History

Davao Occidental was created by virtue of Republic Act 10360 enacted by the 15th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines on July 23, 2012 and signed into law by President Benigno C. Aquino III on January 14, 2013. The five municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani were carved out from the province of Davao del Sur to compose the province of Davao Occidental. Congressmen Franklin P. Bautista and Marc Douglas Cagas of the House of the representatives and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos were the principal authors of the law creating the province which was ratified on October 28, 2013.

In 1846, a distinguished Attorney-at-Law, Don Jose Uyanguren, upon the order of Gov. Narciso Claveria, organized settlements south of the Encomienda de Bislig. As the settlement continued to grow down South, Don Jose was able to crush Datu Bago, a Bagobo chieftain who ruled Samal Island. Don Jose’s conquest expanded to the vast lush region surrounding the body of water of what is now known as the Davao Gulf. The vast settlement was called then as Caraga Province. In February 27, 1849, Gov. Claveria decreed the partition of Caraga Province in two. The northern portion was named Surigao Province, southern part of Eastern Mindanao, including Davao Gulf, was named Nueva Guipozcoa in honour of Gov. Claveria’s birthplace in Spain. Nueva Guipozcoa was later on renamed Davao.

In 1898, Davao became a district of the Moro Province created by the Americans as part of Mindanao with General Leonard Wood as its first Military Governor; and in 1916, Jones Law converted Moro Province into the Department of Mindanao and Sulu. All the districts that comprise the Department became regular provinces. Don Gulalio Causing became the first Provincial Governor of Davao.

In 1956, Congressman Ismael Veloso of Davao passed a bill in dividing Davao into three provinces – – Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur. The bill was approved in the Lower House but failed to get the approval of the Senate. Congressman Lorenzo Sarmiento revived the bill in 1965. With the support of Senator Alejandro Almendras, the bill finally got approved as Republic Act 4867 in 1967. These provinces simultaneously celebrate July 1, 1967 as their foundation day, the effective date of the appointment of their respective provincial government officials by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The recent national and local elections of 2016 resulted in the election of the first set of officials of the province. The Hon. Claude P. Bautista became the first Governor of the new province of Davao Occidental together with his brother Hon. Franklin P. Bautista who was elected as first Vice-Governor and the Presiding Officer of the first Sangguniang Panlalawigan. As a new local government, Davao Occidental officially assumed is corporate existence on June 30, 2016. The newly-elected officials assumed office on July 1, 2016. The foundation anniversary of Davao Occidental is celebrated every October 28 of the year.