AMONG the seven legislative districts in Cebu Province and two districts in Cebu City, only one, the sixth district, will be a “residual” district under the new Congress.
The Senate last Tuesday (Feb. 5) adopted and approved on final reading House Bill #8511 that will create the lone district of Mandaue City. That will take out Mandaue from Cebu’s sixth district, as what Republic Act 9726 did in 2010 when Lapu-Lapu City also became a lone district.
Former law school dean Baldomero Estenzo and former Mandaue councilor Enmarie “Lolypop” Ouano-Dizon are now competing for the right to represent a district that the Supreme Court calls “residual.”
Not quite pleasant, this term “residual”: it means what is “left over after a part or most of an object is taken,” or “what remains at the end of a process.” Left-overs are usually unappetizing.
First the lawmakers took away Lapu-Lapu City; now they’re removing Mandaue City. The enrolled bill, which will become the law, leaves only two towns, Cordova and Consolacion, for the district. Once the bill is signed by President Duterte, the body that remains after limbs are torn out won’t be much of a “corpus” either. The number of people in the residual district doesn’t even reach 250,000, the minimum requirement on population. And, as ridiculous as it can get, Cordova and Consolacion are 12 kilometers apart; split not by one but two other districts; and are not contiguous since one town is on mainland Cebu and the other on Mactan Island.
Rules at birth only
Here’s the thing: Contiguity or contiguousness--being adjacent to or near one another--is set aside. So are the requirements on income and population. It turns out that they are imposed only when a new district is created. The rules on creation no longer hold true once the district starts operating.
A metaphor that Presidential Legislative Liaison Adelino Sitoy relayed to Cebuanos is that of a mother who has given birth. The rules apply to the newborn, at birth, no longer to the mother, after birth. Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue must each qualify to become a lone district. What remains of the sixth district doesn’t have to stay qualified.
The reasons for proximity of LGUs, enough number of people and adequate income are valid only during the creation of a legislative district. For screening and control of the number of House seats that district representatives will fill. Not essential to the existence and operation of the district. Technically, the district is defined as a unit only for purposes of allocation of resources and representation.
Whoever will win, the new House member won’t be less of a congressman or congresswoman just because the district will have only two towns left in its fold. Domeng or Lollypop will be as effective legislator as individual skill and ingenuity will allow.
Killing mother district
The new legislator might even come up with the correction of the sorry state of the district. Two Cebu Provincial Board members proposed sometime ago to attach each of the two towns to the lone district contiguous to it: Cordova to Lapu-Lapu and Consolacion to Mandaue. But that would mean killing the sixth district, unless some arrangement on redistricting can be made with the political lords in the other districts, which can be tough and messy.
Kill the mother district? The mother-and-children metaphor, which offers little logic or comfort, may be distressing.