MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said it is obvious that former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s is clandestinely lobbying for the passage of a Senate bill dividing Camarines Sur.
In an interview with ANC, Villafuerte said “[Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile] did not answer [Senator Antonio Trillanes’] question on the influence of Arroyo. It’s very clear who’s pushing [for the bill].”
Villafuerte earlier this year made known his plan to challenge incumbent Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Ignacio Arroyo, the son of the former President, for the second district of the province in May 2013.
The younger Arroyo, on the other hand, is also expected to seek re-election.
To ensure a win, the former president’s allies at the lower House allegedly “railroaded” a bill dividing Camarines Sur.
The new province will be called “Nueva Camarines." It is now pending before the Senate, where debates have been more passionate.
Yesterday, Trillanes announced in his privilege speech he was withdrawing from the majority because he had already lost his confidence in Enrile.
He alleged Enrile was trying to influence the passage of the Senate version of the bill because of his close ties to the former President.
Enrile denied the allegation and went on to lambast Trillanes for his role as a backdoor negotiator for the country in its territorial dispute with China. Enrile claimed Trillanes surrendered the country’s sovereignty to China.
Villafuerte noted that people seem to have forgotten that behind all these diversions, the issue is “the last termer congressmen wanting to create their own kingdom…creating a new province for their self interests.”
Villafuerte is fighting his own father, Camarines Sur 3rd district Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte Sr., who is on his last term.
The older Villafuerte, Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. and Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, all Arroyo allies, are advocating for the division of the province.
Back in May, the older Villafuerte endorsed Dato Arroyo while describing his son LRay as an “ingrate.”
The younger Villafuerte noted that his father and Enrile are fraternity brothers in Sigma Rho. “My father has been going [to the Senate] everyday, lobbying and pushing for the bill…hopefully before the filing of the certificates of candidacy.”
He said the issue of leadership in the province should just be settled in the elections. “Let’s not divide the province just for self-interest.”
Proponents of the bill, however, say the gerrymandering accusation doesn't make sense since the incumbent congressmen will not benefit from the division of the province.
For instance, the bill will not affect Dato's district since it will stay with Camarines Sur, not Nueva Camarines.
The bill states:
"SEC. 7. Legislative Districts. – The Province of Nueva Camarines shall have two (2) legislative districts to commence in the next national and local elections after the effectivity of this Charter. Henceforth, the City of Iriga and the municipalities of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Buhi, Bula and Nabua shall comprise the First Legislative District while the municipalities of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Sagñay, San Jose, Siruma, Tigaon and Tinambac shall comprise the Second Legislative District.
The Province of Camarines Sur shall retain the existing three (3) legislative districts without any change in its name and composition.
The incumbent Representatives of the present Province of Camarines Sur shall continue to represent their respective legislative districts until the expiration of their term of office."
Camarines Sur First District Rep. Rolando Andaya said only the fourth district of 3-term Congressman Arnulfo 'Noli' Fuentebella will make up the new province.
He said the creation of a new province will have no effect on the 2013 congressional elections.
Mrs. Arroyo, through her spokesperson, has denied calling Enrile to push for the passage of the CamSur bill in the Senate. -- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News