THE High Court will deliberate anew on the validity of 16 cityhood laws, which is being assailed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) for being unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the SC, following an en banc session on Tuesday, ordered the concerned municipal mayors to comment within 10 days on the motion for reconsideration filed by LCP against the SC’s December 21, 2009 ruling that declared the 16 cityhood laws as valid.
“This case is still alive. Although the Court had already issued a final and executory decision, that was on the ruling that the cityhood laws are unconstitutional. Now after that ruling was reversed, the Court still has to resolve the appeal filed by LCP this time,” Marquez said.
The SC, in its December 21, 2009 ruling, granted the second motion for reconsideration filed by several municipalities seeking to declare as valid and constitutional Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491.
The 16 cityhood laws contained a common provision exempting all the 16 municipalities -- Baybay (Leyte); Bogo (Cebu); Catbalogan (Samar); Tandag (Surigao del Sur); Borongan (Eastern Samar); Tayabas (Quezon province); Lamitan (Basilan); Tabuk (Kalinga); Bayugan (Agusan del Sur); Batac (Ilocos Norte); Mati (Davao Oriental); Guihulngan (Negros Oriental); Cabadbaran (Agusan del Norte); Carcar (Cebu); El Salvador (Misamis Oriental); and Naga (Cebu) from the P100 million income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city and directing the Commission on Elections to conduct a plebiscite to determine whether the voters approved of their conversion into cities.
The LCP, in its motion for reconsideration, argued that the power of Congress to create local government units has limitations under Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
The said law, according to the petitioners, actually mandates Congress not to create cities except in accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code.
It also maintained that the November 18, 2008 decision declaring the cityhood laws had already become final and executory and can no longer be modified.
The LCP pointed out that the first motion to reconsider the November 18 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 that was recorded on May 21, 2009 after the second motion for reconsideration was denied on April 28, 2009.
In setting aside its final ruling on the case issued on April 18, 2009, the SC explained that the 6-6 vote does not reflect the majority of the members of the contemplated in Section 4 (2), Article VIII of the Constitution which requires all cases involving constitutionality of a treaty, international agreement shall be heard by the SC en banc and decided with the concurrence of a majority of the members who actually took part in the deliberations of the case.
Earlier, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned that the reversal of the Court’s decision declaring as unconstitutional the 16 Cityhood Laws would “wreak-havoc” on well-settled jurisprudence of the Court. (JCV/Sunnex)