NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur – The passing of House Bill 4820 authored by Deputy House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella of the 3rd Congressional District of Camarines Sur, rub political salt to the leadership of Gov. LRay Villafuerte who is bent to get even when he professed to file graft charges to a political opponent.
Such move if to prosper will become a grand royale of political power that may further sink the deepening rift of LRay and the Fuentebellas, together with the other congressmen who supported the measure.
This development as an offshoot of the political wounds of the governor when he was betrayed by the proponent of the measure, for without noticed authored the division of the province of Camarines Sur.
The measure was forwarded to the Senate ready for scrutiny as to its lapses, omissions, and overlapping of the taxing power of the new province, Nueva Camarines, with the municipalities, contradicting the intentions of RA 7160.
It will be recalled that only Representative Salvio Fortuno of the fifth district, who ironically a Liberal Party member opposed the measure in congress thus leaving LRay holding an empty party clout among his co-party mates in congress for even the would be presidential son, Congressman Mark Villar of Las Piñas voted in favor of the division.
It is understandable since the measure is with local application, thus, the unwritten rule prevailed, it passed easily in the lower chamber, but such cavalier attitude added more wounds to Villafuerte, not to mention the favorable vote of his congressman father.
Though caught off-guard with the measure to gerrymander the province, Villafuerte and his forces are now in the offensive after the result of the survey in 460 barangays with 81 percent out of the eighteen thousand respondents voted against the division if a plebiscite for the purpose is conducted and only nineteen percent favored the measure.
With the number, it is safe to conclude that a near majority of the 1036 barangays of the province wants a single Camarines Sur, this was revealed by Vice-Governor Fortunato Peña. The vice-governor further stated that if only Fuentebella contacted the governor as to his intention, it could have been a different formula wherein all stakeholders will be consulted thus avoiding the political animosity by and between the camps of the supporters of HB 4820 and the provincial leadership of LRay.
Peña further revealed that vice-governors of newly created provinces are hard pressed to craft legislative agendas for development because of the financial constraint associated with the division. Their share in internal revenues is only good for maintenance and other operating expenses leaving a lot of social concerns and projects in disarray. The outlook is gloomy for development is forecast that the nearest is fifty years, before real progress can be delivered by the new province to its constituents.
The provincial leadership is also smarting the patronage display of twenty five municipal mayors who are campaigning in favor of the measure since it can be said that they just cannot say no to their congressional patrons but can easily junked the better intention of LRay. Again it scarred the open wounds of the governor.
When asked where the governor get his support against the measure, Vice-governor Peña said that they have a direct contact with the barangay officials and majority of the non-government organizations are back staffing them aside from the influential chamber of commerce and industry in Camarines Sur who voiced their strong disapproval to divide Camarines Sur.
Elaborating, he said that small provinces can hardly take-off and in the case of Camarines Sur who has to contend with nearly a billion loan putting the province in dire strait, plus the impending 4.8 percent reduction of the 2012 internal revenue allotment by the national government, what is left for the Nueva Camarines will be pittance. If 2012 IRA is reduced, they are likewise anticipating lesser 2013 share for the collection by the national government back in 2010 is below its target.
At present, the legislative tack of the Camarines Sur is flexing and maximizing the revenues and they have petitioned the national government through the league of vice-governors to offset the un-remitted 5 million pesos to each LGU, to soften the downturn of public spending of local government units.
The anti-division group said he, questioned why the proponent included Naga City in the computation of the land area and the population requirement knowing that the city is independent and has its own charter governing them. And, he pointed out, the failed attempt to hide the specifics of the provisions in HB 4820, thus overlapping in the scope of the taxing power of the provinces put to risk the ability to collect taxes by the municipalities contrary to the intention of RA 7160.
When Senator Ferdinand Marcos visited the province last September 8, there was an assurance that they are going to tackle the measure piece by piece, giving all stakeholders to present their sides and it will not be done in earnest, which is an indication of the political game that Governor LRay hatched to subvert the division of his province, thus lobbying to the four Bicol senators, Escudero, Arroyo, Honasan and Trillanes is in full swing aside from the other senators.
LRay and his political party will be in full force this time, the vice-governor said. The senate will tackle the bill anytime soon. (Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr./BicolToday.com)
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