Batac: from a city-that-was to a city-that-could

We can only imagine how difficult it is for Batac, a two-year-old city, to revert to a municipality following a final and executory ruling by the Supreme Court. Along with the fiscal mess the reversion caused are dampened hopes and hurt egos.

In his speech during the Empanada Festival, an activity originally intended to highlight Batac’s charter day celebrations, Mayor Jeffrey Nalupta lashed out at the High Court saying, “If only the Supreme Court is not deaf and will stop from being blind,” it will see the reality that Batac and 15 other newly created cities deserved to be recognized as cities.

Nalupta, of course, was oversimplifying the case. I trust that the justices handed down their decision, with the Chief Justice himself concurring, based on law and sound reason, and not of whimsical blindness. But we do understand the young mayor. He had to let out his frustration and exhaustion on this highly charged issue. People struck with deep emotions are oftentimes not rational, and to them society is magnanimously forgiving.

On a more disturbing note, however, the mayor said, “Whatever the finality of the case to the SC, we will fight with dignity and honor whatever the cost may be.” He said Batac has to continue the fight as a matter of “self-preservation and respect”.

But who is to blame on this mess in the first place? Not us, say the 16 embattled municipalities. In an open letter released last April, they collectively said:

“It is no fault of ours that we, the affected 16 cities availed of an opportunity provided for by legislative acts to transform our municipalities then into economically sound and politically viable component Cities. That was a right afforded to us by the laws that both Congress and the Senate passed in the same regular manner that any other laws are passed.”

I opine that members of congress are the main culprits here. For the longest time, they have used cityhood laws as a milking cow for votes. They tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to play fairy to the sixteen municipalities by circumventing R.A. 9009 which raised the requirements for cityhood, including the minimum 100-million pesos locally generated income, five times higher than the earlier requirement of twenty million. But then under the old law, even the most backward municipalities can claim cityhood status, no wonder that Lamitan in Basilan, known not exactly for peace and prosperity, also gave a shot at cityhood, together with Batac and fourteen others.

It is a twist of irony that Senator Nene Pimentel authored the law that would impede the cityhood of Batac from where the good senator traces his roots. But Ilocanos have a bigger reason to be proud of Pimentel who once again showed us what delineates the common politician from a statesman. The common politician thrives on shady deals and compromises, the statesman rises above and pursues a vision, armed only with virtues and principles.

We look forward to the day when Batac can become a city without disadvantaging legitimate cities whose respective internal revenue allotments are to be significantly reduced with new cities sipping juice that is not their own. Laoag City Mayor Michael Fariñas, also a descendant of Batacqueños, was sober in saying that he was not against Batac’s cityhood so long as it meets the requirements set by law.

I work in Batac and although my permanent address is in Laoag City, I am renting a housing unit at MMSU, which makes me a Batac resident, too. I only have respect for Batacqueños, and I love miki, empanada, longanisa, and bagnet.

I have high regard for its officials, including Councilor Bernan Marders who, along with the Naluptas, was one of the most ardent initiators of Batac’s Cityhood.

But my loyalty, dear karikna, is with truth, justice, and reason.

The fight continues, yes, but the battle must now shift on reforms that will make “the home of great leaders” a city beyond question.

By her own merits, Batac should prove to the world that she is a city-that-could be, and resist the temptation of sulking in despair as a city-that-was.

But then again, cityhood must not be the be-all and end-all of Batac. Any municipality which hinges its “self-preservation and self-respect” on the attainment of cityhood status invites cynicism, distrust, pity, and mockery.

If it is any consolation, Mayor Nalupta assured his constituency, “Whether we are a municipality or a city, our motivation to serve does not change.”

Healing is on its way. Even this shall pass.

Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

17 thoughts on “Batac: from a city-that-was to a city-that-could”

  1. although i don’t live in batac anymore i can still say and proud of it to be a parents the rubios and barengs are from paternal and maternal grandparents are from is our bloodline that made our family a part of history,never mind that the blood of a despot runs in our veins…(you can check the marcos family tree and you will find the rubios are up there ) so no matter what happens i will always be a batcqueno and proud of it….

