Iloilo mayor leads opposition vs cityhood of selected towns
Bacolod City (16 April) -- The 118-strong league of Cities of the Philippines, led by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento, LCP President and Secretary General, respectively filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from conducting plebiscites in six municipalities pursuant to Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9391, 9392 and 9398 (Cityhood Laws).
The plebiscites seek to convert the municipalities of Baybay (Leyte), Bogo (Cebu) Catbalogan (Samar), Tandag (Agusan del Sur), Borongan (Eastern Samar) and Tayabas (Quezon) into cities without complying with the minimum requirement of P100M in locally generated income, contrary to the requirements of the Local Government Code as amended by Republic Act No. 9009.
Republic Act 9009 requires that a town should have a locally generated income of at least P100M annually before it could be classified into a city. It should also either have a land area of at least 100 square kilometers or a population of 150,000.
According to the League, the Cityhood should be declared null and void for violating the constitution. LCP argued that the Cityhood Laws’ exemption from the income requirement violates the constitutional provision mandating that conversion from municipalities to cities must comply the requirements of the Local Government Code.
Likewise, the League stated that the grant of undue special treatment to the six municipalities violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause providing that all persons shall be equally in law.
The COMELEC together with the municipalities of Baybay, Bogo, Catbalogan, Tandag, Borongan and Tayabas were named respondents to the petition.
Treñas said the towns failed to meet the requirements provided for under the Local Government Code which under the law does not qualify them for conversion into cities.
The six are among the 16 towns which sought exemption from the requirements of RA 9009. The Congress has so far approved the cityhood laws of 15 towns despite strong opposition from the LCP.
Sarmiento said the conversion of these “unqualified” towns into cities will set a “bad precedent” and shall invite a deluge of applications practically from all towns which have the same status, which can now all become cities even without complying with the law.
He said that LCP will be filing similar suits against the other towns as their cityhood bills become law.
The cityhood bills lapsed into law after the president failed to sign them 30 days after they were submitted to Malacañang. Despite failing to meet the requirements of RA 9009, these were still pass by Congress. (CMO-PIO/PIA) [top]