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LCP vs COMELEC November 18, 2008 Facts: During the 11th Congress, Congress enacted into law 33 bills

converting 33 municipalities into cities. However, Congress did not act on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities. During the 12th Congress, Congress enacted into law Republic Act No. 9009 which took effect on June 30, 2001. RA 9009 amended Section 450 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. After the effectivity of RA 9009, the House of Representatives of the 12th Congress adopted Joint Resolution No. 29, which sought to exempt from the P100 million income requirements in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved in the 11th Congress. However, the 12th Congress ended without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29. During the 13th Congress, the House of Representatives re-adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarded it to the Senate for approval. However, the Senate again failed to approve the Joint Resolution. Following the advice of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, 16 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. The 16 cityhood bills contained a common provision exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirements in RA 9009. On December 22, 2006, the House of Representatives approved the cityhood bills. The Senate also approved the cityhood bills in February 2007, except that of Naga, Cebu which was passed on June 7, 2007. The cityhood bills lapsed into law (Cityhood Laws) on various dates from March to July 2007 without the President's signature. The Cityhood Laws direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites to determine whether the voters in each respondent municipality approve of the conversion of their municipality into a city. Petitioners filed the present petitions to declare the Cityhood Laws unconstitutional for violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, as well as for violation of the equal protection clause. Petitioners also lament that the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment because more cities will share the same amount of internal revenue set aside for all cities under Section 285 of the Local Government Code. Issues: 1. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution; and 2. Whether or not the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause.

Held: 1. The Cityhood Laws violate Sections 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution, and are thus unconstitutional. 2. Yes. There is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress does not affect or determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress might even have lower annual income than municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills. In short, the classification criterion mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting into cities. During the 11th Congress, 57 bills seeking the conversion of municipalities into component cities were filed before the House of Representatives. However, Congress acted only on 33 bills. It did not act on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities. During the 12th Congress, R.A. No. 9009 became effective revising Section 450 of the Local Government Code. It increased the income requirement to qualify for conversion into a city from P20 million annual income to P100 million locally-generated income. In the 13th Congress, 16 of the 24 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. Each of the cityhood bills contained a common provision exempting the particular municipality from the 100 million income requirement imposed by R.A. No. 9009. Are the cityhood laws converting 16 municipalities into cities constitutional? SUGGESTED ANSWER: November 18, 2008 Ruling No. The SC (voting 6-5) ruled that the exemptions in the City Laws is unconstitutional because sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution requires that such exemption must be written into the LGC and not into any other laws. The Cityhood Laws violate sec. 6, Art. X of the Constitution because they prevent a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units. The criteria, as prescribed in sec. 450 of the LGC, must be strictly followed because such criteria prescribed by law, are material in determining the just share of local government units (LGUs) in national taxes. (League of Cities of the Philippines v. Comelec GR No. 176951, November 18, 2008) March 31, 2009 Ruling No. The SC denied the first Motion for Reconsideration. 7-5 vote.

