SAN MATEO, Rizal — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that divides the second legislative district of Rizal province into three new districts that are hoped to better respond to the needs of residents and facilitate long-term recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Duterte signed Republic Act 11533 which splits the second district into three, “to take effect in the 2022 national and local elections.”

The division will still have to be passed on for the Rizal residents in a plebiscite to  be scheduled by the Commission on Elections.

Officials and residents of San Mateo and Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) towns hailed the signing of the law, saying this will result in more funds and development for their towns which are also candidates for cityhood, said Rizal second district Congressman Juan Fidel Felipe Nograles, who initiated the split of the district.

It was also the neophyte congressman, who is a lawyer and a product of Ateneo de Manila University and Harvard University, who proposed the cityhood of the historic towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez, and the creation of an economic zone in Rodriguez which he proposed to be renamed Montalban again.

Under the law, the second legislative district will be composed of the towns of Cardona, Baras, Tanay, Morong, Jala-jala, Pililia and Teresa.

The town of San Mateo will compose the third district while Rodriguez will be the lone component of the fourth district.

The law, signed last March 25, directs the Commission on Elections to “issue the necessary implementing rules and regulations” within 30 days of the measure’s effectivity.

The Senate in February approved the bill reapportioning the second district of Rizal into three legislative districts.

The move aims to “help the local government units involved to better respond to the needs of the people and also help facilitate in the long-term rehabilitation and the capacity building efforts of the province following this pandemic,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino.

Rizal is home to about 2.9 million people, 2015 government data showed.

The new second district has a population of 449,103, the third district 252,527 people, and the fourth district is home to 369,222, said Tolentino, chair of the Senate local government committee.

Under the constitution, a locality with at least 250,000 residents is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives, he said in a statement.

The House of Representatives passed the same measure on June 1, 2020.