CABANATUAN CITY – Should a decision to upgrade or not to upgrade the status of this city to highly urbanized city (HUC) be included in the New Year’s resolution of its people?
This, as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) finally set on Jan. 25, 2014 the plebiscite for the conversion of this city into an HUC as provided for by Proclamation No. 418 issued by Pres. Aquino on July 4, 2012.
Aquino’s decree proclaimed this city as an HUC but requires affirmation by its people through a plebiscite originally set on Dec. 1, 2012 but was opposed by the camp of Gov. Aurelio Umali. The Comelec en banc has affirmed a Dec. 5 memorandum penned by Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bartolome Sinocruz,
Jr. which took notice of a request from Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara to proceed with the referendum.
The dispositive portion of the resolution said, among others, “that for purposes of the plebiscite for Cabanatuan
City, only those registered residents of Cabanatuan City shall participate in the said plebiscite pursuant to Minute Resolution No. 12-0797.”
The five-page resolution, numbered 13-1353, was signed by Comelec commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias
Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim, Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca, Al Parreño, and Luie Tito Guia. Verrgara, in his request to the Comelec, noted that the May 13, 2013 national and local elections had long been concluded and the October 28, 2013 national and local elections were likewise done so there was nothing that can hamper the Comelec from proceeding with the conduct of the plebiscite.
He also stressed there is no more legal impediment as the 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) of RTC Palayan City issued on Oct. 19, 2012 had already lapsed. “The Supreme Court has not issued TRO in G.R. No.
203974 pending before it, which case was fi led by Gov. Umali on Nov. 9, 2012,” he added.\
Arsenio Reyes Jr., city election offi cer, said his office will make a calendar of activities for the forthcoming plebiscite after making representations with the Comelec national officials for a smooth, peaceful and orderly plebiscite. He also said that his office will start conducting information dissemination on the matter on Jan. 6, next year.