|Photo of Nueva Ecija Board |
Member Emmanuel Antonio
Monday, August 1, 2011
Twin bids seeking to declare Cabanatuan a HUC, lone district conflicting
CABANATUAN CITY, August 2, 2011–A member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan said, that the twin resolutions passed recently by the Sangguniang Panglunsod asking President Aquino to issue a proclamation declaring this city as a highly urbanized city and seeking congressional sponsorship to declare it a lone congressional district are conflicting and don’t jive with each other.
Board Member Emmanuel Antonio “Anthony” Umali, younger brother of Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio “Matias” Umali, told newsmen that the intended goals of HUC conversion and lone district run counter to each other, a fact seemingly lost on its proponents.
Umali said that they are saying that the city is now developed so it can qualify as HUC. On the other hand, they say it should be converted into a lone district to get more aid. Obviously, there is conflict in that resolution of Cabanatuan City council.
The younger Umali was reacting to the recent passage by the city council of the HUC resolution and a resolution requesting his sister-in-law, third district Rep. Czarina Umali or other Nueva Ecija congressmen to sponsor a bill declaring Cabanatuan as a lone district.
In passing the HUC resolution, the city council, chaired by Vice Mayor Jolly Garcia, said that the city has met all the necessary requirements for conversion, including income. Eleven of the city councilors, mostly supporters of the governor’s estranged former ally, Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara, signed the resolution.
If President Aquino issues a presidential proclamation declaring Cabanatuan a HUC, a plebiscite will be held among residents to ratify the proclamation.
The passage of the twin resolutions came nine months after Governor Umali and Vergara parted ways over the HUC issue which the former vehemently opposed. Umali said Cabanatuan is not yet ready and ill-prepared to become HUC, adding its conversion would cripple the delivery of basic services to Cabanatuenos.
Vergara has argued that the HUC conversion of Cabanatuan is long overdue, saying its full development could not take off while under the provincial government.
It is the second attempt to convert the city into HUC. In 1995, Vergara’s predecessor, then-mayor Manolette Liwag pushed for HUC conversion which was subsequently proclaimed by then-President Fidel Ramos. However, the move lost badly during the plebiscite, largely due to the opposition made by the Josons.
If the bid succeeds, Cabanatuan would be politically independent from the provincial government and voters from Cabanatuan will no longer vote for governor. Also, all taxes collected in the city would no longer be remitted to the province and all resolutions and ordinances passed by the city council would no longer be reviewed by the provincial board.
Board Member Umali echoed the governor’s view that Cabanatuan is still not ready to become a HUC. “In due time, Cabanatuan will be ready and when that time comes, all of the Umalises will support it. But not at this time,” he said.
He said that with regards to lone congressional district, the governor is open to re-districting, involving the whole province, not just Cabanatuan. The issue about the HUC conversion must be settled first before the lone congressional bid is discussed.
“Once Cabanatuan is converted into HUC politically independent from the province, the provincial government will no longer have the powers to check on possible abuses by erring city officials,” the governor warned earlier. (Jason de Asis)
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