Politicians jostling for new Batangas districts

By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

Posted at Feb 14 2015 04:31 AM | Updated as of Feb 14 2015 01:04 PM

BATANGAS -- Politicians in Batangas have started jostling ahead of the 2016 elections after a Senate committee approved the creation of two new districts in the province.

The Senate Committee on Local Government, on February 11 approved on second reading the creation of lone districts for Batangas City and Lipa City.

Authored by Batangas Second District Representative Raneo Abu, the move will increase the legislative districts of Batangas from four to six come the 2016 elections.

"It’s almost 99% done deal," Batangas Vice-governor Mark Leviste said, quoting Senator Ralph Recto.

Aside from Leviste and Recto, also present at the Senate hearing were Abu, Batangas Fourth dDstrict Rep. Dong Mendoza, Batangas board members, Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili. The committee was presided over by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

The third and final reading is yet to be scheduled.

Due to this development, political parties are now positioning their bets to gain the seats in the most awaited additional congressional districts of Batangas.

Among those who are expected to run for the Batangas City’s lone district are Board Member Marvie Mariño or his brother-in-law Dondon Dimacuha of the Nationalista Party, former boardmember Joel Atienza and Deputy Executice Secretary Ronaldo Geron for the Liberal Party, and someone from the Berberabe clan for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

For Lipa City’s lone district, incumbent mayor Meynard Sabili and his wife Bernadette will have to face the Rectos.

Before the passage of the bill, it has been reported that a rift is brewing between the Rectos and Sabili, who is now on his second term as the city mayor.

This, after some of his constituents expressed their desire for Governor and former Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos-Recto to seek re-election for mayoralty of the city.

However, a source close to both parties have disclosed that an agreement may have been reached between the two parties allowing Sabili to serve his last term as mayor while the Rectos take the congressional seat or vice versa.

Bernadette Sabili ran for Congress in the last election but lost to Representative Mark Leandro Mendoza.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) certified that both Batangas City and Lipa City met the population requirement for the creation of a lone district.

Leviste said that the Sangunian Panlalawigan supports the creation of lone districts of both cities as manifested in the resolution passed by the body.

"It opens up a lot of possibilities not only in politics, but also in economics," Leviste said.

Leviste, who is on his last term as vice governor, earlier announced his candidacy for governor. However, lacking official endorsement from the Rectos, he is suspected of exploring a congressional seat instead, something he dismissed last Tuesday.

"My family and I are decided to run for governor," Leviste said.

Former 2nd District Representative Hermilando Mandanas was also among those strongly supporting the passage of the bill.

He has likewise announced his candidacy for governor and said he will not change his mind despite recent developments.

"I have decided already to run again for governor (in) 2016. No interest to be congressman in 2016," Mandanas said.

Also eyeing the Batangas gubernatorial seat are AGAP Partylist Representative Nicanor Briones and Representative Mark Leandro Mendoza.

At present, Lipa City is part of the 4th district of Batangas while Batangas City belongs to the 2nd district.