Pampanga's newest city is born!-A A +A
Sunday, July 22, 2012
MABALACAT -- It’s official: Pampanga has its 3rd city.
By a total of 14,078 “yes” votes in the plebiscite, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has proclaimed late Saturday night Mabalacat to be a component city of Pampanga. The plebiscite was the last among legal requirements in the conversion of a town into a city.
Mabalacat is now Pampanga’s 3rd city in Pampanga, next to Angeles City and the City of San Fernando. There are about 138 cities in the Philippines. The League of Cities of the Philippines has a total of 122 member listed in its website.
The “yes” votes from Mabalacat’s 27 barangays represent 73 percent of the total votes cast. The negative votes reached 5,389. Under the law, a “yes” vote must secure simple majority rule or 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast in order to represent people’s ratification of the cityhood bid.
Mayor Marino Morales thanked those who supported the cityhood, which he first envisioned in the late 1990s. His first term as mayor started in 1995.
“It’s a dream come true and it’s a dream worth realizing for the people of Mabalacat no matter how long. Mabalacat has not just become a city but it has made another step to greater progress and prosperity,” Morales said.
For her part, Governor Lilia Pineda asked the staff to closely monitor the results of the plebiscite after campaigning for the cityhood. Last week, she personally appeared before some 300 barangay captains and kagawads and members of the Mabalacat Multi Sectoral Alliance on two separate occasions.
The total number of votes cast in Saturday’s exercises exceeded the more than 12,000 votes garnered when the City of San Fernando hurdled its own cityhood bid in 2001, according to lawyer Emmanuel Ignacio, acting Comelec regional head.
Ignacio, who also handled the plebiscite for City of San Fernando, said that voter turnout was expected to reach the 20,000 mark in Mabalacat because of the heavy downpour. The new city has a total of 83,564 registered voters.
June Magbalot, chief of staff of the mayor, said the voter turnout was significant despite incessant rains last Saturday. He thanked those who volunteered time and effort in the campaign and plebiscite day.
“This is history and the rains did not stop people from attaining a significant milestone in Mabalacat’s 300 years of existence,” Magbalot said.
During the campaign period from July 5 to 19, Vice Mayor Noelito Castro raised issues against the cityhood while claiming he is neither supporting nor objecting to the cityhood.
This despite affixing his signature in the Municipal Council Resolution No. 54 passed in February last year. The resolution asked the Congress to convert Mabalacat town into component city.
Castro also joined lobby efforts during Congressional meeting at the House of Representatives last year, together with Morales, council members and municipal employees.
He was widely criticized for an indefinite stance in the latter part of the cityhood bid.
Observers said the plebiscite was a preview of how protagonists in Mabalacat would fare in the local elections next year. The “yes” votes won in all of Mabalacat’s 27 barangays, including Bundagul where Castro lives and served as village chief. Castro has expressed intentions to run against Morales in 2013.
Mabalacat’s cityhood was pushed in the Congress by Representative Carmelo Lazatin and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It was enacted into law with the signing of Republic Act 10164 signed by President Benigno Aquino III on May 15, 2012.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 23, 2012.