The senatorial districts of Visayas and Mindanao
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part 1)

Amidst the confusion and debate of federalism advocates on how to divide the country into states or regions, the Americans decades ago, who were hundreds of miles away from the Philippines, had a clear-cut strategy on administrative management.

Aside from creating the Department of Mindanao and Sulu (a genuine decentralization and local autonomy) in 1914 by the Americans, a Congressman from the state of Virginia envisioned a truly representative legislative body, his name was William Atkinson Jones author of the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 more known in history as the Jones Law.

The law created the Philippine Senate to complement the Philippine Legislature which was strictly unicameral though there was a so-called Philippine Commission a pseudo upper chamber. The Jones Law truly made our Congress bicameral, patterned after the US Congress.

The Jones Law created the Philippine Senate by dividing the country into 12 senatorial districts, with each district having its own two senators. This is similar to the present mode of apportionment of senators in the United States of America where their senators are elected by states.

In the first 11 districts, the two senators were elected by the electors in each district while the 12th Senatorial District, to ensure proper representation of the demographic target which were the minorities would be represented, their two senators were appointed by the American governor general. The Philippines did not have a president until September 16, 1935 with the election of Don Manuel Quezon as president via the Tydings-McDuffie Law which called for a constitutional convention and its eventual ratification and the holding of the first presidential elections.

The senatorial districts were wisely and practically composed of provinces that were geographically and culturally entwined. The senatorial districts existed from 1916 to 1935. The 1935 Constitution abolished the Senate and it was revived when former was amended in 1938, however the first election restoring the senate was in 1941. However, the senators and congressmen elected in that election were not able to convene as the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 8, 1941 dragged the Philippines into World War II. (To be continued)

attypauloaminal@yahoo.com

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