Editorial: What about general redistricting?

WITH the Senate passing on third and final reading the bill creating the seventh legislative district in Cebu Province, the splitting of the second legislative district is as good as realized. The House version of the bill was approved in 2014 yet, and with Gov. Hilario Davide III favoring the move, President Noynoy Aquino, his party mate, will surely oblige and sign the measure into law.

This early, Davide’s Liberal Party (LP) has chosen who it will field in the new district, which is named the seventh district even if it is located between the new second district and the third district, in the 2016 polls. He is Provincial Board Member Peter John Calderon. We do not know who One Cebu of the Garcias will pit against him.

A rappler.com report posted last April when the Senate was still tackling Cebu’s seventh district measure actually noted the possibility that 15 new districts nationwide will have their representatives elected for the first time in 2016. That will bring the number of district congressmen (excluding party-list representatives) to 249.

But like in the case of Cebu’s seventh district, the creation of new districts nationwide has been piecemeal. The idea of splitting the second district, for example, did not come from a general redistricting plan for Cebu but from representatives of the concerned district.

"Congress has never come up with a justifiable criteria on prioritizing which districts should be redistricted first," Prospero de Vera III, president of the Association of Political Consultants in Asia, told Rappler. He thus described current redistricting moves as “flawed.”

Section 5(4) of Article VI of the Constitution states, "Within three years following the return of every census, Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts." Unfortunately, Congress has not been able to follow this constitutional provision mainly because of the usual resistance of incumbents to change.

Like in the anti-political dynasty provision of the Constitution, the provision on a nationwide “reapportionment of legislative districts” has been subjected to political rather than developmental consideration.

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