The Senate Committee on Local Government approved on Tuesday the creation of lone districts for Batangas City and Lipa City, a measure authored by Rep. Raneo Abu of the 2nd District of Batangas.
The move will increase the legislative districts of Batangas to six for the 2016 elections compared to only four at the moment.
The National Statistics Office certified that both the cities of Batangas and Lipa meet the population requirement for the creation of a lone district.
Besides Abu, among those present at the Senate during the approval of the measure were Sen. Ralph Recto, Rep. Dong Mendoza of the 4th District of Batangas, Vice Gov. Marc Leviste and board members of the province, and Mayor Meynard Sabili of Lipa City.
Leviste said the Sangunian Panlalawigan supports the creation of lone districts of both the cities of Batangas and Lipa, as manifested in the resolution passed by the body.
“It opens up a lot of possibilities not only in politics, but also in economics,” Leviste said.
As of late last year, hopeful political candidates have started releasing word on their plans for the 2016 elections, but the creation of the lone districts in the cities of Batangas and Lipa may bring about changes to the political landscape in the province.
Leviste, who is on his last term as Batangas vice governor, earlier announced his candidacy for governor but without an official endorsement from the Rectos, he has been suspected as exploring a congressional seat instead. He dismissed such rumors also on Tuesday.
“My family and I are decided to run for governor,” Leviste confirmed.
Gov. Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, who was the former representative of the 2nd district of the province, was also among those who strongly supported the passage of the bill. He also announced his candidacy for governor and he will not change his mind despite recent developments.
“I have decided already to run again for governor [in]2016. No interest to be congressman [in]2016,” Mandanas said.
Before the passage of the bill, a rift between the Rectos and Sabili, now on his second term as Lipa mayor, was said to be brewing after some of his constituents expressed their desire for former Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos-Recto to seek the top position in the city. However, a source close to both parties disclosed that an agreement may have been reached between allowing Sabili to serve his last term while the Rectos take the congressional seat or vice versa.
At present, Lipa City is part of the 4th district of Batangas while Batangas City belongs to the 2nd district.