Baliwag gears up for cityhood
BALIWAG, BULACAN—This town is set to hold a cityhood plebiscite on Dec. 17 as local officials continued to woo voters into saying “yes” to its conversion into a component city.
In an interview on Thursday, Mayor Ferdinand Estrella said their annual P330-million Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) would double to P660 million once the municipality becomes a city.
Estrella said this fund would enable the local government to spend more on projects that would directly benefit the residents
“This bigger IRA is more than enough to cover the needs of the 168,470 people of Baliwag,” Estrella said.
According to the mayor, he has been visiting the town’s 27 villages ahead of the plebiscite to convince voters to support the cityhood.
“What we are after are the future developments, projects and programs that we can have in Baliwag because of the bigger share we will get from the national government as a city because we deserve it,” he said.
Estrella said among their priorities would be the establishment of a dialysis center and providing support to the education sector.
Republic Act No. 11929, or the measure converting the municipality of Baliwag into a component city, lapsed into law on July 29.
Bulacan Rep. Gavini Pancho filed the Baliwag cityhood bill in 2021, and was passed by the House of Representatives on July 26, 2021, and the Senate on June 30 this year, respectively.
Estrella said the municipal government has allotted P24 million for the plebiscite, which was originally scheduled on Jan. 14, 2023.
The Commission on Elections said the change in the date was due to the postponement of the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, which have been moved to October 2023.
To allay fears of those opposed to Baliwag’s cityhood, Estrella assured residents that there would be no immediate hikes in the local taxes.
Citing Section 74 of RA 11929, Estrella said no increase in the rates of local taxes would be imposed by the city within the next five years.
“I personally talked to the people in our villages and explained to them this provision so that they will be convinced to approve the cityhood and vote yes on Dec. 17,” he said.
Based on the 2020 Census, Baliwag has 168,470 population with 107,000 registered voters.