Let voters decide on creation of new Bicol province
Neal Cruz’s Sept. 28 column quoted Sen. Francis Escudero on the issue of splitting Camarines Sur into two: “Let the people of CamSur decide that in a plebiscite.” I agree with Escudero: The people should decide the matter in a plebiscite to be called for the purpose; not the House of Representatives or the Senate, but the people themselves. Politicians like former coup plotter Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV should refrain from blocking the bill as it shows their utter lack of understanding of People Power.
Of course, the creation of a new political unit such as Nueva Camarines is a political move. But this political move is not intended to make the Fuentebellas or any other political family in CamSur dominate the political structure. Rather, it is a political move aimed at accelerating economic growth and social progress in CamSur, which languishes at the bottom rungs of the national government’s development index.
It is not true at all that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to urge the passage of the CamSur bill. Neither did Rep. Dato Arroyo call anyone to push for the passage of the bill. No one in the Arroyo family—not GMA or Dato—will benefit from the split of CamSur. Dato’s district is not even covered by the proposed split. He agreed to the split of CamSur because he is convinced that the new province will be better governed and it will help more people. He believes that there is a need for a new breed of leaders for the province’s growing population.
Gov. LRay Villafuerte is vehemently against the creation of Nueva Camarines for the simple reason that he wants his own son to succeed him as CamSur governor, and he wants to retain it as his own personal fiefdom. That is the out-and-out “dirty politics” that I think Cruz abhors.
I am a Bicolano and I know that CamSur is too big in terms of area and population as to be unwieldy for anyone to manage. Former Gov. Luis Villafuerte held office for 15 years and now admits that it took him four years to go to all the barangays in CamSur to get a grip on the actual socioeconomic conditions of his constituents. And LRay says he wants to keep the province as is, that is, wallowing in poverty?
Cruz calls it “dirty politics,” but I disagree. It is politics aimed at a clear goal: to uplift the people from poverty and improve their quality of life. That is not “dirty politics,” that is empowering the people, pursuing the dream of Edsa I and translating it to reality.
The authors of the Nueva Camarines bill do not deserve the brickbats thrown at them by its opponents. The House overwhelmingly approved the bill by a vote of 229-1. Majority of CamSur mayors support the bill as well. So why should senators block its passage? Let the people decide on the controversial issue in a clean, honest and orderly plebiscite. That’s democracy in action, not dirty politics.
Barangay San Isidro Pob.,
Nabua, Camarines Sur