by maya m. padillo
The municipal government of Sta. Cruz is now completing requirements for its cityhood application.
Sta. Cruz local economic enterprise manager Camela Infiesto told the Mirror that they are still completing requirements for their application.
She said they still have to gather and collate data on population and annual average local income.
She said converting the municipality of Sta. Cruz into a city has been a dream of Mayor Alexis Almendras.
“Ginalihok na sa previous administration of former mayor Joel Lopez pa lang ang application for cityhood pero naa pa kulang na requirements,” Infiesto said.
In 2011, former Mayor Joel Ray Lopez also aspired for cityhood of the municipality. The process was then expected to bear fruit within five years as the municipality still had to meet the population and local income requirements.
At that time, Sta. Cruz had about 90,000 residents and an annual income of P70 million. Under the Local Government Code of 1991, a municipality can be converted into a city if it has at least P100 million in local incomes, excluding its share from national reve-nues, and a population of 150,000 as certified by the National Statistics Office.
Compliance to the requirements will avoid the experience of 16 towns whose conversion into cities were junked and up-held on several occasions by the Supreme Court based on petitions filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines.
With investors conti-nuing to visit and explore possibilities in Sta. Cruz, the former mayor looks forward to the municipality becoming a city.
In June 2014, Senator Gregorio Honasan filed a bill proposing that a municipality be qualified for cityhood if 1) it has a land area of at least 50 square kilometers instead of the 100 square kilometer re-quirement, 2) it is inhabited by at least 25,000 instead of the present requirement of 150,000 population, and 3) it has an annual average income of at least P220 million for two consecutive years instead of the P100 million mark.
Infiesto said the local government is hopeful it can achieve its goal this year.
Among its priority investment areas are agri-business industries, tourism and recreational facilities, medium and light manufac-turing industries, packaging industries and fuel depot and distribution facilities.
It also offers possibi-lities in real estate develop-ment, machinery and equipment manufacture and assembly, transship-ment and logistic facilities, power generation and mass rail transport.