SC blocks plebiscite for higher Cabanatuan City status

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MANILA (Updated)-- Voters of Cabanatuan City will not yet decide whether to back the presidential proclamation converting their hometown from a component city into a highly urbanized city.

In a press briefing, Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Theodore Te said Tuesday a temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued preventing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from conducting the plebiscite on January 25.

The petition was filed by Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali, who appealed to the SC after the Comelec denied his appeal to include the rest of Novo Ecijanos in the poll.

A vote in favor of the HUC status means reduced income and share of the national internal revenue for the province since Cabanatuan will become an independent local government unit.

The city’s residents will also be excluded from choosing provincial leaders in an election.

Cities with a minimum population of 200,000 inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO), and with the latest annual income of P50 million based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer are qualified candidates for HUC status.

Cabanatuan has a population of 272,676 as of May 2010, the last time the NSO conducted a nationwide census. President Benigno Aquino III issued Proclamation 418 converting Cabanatuan into an HUC in July 2012, which has to be ratified in a plebiscite.

Umali is a political rival of Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara (Sunnex)

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