CABANATUAN CITY – Banking on the wide margin re-elected Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara posted over his rival, incumbent 3rd District Board Member Anthony Umali, residents of this city, including Vergara himself, are emboldened in their bid to make this this city highly urbanized in status.
Vergara who got 78,470 votes over Umali’s 45,761 urged the latter’s brother, re-elected Gov. Aurelio Umali to refrain from blocking a referendum to ratify President Aquino’s Proclamation No. 418 which declared this city highly urbanized on July 4, 2012.
“The provincial government and the city government can still help each other, there’s is no law that disallows a government unit to extend assistance to another,” Vergara said, apparently in response to Umali’s pointing on the advantage of two units helping residents.
Vergara even floated recently the possibility of subsequent creation of a “Metro Cabanatuan,” a system that would follow Manila and its adjacent cities.
“Metro Cabanatuan may involve the towns of Santa Rosa, Gen. Natividad and others,” he said. A Metro Cabanatuan is expected to strengthen cooperation among local government units, he said.
Netizens would relate Vergara’s victory in the recent elections to the HUC bid.
“Cabanatueños just proved that we deserve a HIGHLY URBANIZED CITY! Yes to HUC!” said a certain Katrina Tan in her Facebook account.
Another Facebook user who goes by the name Cabanatuenos Tricycle Capital who believes that Vergara also possesses the “magic” of the late former President Corazon Aquino and Filipino movie king Fernando Poe, Jr. prodded the local chief executive to pursue his programs, including HUC.
“Congrats mayor Jay ipagpatuloy mo ang nasimulan mong epic projects sa ating lungsod (more alternative roads) So proud of my fellow Cabanatuenos super wise voters! Ganyan nga tanggapin ang pera pero sundin ang puso at isip kung sino ang gusto at nararapat mamuno (kidding aside) hehe. HUC next! PLEASE…”
But Junjun Tolentino rebutted :” it is not Magic it is reality that mayor jay had already proven a lot that he was a Good Leader and sensitive to the needs of the City specially the needs of Cabanatuenos,,,kaya nga alng tumatalo pa basta GO,GO,GO CABANATUAN ANG HUMADLANG GIBA!!!
“Ang walumpu’t siyam na barangay ng Cabanatuan ay magkakaroon ng isang kinatawan sa Kongreso,” Vergara said, saying this would mean more projects and services to residents.
“Hindi ko kayo dadalhin sa bangin kung saan tayong lahat ay maaring mahulog,” Vergara said.
The Comelec, however, has yet to set the plebiscite it originally slated on Dec. 1 last year but the poll body issued an en banc Resolution 9563 that “postpone the plebiscite and reset the same after the conduct of the May 13, 2013 national, local and ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) regional elections.”
But Umali, who brought with his candidacy the position to oppose “HUChood,” vowed to continue his cause, according to his elder brother, the re-elected governor.
The governor said on Monday that his brother showed strong resolved “to fight for the people of Cabanatuan.”
The city council remains dominated by Vergara’s allies with its presiding officer, re-elected Vice Mayor Marius Garcia and seven out of ten members. Umali has three allies who won in local legislative body.
It was not the first attempt to make this city an HUC.
In 1997, then Mayor Manolette Liwag also pressed for the conversion and won a proclamation from Pres. Fidel Ramos but lost in a plebiscite after it was strongly opposed by then Gov. Tomas Joson III.
With a total population of 259,267 in 2007 and annual income of P734.73 million in 2010, this city is considered the trade and education center of Nueva Ecija.