Davao Occidental is 81st and newest province in the Philippines located in the Davao Region in Mindanao. Its capital is the municipality of Malita. To the east lies the Davao Gulf. It also shares a water border with the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi to the south.
By virtue of Republic Act 10360 enacted on July 23, 2013, the province is the newest in the country, carved out from the southern part of Davao del Sur. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 28, 2012, and December 5, 2012, respectively, and signed by President Benigno Aquino III on January 14, 2013. A plebiscite was held on October 28, 2013 along with the Barangay elections and the majority of votes cast were “Yes”, ratifying the province.
The motive to create the province was to boost the economic condition and social progress of the municipalities. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who sponsored the creation of Davao Occidental, said that the distances of Digos City, Davao del Sur’s provincial capital, to other municipalities in the second Congressional District are far-off that impairs the effective delivery of basic services, as well as the access to government offices. However, Davao del Sur Representative Marc Douglas Cagas considered the creation of the province as nothing more than gerrymandering and political convenience.
The province consists of 5 municipalities or towns, namely:
- Don Marcelino
- Jose Abad Santos
- Malita, the provincial capital
- Santa Maria