Press Release
August 1, 2012

Camsur Chamber of Commerce passes resolution against split Camsur move

Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV today expressed his opposition to House Bill 4820, the proposed measure to divide Camarines Sur into two provinces by creating the province of Nueva Camarines, citing that there is no compelling reason to pursue the same.

"Legislating the division of a province when there is no compelling reason to do so is an unwise and risky move for us to take, and this will likely set a bad precedent for future lawmakers," said Trillanes, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Local Government.

Trillanes added that carving out a new province out of Camarines Sur will only lessen the Internal Revenue Allotment of the existing provinces, thus hampering the delivery of basic services in their areas. He added that this might set an ill-advised trend of legislation seeking division of big provinces in the country.

Trillanes, who is a Bicolano, explained that, "If we divide CamSur now, what will stop other provinces, such as Quezon, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, from dividing their provinces? I suggest that we abandon this move and scrap the measure."

The said proposed measure has been passed on third reading in the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate Committee on Local Government.

This position was supported by the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI), headed by Engr. Solomon Ngo, as it unanimously approved a resolution entitled "A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED DIVISION OF CAMARINES SUR INTO TWO (2) PROVINCES (HOUSE BILL NO. 4820)."

The CSCCI stated in the resolution that "our businesses will be hit hard if our "market" will diminish in area and number as a direct result if Camarines Sur will be split into two provinces," further stating that "as businessmen we believe in the principle that if your business is big, you have to expand and not divide, which will weaken your credit line and reduce profit."

"We do not divide a company if it is profitable and is doing well. This holds true in the case of a province. Hindi naman lugi ang probinsya and it is in fact doing well so we find absolutely no reason to divide it," Ngo pointed out as he released a copy of the resolution.

In a related development, Trillanes and CSCCI were joined in opposing the bill by Camarines Sur 5th district Representative Salvio Fortuno, who pointed out that Comelec cannot afford to conduct a plebiscite this year or even next year as Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reduce to poll body's 2013 budget to P8 billion. The original amount that the Comelec has asked for inclusion in the proposed P2 trillion national budget for next year was P24 billion.

"The Comelec is not even sure if it would get sufficient funds for the conduct of automated national and local elections next year. I don't see the wisdom of spending an estimated P70 million from what would be available to the Comelec on a plebiscite for the proposed creation of a new province that is not even necessary," Fortuno pointed out.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes recently warned that the poll body would not be able to carry out automated elections next year with the proposed P8 billion budget pegged by the DBM. Brillantes said that the Comelec would have to resort to manual elections but also warned that he would not be willing to administer it.

During the last hearing of the Senate committee, NEDA Assistant Director General Marcelina Bacani testified that there is no data showing that Camarines Sur has reached its economic "saturation point" and has become unviable, a situation that would justify splitting it by creating a new province. She stressed that the NEDA has to run an analysis to determine whether the new province that is sought to be created would be economically viable, as she pointed out that the three basic criteria prescribed by the law for the creation of a new province - income, land area and population, are not sufficient bases to determine if it would be viable.

Bacani also testified before the committee that on the contrary, her agency's findings indicate that the economic performance of the existing province has improved. According to her, the latest data of the NEDA shows that Camarines Sur dependence on its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), which is the main source of income for most local government units, has decreased from 94% to 83%, and that its locally generated revenues has jumped twofold, from 7% in 2001 to 16% as of 2009.

In the same hearing, committee chair Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. virtually declared the conduct of the economic feasibility study as a condition sine qua non, or an indispensable requirement, before the committee that he chairs would render a decision on whether to pass the bill or not.

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