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|February 16th, 2011, 04:18 PM||#2002|
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SC upholds 16 new cities
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC), in a 7-6 vote with two abstentions, has reversed itself anew as it declared constitutional the laws that converted 16 municipalities into cities.
With the ruling, the SC granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 municipalities whose laws had earlier been declared unconstitutional.
Declared as valid and constitutional are Republic Act No. 9389 (Baybay City in Leyte), RA 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu), RA 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar), RA 9392 (Tandag City in Surigao del Sur), RA 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan), RA 9394 (Borongan City in Samar), RA 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon), RA 9404 (Tabuk City in Kalinga), RA 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur), RA 9407 (Batac City in Ilocos Norte), RA 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental), RA 9409 (Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental), RA 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte), RA 9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental), RA 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu), and RA 9491 (Naga City in Cebu).
The decision that was handed down by the SC during its full court session last Tuesday was the fourth ruling issued since 2008 when the issue on the legality of the 16 cityhood laws was challenged by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP). A copy of the new ruling was not immediately available.
The first decision handed down in a 6-5 vote and written by Justice Antonio T. Carpio was first issued on Nov. 18, 2008. It declared unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws for violation of Section 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution that specifies equalities in the creation of new cities. It said the 16 towns did not meet the criteria of a P100 million income to qualify them into cities.
On Dec. 21, 2009, the first decision was reversed by the SC with a ruling that the laws converting 16 municipalities into cities are constitutional. This time, the decision in a 6-4 vote was written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.
The 2009 ruling declared that all cityhood laws, enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009 which increased the income requirement for cityhood from P20 million to P100 million in Section 450 of the Local Government Code (LGC), explicitly exempt the 16 municipalities from the said increased income requirement.
The third ruling on the issue was handed down by the SC on Aug. 24, 2010 in a 7-6 vote with two justices inhibiting themselves from the case. The ruling granted the motions for reconsideration filed by the LCP and its member cities as it reinstated the Nov. 18, 2008 decision declaring unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws.
Also written by Justice Carpio, the third ruling stated that the 16 cityhood laws violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution which expressly provides that “no city…shall be created… except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code.” It stressed that while all the criteria for the creation of cities must be embodied exclusively in the Local Government Code, the assailed Cityhood Laws provided an exemption from the increased income requirement for the creation of cities under Sec. 450 of the LGC.
Upon receipt of the Aug. 24, 2010 ruling, the 16 municipalities filed their respective motions for reconsideration. Their motion for oral argument was denied by the SC.
Justice Lucas P. Bersamin was the writer of the new ruling on the issue. Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Roberto A. Abad, Jose Portugal Perez, and Jose Castral Mendoza concurred in the ruling.
The dissenters were Justices Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales, Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Martin S. Villarama Jr., and Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno.
Justices Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura and Mariano C. Del Castillo inhibited themselves.
Court Administrator and SC Spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez confirmed Wednesday the new decision on the case involving the cityhood of 16 municipalities.
Marquez said: “Ponente (writer) is Justice Bersamin but it’s still being circulated. They have taken a vote, its 7-6. This is really an unusual case considering this is the fourth decision on the case, this is the third reversal. If you will recall, the first decision was handed down by the court before the change in the composition of the court way back in 2008. There were seven justices who retired, the first decision was before the seven justices retired, the second was after the seven justices were replaced. Up until today… the votes of the justices were tight... So it’s not very surprising the votes will be changing. Prior to this vote, the vote was 7-6 in favor of the cities. Last Tuesday, again it was reversed 7-6 now in favor of the municipalities.”
“As I have said it’s really not far-fetched for the court to reverse itself considering the voting was very tight, if the voting was maybe 10-5, or 11-4, you can have more assurances the decision won’t be reversed. A change in the composition of the court can influence the succeeding decision of the court,” he added.
It was not known immediately whether the LCP would still file a motion for reconsideration.
By REY G. PANALIGAN
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation
February 16, 2011, 6:37pm
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Last edited by Dakpa ang akong tiil; February 16th, 2011 at 04:24 PM.
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