MANILA, Philippines – Residents of Baliwag in the province of Bulacan voted to convert their town into a component city on Saturday, December 17.
“We hereby proclaim the conversion of the municipality of Baliwag in the province of Bulacan into component city pursuant to Republic Act No. 11929 dated July 30, 2022, [which was] ratified and approved by the majority of the votes,” the municipal plebiscite board of canvassers announced.
The canvassers said only 23,562 voted, out of 108,572 registered voters in the town. A total of 17,814 voted in favor of the conversion, while only 5,702 voted for “no.”
The residents voted through a plebiscite led by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Under the plebiscite, 108,572 registered voters from Baliwag were allowed to vote in over 200 clustered precincts across 26 voting centers. The voting was held from 7 am to 3 pm.
The municipal plebiscite board of canvassers was expected to make the proclamation at 6 pm. However, the proclamation was made only at around 10 pm.
In a statement, the Comelec called the plebiscite a success, adding that Baliwag is now the country’s 147th city.
“Bilang ika-147 na lungsod sa Pilipinas, ang Baliwag ay sumasali sa hanay ng 109 na component cities (na may 33 highly urbanized cities at 5 independent component cities,” the Comelec said.
(As the country’s 147th city, Baliwag joins the 109 component cities, which have 33 highly urbanized cities and five independent component cities.)
Election watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) said the conduct of the closing and counting of the votes was “smooth and peaceful.”
“Observers also noted that watchers had an unimpeded view of the ballots as they were read, as well as the election returns and tally board. However, while the counting was transparent, there were very few observers who could further strengthen the process by being able to ascertain that what was being read was accurate,” NAMFREL said in a statement.
The plebiscite stemmed from a bill introduced by Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and then-ACT-CIS lawmaker Eric Yap that later lapsed into law.
Since the townspeople voted in favor, Baliwag is now the fourth component city of Bulacan after Malolos, Meycauayan, and San Jose del Monte. Despite its new status, the city will remain under Bulacan’s first legislative district. – Rappler.com