SC affirms legality of Dinagat province-A A +A
Friday, September 21, 2012
MANILA -- The Supreme Court junked with finality a petition seeking to declare as unconstitutional the law that created the province of Dinagat, a group of islands near the Pacific Ocean.
In a two-page resolution dated September 11, the Court said former Surigao del Sur political leaders Rodolfo Navarro, Victor Bernal, and Rene Medina failed to raise "substantial arguments" to warrant the reversal of the April 12, 2011, decision.
Based on the 2000 census, Dinagat only has a land area of 802.1 square kilometers and population of 106, 951 but Republic Act 9355 signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in October 2006 said it is qualified to become a province.
After the law was questioned in November 2006, the Court on February 10, 2010, ruled that it was unconstitutional only to reverse itself the following year.
Considering the physical configuration of the Philippine archipelago, the Court said there is a greater likelihood that islands or group of islands would form part of the land area of a newly-created province than in most cities or municipalities.
The court had also held that Dinagat's land area is not conclusive in showing that it cannot become a province, taking into account its average annual income, which is four times more than the minimum requirement under the Local Government Code.
It added that Dinagat is ready and capable of becoming a province and that the court should "not be instrumental in stunting such capacity." Under the law, a province should have a land area of at least 2,000 square kilometers and population of not less than 250,000.
Leading the dissenters is Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who wrote that "Congress intentionally fixed the minimum land area requirement for provinces because provinces host cities and municipalities, which have minimum land area requirements."
Moreover, Dinagat only met the income requirement set by the law even as a candidate province must clinch two of the three minimum requirements on population, land and income.
Carpio was joined by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Martin Villarama, Jr., and Estela Perlas-Bernabe. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)