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BARMM Parliament engages Lanao del Sur stakeholders on districting bill

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)--The series of public consultations on Parliament Bill No. 267 rolled out by lawmakers of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) reached Lanao del Sur province on Thursday, January 18, to get inputs, position papers, and recommendations from local stakeholders.

The bill aims to ensure a fair distribution of the 80-seat Bangsamoro Parliament, aligning with the needs and aspirations of the 4.9 million Bangsamoro population. The proposed distribution comprises 40 members for regional political parties, eight members for various sectors, and 32 members as district representatives.

Dubbed the Parliamentary Districts Act of 2023, the bill seeks to create 32 contiguous, compact, and adjacent parliamentary districts in the region, each with a single representation and a minimum of 100,000 residents.

Currently under consideration at the committee level, the bill outlines the distribution of these districts across various provinces and cities, including three in Basilan, seven in Sulu, three in Tawi-Tawi, eight in Lanao del Sur, four in Maguindanao del Norte, four in Maguindanao del Sur, two in Cotabato City, and one in the Special Geographic Area.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Lawyer Paisalin Tago emphasized that the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the Bangsamoro Electoral Code mandate the creation of districts, which is critical for preparing for the upcoming 2025 regional elections. 

"By 2025, we will be having parliamentary elections in the area. It is not just the first for the region but also the country," he stated.

Key stakeholders from Lanao del Sur participate in the public consultation at Marawi City's Provincial Capitol Gymnasium on January 18, 2024, to discuss and support the passage of Parliament Bill No. 267, also known as the Parliamentary Districts Act of 2023. (Photo courtesy of BTA Parliament)

Eight District Seats Allocated for Lanao del Sur

Lanao del Sur, with a population of 1,195,518 and comprising 39 municipalities and the Islamic City of Marawi, will be allocated eight parliamentary districts under the proposal. Each district is carefully delineated to enhance local representation and governance.

The first district will cover the municipalities of Kapai, Marantao, Piagapo, Saguiaran, and Tagoloan II; the second district will consist of Masiu, Buadipuso-Buntong, Poona Bayabao, Tamparan, Taraka, and Mulondo; the third includes the Bubong, Amai Manabilang, Lumba-Bayabao, Maguing, Ditsaan-Ramain, and Wao; and the fourth district covers the town of Butig, Sultan Dumalondong, Lumbaca-Unayan, Marogong, Lumbatan, and Lumbayanague.

While the fifth district consists of Calanogas, Balabagan, Kapatagan, Picong, and Malabang, the sixth district covers the towns of Bacolod Kalawi, Tugaya, Balindong, Madalum, Madamba, and Pualas; the seventh district includes Bayang, Binidayan, Ganassi, Pagayawan, and Tubaran; and the eight district covers the lone city of Marawi.

Women sector representative Noni Lao lauds the crafting of Parliament Bill No. 267, or the Parliamentary Districts Act of 2023, stating that it will ensure fair representation in the Parliament and allow the elected representatives to focus on specific challenges and opportunities in their respective districts. (Photo courtesy of BTA Parliament)

Lanao del Sur constituency welcomes districting bill

The Lanao del Sur constituency lauded the proposed measure, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and fair representation.

"Mahalaga na all members of the society can participate in this. The bill will ensure fair representation and allow the representatives to focus on specific challenges and opportunities in their respective districts," remarked women sector representative Noni Lao.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lawyer Udtog Tago, who also joined the consultation, highlighted the significance of the Parliamentary District Act of 2023 in facilitating the first regional elections in 2025.

Currently, the BARMM operates under an interim regional government appointed by the President, enhancing efficiency and accountability.

While the province praised the bill's intent, it sparked concerns about district composition and geographical sequencing. 

Some local chief executives believed their municipalities should belong to a different district, not a specific one. They proposed adjustments to align more effectively with municipal dynamics.

Another notable concern was the proposal for only one district for Marawi, despite the city meeting the criteria for two districts based on population requirements. 

Meanwhile, Bangsamoro lawmakers assured Lanao del Sur stakeholders that they would deliberate on the issues and review all position papers and recommendations to refine the proposed measure. (APB/PIA-10 Lanao del Sur)

About the Author

Apipa Bagumbaran

Assistant Regional Head

Region 10

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