Umali says his stand opposing Cabanatuan’s HUC conversion not politically motivated

By Jason de Asis


CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, November 12, 2010–Governor Aurelio Umali of Nueva Ecija clarified that his decision to oppose any attempt to have Cabanatuan converted into a highly urbanized city is not politically motivated as claimed by pro-HUC proponents.


Umali was fending off criticisms that he was against the HUC conversion would no longer allow Cabanatuenos to cast their vote for governor and thus, considerably politically emasculate him, the city being his known bailiwick.


Umali won as governor in 2007 and again in 2010 both by landslide, posting huge margins in vote-rich cities such as Cabanatuan.


The governor said Cabanatuan was not the only area where he gained sizeable number of votes in the past two (2) elections. Thus, he said, it was unfair to conclude that he was opposing the conversion because he would lose his bailiwick.


He said he found it compelling for the province of Nueva Ecija to help Cabanatuan in its development pursuits. “It is the duty of the provincial government to help Cabanatuan in any way it can. Under a HUC status, we are taking that away from the provincial government,” he said. 


Umali also corrected the wrong impression that once it becomes a HUC, Cabanatuan would automatically have its own representative in Congress. He said that the proposal for congressional representation will still have to be filed in Congress by the sitting representative, in this case, his wife, Rep. Czarina Umali.


He lamented that there are a lot of misinformation going around, including the alleged automatic allotment of a congressional district for the city. “This misinformation is confusing the people,” he said.


He also noted that it is politically presumptuous to push for HUC conversion only for the expediency of having a congressional representative for the city. “I think to push for HUC only to have a congressman is not pro-progress but the height of political opportunism,” he said.


Umali said the HUC conversion suffers from bad timing particularly at this time when Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara was claiming that the city’s coffers were emptied by his predecessor, estranged cousin ex-mayor Alvin Vergara.


“If the city coffers were plundered and in the red because of what Mayor Jay claimed was the massive corruption under the term of ex-Mayor Vergara, then the more it becomes less urgent for the city government to push for conversion and the more it becomes imperative for the provincial government to assist Cabanatuan,” he said.


He said that over 100 days since the new administration took over, there was no single concrete project delivered to the barangays by the city government, as if to validate the fact that it is not in good financial condition.


The governor also revealed that the provincial government is not receiving its fare share of the real property taxes from the city government, contrary to reports. (Jason de Asis)