SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile is expected to sign tomorrow the bill that will split Guadalupe and create Barangay Banawa Englis in Cebu City, after the House of Representatives transmitted it to the Senate last Monday.

Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Cebu City, south district) promised to follow it up with President Gloria Arroyo for her signature, as soon as Enrile signs it.

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According to the bill, a referendum, where Barangay Guadalupe residents will be asked whether or not they agree with the creation of the new barangay, should be held 30 days after it takes effect as a law.

The bill becomes a law 15 days after its publication in a local and a national daily.

Cuenco said that after House Speaker Prospero Nograles signed the bill, it was immediately sent to the Senate, but the holiday break delayed its signing by Enrile.

“After Enrile signs it on Jan. 4 and it is transmitted to Malacañang, I will personally ask PGMA to sign it into law,” he said.

The clamor for Sitios Banawa and Englis to separate from Guadalupe started in 1987, with residents wanting a separate barangay because of the absence of basic services.

On Dec. 18, 1996, the City Council approved Ordinance 1661, or “An Ordinance Dividing Barangay Guadalupe, Defining and Delineating the Boundaries of the Subdivision, Setting-up and Providing Resources and Assistance to the emerging New Barangay on its Initial Corporate Existence.”

Then city councilors Michael Rama and Ronald Cuenco, Congressman’s Cuenco’s son, authored the ordinance.

Three postponements

On March 15, 2000, the council approved Ordinance 1817, which amended Section 5 of Ordinance 1661 and reset the plebiscite from May 6, 2000 to May 2002.

The plebiscite, however, never pushed through. It was postponed three times and was eventually not pursued because of objections by Barangay Guadalupe officials.

In September 2008, Cuenco filed House Bill 5234 after the city council failed to set the plebiscite for Ordinance 1661.

The bill specifies 57 puroks or neighborhoods under the new barangay, and identifies natural boundaries, like rivers and creeks, to define its territory and prevent conflicts

over jurisdiction.

The six-page bill also defines the territorial boundary of Banawa Englis, and says that the Commission on Elections must “conduct and supervise the plebiscite, to be held in the area affected within 30 days from the effectivity of this Act.”

Cuenco identified the seat of government of the new barangay as the old Sitio Banawa.

He had argued that Guadalupe, the biggest barangay in Cebu City and in the Visayas, has a population that is three times bigger than most barangays in the city.

According to the National Statistics Office, the current population of Guadalupe is around 47,700, with Banawa and Englis residents numbering over 23,700.

In highly urbanized cities, a barangay should have at least 5,000 inhabitants, according to Section 386 of the Local Government Code. Anywhere else, only 2,000 persons are needed to create a barangay.