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Nation

2 Eastern Visayas towns prepare for cityhood

- Miriam Garcia Desacada -

TACLOBAN CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Eastern Visayas is   ready for the June 16 plebiscites to be held in the two towns in the region aiming to become cities.

Lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, assistant regional director of the Comelec, said the two towns have allocated over P3 million each for the conduct of the plebiscites.

“We are now ready for the plebiscites to be conducted in the towns of Baybay and Catbalogan,” Mendros said.

A simple majority vote for yes is enough to turn the two towns into cities. The three-member plebiscite committee is equivalent to the board of election inspectors in regular elections.

 Mendros said that aside from Baybay and Catbalogan, the town of Borongan in Eastern Samar is also set to conduct its own plebiscite on June 20.

The three towns are bidding to become cities, hoping to attract more investments and acquire a bigger share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

But the League of Cities of the Philippines is contesting the conversion of towns into cities, saying that this would lessen the IRA shares of cities.

At present, the Eastern Visayas region has four cities – Calbayog in Samar, Maasin in Southern Leyte and Ormoc and Tacloban, both in Leyte.

Baybay Elections Officer Rutche Cerro said they met with the town’s 92 barangay leaders for them to inform their respective constituents of the forthcoming plebiscite.

Streamers were also posted in strategic locations in Baybay as part of the information drive about the plebiscite.

“We are hoping that all registered voters of the town will vote, whether they are in favor or not for Baybay to become a city,” Cerro added.

Baybay has 52,015 registered voters with an annual income of P96 million. It is considered the bailiwick of the Loreto clan, which include Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla, his mother outgoing first district Rep. Remedios Petilla and aunt fifth district Rep. Carmen Cari, among its members.

Baybay Mayor Jose Cari said he is looking forward to seeing his town become a city as it would help open doors to more investors.

In Catbalogan, Mayor Coefredo Uy has formed plebiscite advocacy campaign teams  tasked to urge the town’s 48,483 registered voters to vote for “yes.”

Earlier Catbalogan, Samar Mayor Cofredo Tekwa said he is confident the people would vote “yes” for cityhood.

Catbalogan, the provincial capital of Samar, has a population of 96,000 and an annual income of P70 million.

BAYBAY

BAYBAY AND CATBALOGAN

BAYBAY ELECTIONS OFFICER RUTCHE CERRO

BAYBAY MAYOR JOSE CARI

EASTERN VISAYAS

PLACE

SAMAR

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