Cong. Chikoy Alvarez told me of an interesting side bar while he shepherds the passage of the Palawan division bill in the Lower House. With Speaker GMA pushing the legislative mill to grind faster, our Representatives in the Lower House (Deputy Speaker Erick Abueg and Reps. Alvarez and Gil Acosta) wasted no time in insuring the Bill’s transmittal to the Committee on Rules for inclusion in the calendar of bills for second reading. Unfortunately, the Bill could not be forwarded ASAP as the Chair of the Committee, Cong. Acharon of General Santos City, was in Malacanang for the signing of the national ID law. Cong. Chikoy had to request him to authorize his Vice Chair to sign the Committee Report. Unfortunately, he could not find any of the Vice Chairs around. Luckily for him, came Vilma Santos, the movie world’s “Star for all Seasons”, and now the Congresswoman of Lipa and – most importantly – a Vice Chair of the Committee on Local Governments. Rep. Vilma readily signed the Report, thus paving the way for its consideration by the Rules Committee and, eventually, for its Plenary deliberations.
For die-hard Vilmanians all through the years, I am certain this slice of information about their 70’s idol will delight them no end. Ate Vi’s “cameo role”, albeit an indispensable one, saved the day for Palawan’s historic division bill.
And while the bill is making progress in the Lower House, it has now become a must for local officials to start a massive info campaign to lay bare the good and the bad sides of creating three new provinces. More than convincing Palawenos about its political advantages, our information specialists should also compute the cost of creating new LGUs and calibrate the disruption it may cause to those directly affected by the move. Any IEC campaign should leave no quarters untapped, and should include objectors who may have valid grounds against the measure.
Short of a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue on the creation, I am afraid we may have to face the future on a very shaky foundation. And like the proposed shift to federalism, we may be prescribing a cure far worse than the perceived disease.
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