Umali denies opposing lone congressional district, independent component city status for Cabanatuan

By Jason de Asis


CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, February 13, 2011-Governor Aurelio Umali of this province denied yesterday reports attributed to him that he is also against the conversion of Cabanatuan into a lone congressional district or into an independent component city, apart from his objecting to a highly urbanized city (HUC) status.


“What I am strictly against to is the conversion of Cabanatuan into HUC because I could no longer serve Cabanatueños . But with regards to a lone congressional district or as an independent component city, I am open to discussions,” he said.


Umali was reacting to earlier published reports that he was not only opposing the HUC but also similar proposals to create a congressional district or to upgrade the city into an independent component city.


He said his press statement seemed to have been taken out of context. “What I exactly said was that I am against HUC but not Cabanatuan’s conversion into a lone congressional district or into an independent component city. The words “but not into” were inadvertently omitted from my official statement,” he said.


Umali said because of this reportorial lapse, Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara who is lobbying for HUC, pounced on it and made it appeared that he was anti-progress for supposedly opposing the three proposals.


Umali earlier criticized Vergara for the latter’s alleged unstatesman-like conduct for claiming he was just trying to annoy the governor’s camp in pushing for the conversion of the city into a HUC.


He said Vergara’s antics are uncalled for, unprofessional and inappropriate, considering that the issue at hand is highly significant because it involves the welfare of Novo Ecijanos and Cabanatueños and the latter’s freedom to choose their provincial governor.


The governor and Vergara have been at odds since October over the HUC bid. The plan, which will be ratified in a plebiscite has also divided their own political allies and supporters.


Their feud is considered the biggest political break-up since they formed a formidable alliance to topple the Josons from the provincial Capitol in 2007, ending the clan’s half-century reign in the province.


Vergara claimed that he is still feeling the public pulse and consulting with his political subordinates and the citizenry. He added that there was yet no resolution passed by the city council supporting the HUC bid.


Umali also denied Vergara’s claim that he (Umali) was trying to blackmail the people of Cabanatuan by saying that if they supported the HUC, he would withdraw the provincial government’s support to them. “Vergara’s camp has been spreading the words that after I won as governor with their support, I would abandon them. In effect, they were claiming I have no sense of gratitude,” he said.


“The truth has been twisted and reversed by Vergara. The truth is that I am opposing the HUC because I still want to continue serving the people of Cabanatuan through the delivery of basic services such as infrastructure, health and education,” he stressed. (Jason de Asis)

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