Espinoza: Province of Mactan: What is at stake?

·3 min read

When the issue of converting the Island of Mactan into a province resurfaced, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia reacted adversely. She said she was against the move to break up the Province of Cebu into three provinces by the then Sugbuak proponents and she will always be against any move to divide Cebu.

But come to think of this: The City of Lapu-Lapu, the Municipality of Cordova, and Olango Island that comprise Mactan Island are separated from the mainland by a natural boundary, the Mactan Channel. But Mactan Island is now connected by three bridges.

The first bridge was constructed after the airport was moved to Mactan Island. Before this happened, the travel to Lapu-Lapu City, formerly known as Opon, was by boat or barge crossing the channel between the port in Barangay Opao, Mandaue City and the Muelle Osmeña in Lapu-Lapu City.

Setting politics aside, what’s in there for the officials of the Capitol? After Lapu-Lapu City became a lone congressional district through the efforts of then Sixth District Rep. Nerisa Soon-Ruiz, now a councilor of Mandaue City, the voters of the island city, including Olango, no longer vote for provincial candidates. The sixth congressional district is now reduced to two towns (Cordova and Consolacion) that are administratively under the Capitol.

Lawyer Pachico Seares wrote in his Explainer that “the proposal credited to the late legislative-executive liaison Adelino Sitoy and pursued by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard ‘Ahong’ Chan after the former Cordova mayor’s death differs a lot from the aborted attempt of three Cebu congressmen 15 years ago. In scope and scale. In motive of the proponents.”

It could not be said that Mactan Island would be carved out of the Province of Cebu because it’s already separated by the seawaters from the mainland.

The usual rationale for the proponents to create a new local government unit, like a province, is that it would generate development on its own.

However, this magnanimous move of Mayor Chan, whose wife Cindi is the city’s lone district representative, a newbie in Congress, would not be like a walk in the park. Chan and company have to deal with Capitol and Sixth District Rep. Daphne Lagon and the new municipal officials of Cordova.

Except for politics, I don’t see any reason why the islands of Mactan and Olango, and Cordova would not be created into a new and separate province from Cebu. Geographically and financially, Mactan Island and Cordova are more than qualified to become a separate local government unit from mainland Cebu.

If the proponents of Mactan Province would succeed, it would mean less headache for Capitol officials and their political and developmental efforts would now be focused on the less developed municipalities and cities.

With the thriving economic zone in Lapu-Lapu City and the third bridge that directly connects Cordova to the mainland and once the reclamation project in this town is implemented, a Mactan Island province could undoubtedly develop economically on its own.

What’s probably at stake for Capitol is Cordova’s pending reclamation project, which would strengthen the province’s financial standing once completed. This would definitely amplify Cebu’s image as the richest province in the country.

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