MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes on Friday said proponents of the division of the province of Camarines Sur have until December 21, 2012, to get Congress to pass a law dividing the province and win the support of its residents in a plebiscite that will be called by the poll body.
This, amid growing tension between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Antonio Trillanes, who accused the former of railroading the division bill at the behest of former President Gloria Arroyo.
Brillantes explained that they can still accept certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the divided provinces after the one-week nationwide filing of COCs for the May 2013 elections, so long as there is a law and it wins the plebescite.
He explained that December 21 is the last day before the poll body finalizes the list of candidates that will be programmed into the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the elections.
Brillantes said the division of the province has no effect on its current officials.
House Bill 4820, which creates the province of Nueva Camarines from the existing Camarines Sur, will mandate the election of a whole new set of provincial officials for the new province from governor, vice governor, to board members.
It will, however, absorb existing officials of the towns it will cover.
Based on section 7 of the bill, Nueva Camarines will have 2 legislative districts from the towns and city it will take from Camarines Sur.
The 4th and 5th district of Camarines Sur will form the 1st and 2nd districts of Nueva Camarines.
Camarines Sur 1st district Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. explained that the bill, if approved, will essentially affect the existing 4th district, currently represented by Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella in Congress.
"Only the 4th district will make up the new province. No effect on congressional elections," he said.
Andaya represents the towns of Cabusao, Del Gallego, Lupi, Ragay, and Sipocot.
Second District Rep. Dato Arroyo covers Gainza, Libmanan, Milaor, Minalabac, Pamplona, Pasacao, and San Fernando.
Rep. Luis Villafuerte Sr. covers the 3rd district consisting of Naga City, Bombon, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Magarao, Ocampo, and Pili.
Fuentebella represents the 4th district with Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Sagñay, San Jose, Siruma, and Tigaon.
The 5th district represented by Salvio Fortuno covers Iriga City, Baao, Balatan, Bato, Buhi, Bula, and Nabua.
Andaya, Arroyo, Villafuerte Sr. and Fuentebella are not allies of incumbent provincial Governor LRay Villafuerte, who is a partymate of Trillanes in the Nacionalista party.
LRay Villafuerte is term-limited as governor and instead is expected to contest Arroyo's seat in the 2013 elections.
Arroyo is expected to seek his 3rd term in the 2013 elections.
Fuentebella Sr. is on his 3rd term as congressman and is expected to run as governor of the new province.
Villafuerte Sr. is expected to run as governor of Camarines Sur.
Before 2004, LRay Villafuerte was congressman of the old 2nd district, now the existing 3rd district represented by Villafuerte Sr.