Senate committee OKs proposal to split Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY – The Senate Committee on Local Government has supported the proposal to divide Maguindanao province into two areas, a Maguindanao lawmaker said Monday.

This, as the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Francis Tolentino, approved on the same day House Bill (HB) 6413 that seeks to divide Maguindanao into Northern and Southern Maguindanao provinces pending the recommendation by the Technical Working Group (TWG) to determine the center of government in the “would-be” Southern Maguindanao.

The bill, which has hurdled its third and final reading in the House of Representatives, designates Buluan town as the provincial seat of government for the South while Datu Odin Sinsuat town will represent the North.

After the recommendation of the TWG, a Senate committee report will be submitted to the plenary, and it will be used as a basis for a bicameral meeting before the anticipated passing into law of the proposition.

HB 6413 is sponsored by Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu along with Tarlac 3rd District Rep. Noel Villanueva and Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Roonie Sinsuat Sr. while Senate Bills 1714 and 1824 were filed by Sen. Cynthia Villar and Tolentino, respectively.

In his manifestation to the Senate committee, Mangudadatu urged the Senate leadership to support House Bill 6413 by adopting a substitute bill following the content and design of HB 6413 and SB Nos. 1714 and 1824 concerning SB No. 1274 filed by Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.

All three legislations similarly seek the creation of Northern and Southern Maguindanao provinces, including the naming of Buluan and Datu Odin Sinsuat as provincial seats of government, while SB 1274 filed by Revilla pursues the creation of Western Maguindanao instead.

“While we respect and appreciate Sen. Revilla for sponsoring and filing a counterpart SB towards the realization of an empowered Maguindanao, we would like to request Sen. Tolentino that our prayers and provisions illustrated in HB 6413 be adopted in a substitute bill,” Mangudadatu said in a statement Monday.

Mangudadatu said that with a smaller province, local resource management and the delivery of basic public services would be more efficient as most local government officials and employees will work and focus on programs that will best serve the interests of their constituents.

He said the division of Maguindanao aims to make public service more accessible and closer to the people. (PNA)