Cebu's biggest and richest congressional district

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

The first legislative district of Cebu used to be the third congressional district, minus Sibonga. After the 1987 Constitution, it is now composed of three cities (Talisay, Naga, and Carcar) and three first-class municipalities (Minglanilla, San Fernando and Sibonga). I coined a mnemonic for easier memory: Minsan si Carnata or Minglanilla, San Fernando, Sibonga, Carcar, Naga, and Talisay. In the whole province, this district is the biggest in population and is the richest in terms of revenue.

Its total land area is 527.96 square kilometers, smaller than the 3rd District (1,159.34) and the 5th District (814.15). The 1st District's population was 709,660 in 2015 (it must be approaching a million by now), its voting population was 431,872. It has 131 barangays and a revenue of ?2,030,567,000 but its poverty incidence is 20.31% and its per capita income is only ?2,749. The mayors are: Samsam Gullas of Talisay, Kristine Chiong of Naga, Mercedita Apura of Carcar, Elanito Pena of Minglanilla, Lakambini Reluya of San Fernando, and Lionel Bacaltos of Sibonga.

After the 1987 Constitution, the congressmen were Antonio T. Bacaltos Sr. (1987 to 1992), Eduardo R. Gullas (1992 to 2001, three terms), Jose R. Gullas, (2001 to 2004), Eduardo R. Gullas (2004 to 2013, three terms), Samsam Gullas (2013 to 2019, two terms), and Eduardo R. Gullas (2009 to 2022). When it was still the old 3rd District (minus Sibonga), the representatives were: Filemon Sotto (1907 to 1916, three terms), Vicente S. Urgello (1916 to 1922, two terms), Vicente Rama (1922 to 1928, two terms), Maximino J. Noel (1928 to 1934, two terms), Vicente Rama (1934 to 1935, one term), Agustin Y. Kintanar (1935 to 1938, one term), Maximino J. Noel (1938 to 1949, three terms), Primitivo N. Sato (1949 to 1953, one term), Maximino J. Noel (1957 to 1965, three terms), Ernesto Bascon (1965 to 1969, one term), and Eduardo R. Gullas (1969 to 1972, one term).

Today, there is no leader in the 1st District who can challenge the incumbent Eduardo R. Gullas. But since he is already 90 years old, he decided not to seek reelection. The original plan was to let grandson Samsam run, while Samsam's wife Rhea runs for mayor of Talisay City. During the substitution time, however, both Samsam and Rhea withdrew and then exchanged positions. Rhea is now virtually elected as the first female representative of this district, and Samsam is battling against Vice Mayor Alan Bucao for the mayorship of Talisay. This is a fight to watch but Samsam, as the incumbent, and as a Gullas, has tremendous advantages over Bucao.

In Carcar, the Nacionalista Party's Nice Apura is running against One Cebu's Patrick Barcenas. In Naga, NP's Valdemar Chiong is running against Promdi's Vince del Mar and Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan's Delfin Senor. In Minglanilla, the four bets for mayor are NP's Rajiv Enad, Promdi's Leoben Geonzon, Aksyon Demokratiko's Francis Canedo, and independent candidate Francisco Canedo. In San Fernando, incumbent Lakambini Reluya of the NP is being challenged by the Progressive Party of the Philippines' Myrtha Ann Canoy. In Sibonga, the incumbent, NP's Lionel Bacaltos, is being challenged by two hopefuls, Promdi's Tito Salera and independent Eutiquio Vilocura Jr.

All the NP candidates are leading their respective opponents. But there is enough time to find a tipping point. Nobody is sure to win as there is going to be a very hotly contested fight in the 1st District. Governor Gwen Garcia however is poised to win convincingly in this district. In 2016, Vice President Leni Robredo led Bongbong Marcos by a big margin here in their fight for the vice presidency. I predict, history will repeat itself this year. VP Leni will carry Cebu's richest district.


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