Nueva Ecija gov blamed for delay in Cabanatuan HUC plebiscite

Groups calling for the conversion of Cabanatuan City to a highly urbanized city (HUC) hit re-electionist Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio Umali for opposing the move allegedly due to political interests. A city of 216,480 voters, Cabanatuan, if converted to an HUC, will no longer vote for provincial positions, as stated in the Local Government Code. Cabanatuan City is part of Nueva Ecija's third district, a known bailiwick of the Umalis. Umali had served as Nueva Ecija's third district representative from 2001 to 2007, while his wife Czarina Umali is the incumbent. His opponent for governor next year is first district Rep. Josie Manuel-Joson. An HUC status would make a city economically and politically independent from the province it is part of. A plebiscite will be conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to determine if majority of the residents are in favor of the HUC status. “Kapag ang Cabanatuan naging HUC, ang diretsang epekto nito sa probinsya ay hindi na kami boboto sa lahat ng provincial election officials. Natagurian pa naman ang Cabanatuan ay balwarte nila,” assistant city administrator Eugene Minto said at a press conference on Monday. If converted, Cabanatuan would be the third in Central Luzon to have an HUC status after Angeles in Pampanga and Olongapo in Zambales. Politics Legal counsel JV Bautista, who is also the spokesperson of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said politics should not be a factor in deciding whether or not Cabanatuan should be an HUC. “Nakikita po niya (Umali) na matatalo ang ‘no’ sa plebisito. Ayaw po niya na maging preview ‘yan ng eleksyon,” said Bautista, who is also running as UNA third district bet in Nueva Ecija, going against Czarina. Reached for a comment, Umali’s legal counsel George Garcia told GMA News Online that politics may be a factor in opposing the conversion. “To a certain extent, siyempre it’s more political and perhaps may effect ‘yun… Syempre kung ikaw ang gobernador ipaglalaban mo rin,” Garcia said in a phone interview. Plebiscite But Garcia noted that they are opposing the move more because the plebiscite will only cover Cabanatuan residents when it should cover all the residents of the province. He cited Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, which states that “[n]o province, city, municipality or barangay may be created… subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.” He added that this is the concern of the province since Cabanatuan, as an HUC, would lose the province income and population. “That is a material and substantial reduction and changes of which the entire province under the constitution must be consulted by the plebiscite,” Garcia said. The Comelec already ruled in Minute Resolution 12-0797 that only the residents of Cabanatuan would participate in the plebiscite. According to the Section 452 of the Local Government Code, a city can be given an HUC status if it has a minimum population of 200,000, as certified by the National Statistics Office, and with the latest annual income of at least P50 million based on 1991 constant prices. Cabanatuan is the largest city in Nueva Ecija with a total population of 259,267 in 2007 and an annual income of P734.73 million in 2010. President Benigno Aquino III already proclaimed an HUC status to Cabanatuan last July 4. According to the proclamation, the plebiscite should be held 120 days after the proclamation date. The Comelec previously set the plebiscite on December 1, 2012, but it was postponed to an indefinite date after the May 2013 elections “in cognizance of the violence that ensued [during] the plebiscite period for the conversion of the City of Cabanatuan.” Violence Last Nov. 8, broadcaster Julius Caesar Cauzo of radio station dwJJ, owned by the family of Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen — an incident believed to be related to the plebiscite. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they have received reports of violence from the Philippine National Police. “There were well grounded fears that those cases of violence may escalate if we push through with the plebiscite immediately. As is normal with cases like these, we usually take into consideration the local climate also. We don’t want any plebiscite marred with violence,” he said. Jimenez added that they postponed all plebiscites because they wanted to “harmonize” the policy. “We have also suspended plebiscites in other areas. Considering those factors, it is better to just harmonize the policy so that kung postponed sa iba, postponed na rin dito,” he said. Postponed The Comelec in the resolution added that they reset the plebiscite date until after next year’s elections since “the Commission is now in the thick of preparations for the May 13, 2013 elections.” In a motion for reconsideration submitted to the Comelec on Dec. 14, Bautista’s camp claimed Comelec has all the time to prepare for the midterm elections. He also claimed that Comelec is already prepared for the plebiscite. They are proposing the plebiscite date to be set on Jan. 4 next year, which coincided with the Comelec’s date for the raffle of party-list slots in the ballot paper. — KBK, GMA News

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation
    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters
    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested …

  • President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit
    President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit

    The Philippine president said Sunday he would appeal for mercy for a Filipina who is due to be executed in Indonesia in two days' time. President Benigno Aquino said he would take the opportunity to seek clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who is due to be put to death on Tuesday, while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. "Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case," Aquino said. She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms …

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'
    Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'

    Beijing is poised to take "de facto control" of the South China Sea, the Philippines warned Sunday, but its call for a robust Southeast Asian response at a regional summit was shot down. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic body of water, but Beijing claims nearly all of it, and its increasingly strident territorial assertions have caused concern in the region and beyond. "(China) is poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea," …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options