TACLOBAN CITY?At exactly 10:40 p.m. Thursday, Tacloban officially joined an elite list of highly urbanized cities, the first in Eastern Visayas.
City elections officer Susan Collamar said the proclamation of Tacloban as a highly urbanized city was ?historical? due to the record number of voters who went to the polling precincts during the plebiscite.
Of Tacloban's 102,078 registered voters, 57 percent showed up at the 520 polling places to participate in the process.
Collamar said 36,352 registered voters favored the conversion of Tacloban from a component city of Leyte province into a highly urbanized city with only 21,419 voters rejecting the reclassification, a difference of 14,933 votes.
Regional director Gregorio Larrazabal of the Commission on Elections said that he was happy with the high turnout of voters.
?It is by far, the highest turnout of voters for a plebiscite in the history of the country,? Larrazabal said minutes before the members of the city plebiscite committee officially announced the results at the jampacked session hall of the Sangguniang Panlungsod building.
The Comelec officials cited the wide media coverage of the proposed reclassification of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city, generating interest among residents, as among the reasons for the high turnout of voters.
?This will be a big day for us to remember and will be part of our history. And I'd like to thank the people who supported this endeavor, and even those who shared their different views,? Mayor Alfred Romualdez said Thursday night during a victory speech.
?It's time to work together to fight poverty,? said Romualdez who had favored the reclassification.
Councilor Wilson Uy, one of the members of the city council who openly opposed the highly urbanized classification of Tacloban, said that he respects the will of the majority who voted for the conversion of Tacloban.
?The people have spoken. Let us respect their will,? Uy said Thursday night.
However, he claimed that the results of the plebiscite was tainted with vote buying, an allegation strongly denied by both Romualdez and Comelec officials. INQUIRER