We are having a good doze of information on the proposed creation of new (sic) province of Nueva Camarines, thanks to the gerrymandering ideas of some congressmen who may have less things productive and constructive in their mind sets.
Camarines Sur used to be one of the poorest and unexciting provinces of the country before, until it came out of the blues. Eventually, the Bicol province,like a Phoenix, rose to become an exciting tourist mecca and financially stable this side of the region.
According to governor Luis Raymond Villafuerte, among others “the province’s success has allowed CamSur to increase food production, providing a steady livelihood for farmers and reduce its malnutrition rate by over 45 percent, as well as increase life expectancy in the province. It also became one of the most business-friendly provinces in the Philippines.”
“Deputy Speaker Fuentebella imposed on the people of Camarines Sur his motive to gerrymander and create for himself his own kingdom,” Villafuerte told reporters last week. “Fuentebella is on his last term, and he wants a new province where he can rule since he has nowhere else to go.”
Deputy Speaker Crispin Remulla has reportedly said that a debate must be held “for the sake of transparency and fairness.” The Caviteño congressman was quoted saying: “Since the taxpayers bankroll the P1.2 billion needed to set up . . . Nueva Camarines, it is only fair that we let the public hear the merits of the bill . . . The people have to know why they need to shell out P1.2 billion for a new province.”
The research done by the private think tank Local Government Development Foundation—in conjunction with the German foundation Conrad Adenauer Stiftung—has warned: “Bills in Congress proposing to break [up] provinces ultimately will lead to the creation of much weaker provincial governments or local government administrations…. Forty-five up to fifty-five percent [45%-55%] of [a gerrymandered province’s] annual budget [is] likely to be allocated for personnel services normally characterized by a bloated local government bureaucracy.”
Many LGUs claiming to be autonomous still depend on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the national government for their survival. The researchers asked: Given the figures “of very high IRA dependency among cities, municipalities and provinces, why create more ‘financially anemic’ local authorities?”
The IRA is like a pie, which is cut up in equal parts to all LGUs, including provinces. The greater the number of provinces, the smaller the IRA portions that go to each of them. In a very real sense, the congressmen who consented to grant Fuentebella his wish are allowing a diminution of the revenue allotments for their own constituents.
The study observed: “Fragmentation leads to the creation of political dynasties and potentially will encourage little political tyrants in the countryside, whose only skill is winning the election but poorly lacking the ability to govern effectively.”
The study pointed out that in Asia the Philippines has one of the smallest land areas but the most number of provinces. China with over 9.32 million square kilometers of land area has only 23 provinces and Indonesia with 1.8 million sq. km. has 30 provinces.
While the Philippines With a comparatively minuscule land area of 298,170 sq km, already had 79 provinces in 2005. Today, we have a total of 81 provinces. Nueva Camarines would make for No. 82.
The study came out that fragmentation of LGUs hinders stabilization of local governance, distorts the IRA formula and negates the concept of fiscal decentralization, aggravates further the already substandard quality of services to the people and burdens the economy because of the high cost of creating new LGUs and the financial requirements to maintain an effective one.
As of today the country’s 7,107 islands are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 138 cities, 1,496 municipalities, and 42,026 barangays.
To finance the needs of the LGUs, the national government provides them an internal revenue allotment (IRA). However, due to the government’s fiscal constraints, the IRA has been cut by 4.8 percent to P273.31 billion in 2012 from the P286.94 billion in 2011.
This will be difficult particularly for the top 10 IRA-dependent provinces. According to the NSCB, these provinces are Lanao del Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Sulu, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Catanduanes, Eastern Samar, Maguindanao, and Masbate. Of these, Lanao del Sur, Catanduanes, Eastern Samar, Maguindanao and Masbate are all products of fragmentation.
Now that the bill has been approved by the lower house, the ball game is in the senate.