April 28, 2009 Ruling No. The SC En Banc, by a split vote (6-6), denied a second motion for reconsideration. December 21, 2009 Ruling Yes. The SC (voting 6-4) reversed its November 18, 2008 decision and declared as constitutional the Cityhood Laws or Republic Acts (RAs) converting 16 municipalities into cities. It said that based on Congress deliberations and clear legislative intent was that the then pending cityhood bills would be outside the pale of the minimum income requirement of PhP100 million that Senate Bill No. 2159 proposes; and RA 9009 would not have any retroactive effect insofar as the cityhood bills are concerned. The conversion of a municipality into a city will only affect its status as a political unit, but not its property as such, it added. The Court held that the favorable treatment accorded the sixteen municipalities by the cityhood laws rests on substantial distinction. The Court stressed that respondent LGUs were qualified cityhood applicants before the enactment of RA 9009. To impose on them the much higher income requirement after what they have gone through would appear to be indeed unfair. Thus, the imperatives of fairness dictate that they should be given a legal remedy by which they should be allowed to prove that they have all the necessary qualifications for city status using the criteria set forth under the LGC of 1991 prior to its amendment by RA 9009. (GR No. 176951, League of Cities of the Philippines v. COMELEC; GR No. 177499, League of Cities of the Philippines v. COMELEC; GR No. 178056, League of Cities of the Philippines v. COMELEC, December 21, 2009) NOTE: The November 18, 2008 ruling already became final and executory and was recorded in the SCs Book of Entries of Judgments on May 21, 2009.) August 24, 2010 Ruling No. The SC (voting 7-6) granted the motions for reconsideration of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), et al. and reinstated its November 18, 2008 decision declaring unconstitutional the Cityhood Laws or Republic Acts (RAs) converting 16 municipalities into cities. Undeniably, the 6-6 vote did not overrule the prior majority en banc Decision of 18 November 2008, as well as the prior majority en banc Resolution of 31 March 2009 denying reconsideration. The tie-vote on the second motion for reconsideration is not the same as a tie-vote on the main decision where there is no prior decision, the Court said. In the latest resolution, the Court reiterated its November 18, 2008 ruling that the Cityhood Laws violate sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution which expressly provides that no cityshall be createdexcept 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. The unconstitutionality of the Cityhood Laws lies in the fact that Congress provided an exemption contrary to the express language of the Constitution.Congress exceeded and abused its law-making power, rendering the challenged Cityhood Laws void for being violative of the Constitution, the Court held. The Court further held that limiting the exemption only to the 16 municipalities violates the requirement that the classification must apply to all similarly situated. Municipalities with the same income as the 16 respondent municipalities cannot convert into cities, while the 16 respondent municipalities can. Clearly, as worded the exemption provision found in the Cityhood Laws, even if it were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause. (GR No. 176951, League of Cities of the Philippines v. Comelec; GR No. 177499, League of Cities of the Philippines v. Comelec; GR No. 178056, League of Cities of the Philippines v. Comelec, August 24, 2010) February 15, 2011 Ruling Yes, the laws are constitutional. The February 15, 2011 resolution is the fourth ruling since the High Court first resolved the Cityhood case in 2008. April 12, 2011Ruling Yes! Its final. The 16 Cityhood Laws are constitutional. We should not ever lose sight of the fact that the 16 cities covered by the Cityhood Laws not only had conversion bills pending during the 11th Congress, but have also complied with the requirements of the [Local Government Code] LGC prescribed prior to its amendment by RA No. 9009. Congress undeniably gave these cities all the considerations that justice and fair play demanded. Hence, this Court should do no less by stamping its imprimatur to the clear and unmistakable legislative intent and by duly recognizing the certain collective wisdom of Congress, the SC said. The Court stressed that Congress clearly intended that the local government units covered by the Cityhood Laws be exempted from the coverage of RA 9009, which imposes a higher income requirement of PhP100 million for the creation of cities. The Court reiterated that while RA 9009 was being deliberated upon, the Congress was well aware of the pendency of conversion bills of several municipalities, including those covered by the Cityhood Laws. It pointed out that RA 9009 took effect on June 30, 2001, when the 12th Congress was incipient. By reason of the clear legislative intent to exempt the municipalities covered by the conversion bills pending during the 11th Congress, the House of Representatives adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 entitled Joint Resolution to Exempt Certain Municipalities Embodied in Bills Filed in Congress before June 30, 2001

from the coverage of Republic Act No. 9009. However, the Senate failed to act on the said Joint Resolution. Even so, the House readopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 during the 12th Congress, and forwarded the same for approval to the Senate, which again failed to prove it. Eventually, the conversion bills of respondents were individually filed in the Lower House and fellesters.blogspot.com were all unanimously and favorably voted upon. When forwarded to the Senate, the bills were also unanimously approved. The acts of both Chambers of Congress show that the exemption clauses ultimately incorporated in the Cityhood Laws are but the express articulations of the clear legislative intent to exempt the respondents, without exception, from the coverage of RA No. 9009. Thereby, RA 9009, and, by necessity, the LCG, were amended, not by repeal but by way of the express exemptions being embodied in the exemption clauses. The Court held that the imposition of the income requirement of P100 million from local sources under RA 9009 was arbitrary. While the Constitution mandates that the creation of local government units must comply with the criteria laid down in the LGC, it cannot be justified to insist that the Constitution must have to yield to every amendment to the LGC despite such amendment imminently producing effects contrary to the original thrusts of the LGC to promote autonomy, decentralization, countryside development, and the concomitant national growth. (GR No. 176951, League of City of the Philippines v. COMELEC; GR No. 177499, League of City of the Philippines v. COMELEC: GR No. 178056, League of City of the Philippines v. COMELEC, April 12, 2011)