Baliwag Mayor Ferdinand "Ferdie" Estrella with the rest of the municipal government and barangay leaders in this recently taken souvenir photo in front of the municipal building. Photo by Johnie Gonzales III, president of Baliwag Cultural and Historical Association Incorporated.

BALIWAG, Bulacan—Officials assure residents of no increase in revenue or in the local tax collection as the town is all set for the Dec. 17 plebiscite for the conversion of the municipality of Baliwag into a component city.

Mayor Ferdinand Estrella, the major proponent of the cityhood said the no tax increase in at least five years is a clear provision in Republic Act (RA) 11929, An Act Converting the Municipality of Baliwag in the Province of Bulacan into a component city to be known as the City of Baliwag.  

Section 74 of Article IX Transitory and Final Provisions provides of RA 11929 that was passed into law in July this year provides that “Suspension of Increase in Rates of Local Taxes. — No increase in the rates of local taxes shall be imposed by the City within the period of five (5) years from its acquisition of corporate existence”.

According to the mayor, the local government code allows every five years increase in taxes and other revenues in the municipalities and cities. In Baliwag, they had their last increase in 2018, he said.

Estrella said their “Yes to Baliwag Cityhood campaign” clearly explains this to all the residents, particularly businessmen to allay fears of enormous revenues to be collected once the town has become a city.  He said he personally asked Bulacan Second District Congressman Gavini “Apol” Pancho for this provision to be explicitly stated in the bill. Pancho filed for the Baliwag cityhood bill in 2021.

The mayor said there is no need to put a burden to the people to collect huge money in the form of taxes because the regular local revenue collection and what would be provided through the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) as a city will be sufficient enough.

“Why are we going to place a burden to our residents when what local taxes and the IRA can bring to Baliwag as a city is more than enough to provide for the needs,” he told NEWS CORE.

“I go down to all our people in the villages and explain to them this provision so that they will be convinced to approve the cityhood and vote yes on Dec. 17. What we are after is the further developments through projects and programs we could have in Baliwag because of bigger share we will get in the national government as a city because we deserve it,” he said.

The municipal government of Baliwag financed the cityhood conversion processes including the plebiscite on Dec. 17 through a P24-Million budget it released to the Commission on Elections. Baliwag’s 168,470 population has 107,000 registered voters from its 27 barangays.

The plebiscite will be from 7a.m. to 3 p.m. The Comelec implements a gun ban from Nov. 24-Dec. 24 for the conduct of the plebiscite while liquor ban will be implemented on Dec. 16.

RA 11929 was approved after Baliwag qualified in the requirements provided in the Local Government Code that for a municipality to be converted into a component city must have at least two of the following requirements–150,000 population; 100 square kilometre land area and P100 million local average income.

Baliwag, which has only 45 square kilometres of land area Estrella said has 168,470 population based on 2020 national census and an annual local income of P111.27 million based on the most recent record.

Baliwag remains an agricultural town and is the fourth largest rice producing municipality in Bulacan with a very vibrant and active trade and commerce and small, micro, medium enterprises.

Under the component city status, Baliwag will no longer share 35 percent of its income to the provincial government as provided under the local government code wherein municipalities are required to give 35% of its income or revenues to the provincial government while it keeps the 40% and the 25% to the barangays. As a component city, Baliwag will get 70% of all its income and collection and 30% for the barangay.  

It was the second attempt of Baliwag to be converted into a component city.