MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has declared the Cityhood Laws passed during the 11th Congress as unconstitutional.
Voting 6-5 during their weekly session last Tuesday, the High Court magistrates affirmed their ruling in November last year granting the petition and petitions-in-intervention filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines and several provincial government officials seeking to nullify the Cityhood Laws enacted by Congress.
Among the laws being sought to be nullified are Republic Acts 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436 and 9491, all of which were enacted during the 11th Congress.
The laws directed the Commission on Elections to conduct plebiscites in 16 towns to determine whether their constituents favor their conversion into a city.
In dismissing the motion for reconsideration on its earlier ruling, the SC upheld the argument of petitioners that the Cityhood Laws violated Article X Section 10 and the equal protection clause of the Constitution since it prevents a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units.
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 SC said the cityhood laws also violated Article X Section 6 of the Constitution since it prevented a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units.
The SC upheld the petition of the League of Cities of the Philippines, which argued that the “wholesale conversion” of municipalities into cities would reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), since more cities would share the same amount of internal revenue set aside for all cities.
The High Court also ruled that the cityhood laws also violated the provisions of the Local Government Code by increasing the annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million.
“The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law,” the High Court stated.
During the 11th Congress, the House of Representatives enacted into law a total of 33 bills converting 33 municipalities into cities.–Edu Punay, Philippine Star