017 League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) vs. COMELEC
017 League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) vs. AUTHOR: Christy Amor Lofranco COMELEC, 608 SCRA 636 (2009) NATURE: Motion for Reconsideration TOPIC: Creation of municipal corporation is a QUICKIE FACTS: The constitutionality of the 16 cityhood laws legislative matter. (Sec. 14, LGC) were challenged by the LCP for violation of Article X, Section 10 of PONENTE: Velasco, JR., J. the 1987 Constitution, which provides that no city shall be created except in accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code, and the equal protection clause under Article III, Section 1. NOTE: 16 Cityhood Laws Constitutional. FACTS: Petitioners: League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) Respondents: Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and 16 Municipalities Background: 1. This controversy has its origins in the 11th Congress when thirty-three (33) laws converting 33 municipalities into cities were enacted into law. Throughout, twenty-four (24) other bills converting 24 municipalities into cities were not passed. At this time, the annual income requirement for a municipality to become a city was 20 million pesos under the Local Government Code. 2. During the 12th Congress, R.A. No. 9009 was enacted, which amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code by increasing the annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from 20 million pesos to 100 million pesos. 3. As a result of the increased annual income requirement under R.A. No. 9009, the 24 municipalities could no longer qualify under the increased annual income requirement. The House of Representatives of the 12th Congress adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 seeking to exempt the remaining 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills had not been approved during the 11th Congress from the 100 million-peso income requirement; this exemption did not materialize as the Senate did not join the resolution. 4. During the 13th Congress, Joint Resolution No. 1, reiterating the sentiments of Joint Resolution No. 29 under the 12th Congress, was adopted by the House of Representatives and forwarded to the Senate for approval; again, the Senate failed to approve the exemption sought under Joint Resolution No. 1. 5. Sixteen (16) municipalities filed individual cityhood bills, all of which contained a common provision exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirement under R.A. No. 9009. 6. These cityhood bills were approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and lapsed into law without the President’s signature. The 16 cityhood laws directed the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to hold plebiscites to determine whether the voters in each municipality approved of the conversion. 7. The 16 cityhood laws were challenged by the League of Cities of the Philippines. Petitioner LCP: 1. That the 16 cityhood laws were unconstitutional for violation of Article X, Section 10 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that no city shall be created except in accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code, and the equal protection clause under Article III, Section 1. Art. X, §10. 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. Art. III, § 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. The criteria referred to are the verifiable indicators of viability, i.e., area, population, and income, now set forth in Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991, as amended by RA 9009. 2. That these indicators or criteria must be written only in the LGC and not in any other statute. 3. That the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities, the petitioners bemoan, will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), since more cities will partake of the internal revenue set aside for all cities under Sec. 285 of the LGC of 1991. 4. That the cityhood laws exempting the respondent LGUs from the income standard spelled out in the amendatory RA 9009 offend the Constitution.
2008 Decision: 1. In its first decision, the Court declared the 16 cityhood laws unconstitutional on the ground that they violated Article X, Section 10 and the Equal Protection Clause under Article III, Section 1. In essence, the Court held that since the municipalities did not meet the P100 million income requirement under Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by R.A. No. 9009, the cityhood laws converting the 16 municipalities into cities were unconstitutional. Respondent LGUs motions: 1. Motion for reconsideration denied per Resolution dated April 28, 2009. 2. The Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of 18 November 2008 is DENIED and Motion for Leave to Admit Attached Petition in Intervention also DENIED per Resolution dated May 14, 2009. 3. Motion for Leave to File and to Admit Attached 'Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision Dated November 18, 2008' as expunged per Resolution of June 2, 2009. 4. Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of June 2, 2009. ISSUE: Whether or not the cityhood laws violate (1) Sec. 10. Art. X of the Constitution and (2) the equal protection clause. HELD: No. Declared as CONSTITUTIONAL the 16 cityhood laws, thus converting the 16 municipalities into cities. ***Earlier Resolutions are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. RATIO: Art. X, §10 “In accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code” Clause 1. The only conceivable reason why the Constitution employs the clause "in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code" is to lay stress that it is Congress alone, and no other, which can impose the criteria. 2. Consistent with its plenary legislative power on the matter, Congress can, via either a 35 consolidated set of laws or a much simpler, single-subject enactment, impose the said verifiable criteria of viability. These criteria need not be embodied in the local government code, albeit this code is the ideal repository to ensure, as much as possible, the element of uniformity. Congress can even, after making a codification, enact an amendatory law, adding to the existing layers of indicators earlier codified, just as efficaciously as it may reduce the same. In this case, the amendatory RA 9009 upped the already codified income requirement from PhP20 million to PhP100 million. At the end of the day, the passage of amendatory laws is no different from the enactment of laws, i.e., the cityhood laws specifically exempting a particular political subdivision from the criteria earlier mentioned. Congress, in enacting the exempting law/s, effectively decreased the already codified indicators. 3. The Court said that based on Congress’ deliberations, the clear legislative intent was that the then pending cityhood bills would be outside the pale of the minimum income requirement of P100 million and that R.A. No. 9009 would not have any retroactive effect insofar as the cityhood bills are concerned. Art. III, § 1 Equal Protection Clause 4. No deprivation of property results by virtue of the enactment of the cityhood laws. The LCP's claim that the IRA of its member-cities will be substantially reduced on account of the conversion into cities of the respondent LGUs would not suffice to bring it within the ambit of the constitutional guarantee. Indeed, it is presumptuous on the part of the LCP member-cities to already stake a claim on the IRA, as if it were their property, as the IRA is yet to be allocated. For the same reason, the municipalities that are not covered by the uniform exemption clause in the cityhood laws cannot validly invoke constitutional protection. For, at this point, the conversion of a municipality into a city will only affect its status as a political unit, but not its property as such. 5. The favorable treatment accorded the sixteen municipalities by the cityhood laws rests on substantial distinction. The Court stressed that the 16 municipalities were qualified cityhood applicants before the enactment of R.A. No. 9009 and to impose on them the much higher income requirement after what they have gone through would be unfair. The reasoning behind was that fairness would dictate that the 16 municipalities be given a means by which they could prove that they had the necessary qualifications for cityhood under the old law, the Local Government Code of 1991, and not R.A. No. 9009.