MANILA — Do you know which local government unit (LGU) in the National Capital Region or Metro Manila is grossly under-represented in Congress compared with the other 15 cities and one municipality in the region?
The answer to this question can be gleaned from a review of the special Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution for the election of members of the First Congress of the Philippines under the new Charter drafted by the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
Another vital source of information is the population data gathered by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) from the provinces, cities, towns and barangays nationwide.
The special ordinance of the 33-year-old Charter provided that the four cities and 13 towns of the Metropolitan Manila Area as of 1987 were entitled to 22 congressmen apportioned according to their population at the time.
These LGUs and the respective number of their lawmakers for the purpose of the May 1987 congressional elections were: Manila, six; Quezon City, four; Caloocan City, two; Pasay City, one; Malabon and Navotas, one; Mandaluyong and San Juan, one; Marikina, one; Makati, one; Pasig, one; Paranaque, one; Las Pinas and Muntinlupa, one; Taguig and Pateros, one; and Valenzuela, one.
It is important to note that Metro Manila had only four cities (Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan City and Pasay City) during the promulgation of the new Constitution. The populations of the adjoining towns were still insufficient to deserve a separate congressional district.
That was the reason why Malabon and Navotas had to share the representation of just one lawmaker, along with Mandaluyong and San Juan, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa, and Taguig and Pateros.
Only the then more affluent towns of Makati, Pasig, Marikina, Parañaque, and Valenzuela had one congressman each.
The creation of new cities in the region began during the incumbency of President Fidel V. Ramos. During his six-year term from June 30, 1992 to June 30,1998, at least seven cities were created in the NCR,
These were: Mandaluyong (Feb. 9, 1994); Makati (Jan. 2, 1995); Pasig (Jan. 21, 1995); Muntinlupa (March 1, 1995); Marikina (Dec. 8, 1996); Las Piñas (March 26, 1997); and Parañaque (Feb. 15, 1998).
The proposed cityhood of the former town of Novaliches, now divided between Quezon City and Caloocan City, was also signed by President Ramos as Republic Act No. 8535 on Feb. 23, 1998, but it lost in the plebiscite held in the whole of Quezon City on Oct. 23,1999.
There were no cities created during the six-and-a-half year-term of President Corazon C. Aquino from Feb. 25, 1986 to June 30, 1998.
A close look at the present data on population and congressional representation of the 17 LGUs in the NCR will reveal that only Manila and the 58-year-old Caloocan City have not undergone any change in their representation in Congress.
Caloocan, which became a city in 1962, continues to have only two congressional districts and the same number of congressmen although it now has the third biggest population in the region after Quezon City and Manila.
This shows how the people of Caloocan City, numbering 1,583,978 as of 2015 (PSA data), are grossly under-represented in the House of Representatives at present. Caloocan has a land area of 55.8 square kilometers.
Former Caloocan Rep. Enrico Echiverri, while representing the city’s first district in the 16th Congress (2013-2016), filed House Bill No. 5569 entitled “An Act reapportioning the 1st legislative district, thereby creating two additional legislative districts and 12 Sangguniang Panlungsod seats from such reapportionment.”
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Local Government, where it remained until the 16th Congress adjourned in 2016.
In the current Congress, Rep. Dale Gonzalo Malapitan, son of incumbent Caloocan Mayor Oscar M. Malapitan, has filed a similar bill (HB 6746) which is now pending in the committee level.
There has also been no increase in the number of lawmakers for Manila but its six congressmen at present are deemed sufficient in terms of the city’s population of 1,660,714 and land area of 38.3 square kilometers.
In Quezon City, the number of its congressmen has been increased from the previous four since 1987 to six with the creation of two new congressional districts in the Novaliches area of Quezon City in 2013 under a law signed by then President Benigno S. Aquino III.
At present, Metro Manila has 32 congressmen distributed as follows (in alphabetical order): Caloocan City (2); Las Pinas City (1); Malabon (1); Makati City (2); Mandaluyong City (1); Manila (6); Marikina City (2); Muntinlupa City (1); Navotas City (1); Paranaque City (2); Pasay City (1); Pasig City (1); Quezon City (6); San Juan City (1); Taguig City and Pateros town, 1st District (1); Taguig City, 2nd District (1); and Valenzuela City (2). (PNA)