EDITORIAL: Gerrymandering in CamSur (Do we need it Again?)

The recent newsflash of “reapportioning” the third district in Camarines Sur into two is simply called gerrymandering no matter what euphemistic term they call it. It is not a political innovation, nor a strategy of creative destruction, it is an alteration of the fundamental objectives of political science. At this early stage it needs critical thinking and analysis not by the proponents who will bend every thread to push it, but by the people and all sectors that will be affected. People must understand what and how this political partition works and must learn from the experience.

Partitioning, or reapportioning a legislative area into one or several subdivisions is called “gerrymandering”. It is an act of drawing political boundaries especially congressional, or legislative area in order “to favor a political party or one particular candidate for an elected office”. The objective is to grant power, privilege or advantage to one party or politician over others by redrawing the boundaries of an existing political ward to create new electoral areas. The move is advertised to advance public good, but it is invented to promote political interests.

An attempt of gerrymandering was made in the Quezon province by political clans of the Tanadas in 1998 but did not progress. In 2004 the Alcalas and Suarez political group pursued the move in their favor but although a bill was filed and passed by congress it did not materialize in the absence of a plebiscite.

In Camarines Sur gerrymandering was attained when the first district was subdivided into two that eventually became the first and second districts. Behind the noble justifications the act was widely acknowledged that it was instigated to accommodate the interests of two political camps and personalities. Since then the two new districts became a partisan battleground either directly or by proxy of big and traditional interest groups in the province.

People of the two latest districts owe it to themselves to publicly testify on the benefits that they received, if there is any, because of the legislative subdivision. Better still there must be a serious non-partisan study on how the economy improved in the two estranged legislative areas. Are there any improvements in the lives of the people? What progress has been attained in the overall development state of the area; what health, peace and order, business and other social and economic grade have been achieved as a direct result of the partitioning?

There is need to consider all benefits as well as risks on the economics, social, technical, environmental and legal aspects of the motion – not just the political. Any decision on the issue must be anchored on the result and experience of the first piece of gerrymandering in CamSur. RRB