SC: 16 cityhood laws constitutional, final

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Sunday, July 3, 2011


MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered its Clerk of Court to issue an entry of judgment on the cityhood case of 16 municipalities, sealing with finality the constitutionality of 16 Cityhood Laws.

Declared as constitutional were Republic Act (RA) nos. 9389 (Baybay City in Leyte), 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu), 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar), 9392 (Tandag City in Surigao del Sur), 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan), 9394 (Borongan City in Samar), 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon), 9404 (Tabuk City in Kalinga), 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur), 9407 (Batac City in Ilocos Norte), 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental), 9409 (Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental), 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte), 9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental), 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu), and 9491 (Naga City in Cebu).

“The finality of the resolutions upholding the constitutionality of the 16 Cityhood Laws now absolutely warrants the granting of respondents’ Motion for Entry of Judgment,” the SC ruled.

Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, counsel for the 16 new cities, in a motion for entry of judgment dated May 9, 2011 has urged the SC to make an entry of judgment to make the cityhood laws final and executory and for the much needed Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the new cities to be finally released by the Department of Budget and Management.

“Congress undeniably gave these cities all the considerations that justice and fair play demanded. Hence, this Court should do no less by stamping its imprimatur to the clear and unmistakable legislative intent and by duly recognizing the certain collective wisdom of Congress,” the SC ruling added.

After the February 15 SC Resolution declaring the cityhood laws of the League of 16 as constitutional, the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) on March 8, 2011 filed an "Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration".

The LCP motion was however "denied with finality" by the SC in its resolution dated April 12, 2011. In the resolution, the SC reiterated that the 16 Cityhood Laws were not violative of the Constitution and the Local Government Code (LGC).

LCP filed again a "Motion for Leave to File Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of April 12, 2011" last April 29.

But in an eight-page resolution, penned by Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, the SC said it cannot entertain the “second motion for reconsideration” of the LCP as per Section 2, Rule 51 of the Rules of Court which stated that "no second motion of reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained."

“We should not ever lose sight of the fact that the 16 cities covered by the Cityhood Laws not only had conversion bills pending during the 11th Congress, but have also complied with the requirements of the [Local Government Code] LGC prescribed prior to its amendment by RA No. 9009. Congress undeniably gave these cities all the considerations that justice and fair play demanded. Hence, this Court should do no less by stamping its imprimatur to the clear and unmistakable legislative intent and by duly recognizing the certain collective wisdom of Congress,” the Court said.

The Court stressed that Congress clearly intended that the local government units covered by the Cityhood Laws be exempted from the coverage of RA 9009, which imposes a higher income requirement of PhP100 million for the creation of cities.

The cityhood of 16 cities was like a roller-coaster ride. The SC ruled in November 18, 2008 that the 16 were not exempted from the new P100-million income requirement, and could not be considered cities. SC affirmed the decision in May 2009 with 6-5 votes.

However, the SC reversed its decision in December 2009 with 6-4 votes, saying the towns were exempted from the new income requirement, and the laws that made them cities were valid.

The LCP filed a motion for reconsideration, which the SC granted in August 24, 2010. It reinstated SC’s original decision that the towns should remain towns.

On February 2011, the SC en banc went back to its ruling in December 2009 and decided that new cities can stay cities. (PNA/Sunnex)

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