Philippine Daily Inquirer - June 4, 2002

EO attaching Aurora to C. Luzon assailed
By Tonette Orejas
PDI Central Luzon Desk

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- Sen. Edgardo Angara, Rep. Bellaflor Angara Castillo and Ricky Avanceña, grandson of the late President Manual Quezon, sought the scrapping of the executive order that transferred Aurora to Central Luzon.

The order, issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo on May 17, divided Southern Tagalog into Region IV-A and Region IV-B and transferred Aurora to Central Luzon.

Under the order, Region IV-A, to be known as Calabarzon, composes Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon as well as Antipolo, Batangas, Cavite, Lipa, Lucena, San Pablo, Tagaytay, Tanauan and two other cities.

Region IV-B covers Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan(Mimaropa) provinces as well as Calapan and Puerto Princesa cities.

The President cited the acceleration of social and economic development and the improvement in the delivery of public services to Southern Tagalog as reasons for the separation.

Angara, who hails from Aurora, called the order a "discretion of the historical, geographical and emotional ties of Aurora to the rest of Southern Tagalog, particularly Quezon province, but also of the memory of our first President, Manuel Quezon.

Aurora the birthplace of the late President and his wife Doña Aurora Aragon, was a sub- province of Quezon until 1951. Formerly called after Quezon's wife. It evolved into a separate province in 1979.

The province located on the eastern tip of Luzon and which faces the Pacific Ocean, is more accessible by land from Nueva Ecija, one of the Central Luzon's Provinces. It is one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country.

However, Angara said Aurora residents have "consistently and publicly" identified themselves with Quezon.

"What the President did in effect was to put Aurora's head in Central Luzon while the rest of its body remains in Southern Tagalog, he added, nothing that Ms Macapagal failed to provide a "good reason" for the separation.

In a statement, Angara also accused Ms Macapagal of not consulting the leaders and residents of Aurora before she issued the order.

According to him, the the annexation of the province to Central Luzon, the President's home region, reeks of "political motivation and opportunism."

Castillo, in a letter to the President, called as "erroneous" the assumption that Aurora has been poor because it belonged to Southern Tagalog.

The province, she said, has slowly crawled out of underdevelopment having been included in the Calabarzon's sub-region project.

The province's development does "not rest on administrative jurisdiction over it but the political will of the government to carry its development through" Castillo added.

The transfer, she noted, would "unduly affect the heritage, culture and identity of the people of Aurora."

Avaceña, son of Nini Quezon-Avanceña, the lone surviving child of Quezon, appealed for the immediate scrapping of the order.

"The Quezon family has been a staunch believer in the electoral mandate and democratic consensus, in contrast to the unilateral and arbitrary decision making at the palace." He said.

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