More Bulacan officials ‘NO’ to CSJDM HUC

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CITY OF MALOLOS—More Bulacan officials are now against the conversion  of the City of San Jose del Monte (CSJDM) into a Highly Urbanized City (HUC) as majority from the total 615 top positions in the Provincial Government of Bulacan (PGB), league of municipalities and cities and barangays expressed STRONG opposition and strongly push for “One Bulacan” compared with 144 pro “YES”.  

More than 470 from these 615 top officials composed of 20 from PGB led by Gov. Daniel Fernando, Vice Gov. Alex Castro and 18 board members; 450 out of Bulacan”s total 572 barangay captains and at least one out of the 24 Bulacan mayors support no. 

The 144 yes come from around 120 barangay  officials from the towns of Plaridel, Paombong, Norzagaray and Cities of Baliwag and Meycauayan and the other 23 mayor members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines and League of Cities of the Philippines Bulacan chapters. 

The governor early this week made known his stand on the issue. In an official statement in his social media page, he said that he wants the people to decide under the principle of democracy but he is unhappy and disappointed over the move of CSJDM to fully separate from the province.  

“There is no father who will be happy if his son will drift apart. This is painful to me. My prayer and desire is for Bulacan to always be united as one”.

“Mula Noon Pa Man ay Aking Sinabi. Let the people decide. Sapagkat ito ang diwa ng demokrasya. Know the issues, then vie wisely. “patungkol sa mga katanungan kung ano ang aking panig sa mungkahing paghiwalay ng CSJDM sa lalawigan ng Bulacan, ito ang aking masasabi” Walang ama na magiging masaya kapag nawalay amg anak. Ito ay masakit para sa akin. Dalangin ko sa tuwina ay Isang Sambayanang Bulakenyong Buo at Nagkakaisa”.

He encouraged every Bulakenyo to know the issues and vote wisely.

Board Member Ramil Capistrano, president of the federation of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in 20 towns and four component cities in Bulacan said that some 450 from 572 village chairs in 17 out of 20 towns—Sta. Maria, Hagonoy, Pulilan, Angat, Balagtas, Marilao, San Miguel, Bocaue, Guiguinto, Calumpit, Donya Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bustos, San Rafael, Bulakan, San Ildefonso, Pandi, Obando and one from three other component cities–City of Malolos  all expressed “No” to the bid. 

Capistrano led other officials and members in stressing their “NO” stand during a recent series of meetings as they supported the “One Bulacan” thrust of Fernando.

Capistrano said, the village officials who support “no” are far more in numbers compared with the whole 23 other Bulacan mayors who support “yes”. 

The 20 member League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Bulacan chapter headed by Bocaue Mayor Eduardo Villanueva Jr. including Mayors Ferdie Estrella of City of Baliwag, Henry Villarica of City of Meycauayan and City of Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad, the three other component cities other than the CSJDM earlier signed a manifesto of support to the HUC bid of the CSJDM. 

But, a mayor in the third district who earlier signed the manifesto now campaigns for no among his constituents.

The mayor said that he was earlier pro yes but now that Fernando has already expressed his sentiments of losing the CSJDM, he need to be where the governor is. 

“Before I will become a good leader, I have first to be a good follower,” he told NEWS CORE at his office on Friday.

Reports have reached the Capitol that many from other mayors who signed the said manifesto are now contemplating to support no in favor of the governor.

Former Bulacan Governors Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado and Roberto Pagdanganan also elso expressed opposition and strongly pushed for the “One Bulacan” thrust and policy they started in the Capitol and in the whole province during their time.

Bulacan’s 2,099,914 registered voters will vote either yes or no in the plebiscite also set in today’s Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election (BSKE). 

“A one minute social media vlog from “Laban ng Ordinaryong San Josenyo” which asked residents of the CSJDM if they are already ready to become an HUC and cites numerous disadvantages of the bid started to went viral.

“Ang tanong mga ka-San Josenyo, kaya na ba natin, kaya na ba nating hindi na tayo magpapasakop sa Provincial Government ng Bulacan (PGB)?” (The question for us fellow San Josenos is, are we ready to become an HUC? Can we already stand on our own as an independent city and no longer under the care of the PGB?), the vlog said.  

