MANILA -- The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) has filed another motion, this time, asking the Supreme Court (SC) to annul its decision that reversed an earlier ruling declaring as unconstitutional 16 cityhood laws.

The group, through Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, filed last January 5 the motion for reconsideration of the High Court’s December 21, 2009 ruling, which said that the power of Congress to create local government units has limitations under Section 10, Article 10 of the Constitution.

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The assailed decision reversed its own November 18, 2008 ruling, which had declared unconstitutional the cityhood laws converting 16 municipalities into cities.

The LCP, in its new motion, argued that the SC can no longer amend, modify or reverse its own full court decision that had long become final and executory, and had been implemented by government agencies involved in the case.

Mad rush

The group is assailing what it called the “mad rush” in the conversion last year of the 16 -- originally 18 -- municipalities into cities without meeting the requirement for the minimum locally generated income of at least P100 million a year.

LCP pointed out that the first motion to reconsider the November 18, 2008 decision filed by several municipal mayors was denied with finality by the SC on March 31, 2009 with an order that “no further pleadings shall be entertained.”

Thereafter, it said the SC ordered an entry of judgment, which was recorded on May 21, 2009 after the second motion for reconsideration was denied on April 28, 2009.

But to its surprise, the LCP said the SC reversed its own final and executory decision with a December 21, 2009 ruling that declared constitutional the various laws intended to convert 16 municipalities into cities.

“This (the reversal of a final decision) will set a bad precedent and will disturb the well-established legal principles on finality of judgment…The decision of December 21, 2009 was issued in brazen disregard of petitioners’ rights to due process because petitioners were not fully apprised of the proceedings in this case,” the petitioners said.

Final and executory

The petition pointed out that the final and executory November 18, 2008 decision “was confirmed and implemented by no less than the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which issued a circular on June 30, 2009 for the final internal revenue allocation (IRA) for 2009 as a result of the reversion of the 16 newly-created cities to municipalities pursuant to entry of judgment of the SC.”

The group further argued that there was no longer any case or controversy after the November 18, 2008 decision attained finality on May 21, 2009 to warrant such reversal, and that the SC had lost all jurisdiction over the case.

At the same time, the LCP challenged the participation of Justices Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Roberto A. Abad, and Martin S. Villarama Jr. in the December 21, 2009 decision since they did not participate in the deliberation on the issues in the case and voted thereon as the Constitution requires, simply because they were not yet members of the SC on November 18, 2008 when the decision on this case was promulgated.

In its December 21 decision penned by Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco Jr., the High Court voted 6-4 in favor of declaring constitutionally valid the cityhood laws passed by the 11th Congress and directed the Comelec to hold plebiscites in 16 municipalities to determine whether their constituents favor their conversion into a city.

Declared as valid and constitutional are Republic Act 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). (Evangeline C. de Vera/Sunnex)