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Polls for higher Cabanatuan City status postponed

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10:08 PM November 28th, 2012

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November 28th, 2012 10:08 PM

CABANATUAN CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has moved the Dec. 1 plebiscite for the ratification of Cabanatuan’s status to a highly urbanized city (HUC) to an unspecified date after the May 13 elections next year, citing a case of violence during the election period here.

Through Resolution No. 9563, the Comelec en banc on Tuesday ruled to “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.” The resolution was signed by Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. and six election commissioners.

In the decision, the Comelec said it was taking “cognizance of the violence that ensued [during] the plebiscite period for the conversion of the City of Cabanatuan.”

While the resolution did not cite a specific case, the latest high-profile crime in the city was the Nov. 8 murder of broadcaster Julius Caesar Cauzo of radio station dwJJ. The station is owned by the family of Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara.

Cauzo, who is supporting the ratification of Cabanatuan’s HUC status, was gunned down while a gun ban was in force for the plebiscite.

Vergara and Board Member Anthony Umali, the leading candidates for mayor next year, are leading separate campaigns for and against the HUC status for Cabanatuan, a component city of Nueva Ecija.

Vergara supports it while Umali, younger brother of Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, is against it.

President Benigno Aquino, on July 4, signed Proclamation No. 418 declaring Cabanatuan City as a HUC. Armand Galang and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon

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