The male voice on the vlog explains that CSJDM’s full independence will deprive San Josenos of being constituents of the province of Bulacan where they can lose their right to vote for the positions in the provincial level like governor, vice governor and board members and they also can no longer run for the said positions.

The vlog also tells San Josenos that if the CSJDM separates from the province, the basic social health services they receive from the PGB such as scholarship education, medical and burial assistance and other financial assistance, help and support including for Persons With Disability (PWD) and solo parents they are receiving will all be stopped. More so, the vlog said, they will no longer be a priority patient in Bulacan Medical Center, the premier government hospital in the province.

“Hindi na tayo magiging priyoridad sa Bulacan Medical Center (BMC) na kung saan ay nakakakuha tayo ng discount at may mga pagkakataong nalilibre pa”.

The infrastructure projects PGB also provides to the CSJDM like multi-purpose hall or building, school buildings, covered courts will also be stopped.

Losing cultural identity

A pamphlet on No to HUC and promoting “ONE BULACAN Sapagkat ang SAN JOSENO ay Pusong BULAKENYO” also started to spread out in the province.

The material also includes the cultural identity of being a Bulakenyo that will also die down when the CSJDM becomes an HUC.

District 2 City Councilor Romeo Agapito also earlier expressed deep sentiments of being separated from Bulacan, the roots of his ancestors. He said the intention of the HUC is eventually to later be a part of Metro Manila. “ Kakaunti na lang kaming natives na Bulakenyo dito sa San Jose, nasa mahigit na lang 25% kami at mas marami na sa amin, nasa mahigit 75% ang mga dating Informal settlers from Metro Manila na dito lang sa amin nanirahan, pero mas pinipili pa nilang maging mga taga Metro Manila, kung kami lang, maninindigan kaming Bulakenyo sa aming kultura, kasaysayan at sa aming topograpiya, hindi kami magpapalit ng lugar na kiinasasakupan. Hindi malayo niyan gumaya na ang mga mauunlad ding bayan sa Bulacan at sumama na rin sa Metro Manila. Ano pa ang maiiwan sa ating mahal na lalawigang Bulacan,” (We native Bulakenyos here in San Jose are just about more than 25% today and the non-natives who were former Informal Settlers (IFS) from Metro Mania are now more than 75% but they rather be part of Metro Manila. Unlike us, we will stand firm to remain Bulakenyo in our culture, history and topography, we will not change from being part of the province of Bulacan into being part of Metro Manila. This could later be a precedent case. Then, what will be left to our beloved province of Bulacan), he said.

Economic dislocation

The same pamphlet also express dismay that the CSJDM will no longer be part of the province of Bulacan to benefit from being a “world economic limelight” and a “global province and economic powerhouse” because of the construction of the New Manila International Airport and the operation of the North South Commuter Railway project including economic zones.

These, the campaign material explains, would correspond to huge losses for great job opportunities and decent earnings for the youth of the CSJDM.

Agapito also assails the increase in taxes an independent city will impose on the people. He said the CSJDM is not yet ready to become a highly urbanized locality because it still lacks industries, jobs, factories where people can directly work and earn. “People here are workers in adjacent Sta. Maria town, Quezon City, Caloocan City, Manila City, Cavite, Laguna, and other places in Bulacan. They just sleep here in their homes and work somewhere else. There should first be sustainable sources of income and job opportunities,” he said.

CSJDM with 651,813 residents has the largest population among all Bulacan’s four component cities and 20 municipalities. It is 17.5% of Bulacan’s 3,708,890 total population.  

CSJDM Mayor Arthur and CSJDM Lone District Rep. Florida Robes said their huge population requires them to become a fully independent city to sustain the needs of their ever increasing number of constituents in need of quality basic social services.

Natividad said the bid is a self-preservation act of the officials of the city and it will become helpful to the provincial government because it can focus and divert its big amount of resources being spent to the thickly populated CSJDM to the low income municipalities in the province.

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