DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao del Sur first district Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas described the creation of the new province of Davao Occidental four months into the midterm elections in May as purposely for “political convenience.”
“How else would you call it? It is gerrymandering because it is manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor certain politicians. It is a clear case of gerrymandering and political convenience,” Cagas told The STAR.
President Aquino has signed into law Republic Act 10360 creating the province of Davao Occidental, formerly Davao del Sur, which consists of five towns.
The capital town and seat of government of Davao Occidental will be the municipality of Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos, Sta. Maria and Saranggani towns also form part of the province.
RA 10360 states that incumbent representatives and other local officials of Davao del Sur shall continue their term of office.
Cagas is running for governor of Davao del Sur to replace his father, Douglas, the incumbent governor who is running for mayor of Digos City.
Cagas questioned if is there sufficient time for the holding of a plebiscite next month and for the candidates to run in May when the filing of the certificates of candidacy was held last year.
“Another point is, can the new province afford to be financially deserving to be called a province?” he said.
Cagas said the constituent towns of the new province actually belong to the poorest localities in the province and even in the entire Southern Mindanao. “Malita, which has been identified as seat of the new province, is actually the fourth poorest town in Davao del Sur,” he said.