Compostela Valley is no longer the odd province out. On Sunday evening, December 8, the Commission on Elections declared the province officially as Davao de Oro with 174,000 votes, a turn out 43.86 percent which is less than half of the registered voters at 410,000.
The province was carved out from Davao del Norte in 1998. Twenty years later, both Houses of Congress passed House Bill 7363 and Senate Bill 1746 with Representatives Pedro Acharon Jr., Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, and Maria Carmen Zamora as proponents of HB 7363 while Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sonny Angara proposed for its Senate counterpart.
Republic Act No. 11297 was legislated into law renaming the province to Davao de Oro and signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 17, 2019. The plebiscite was set last Saturday, Dec. 7.
Why does the change in name matter? For the proponents, renaming Compostela Valley to Davao de Oro would strengthen the association of the province to the rest of the Davao Region. It is after all, the only province in the region with a different name. Some quarters would say the move could be more than rhetoric. Compostela Valley is oftentimes linked to small scale mining, landslides and the heavy presence of rebels. These images do not fare well and renaming it into Davao de Oro brings to mind strong positive images of gold, plantations and abundant aquatic resources.
The Davao region is the only region in the country having provinces with the same name, identified only by its geographical location. Be that as it may, we welcome the freshly minted Davao de Oro province.