Mabalacat is Pampanga’s second component cityPhilippine Daily Inquirer
MABALACAT, Pampanga—This northernmost town of Pampanga is now a component city.
Despite a low voter turnout of only 23 percent, a majority of residents here who cast their votes in a plebiscite on Saturday voted for the conversion of this town into the second component city of the province.
Records from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that of the 83,564 registered voters here, only 19,447 participated in the electoral exercise. Comelec said 14,058 (72 percent) endorsed Mabalacat’s cityhood while 5,366 (28 percent) rejected it.
Mayor Marino Morales, the lead proponent of cityhood here, said the turnout was enough to reflect the general sentiment of residents.
“Despite the bad weather, thousands have taken the time to go to the voting precincts to cast their votes. That means that, although other Mabalaqueños failed to vote for one reason or another, people still care if they want their town to become a city or not,” he said.
Vice Mayor Noel Castro had opposed and campaigned against the conversion of this town into a component city.
Under the law, the outcome of the cityhood plebiscite would be determined by a simple majority of the actual votes cast.
The plebiscite was held more than two months after President Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10164, the law converting Mabalacat into a component city of Pampanga, in May.
Officials here said Mabalacat’s P529-million annual internal revenue allotment would increase to P900 million once the town becomes a component city.
The first town to become a city in Pampanga is Angeles, which attained the status in 1964. Angeles City was declared a highly urbanized city (HUC) during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino and became independent from the provincial government.
San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga, became a component city in 2001.
In Nueva Ecija, Gov. Aurelio Umali has petitioned the Comelec to include all voters in the province in the ratification of the HUC status of Cabanatuan City, which was declared recently by President Aquino.
“Nueva Ecija will be directly affected by the conversion of Cabanatuan City because the province’s income, population, land area and boundaries will be substantially altered and irreversibly reduced,” Umali said in a petition sent to Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. Jun Malig with a report from Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon