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Rodolfo G. Navarro, Victor F.

Bernal, and Rene As regards the first ground, the movantsreiterate


o. Medina vs Executive Secretary Eduardo the same arguments in their respective
Ermita Comments that aside from the undisputed
compliance with the income requirement,
FACTS: Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9355, creating the
Before us are two Motions for Reconsideration Province ofDinagat Islands,has also complied
of the Decision dated February 10, 2010 one with the population and land area requirements.
filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
in behalf of public respondents, and the other
filed by respondent Governor Geraldine Ecleo The arguments are unmeritorious and have
Villaroman, representing the Province of Dinagat already been passed upon by the Court in its
Islands. Decision, ruling that R.A. No. 9355 is
unconstitutional, since it failed to comply with
either the territorial or population requirement
The arguments of the movants are similar. The contained in Section 461 of R.A. No. 7160,
grounds for reconsideration of Governor otherwise known as theLocal Government Code
Villaroman can be subsumed under the grounds of 1991.
for reconsideration of the OSG, which are as
follows:
When the Dinagat Islands was proclaimed a
new province onDecember 3,2006, it had an
I. official population of only 106,951based on
the2000 Census ofPopulation conducted by the
National Statistics Office (NSO), which
population is short of the statutory requirement
The Province of Dinagat Islands was created in of 250,000 inhabitants.
accordance with the provisions of the 1987
Constitution and the Local Government Code of
1991. Article 9 of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations is merely interpretative of Section Although the Provincial Government of Surigao
461 of the Local Government Code. del Norte conducted a special census of
population inDinagatIslandsin 2003, which
yielded a population count of 371,000, the result
was not certified by the NSO as required by the
II. Local Government Code. Moreover,
respondents failed to prove that with the
population count of 371,000, the population of
The power to create a local government unit is the original unit (motherProvinceofSurigao del
vested with the Legislature.The acts of the Norte) would not be reduced to less than the
Legislature and Executive in enacting into law minimum requirement prescribed by law at the
RA 9355 should be respected as petitioners time of the creation of the new province.
failed to overcome the presumption of validity or
constitutionality.
Less than a year after the proclamation of the
new province, the NSO conducted
III. the2007Census of Population. The NSO certified
that as ofAugust 1, 2007,DinagatIslandshad a
total population of only120,813,which wasstill
below theminimum requirement of 250,000
Recent and prevailing jurisprudence considers inhabitants.
the operative fact doctrine as a reason for
upholding the validity and constitutionality of
laws involving the creation of a new local
government unit as in the instant case. Based on the foregoing, R.A. No. 9355 failed to
comply with the population requirement of
250,000 inhabitants as certified by the NSO.
Moreover, the land area of the province failed to He argues that the whole paragraph on
comply with the statutory requirement of2,000 contiguity and land area in paragraph (a) (i)
square kilometers.R.A. No. 9355 specifically above is the one being referred to in the
states that the Province of Dinagat Islands exemption from the territorial requirement in
contains an approximate land area of802.12 paragraph (b). Thus, he contends that if the
square kilometers. This was not disputed by the province to be created is composed of islands,
respondent Governor of the Province of Dinagat like the one in this case, then, its territory need
Islands in her Comment.She and the other not be contiguous and need not have an area of
respondents instead asserted that the province, at least 2,000 square kilometers. He asserts that
which is composed of more than one island, is this is because as the law is worded, contiguity
exempted from theland area requirementbased and land area are not two distinct and separate
on the provision in the Rules and Regulations requirements, but they qualify each other. An
Implementing the Local Government Code of exemption from one of the two component
1991 (IRR), specifically paragraph 2 of Article requirements in paragraph (a) (i) allegedly
9which states that [t]he land area requirement necessitates an exemption from the other
shall not apply where the proposed province is component requirement, because the non-
composed of one (1) or more islands.The attendance of one results in the absence of a
certificate of compliance issued by the reason for the other component requirement to
LandsManagement Bureau was also based on effect a qualification.
the exemption under paragraph 2, Article 9 of
the IRR.
ISSUE: Whether the correct interpretation of
Section 461 of the Local Government Code is
However, the Court held thatparagraph 2 of the one stated in the Dissenting Opinion
Article 9 of the IRRis null and void, because the ofAssociate Justice Antonio Eduardo B.
exemption is not found in Section 461 of the Nachura.
Local Government Code. There is no dispute
that in case of discrepancy between the basic
law and the rules and regulations implementing HELD: The Court is not persuaded.
the said law, the basic law prevails, because the
rules and regulations cannot go beyond the
terms and provisions of the basic law.
POLITICAL LAW: general powers and attributes
of local government units
The movants now argue that the correct Section 7, Chapter 2 (entitledGeneral Powers
interpretation of Section 461 of the Local and Attributes of Local Government Units) of the
Government Code is the one stated in the Local Government Code provides:
Dissenting Opinion ofAssociate Justice Antonio
Eduardo B. Nachura.
SEC. 7.Creation and Conversion. As a general
rule, the creation of a local government unit or
In his Dissenting Opinion, Justice Nachura its conversion from one level to another
agrees that R.A. No. 9355 failed to comply with levelshall be based onverifiableindicatorsof
the population requirement.However, he viability and projected capacity to provide
contends that the Province ofDinagat Islands did services,to wit:
not fail to comply with the territorial
requirementbecause it is composed ofa group of
islands; hence, it is exempt from compliance not
(a)Income. It must be sufficient, based on
only with the territorial contiguity requirement,
acceptable standards, to provide for all essential
but also with the 2,000-square-kilometer land
government facilities and services and special
area criterion inSection 461 of the Local
functions commensurate with the size of its
Government Code.
population, as expected of the local government
unit concerned;
(b)Population. It shall be determined as the total Hence, contrary to the arguments of both
number of inhabitants within the territorial movants, the requirement of a contiguous
jurisdiction of the local government unit territory and the requirement of a land area of at
concerned; and least 2,000square kilometers aredistinctand
separate requirements for landarea under
paragraph (a) (i) of Section 461 and Section 7
(c)Land area. It must be contiguous, unless it (c) of the Local Government Code.
comprises two (2) or more islands, or is
separated by a local government unit
independent of the others; properly identified by POLITICAL LAW: exemption from the
metes and bounds with technical requirement of territorial contiguity
descriptions;andsufficient to provide for such
basic services and facilities to meet the
requirements of its populace. However, paragraph (b) of Section 461 provides
two instances ofexemption from the requirement
of territorial contiguity, thus:
Compliance with the foregoing indicators shall
be attested to by the Department of Finance
(DOF), the National Statistics Office (NSO), and (b)The territoryneed not be contiguousif it
the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the comprises two(2)or more islands,or is separated
Department of Environment and Natural byachartered city or cities which do not
Resources (DENR). contribute to the incomeofthe province.

