- in Opinion, Politics

Don’t look now, but this early it seems that plans are already being laid for the entry of Sen. Franklin Drilon to Congress.

Career-legislator Franklin Drilon is staring down at the last 3 years of his current Senatorial run with a sense of optimism and a cunning plan – the Ilonggo legislator may be making room for himself in the House of Representatives through a bill which seeks to split the city of Iloilo into two districts.

The bill, authored by the current lone district of Iloilo City Rep. Bam Baronda, was filed with the 18th Congress early at its opening. The measure seeks to split the city of Iloilo into two congressional districts, creating an entirely new office for a new legislator and their team.

Citing the need to give Iloilo residents better representation in the Lower House, the bill argues that there is a need to create another legislative district for the city of Iloilo.

The bill cites the case of Marikina City, which was granted two legislative districts in 2006 by virtue of Republic Act 9363. The basis of this comparison is that Marikina had a population of 424,150 when it was granted a new district. Iloilo City, as of 2015 census data, has a population of 447,992. Thus, there is some supposed basis for this request.

However, Marikina is a city in Metro Manila. The divide between developed areas and informal settlements could be as thin as a shared wall. They are also one of the most disaster-prone cities in the Metro, adding on top of that the regular traffic facing every government in the country’s capital – traffic, gentrification, growing senior populations, scarcity, and did we mention traffic? So maybe it would be better to compare Iloilo City to a case with more similarities that just sheer population numbers.

Take for example the case of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental. Like Iloilo City, Bacolod also has a lone legislative district. As of the same 2015 census, it has a population of 561,875 inhabitants, making it the most populous city in Western Visayas. Its city proper area covers 162.67 square kilometers. It’s province, Negros Occidental, has a total area of 7,802.53 square kilometers and a population just shy of 2 and a half million. Negros Occidental has 6 legislative districts besides the lone district of Bacolod city.

In comparison, Iloilo City covers only 78.34 square kilometers. The province of Iloilo also already has 5 districts in addition to the line district of Iloilo City to advocate for the 1,936,423 residents occupying it’s 5000 square kilometers.

With this comparison, the pressing need to establish a new legislative district for Iloilo sounds less reasonable. Bacolod city could make more use of the additional representation.

So, for what other purpose could the new proposed legislative district serve, if the people of Iloilo City are seemingly adequately represented? Why also is Baronda basically saying she cannot adequately do her job, despite no objects from other representatives since 2015, the year her argument is based off? If this was the case, it would be quite disappointing for Iloilo City’s first congresswoman to be the last of the lone district.

While we cannot predict the outcome of the 2022 election, we can say that we’ve been observing the ways several politicians, including Drilon, have begun styling themselves for future posts. After all, what would Drilon be if he didn’t have a platform to criticize and grandstand? Plus, given the lengths the senator has recently gone to criticize the House over little to no evidence, creating a new legislative district for a city that can’t justify it wouldn’t be that far of a reach. 

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