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Bulacan residents to vote on San Jose del Monte’s conversion into highly urbanized city on BSKE day

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 30) — Aside from electing their new barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders, residents in Bulacan are also set to vote on the conversion of San Jose del Monte (SJDM) from a component city to a highly urbanized city on Monday.

This is in line with Proclamation 1057 signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte in December 2020. It said the “proclamation shall take effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite by the qualified voters therein.”

A similar vote was conducted in March 2021 in Palawan which resulted in the residents rejecting the splitting of the province into three.

According to the Local Government Code of 1991, a highly urbanized city should have a minimum population of 200,000 and an annual income of at least ₱50 million.

The SJDM's population in 2020 was 649,918. The city government also cited its records saying that SJDM's income in 2022 was ₱684.97 million.

Over two million voters in the province are expected to decide on whether to officially make SJDM an independent city.

A total of 23 mayors of Bulacan have signified their support for the city’s transition. The National Movement of Young Legislators Bulacan Chapter has also backed the move.

Local authorities have assured residents that the prices of goods in SJDM will not be affected if the move is approved.

"Walang kinalaman ang pagtaas ng bilihin kapag naging highly urbanized city ang lungsod. Ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin ay batay sa law of supply and demand," the city government said in statement.

[Translation: The increase in prices has nothing to do with our city becoming a highly urbanized city. Price hikes are based on the law of supply and demand.]

It also said the conversion «would not automatically increase» utility bills and that tax paid by its people will also «not automatically rise.”

If the highly urbanized city status is attained, the city government said employment generation, economic activities, and government services will be improved. This will also boost urban planning measures for construction of infrastructures like libraries, schools, classrooms, waiting sheds, sidewalks, bridges, and roads, it added.

Since this will