SC orders plebiscite on Cabanatuan City status

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ALL registered voters of Nueva Ecija should participate in the plebiscite to determine whether Cabanatuan deserves to be converted from a component city into a highly urbanized city (HUC), the Supreme Court (SC) said Tuesday.

In an email, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said the SC granted the petition of Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali, who claimed that the result of the plebiscite would affect the whole province.

Under the Local Government Code, a vote in favor of the HUC status means reduced income and share of the national internal revenue for Nueva Ecija 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, as certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO) now Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 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 on July 4, 2012, which has to be ratified in a plebiscite.

Umali went to the SC after the Comelec denied his appeal to include the rest of Novo Ecijanos in the poll. The Court then issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on January 14 or 11 days before the scheduled plebiscite.

Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. penned the decision and was joined by eight magistrates. Five dissented from the majority and one justice took no part. (Sunnex)

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