Monday, March 10, 2008

The Redistricting of Iloilo City

Last week, Iloilo City Congressman Raul Gonzalez, Jr. filed House Bill No. 3672 which seeks to divide the current Lone District of Iloilo City into two congressional districts. Under the proposed bill, the First Congressional District will be comprised of all areas north of Iloilo River (i.e. Jaro, Mandurriao, Lapaz and Lapuz) while the Second Congressional District will be composed of Arevalo, Molo and City Proper located south of the river. Aside from adding another legislative district, the bill will also increase the number of City Councilors from twelve (12) to sixteen (16), to be elected by district.

Although it was already a thriving urban center during the Spanish period, it was only in 1936 that Iloilo City was formally declared a city by virtue of Commonwealth Act 57 (more commonly known as the "Charter of Iloilo City"). Visitors may have noted that each of Iloilo City’s sub-districts, namely Arevalo, Molo, City Proper, Jaro, Lapaz and Mandurriao, has its own church, plaza and even its own fiesta (a more perceptive person will even observe subtle but distinct peculiarities between the said areas). This is because during the Spanish period, Arevalo, Molo, Jaro, Lapaz and Mandurriao were all municipalities and Iloilo City then was only the area known today as “City Proper.” Commonwealth Act No. 57 “collapsed” the towns of Molo, Arevalo, Mandurriao and Lapaz and joined it with City Proper to constitute what is known as the City of Iloilo today.

Since its enactment in 1936, the Iloilo City Charter has been amended at least four times. In 1940, the municipality of Jaro was also "collapsed" and included as part of Iloilo City by virtue of Commonwealth Act 604 which some say was President Manuel Quezon's way of punishing Jaro Mayor Delfin Gonzalez (the father of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez) for not supporting the Nacionalista candidate for governor in Iloilo. Under the old Charter, the mayor, vice mayor and the department heads of Iloilo City were all appointed by the President of the Philippines. Congress later amended the Charter to make these positions elective. Rodolfo "Roding" Ganzon holds the distinction of being the city's first elected mayor.

According to Congressman Gonzalez, redistricting
Iloilo City will allow our Representatives to be more responsive to the peculiarities and unique needs of their constituents. It would also mean additional PDAF which could be used for more infrastructure projects that would spur more economic development in the city. For example, Jaro, Mandurriao, Lapaz and Lapuz (which will comprise the First District) have different problems than Arevalo, Molo and City Proper (the Second District). Since the Second District is comprised of the city’s “old quarter,” he says that the congressman of that district should be concerned more with legislation concerning the preservation of Calle Real, restoration of Muelle Loney, how to revitalize commerce in that area, relocating the squatters and beautifying the area, etc. The representative of the First District on the other hand should be focused more on addressing the rapid economic growth in that part which is considered the city’s "new" quarter. Mandurriao, for example, is touted to be the next center of economic development after Megaworld purchased the old Iloilo Airport and announced plans to develop the area into another “Libis.” Also, most of the new housing developments are centered in the Mandurriao-Jaro-Lapaz area and traffic, garbage and flooding are among the perennial problems in that part of the city.

I believe that the addition of another district is not only necessary but long overdue. Other “Commonwealth-era” cities like
Manila, Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga already have multiple districts. Manila now has six (6), Cebu City presently has two (2), Davao City three (3) and Zamboanga City recently became two districts. Even “newer” or "younger" cities like Marikina and Antipolo now have two. It is about time the Iloilo City, which has long been acknowledged as the cultural, commercial, academic, religious and governmental center of Western Visayas, gets another district.

Iloilo City today is the most densely-populated city in Region 6. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the Philippines. Iloilo City is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jaro, one of the oldest and biggest archdioceses in the country. There are seven (7) major universities and dozen s of other reputable schools in Iloilo City make it the center of higher learning in the region. All the major shopping malls, banking institutions and other business establishments can be found in the city as well as the regional offices of national government agencies. In terms of income, population and land area, Iloilo City I believe is more than qualified to merit another legislative district.


francis magno said...

O.Mendoza. Your rationale to the additional district for Iloilo City
is historically convincing, but devoid of merits against the realities of local governance.

An added congressman is an added
bureacracy and layers of staffing to the present white elephant congressional structure that is
corruption-rich in practices of pdap and devolution of powers to local government units in terms of planning and project execution.
The city planning development board
has the blueprint of the medium and long range development programs for the City of Iloilo. This is incorporated in the regional development plans as we can see in the annual presentation of thee Naational Economic Development Board. We have all the program thrust envisioned for too long. However, the real problem of poverty is not readily addressed. The thrust for years has been like of the Roman empire, holding of gladiatorial combats to appeased
the hungry-driven Romans, as we Ilonggos been pampered by the
cultural celebrations of Dinagyang, Jaro Festival/CockFight Extravaganza, Paraw Regatta, and
Pagtal-tal. It provides seasonal
jobs to those in sari-sari stores, side walk vendors for souvenirs, and trivial nugget of american dollars for local hotels and
natives special entertainers, including drugs and prostitution.

The present congressional delegation and presidential advisers and ilonggo political leaders failed to provide the infgrastructures for real development to combat poverty.

While it has the most universities, colleges, and technical schools, and believe it or not, has the most number of commercial banks in major cities in the Philippines, even compare to Dubai, Kuwait, Morocco, London, Sidney, New York.

Ilonggos save their money. They generally dont invest. The bankers are the one making use of their money. To finance not the local projects, but elsewhere in the country.

