BATAC, Ilocos Norte—Batac became the second city of Ilocos Norte after the capital Laoag when 11,750 residents endorsed Republic Act 9407, the law that converted it into a component city.
The province’s newest city came 42 years later after Laoag obtained its cityhood under RA 4584 on June 19, 1965. Ilocos Norte’s two districts are now home to two cities: Laoag in the first district and Batac in the second district.
Commission on Election records showed that 1,433 residents rejected the cityhood bid. Voter turnout on Saturday’s plebiscite was 51.46 percent.
Mayor-elect Jeffrey Nalupta, son of outgoing Mayor Jesus Nalupta, Sr., will have the distinction of sitting as the first city mayor of Batac once he assumes his position on June 30.
“Town officials have longed for the conversion of Batac to city. Credit should be given to them and to the townspeople who upheld their leaders’ vision,” the younger Nalupta had said.
Local officials started pushing the town’s cityhood in 1998 despite resistance from the League of Cities of the Philippines that has opposed the creation of more cities in the country.
Batac, with 25,642 registered voters, expects an increased internal revenue allotment share of P250 million following its conversion as a city.
Lawyer Noli Pipo, Comelec asst. regional director, said the funds spent for the plebiscite amounting to P2.6 million came from the town’s coffers.
Comelec staff and town employees here started their information drive on Batac’s cityhood since last year.
Critics of cityhood failed to thwart the creation of more cities in Luzon and the Visayas namely Borongan in Eastern Samar, Tabuk in Kalinga and Batac.
Batac is home to growing commercial centers and tourist spots like the Marcoses’ ancestral homes and the Marcos mausoleum where the frozen remains of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos are kept. It is also considered a “university town” because it hosts the main campus of the state-run Mariano Marcos State University.
Cristina Arzadon, (PIA-Ilocos News Service)