Local Government (Guanzon)S.Y. 08-09: 2nd Sem.
SYLLABUS PART 1: LOCAL GOVERNMENTS;CREATION, MERGER, ABOLITION AND POWERS.
Creation of Local Government Units
Patricio Tan et al. v. COMELECFacts:
Prompted by the enactment of BP 885 (Act CreatingProvince of Negros del Norte), petitioners who are residentsof the Province of Negros Occidental filed with this Court acase for Prohibition for the purpose of stopping Comelecfrom conducting the plebiscite which, pursuant to and inimplementation of the law. Petitioners contend that BP 885 isunconstitutional and it is not in complete accord with theLGC as in Article XI, Section 3 of our Constitution regardingthe requirements in land area and estimated annual income.Petitioners also contend that a number of voters wereexcluded since the plebiscite was confined only to theinhabitants of three cities and eight municipalities in Negrosdel Norte, to the exclusion of the voters of the Province of Negros Occidental..Comelec contends that the law is not unconstitutional. Theyclaim that BP 885 does not infringe the Constitution becausethe requisites of the LGC have been complied with. Theysubmit that the case has now become moot and academicwith the proclamation of Negros del Norte as during theplebiscite, 164,734 were in favor of the creation of the newprovince while only 30,400 were against it.
WON the province complied with the plebisciterequirement
The more significant and pivotal issue in thepresent case revolves around in the interpretation andapplication in the case at bar of Article XI, Section 3 of theConstitution. It can be plainly seen that the constitutionalprovision makes it imperative that there be first obtained"the approval of a majority of votes in the plebiscite in theunit or units affected" whenever a province is created,divided or merged and there is substantial alteration of theboundaries. It is thus inescapable to conclude that theboundaries of the existing province of Negros Occidentalwould necessarily be substantially altered by the division of its existing boundaries in order that there can be created theproposed new province of Negros del Norte. Plain and simplelogic will demonstrate than that two political units would beaffected. The first would be the parent province of NegrosOccidental because its boundaries would be substantiallyaltered. The other affected entity would be composed of those in the area subtracted from the mother province toconstitute the proposed province of Negros del Norte.We find no way to reconcile the holding of a plebiscite thatshould conform to said constitutional requirement buteliminates the participation of either of these two componentpolitical units. No one should be allowed to pay homage to asupposed fundamental policy intended to guarantee andpromote autonomy of local government units but at thesame time transgress, ignore and disregard what theConstitution commands in Article XI Section 3 thereof We fail to find any legal basis for the unexplained changemade when Parliamentary Bill No. 3644 was enacted intoBatas Pambansa Blg. 885 so that it is now provided in saidenabling law that the plebiscite "shall be conducted in theproposed new province which are the areas affected." Weare not disposed to agree that by mere legislative fiat theunit or units affected referred in the fundamental law can bediminished or restricted by the Batasang Pambansa to citiesand municipalities comprising the new province, therebyignoring the evident reality that there are other peoplenecessarily affected. The court reversed the ruling inParedes vs Executive Secretary (same issue but concernsbarangay).Petitioners have averred without contradiction that after thecreation of Negros del Norte, the province of NegrosOccidental would be deprived of the long established Citiesof Silay, Cadiz, and San Carlos, as well as the municipality of Victorias. No controversion has been made regardingpetitioners' assertion that the areas of the Province of Negros Occidental will be diminished by about 285,656hectares and it will lose seven of the fifteen sugar millswhich contribute to the economy of the whole province. Inthe language of petitioners, "to create Negros del Norte, theexisting territory and political subdivision known as NegrosOccidental has to be partitioned and dismembered. Whatwas involved was no 'birth' but "amputation." We agree withthe petitioners that in the case of Negros what was involvedwas a division, a separation; and consequently, as Sec. 3 of Article XI of the Constitution anticipates, a substantialalteration of boundary.
WON the new Province of Negros del Nortecomplied with the requirements as to land area
The original parliamentary bill no 3644 expresslydeclared that the new province contained an area of 285,656ha. More or less. However, when Parliamentary bill wasenacted into BP 885, the province now comprised a territoryof 4,019.95 square kilometers. The certification of theprovincial treasurer also indicates that there the provincecomprised of a lesser area. Although the certification statedthat the land area of the municipality of Don Salvador wasnot available, it appeared that such is only 80.2 kilometers. This area if added to 2,685.2 square kilometers will result inapproximately an area of only 2,765.4 square kilometers. The last sentence of the first paragraph of Section 197 LGC
(requirements) is most revealing. As so stated therein the"territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two or moreislands." The use of the word territory in this particularprovision of the Local Government Code and in the very lastsentence thereof, clearly, reflects that "territory" as thereinused, has reference only to the mass of land area andexcludes the waters over which the political unit exercisescontrol. Said sentence states that the "territory need not becontiguous."Contiguous means (a) in physical contact; (b) touching alongall or most of one side; (c) near, text, oradjacent."Contiguous", when employed as an adjective, as inthe above sentence, is only used when it describes physicalcontact, or a touching of sides of two solid masses of matter. The meaning of particular terms in a statute may beascertained by reference to words associated with or relatedto them in the statute. Therefore, in the context of thesentence above, what need not be "contiguous" is the
SEC. 197. Requisites for Creation. A province may becreated if it has a territory of at least three thousand fivehundred square kilometers, a population of at least five hun-dred thousand persons, an average estimated annual in-come, as certified by the Ministry of Finance, of not less thanten million pesos for the last three consecutive years, and itscreation shall not reduce the population and income of themother province or provinces at the time of said creation toless than the minimum requirements under this section. Theterritory need not be contiguous if it comprises two or moreislands. The average estimated annual income shall includethe income alloted for both the general and infrastructuralfunds, exclusive of trust funds, transfers and nonrecurring in-come.