Revisiting Cebu's 7th District

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

With some degree of chagrin, I always feel sorry for the district where I grew up. I regret why the old 2nd District was broken into two, resulting in the two poorest congressional districts of Cebu, which is the richest province in the whole Philippines. I used to call that splitting the Camineromandering (apologies to my good friend, Rep. Willy Caminero) or the Garciamandering (with due respect to Noy Pabling and Governor Gwen Garcia), a variant of the US-bred ‘gerrymandering’, which was the politician's way of rearranging the towns or constituencies to suit their political ambitions and interests.

Today's 7th District or what I call DRAMMBAG, or Dumanjug, Ronda, Alcantara, Moalboal, Malabuyoc, Badian, Alegria, and Ginatilan, used to be combined with today's 2nd District, which I refer to as ADABOSS or Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon, Oslob, Santander, and Samboan. The governor told me that the purpose was for the eight towns of the seventh and the seven towns of the second to get more representations in Congress, and hopefully, more budget. Well, to my mind, it meant more congressmen to give more pork barrel to, more expenses to pay for salaries of more people without assurance of more improvements for the two districts. Today, the two districts do not have visible improvements that redound to the welfare of the poorest of the poor. The farmers and fishermen are still living below the level of what we call a good life that congressmen live and their families enjoy.

Let us look at the hard facts. No one can argue against the numbers. The first district, with only six component LGUs has an area of only 527.96 square kilometers but earns an annual revenue of more than P2 billion. The 7th District, with 8 component towns, and an area of 640.62 sq. km. gets an annual revenue of only one-fourth of what the first district earns. The eight towns of the 7th District earn a measly P528,925,915 in 12 months. The whole 6th District whose combined size is a little bigger than the town of Ronda, earns an annual revenue of P1.5 billion. The problem of the seventh is lack of industrial development and insufficient help to agriculture and the rich tourism potentials in the district. There is no socio-economic master plan to push the development of the eight towns.

The rich tourism potentials in the 7th District needs a sustained, purposive, and strategic push from the government. The richest town in the district is Dumanjug, the home of three former Cebu governors; Dionisio Jakosalem (1907-1912), Pablo Garcia (1995-2004) and the incumbent, Gwen Garcia. Dumanjug earns an annual revenue of P126 million; followed by Moalboal, P110.2M; Badian, P75.3M; Malabuyoc, P63.9M; Ronda, P62.2M; Alcantara, P49.4M; Ginatilan, P27.5; and Alegria, P14M. In terms of voting population the biggest is also Dumanjug, with 36,705, followed by Badian, 26,418; Moalboal, 19,821; Alegria, 17,015; Ronda, 15,758; Malabuyoc, 14,259; Ginatilan, 12,827; and Alcantara, 11,228. On number of barangays, Dumanjug has 37, Badian, 29; Moalboal, 15; and 14 each for Ronda, Malabuyoc, and Ginatilan, and nine each for Alcantara and Alegria.

These towns were not really together in the ‘50s up to the ‘70s until martial law. Ronda and Dumanjug used to be a part of the old 6th District, together with Barili, Pinamungajan, Aloguinsan, and Toledo City. The congressmen then were Manuel Zosa then Amado Aritta. Alcantara, Moalboal, Badian, Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Alegria, Samboan, Santander, Oslob, and Boljoon used to be the 5th District with former congressmen Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Miguel Cuenco, Emerito Calderon, and Sol Abines. The old 4th District was the so-called SAAD, or Sibonga, Argao, Alcoy, and Dalaguete. When our own delegate to the 1973 Constitutional Convention, Hilario G. Davide, Jr., father of our vice governor, agreed to the redistricting, making the 15 towns from Argao to Dumanjug, both the DRAMMBAG and the ADABOSS constituted Cebu's 2nd District.

If we combine the revenues of the 7th District which is P528,925,915 and that of the second, which is P761,000,455, the total is still lower than the 1st District which is P2 billion, the third district P1.9B, the fourth P1.1B, the fifth P1.4B, and the sixth P1.4B. The old 2nd District was already the poorest, then its poor economic standing was exacerbated by its splitting into second and seventh. Let us wait what promises will again be made by the candidates for 2022. The people always believe in promises, and the politicians always break them. And the voters never learn.

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