by Atty. Daniel Balaoing Valdez

Camiling is touted as the next and second city of the province of Tarlac. It has a current population of some 95,000 and an annual income of around P100,000,000.00 (the minimum amount necessary for city hood). +

At the Crossroads. The town is strategically situated. It is where roads from the following places intersect - (a) Bayambang in Southern Pangasinan; (b) Lingayen and Bolinao of Western Pangasinan; (c) Paniqui and Moncada of Eastern Tarlac; and (d) Tarlac City, Capas, etc. of Southern Tarlac (see sketch).

Only Tarlac City rivals Camiling's ideal location within the province.

As the town approaches city status, it has to prepare a convincing and solid application for one. Such is necessary as the League of Cities is now strict on the admission of new members into its fold - something understandable as more members therein means less share per member of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the national government ++.

Main Problem. Camiling's main problem is its clogged downtown traffic and a non-expansive and crowded poblacion (town proper). Passing-by vehicles like buses, deprived of convenient alternate routes, are unnecessarily delayed in their trips. One recalls that a local mayor once attempted to transfer the public market site to the town’s outskirts but failed.

Map of CamilingWidened Bridge. Something then has to be done pronto to widen, among others, the existing Camiling Bridge which has become relatively constricted to serve the needs of a burgeoning town. One should also explore the following ideas: (a) an additional bridge connecting Burgos St. north of the town plaza to brgy. Cacamilingan Norte; (b) a diversion road connecting brgys. Telbang and Malacampa directly to San Clemente town; and (c) a re-enforced, flood-resistant road to accommodate buses and other heavy vehicles bound for Eastern Tarlac (but avoiding Paniqui’s poblacion).

Paniqui Road to SCTEX. The Paniqui road [see(c) above] , of which the big Rang-ay bridge is part, would eventually link the municipality to the SCTEX's (North Luzon Expressway) proposed extension from La Paz town to Saitan, La Union (just before the climb to Baguio's Kennon Road). This route would obviate the need for travellers from Western Pangasinan to pass through downtown Tarlac City on their way to Manila. Hopefully, it would encourage Manilenos to pay frequent visits to (and be counted as residents of) their hometowns in Western Tarlac and Pangasinan.

San Clemente- Malacampa/Telbang Road. It is true that the proposed direct road (see [b] above) to San Clemente would skip the Camiling town proper. However, we are confident that the same would trigger business activity in brgy. Malacampa and the hitherto untapped Anoling - Bobon area. The project could be undertaken with the help of Western Pangasinan - a tourism (Hundred Islands), export-oriented and seafood-producing region that would benefit from it. Incidentally, the upgrading of the Bilad-Sinilian-Marawi short-cut road (linking Bayambang to Paniqui) in the northeast serves the same purpose.
Integrated Plan for Western Tarlac. The plan should integrate collateral schemes (e.g. flood control, tourism, irrigation and livelihood projects) to harness the full potential of the whole of Western Tarlac encompassing the Ilocano towns of Mayantoc, San Clemente and Sta. Ignacia. It should further disprove Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon's query "How is Tarlac now?" - an insinuation that the Aquino and Cojuangco families, while holding sway in the province for practically a century, have not done much for the area.**

Zambales has its SMBA and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone ; Pangasinan its new International Seaport in Sual ; and Pampanga its Clark Freeport Zone and the Macapagal International Airport. What similar facilities does Tarlac have?


* City Legal Counsel of Taguig City (2001-2004); Secretary, Sangguniang Panlungsod of Taguig City (2004-); and Past President, Camiling Tangguyob Jaycees (JCI Senator 28111).

** See "Commonsense" column, Marichu A. Villanueva, March 10, 2010, Philippine Star on-line, quote from a campaign comment of Sen. Richard Gordon on the candidacy of Sen. Noynoy Aquino for president.

+ Sec. 450 , Local Government Code, Rep. Act No. 7160, as amended by RA 9009; see Supreme Court case of League of Cities vs . Comelec, GR No. 178056, Dec. 21, 2009

+ + Secs. 284-286, ibid