    1. Amen! Cheers to that. Just that very few in Batac, er, in Ilocos, actually call Marcos a “despot”.

  2. Since the judgement given by the supreme court is final and executory, the local executive of this municipality/city should abide by the laws of the land and if given the chance to have an appeal at the court of Appeals then wait for the right time and comply with the requirements needed to become a real cityhood.

    So while undergoing compliance it seems proper for the local executives and the constituents to accept the truth of reverting the city hood of Batac to its former status.Anyway the constituents will benefit from it having a lower taxes.

    1. I agree with you, POGI, it’s time to embrace reality. Pero meron pa kasing very slim chance to retain citihood. Me mga bago kasing member ng Supreme Court, kaya mabago pa ang desisyon. We will know until november or december.

  3. Napakagandang opurtunidad para sa Batac kapag maipaglaban na maging lungsod. Ngunit kung hindi man dahil sa kulang na requirement, hindi dapat ika-offend ng mga mamamayan lalo na ang mga opisyal ng bayan. Mahalaga ngang maging siyudad dahil sa mas mataas na matatangap nga IRA share subalit kung hindi papalarin sa ipinaglalabang cityhood, dapat lang na tanggapin ang pinal na desisyun ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman. Hindi dapat mawalan ng pag-asa ang mga opisyal at mamamayan ng Batac dahil napakarami pang pagkakataon na ma-meet ang requirement para doon ipursigi ang mga pangarap na ganap na lungsod ang BATAC.

  4. A municipality, in order to be city, should meet certain requirements based on law imposed by the Supreme Court. The factors to be considered are its Cross Income every year, which I believe that Batac meets its allotted internal revenues considering that the prestigious Mariano Marcos State University is located in Batac. I consider that one reason why Batac was once a city is because of the number of students who currently studying at the university. They contribute not only on the number of population but also greatly to the income of the Batacquenos which of course increases its Gross Income considering that Batac is known for its food attractions like Miki, Empanada, Longanisa and Bagnet. For me its just right for the reversion of Batac Municipality because it is still not economically competitive enough compared to other cities and lacks of establishments that reflects its cityhood. Maybe someday, Batac will achieve its cityhood when it is physically and economically ready to meet the requirements set by law.

  5. I have nothing against batac.If they want to become a city,why not as long as they meet the requirements.But did they meet the requirements?
    If yes,why is it that until now they didn`t become a city yet.uhm,nagmamadali naman kasi silang maging city,why not na,igaed da pyla ti agserbi ti kailian da,malay mo nga no saan a mabaniag ket agbalin to metla a city.well its not important if city or municipality the important is maimprove mo ti ili babaen ti nasayaat a panagserbi.(para naman magiging mabuti naman)Well ,nakikita ko naman na todo suporta ang mga opisyales sa mga kababayan nila and they,give all their best,they join hand in hand to meet the requirements so as they will become a city.ganun pa man,ginagawa man nila ang lahat,hindi pa rin ito pumasa sa korte suprema.they give all their best,but their best doesn`t good enough.but i know hindi sila titigil hanggat hindi sila nagiging city…
    Batac pa………………….

  6. Batac is still a city. Period. Like a sign at the Imelda Cultural Center : Batac is the dream city and that’s final. On Sunday night, I kept on hearing the City Hymn at Centro, probably to revive the spirit of cityhood.

    There are two celebrations in Batac today: revival of cityhood, and the University’s Foundation Day!

  7. I remember many years Makati being just a first class municipality, her officials not hasty or arrogant to upgrade her to cityhood, despite of the magnificent skyscrapers and businesses within her. I worked there in PLDT building at the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenue for three years before getting into the Saudi-bound bandwagon. Look at Makati now, i has become a little Singapore, sans the showy tourist attractions of Sentosa. Why Batac wants to be a city is for the officials to get more IRA share and increased taxes on real estate, as most if not all those others vying for cityhood. Some pundits suspect that it’s for more juicy percentage cuts of officials on their proposed projects. Municipality or not, Batac should try to make the best of what is there, not what should it be, as what the officials hope to get. Aramid pakakitaan, that’s the Batac motto, ta saan ket nga iti mapaspasangasangan nga magammatan!

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