Residents of Agusan del Norte welcomed the recent passage by the House of Representatives of a bill that proposes to transform Butuan City into a single congressional district.
The House voted 220-0 last month against House Bill 7771 that will incorporate the municipality of Las Nieves to the second district which currently comprises of Cabadbaran City and the municipalities of Buenavista, Carmen, Jabonga, Kitcharao, Magallanes, Nasipit, Remedios Trinidad Romualdez, Santiago, and Tubay.
Currently, Butuan and Nieves comprise the first district represented in the chamber by Rep. Lawrence Fortun.
Rep. Ma. Angelica M. Amante-Matba represents the second district.
Fortun and Matba authored HB 4123 that underscored the need to create the lone district of Butuan.
“Such reapportionment is consistent with sound management and governance and in keeping with the purpose and thrust of the provisions of the Constitution,” they said.
HB 7771 provides that the reapportionment of Agusan del Norte must take effect in the 2022 national and local elections.
Fortun and Matba will continue to represent their respective legislative districts until the expiration of their term of office next year.
The House Committee on Local Government chaired by Tarlac Rep. Noel L. Villanueva strongly endorsed passage of the measure.
Authors recalled that Butuan used to be the capital of the province of Agusan which is now divided between Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.
Agusan del Norte retained Butuan City as its capital until it was reclassified into a Highly Urbanized City in 1985 and became separate and independent of the province. However, Butuan then could not qualify into a single legislative district because it lacked the population requirement of 250,000.
Cabadbaran City serves as the current capital of Agusan del Norte.
Matba noted that as of August 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority confirmed that Butuan had a population of 337,063, which is 34.8 percent over the minimum population for it to become a congressional district.
“Butuan City, as a lone legislative district, can better pursue its development goals and meet its needs peculiar to its status as a Highly Urbanized City and Regional Center of the Caraga region,” authors of the measure explained.
Further, they noted that Las Nieves will be “fully restored under the rightful jurisdiction” of Agusan del Norte under the bill.