Thursday, May 26, 2011

Umali eyes for 3 more congressional districts in Nueva Ecija, seeks dialogue with solons

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, May 27, 2011-Governor Aurelio Umali expressed desire to have at least three more congressional districts in the province, saying that he is eyeing a dialogue with all the four congressmen to discuss re-districting to pave the way for additional representation in Congress.

“The creation of additional congressional districts is long overdue and there is a need to sit down with the incumbent congressmen on how each existing congressional district will be reconfigured for the envisioned new congressional districts,” Umali said, adding that we have to rationalize redistricting and that’s why we have to sit down with our congressmen to arrive at a consensus.

“We initially discussed it with fourth district Rep. Rodolfo Antonino who said his district alone may be divided into two separate congressional districts,” Umali furthered.

Records showed that Cong. Antonino’s district covers Gapan City and the municipalities of Cabiao, Gen. Tinio, Jaen, Penaranda, San Antonio, San Isidro and San Leonardo.

“Under Antonino’s proposal, Gapan City and the municipalities of Gen. Tinio, Penaranda and San Isidro alone may comprise a district while another district may be carved out from the rest of the towns,” Umali said.

He said that if Cabanatuan City – the province’s trade and educational center – is to become a lone congressional district, the make-up of the entire province will also have to be considered.

Cabanatuan City is lumped together with Palayan City and the municipalities of  Bongabon, Laur, Gabaldon, Gen. Natividad and Sta. Rosa comprising the third congressional district.

The district, which is home to Umali, is the province’s largest congressional district and whose sitting representative is the governor’s wife, Congresswoman Czarina Umali. The governor’s younger brother Emmanuel Antonio is also the incumbent board member in the district after emerging as the top vote-getter in the elections for members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The law stated that a congressional district may be created over an area with a population of 250,000. Nueva Ecija has an estimated population of 1.6 million, making it eligible to have at least two additional congressional districts.

The addition of more congressional districts is considered a boon to the province because each congressman receives P70 million in annual priority development assistance fund otherwise known as pork barrel allocations. 

The other incumbent lawmakers here are Representatives Josie Manuel-Joson and Joseph Gilbert Violago of the first and second districts.  (Jason de Asis)

Umali and Padiernos bat Comelec to delist new Nueva Ecija from list of poll hot spots

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, May 27, 2011-Since Governor Aurelio Umali assumed the governorship in 2007, Umali called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to remove Nueva Ecija from the list of election hot spots in the coming 2013 elections manifesting to the relative peace and order situation now obtaining in the whole province.

“Nueva Ecija now enjoys a stable peace and order climate and Novo Ecijanos can now speak freely and openly irrespective of their party affiliations and loyalty,” Umali said, calling the COMELEC to finally consider removing Nueva Ecija from the list of traditional hot spots to change its image into a progressive and advancing province where the place is categorized as a hot spot where there is intense political rivalry, presence of armed goons and violence. 

Umali recalled that last year, the COMELEC recognized the peaceful conduct of the local polls in the province, in the absence of the usual pre and post-election violence which characterized previous political exercises.

He furthered that for so long the province was tagged as an election hot spot. “We were number one in Central Luzon until Abra came along. But in the last elections, we were able to show that there was no untoward incident and hopefully, the COMELEC will take the cue and remove us from the list,” he said.

Umali explained that when he first ran for governor in 2007, he asked the COMELEC to place the province under Comelec control. When he won, he as the sitting governor asked the Comelec again to place the province under its control.

“Many were surprised when I did that considering I was the sitting governor. Some were saying that was an admission that I had no control of the situation. But I just want to deliver the message that we need to have peaceful and orderly elections in 2010 so we can change Nueva Ecija and that’s what exactly happened,” he said.

Umali recalled that during the campaign period, he instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide area security to his political rivals to avert any occurrence of violence, adding that he was fully aware that if something untoward happened to them, people might pin the blame on me so it’s better to take precautions.

Umali said without taking offense on other politicians, everybody in Nueva Ecija can now speak freely and openly on any issue under the sun without fear of recrimination or reprisals. “The local media can vouch for that. They are now very open. In fact, some of them have been slapped with libel cases for exercising their freedom of the press,” he said.

Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos welcomed Umali’s call for the Comelec to remove Nueva Ecija from the hot spot’s list, saying the political landscape in the province has changed considerably.

He said that before, there was a time when none of the local politicians would want to be a leader for Umali but they have since maintained an open mind and they now gravitate towards to the new leadership in the Capitol.

“Of course, there are still incidents of killings but these are no longer politically motivated,” he said, saying that this is the new Nueva Ecija and political violence is now a thing of the past.” (Jason de Asis)

Cabanatuan is not yet ready for highly urbanized city status says Umali

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, May 26, 2011-In the recent press briefing, Governor Aurelio Umali insisted that this city is still raw and not yet ready to undergo the transition into a highly urbanized city (HUC). 

“Speaking of Cabanatuan development-wise, it will be “crippled” if it becomes a separate political subdivision because many development projects that were undertaken here in the past by the Umali administration would be stopped once the HUC bid is realized,” Umali said, saying that in assessing the plan, Cabanatuan is not only raw and unripe for HUC. “It is also ill-prepared and not ready,” he said.

“The city government cannot even fix basic problems in governance like garbage disposal, how much more the gargantuan task of being politically independent,” Umali said.

Umali reacted to the controversial plan which resulted to a falling-out with his erstwhile political ally, Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara wherein Vergara has said that the HUC bid is still under study even when he launched the plan last November.

Umali denied that the HUC plan of Vergara is still being studied, saying that as early as 2004, during the latter’s third and last term, he was already pushing for it.

“In fact, sometime in 2004, I got a call from (then-presidential adviser on political affairs) Gabby Claudio informing me of a request from Mayor Vergara for Malacanang to approve the conversion,” he said. “So as early as 2004, Vergara was already pushing for it.”

“It is my moral obligation for the provincial government to continue helping the people of Cabanatuan in their various needs and concerns, particularly when the city government is incapable of doing so, Umali said, saying that said Cabanatuenos benefited immensely from the Umali administration’s assistance in infrastructure, education, health and even during calamities.

He said that in past typhoons, he took it upon himself to have a social contract to help Cabanatuenos more than the political leadership of the city. The people of Cabanatuan recognize that. And they have been telling me, “Governor it’s you who was with us. I owe it to the people of Cabanatuan. It’s my obligation to serve them,” he said.

He cited that many infrastructure projects in Cabanatuan’s barangays were bankrolled by the provincial government, a fact not lost in the city government and its populace.

Umali pointed out that the provincial government maintains considerable presence in Cabanatuan, consisting of a 16-hectare old Capitol compound which caters to the needs of many Cabanatuenos.

At the same time, Umali said P125 million worth of Internal Revenue Allotment of the provincial government will go down the drain if Cabanatuan fully becomes HUC. He said the IRA of the province, instead of going to Cabanatuan, will revert back to the national treasury and will be divided equally among the provinces.

Umali also said the IRA of Cabanatuan won’t increase in case it becomes a HUC, saying it’s a gross misconception. (Jason de Asis)


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