Hence, an added Congressman, is an added political lord in the Queen City of the South.

What's wrong with the present leaders that we have? Can they not do the inchoate job for the additional congressman.

Is Congressman Raul Gonzales, Jr.
handicapped to cater to the demands of the district? He belongs to the
majority party, his father is a cabinet member, why can't they take the purposive move togetrher with all the Ilonggo delegation, with
Arthur Defensor, being the Majority Floor Leader, adopt a comprehensive
blue print forILOILO CITY? Why? Why? and Why?

The answer is purely political
accommodation. When given due course, come 2010, the most that will run as candidate for congressman under the Lakas-CMD
is Jerry Trenas. Period. End of Discussion. While Raul Gonzales, shall maintain his representation covering Jaro, Mandurriao, and Lapaz.

To add come on to the proposed legislation is the election of
councilors by district. This is
necessary, practical, and beneficial to all candidates and the constituents in the district.
But, this is a come on, in case of
people's ratification, if not, because it calls, for an amendment of the City Charter, unless, the
people initiate for the City council to pass a resolution, addressing the issue for submission
under the provisions of the local
government code.

iloilo city boy said...

Thank you for your comments Mr. Magno. Your observation - that the redistricting of Iloilo City is political accommodation for graduating Mayor Jerry Trenas - is partly correct. Our political system is the "politics of personality." I have a concrete proposal on how we can end this "politics of personality" (read my earlier entry "All for One, One For All") but only a few seem to support it. Everyone wants change, everyone in the opposition wants reform. But if that reform will affect their personal agendas, they will not support it.

But I ask you to look at the redistricting of Iloilo City from a long-term point of view. The addition of another district would redound to more money for more projects for the city of Iloilo. Each congressman receives P70 million a year in PDAF which, multiplied by three years equals to P210 million per term. So if we add another congressman, that would mean P420 million in projects for Iloilo City every 3 years.

Much has been said and written about the pork barrel as a source of corruption and patronage. Yes, I will grant you that the pork barrel has been abused. But it has also been used as a tool to help the people. For example, Congressman Gonzalez devotes part of his PDAF to helping indigent patients get free medicines and hospitalization at Don Benito and West Visayas Regional hospital. It may be that you never felt the need to ask government for help, but for many poor and jobless Ilonggos, this free hospitalization program has been their lifeline (literally) for the past 12 years. Also, Cong Jun gives around P500,000 of his PDAF for the Dinagyang Foundation every year: P500,000 which Ben Jimena would otherwise have to raise from corporate sponsors. He also granted a P1 million scholarship fund so that City Hall department heads can get masteral degrees at the Ateneo School of Government and improve their know-how. This will (hopefully) redound to improved delivery of basic services in the city.

Neil said...

In terms of land area, the proposed redistricting would be inequitable.

The combined land area of the City Proper, Molo and Arevalo is only slightly bigger than the area of Mandurriao.

Why not make the City Proper, Molo, Arevalo and Mandurriao comprise the First District, and Jaro and Lapaz, the Second District?

That way, land area and population distribution would be equitable.

Is Rep. Jun Gonzales gerrymandering?

Oliver M. Mendoza said...

Thank you for visiting neil. Actually, your suggestion could be the one which may result in gerrymandering because Mandurriao is not contiguous with City Proper, Molo and Arevalo since it is separated by the Iloilo River. Hence, Mandurriao is placed with Jaro and Lapaz which are all situated north of the river.

Neil said...

Yes, Mandurriao is not contiguous with the City Proper, but it is with Molo and Arevalo.

They are only separated by the narrower portion of the Iloilo River, in the same manner that Mandurriao is separated from Jaro and Lapaz by the Dungon Creek.

IMO, land area and population, and not political bailiwicks, should be the foremost concerns for the redistricting.

francis magno said...

I am amazed by your purposive
defense on "redistricting," as proposed against my counter proposal
of realigning some component-district
into one legislative congressional district, by reason of population and physical area. In sum, its still
gerrymandering to : 1. perpetuate
the incumbency 2. dehumanizes and disenfranchise large bloc of constituents;3, delimits poor but
qualified candidates to represent the district in congress; 4. caters to continue breeding of political
oligarchs which we have found wanting and derogatory to the exercise of sovereign power in the electoral process; and pure and simple accommodation.

As you can see, the province of iloilo is calling for an added
district; that is the overt move by the congressional delegation to
rail it in the Congress plenary
session, it they want to; without even consulting the will of the people. It's incongrous too even to the opposition of the present leadership of the leaugue of cities to create more cities, but we want to add more city district and congressional district, without
regards to ira allocatin, but instead so focused with annual computation of pdap' budgetary
bonanza. You see, the way we work now, is all on patronage. The Congressman dispenses drugs acting like pharmacists; giving rice and canned goods, taking over the inherent functions of dsw, grants and scholarships, as educators of decs; in fact and in truct, some of the congressmen, don't even know the rudiemnts of the principles of
teaching? Comon, all of these
breed political oligarchy, patronage, and moral corruption.

The national leadership is
wanting of moral authority to create a new social order. Instead of regenerating a society of equals, it sits on a social volcano
surrounded by men and women who look after the expansion of their interests, after all the volcano
will erupt soon. Survival is the game.

I wish I can sit down with you
in Amigo Terrace over a cup of coffee in the coming days.

francis magno said...


You are doing great service to our City.

I take my hat off.

Sulong mga utod!

Francis Magno