Cabanatuan renews bid for highly urbanized city status
- Manny Galvez () - June 17, 2004 - 12:00am
CABANATUAN CITY — Frustrated in an earlier bid to upgrade its status into a highly urbanized city (HUC), the city government here has renewed its bid for HUC and has asked President Arroyo to issue a presidential proclamation elevating the city into a HUC.

The outgoing 13-man city council unanimously passed a resolution requesting the President to issue the proclamation converting the city into a HUC.

The resolution, which has been transmitted to the office of Mayor Jay Vergara, stated that "such conversion would be most beneficial to this City whose time has come."

If the President issues the proclamation, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will then schedule a plebiscite within 130 days to ratify the conversion.

Vergara said they are reviving the HUC bid because of the many benefits it would bring to the city government.

If upgraded to HUC status, Cabanatuan would be a separate political subdivision from the province of Nueva Ecija with its own congressman who could bring funds for the city’s various projects. The city’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) would also increase considerably and would bring enormous benefits to the city.

The Vergara administration’s bid for HUC revives a bid made in 1997 by Vergara’s predecessor, former Mayor Manolette Liwag.

Liwag succeeded in convincing then-President Fidel Ramos to issue presidential proclamation 969 converting the city into a HUC. But the measure was resoundingly rejected by Cabanatueños in a plebiscite held on May 12,1997, wich coincided with the barangay elections.

The no votes, numbering 45,222 outnumbered the yes votes numbering only 26,145.

Local officials and the citizenry blamed the defeat of the HUC bid in 1997 to the lack of information disseminated to the public and the fact that the Josons opposed the conversion.

The city has long qualified for HUC in terms of income and population.

Based on official figures released by the city treasurer’s office, the city posted an income of P378.9 million in 2000, P349 million in 2001, P402.6 million in 2002 and P408.6 million in 2003, way above the HUC requirement of a P50 million annual income.

In terms of population, the city has a population of 222,869 persons based on the 2000 Census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO), which is also way above the HUC requirement.

BID CITY HUC IF THE PRESIDENT MAYOR JAY VERGARA MAYOR MANOLETTE LIWAG NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE NUEVA ECIJA PRESIDENT ARROYO PRESIDENT FIDEL RAMOS VERGARA
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