of Pampanga comprised of Angeles City, Mabalacat and Magalang had a combined population of 512,546 distributed as follows: Angeles City, 263,971; Mabalacat, 171,045; Magalang, 77,530.

"Allowing for an increase in the population of three percent per annum (which is actually less than the national average of 3.2 percent), the district would have a projected population of almost 750,000 this year. Hence, by the time this Bill takes effect as a law the First District of Pampanga would have a sizeable constituency far in excess of the population standard for a single congressional district," Nepomuceno said.

According to Nepomuceno, approval of this Bill is prayed as a means of spurring the development of Angeles City as host of the largest special economic zone in the country and as a catalyst in the overall development and growth of Central Luzon.

He added that the measure is not only advantageous for Angeles City but also to the remaining municipalities as well.

Nepomuceno also stressed that congressional-allocated projects can be implemented exclusively for the benefit and welfare of the constituents of the Lone District of Angeles City while the projects for the First District of Pampanga can only be divided for the people of Mabalacat and Magalang.

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