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So. Leyte hopeful at 62

The province has gone through several challenges through the years but its people remain resilient and positive despite several disasters that swooped the land.
In the early 1900s, a Court of First Instance was already in existence in the western part of Leyte and the “Promoter Fiscal” or Provincial Fiscal was hearing cases from the towns of Palompon to Hinunangan. Transportation was so difficult then and so was managing the affairs of government in Tacloban. The division of Leyte into two provinces was thought to be the only solution as prominent leaders of the West Coast rallied to the general movement of a Western Leyte.
In 1919, Representative Ciriaco K. Kangleon of Macrohon, representing the 2nd District from Inopacan to Cabalian from 1919-1922 presented the first bill for the division of Leyte but lost in the Senate by one vote.
Then in 1922, Assemblyman Tomas Oppus presented House Bill No. 254 which became Act No. 3117 of the Philippine Legislature. The law stated that the occidental province would embrace the towns of Villaba to Hinunangan, inclusive. The law did not take effect since the governor-general did not proclaim it. Then Act No. 3788 was passed, dividing Leyte province into five representative districts. Senator Ruperto Kangleon consequently presented Senate Bill No. 2140 advocating the division of Leyte, but it was also shelved.
In 1957, Representative Nicanor Espina Yñiguez, Jr. filed a bill in the house creating the Province of Southern Leyte. It was no longer the original Western Leyte of Occidental Leyte, but the Third District of Leyte comprising the municipalities of Maasin to Hinunangan, as specified under Act 3788.
House Bill No. 1318 proposed by Congressman Nicanor E. Yñiguez became Republic Act No.2227 and was signed into Law by President Carlos P. Garcia on May 22, 1959. The new province was inaugurated on July 1, 1960. Thus the Third District of Leyte became the province of Southern Leyte. Those present and witnessed to the signing were Congressman Yñiguez, Mayor Alfredo K. Bantug of Maasin, Atty. Manuel Enage, Sr., Erlinda Capili and Atty. Floro Kangleon, among others.
The first provincial leaders were: Hon. Alfredo K. Bantug, Governor; Hon. Graciano A. Capili, Vice Governor; Hon. Isabelo Kaindoy, Senior Board Member, and Hon. Generoso M. Herrera, Board Member.
On July 1, 1960, Southern Leyte was inaugurated as a province with sixteen (16) municipalities, 349 barangays and 4 islands: Panaon Island, Limasawa Island, San Pablo Island and San Pedro Island. It had a total population of 209,608 as of February 15, 1960 per NSO Census of Population. The municipalities included: Maasin, as the capital town and the seat of the provincial government, Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Malitbog, Bontoc, Sogod, Libagon, Liloan, Pintuyan, San Francisco, St. Bernard, Cabalian (now San Juan), Anahawan, Hinundayan, Hinunangan and Silago.
Three more municipalities were created subsequently, namely: San Ricardo from Pintuyan, Tomas Oppus from Malitbog and Limasawa from Padre Burgos. Southern Leyte was composed of 1 congressional district, 1 city, 18 municipalities and 500 barangays with a total population of 429,573 in the 2020 census.
The province now has two congressional districts, District 1 and District 2. The newly elected first district representative is Congresswoman Luz Verano Mercado, and the second district representative is Congressman Christopherson M. Yap. May 9, 2022 was the first time that a congressman was elected for the Second District.
The current governor of Southern Leyte is Governor Damian G. Mercado.

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