ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The league of mayors met Thursday for an assembly in Manila discussing issues affecting its member cities on the December 21 ruling of the Supreme Court turning 16 towns into cities.
The Supreme Court’s December 21 ruling is a reversal of an earlier decision granting the petition filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) that questioned the constitutionality and legality of the cityhood of the 16 municipalities.
In reaction to the latest ruling, the LCP filed a motion for reconsideration on the recent ruling.
The concerned municipal mayors of the 16 new cities on the other hand were ordered to comment within 10 days on the motion for reconsideration filed by the LCP against the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling, said SC Spokesman Jose Midas Marquez.
Marquez said the SC will deliberate anew on the validity of the 16 cityhood laws.
“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,” he said.
Mayor Celso Lobregat said the LCP’s motion for reconsideration stressed that the group views the latest ruling as "setting a bad precedent."
The LCP, in its motion, argued that the power of Congress to create local government units has limitations under Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
Section 10 provides that "no province, city, municipality or barangay shall be created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.”
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.”
In a five-point dissenting opinion on the December 21 ruling, Justice Antonio Carpio said: “Such an unprecedented ruling would resurrect contentious political issues long ago settled… (It) would destabilize not only this Court, but also the executive and legislative branches of government.”
Carpio, together with Conchita Carpio-Morales, Arturo Brion, and Diosdado Peralta issued a warning, saying the SC should stand path on its November 18, 2009 decision.
Lobregat has emphasized that the 120-strong LCP welcomes any municipality to become a city on condition that it meets the requirements set under the law that include a locally generated income of P100 million, a population of P150,000 and a land area of 100 square kilometers.
The municipalities referred to in the decision include Baybay in Leyte; Bogo in Cebu; Catbalogan in Samar; Tandag in Surigao del Sur; Borongan in Eastern Samar; Tayabas in Quezon province; Lamitan in Basilan; Tabuk in Kalinga Apayao; Bayugan in Agusan del Sur; Batac in Ilocos Norte; Mati in Davao Oriental; Guihulngan in Negros Oriental; Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte; Carcar in Cebu; El Salvador in Misamis Oriental; and Naga in Cebu. (Bong Garcia/JCV/Sunnex)