POLITICAL LAW: requirements for land area Contrary to the contention of the movants, the
exemption above pertains only to the
requirement of territorial contiguity.It clearly
Itmust be emphasized that Section 7 above, states that the requirement of territorial
which provides for the generalruleinthecreation contiguity may be dispensed with in the case of
of a local government unit, states in paragraph a province comprisingtwo or more islands, or is
(c)thereof that the land area must be separated by a chartered city or cities which do
contiguousandsufficient to provide for such basic not contribute to the income of the province.
services and facilities to meet the requirements
of its populace.
Nowhere in paragraph (b) is it expressly stated
or may it be implied that when a province is
Therefore, there are two requirements for land composed of two or more islands, or when
area:(1) the land area must be contiguous; and theterritory of a province is separated by a
(2) the land area must be sufficient to provide for chartered city or cities, such province need not
such basic services and facilities to meet the comply with the land area requirement of at least
requirements of its populace.A sufficient land 2,000 square kilometers or the requirement in
area in the creation of a province is at least paragraph (a) (i) of Section 461of the Local
2,000 square kilometers, as provided by Section Government Code.
461 of the Local Government Code .

Where the law is free from ambiguity, the court


Thus, Section 461 of the Local Government may not introduce exceptions or conditions
Code, providing the requisites for the creation of where none is provided from considerations of
a province, specifically states the requirement of convenience, public welfare, or for any laudable
acontiguousterritoryofat leasttwo thousand purpose; neither may it engraft into the law
(2,000) square kilometers. qualifications not contemplated, nor construe its
provisions by taking into account questions of
expediency, good faith, practical utility and other
similar reasons so as to relax non-compliance
therewith. Where the law speaks in clear and As the law-making branch of the government,
categorical language, there is no room for indeed, it was the Legislature that imposed the
interpretation, but only for application. criteria for the creation of a province as
contained in Section 461 of the Local
Government Code. No law has yet been passed
amending Section 461 of the Local Government
Moreover, the OSG contends that since the Code, so only the criteria stated therein are the
power to create a local government unit is bases for the creation of a province. The
vested with the Legislature, the acts of the Constitution clearly mandates that the criteria in
Legislature and the Executive branch in enacting the Local Government Code must be followed in
into law R.A. No. 9355 should be respected as the creation of a province; hence, any
petitioners failed to overcome the presumption derogation of or deviation from the criteria
of validity or constitutionality. prescribed in the Local Government Code
violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.

The contention lacks merit.


Contrary to the contention of the movants, the
evidence on record proved that R.A. No. 9355
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution States: failed to comply with either the population or
territorial requirements prescribed in Section 461
of the Local Government Code for the creation
of the Province of Dinagat Islands; hence, the
SEC. 10.No province, city, municipality,
Court declared R.A. No. 9355 unconstitutional.
orbarangaymay becreated, divided, merged,
abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
exceptin accordance with the criteria established Motions for Reconsideration of the Decision
in the local government codeand subject to dated February 10, 2010 are hereby DENIED for
approval by a majority of the votes cast in a lack of merit.
plebiscite in the political units directly affected.