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BENJAMIN E. CAWALING, JR., petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and Rep.

Francis
Joseph G. Escudero, respondents.
GR No. 146319 | October 26, 2001 | J. Sandoval-Gutierrez (Pretz)
SUMMARY: Congress passed RA 8806 creating the city of Sorsogon by merging municipalities of
Sorsogon and Bacon. Petitioner Cawaling assailed this, stating that the LGC recognizes only two modes
of creating a city: 1) by converting a municipality into a city; or 2) by converting a cluster of barangays.
HELD: The provision cited by the Petitioner points only to some of the modes of creating a city. The LGC
and the Constitution recognizes DIVISION and MERGER as modes as well, provided only that the legal
requirements as provided in the LGC are met.
FACTS: On August 16, 2000, President Estrada signed into law RA 8806, an "Act Creating The City Of
Sorsogon By Merging The Municipalities Of Bacon And Sorsogon In The Province Of Sorsogon, And
Appropriating Funds Therefor." One of the provisions in said law include: SECTION 54. Plebiscite. The
City of Sorsogon shall acquire corporate existence upon the ratification of its creation by a majority of the
votes cast by the qualified voters in a plebiscite to be conducted in the present municipalities of Bacon
and Sorsogon within one hundred twenty (120) days from the approval of this Act.
The passage of the law was published in newspapers from August to SEPTEMBER 1, 2000.
A plesbiscite was conducted in the component municipalities by the COMELEC on DECEMBER 16, 2000.
On December 17, 2000, the Plebiscite City Board of Canvassers (PCBC) proclaimed the creation of the
City of Sorsogon as having been ratified and approved by the majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite.
Subsequently, Petitioner Cawaling assailed the plebiscite as a nullity AND RA 8806 as unconstitutional.
His argument:
NULL AND VOID PLEBISCITE
A. The December 16, 2000 plebiscite was conducted beyond the required 120-day period from the
approval of R.A. 8806, in violation of Section 54 thereof; and
B. Respondent COMELEC failed to observe the legal requirement of twenty (20) day extensive
information campaign in the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon before conducting the plebiscite.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL RA 8806
A. The creation of Sorsogon City by merging two municipalities violates Section 450(a) of the Local
Government Code of 1991 (in relation to Section 10, Article X of the Constitution) which requires
that only "a municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city";
B. There is no compelling reason to create Sorsogon City
C. R.A. No. 8806 contains two (2) subjects, namely, the (a) creation of the City of Sorsogon and the
(b) abolition of the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon, thereby violating the "one subject-one
bill" rule prescribed by Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution.

ISSUES:
1. WON RA 8806 is unconstitutional NO

2. WON the Plebiscite was a NULLITY NO

THE LGC AND THE CONSTITUTION RECOGNIZES MERGER AND DIVISION AS A MODE OF
CREATION OF A CITY
Petitioner's constricted reading of Section 450(a) of the Code is erroneous. The phrase "A municipality or
a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city" is not a criterion but simply one of
the modes by which a city may be created. Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, quoted earlier and
which petitioner cited in support of his posture, allows the merger of local government units to create a
province city, municipality or barangay in accordance with the criteria established by the Code. Thus,
Section 8 of the Code distinctly provides:
"SECTION 8. Division and Merger. Division and merger of existing local government units shall comply with the same
requirements herein prescribed for their creation (may requirements pa re. contiguous area, land area, population etc.
pero di ko na sinama kasi di importante sa issue)

Verily, the creation of an entirely new local government unit through a division or a merger of existing local
government units is recognized under the Constitution, provided that such merger or division shall comply
with the requirements prescribed by the Code.

AS TO THE COMPELLING REASON TO CREATE SORSOGON CITY FROM BACON AND


SORSOGON
This goes into the wisdom of the law which is something that we do not litigate.

AS TO THE ONE BILL, ON TITLE RULE


Contrary to petitioner's assertion, there is only one subject embraced in the title of the law, that is, the
creation of the City of Sorsogon. The abolition/cessation of the corporate existence of the Municipalities of
Bacon and Sorsogon due to their merger is not a subject separate and distinct from the creation of
Sorsogon City. Such abolition/cessation was but the logical, natural and inevitable consequence of the
merger. Otherwise put, it is the necessary means by which the City of Sorsogon was created. Hence, the
title of the law, "An Act Creating the City of Sorsogon by Merging the Municipalities of Bacon and
Sorsogon in the Province of Sorsogon, and Appropriating Funds Therefor," cannot be said to exclude the
incidental effect of abolishing the two municipalities, nor can it be considered to have deprived the public
of fair information on this consequence.

AS TO THE PLEBSICITE
COMELEC pegged the period NOT FROM THE DATE OF APPROVAL of the law (Aug 16, 2000), but
from the date of COMPLETION OF THE PUBLICATION PERIOD (September 1, 2000). This is because

the same Act, RA 8806, states: SECTION 65. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect upon its publication
in at least two (2) newspapers of general and local circulation. From said date, the conduct of the
plebiscite was well within the 120 day period. SC agreed with the COMELEC, and added the ratio by
citing Section 10 of the LGC which provides:
"SECTION 10. Plebiscite Requirement. No creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries
of local government units shall take effect unless
approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose in the political unit or units directly affected.
Such plebiscite shall be conducted by the Commission on Elections within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date
of the effectivity of the law or ordinance affecting such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another date

The court cited the Ruling in TANADA v ANGARA re. importance of publication for laws to take effect. The
SC said that to give Section 54 a literal and strict interpretation would in effect make the Act effective even
before its publication, which scenario is precisely abhorred in Taada.

AS TO THE LACK OF INFORMATION CAMPAIGN


No sufficient proof was provided on this issue. Hence, the SC used the presumption of regularity in favor
of COMELEC.

FALLO: WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.