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Bulacan voters reject conversion of San Jose Del Monte into highly urbanized city

MANILA, Philippines — The City of San Jose Del Monte (SJDM) will not become independent from the province of Bulacan after more than 800,000 voters rejected its conversion into a highly urbanized city (HUC), the Commission on Elections announced.

During the plebiscite conducted alongside the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, at least 820,000 voters out of 1.6 million voted “no” to the conversion, outnumbering the 620,000 who voted “yes.”

Bulakeños on Monday were given extra ballots to vote "yes" or "no" to ratify former president Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation 1057, which recommended the conversion of San Jose Del Monte to a HUC.

While the former president’s proclamation declared San Jose del Monte as having met the requirements of a HUC, Bulacan residents needed to greenlight the conversion through a plebiscite.

San Jose del Monte has a population of 650,000 — higher than the 200,000 required by Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

The first-class component city’s net income is also around P141 million, higher than the P50 million annual income required by the Local Government Code for HUCs.

At least 23 city and municipal mayors from Bulacan earlier expressed their support for the conversion of San Jose del Monte into a highly urbanized city, citing the city's compliance with the requirements of a HUC under the Local Government Code.

Those who opposed the conversion cited concerns about rising local taxes, the overall income level of the city’s population, and the possibility that scholarships from the Bulacan provincial government may be discontinued for its residents. — Cristina Chi