League finally recognizes 16 ‘unqualified’ cities

After a 6-year legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, the league officially welcomes the 16 that originally skirted conversion requirements

MANILA, Philippines – The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) finally acknowledged the cityhood of 16 former municipalities whose conversion it originally opposed – up to the Supreme Court (SC) – for 6 years.

On Friday, July 19, the league formally welcomed the so-called League of 16 at LCP’s 60th General Assembly at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria Hotel in Quezon City.

The LCP had protested the conversion of the 16 towns before the High Court after a law during President Gloria Arroyo’s time exempted them from the minimum requirements set by the Local Government Code to qualify as cities.

The SC flip-flopped on the case 3 times.

At the general assembly on Friday, the LCP presented National Executive Board Resolution No. 2013-02, which it adopted on July 5, formally recognizing the 16 cities by virtue of the latest SC decision on the cityhood case and the memoranda from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The new 16 member cities are:

City Mayor
Batac City, Ilocos Norte Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta 
Baybay City, Leyte Carmen Cari
Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur  Kim Lope Asis
Bogo City, Cebu Celestino Martinez, Jr.
Borongan City, Eastern Samar Maria Fe Abunda
Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte Dale Corvera
Carcar City, Cebu Nicepuro Apura
Catbalogan City, Samar  Stephany Uy-Tan
El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental Alfredo Tan
Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Carlo Jorge Reyes
Lamitan City, Basilan Rosita Furigay
Mati City, Davao Oriental Carlo Luis Rabat
Naga City, Cebu Valdemar Chiong
Tabuk City, Kalinga Ferdinand Tubban
Tandag City, Surigao del Sur Roxanne Pimentel
Tayabas City, Quezon Faustino Silang

Cityhood case reversed thrice

The 16 cities were created through 16 bills that lapsed into laws between March and July 2007 during the Arroyo administration.

In March 2007, LCP filed a case with the Supreme Court seeking to declare as unconstitutional the conversion of the 16 from municipalities to cities for failing to meet income requirements.

The LCP also expressed concerns that the share of legitimate cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) would decrease if the 16 “illegitimate” cities would be included in the computation.

On November 18, 2008, the SC voted 6-5 to to revert the cities’ status back to municipalities.

A year later, on December 21, 2009, the SC reversed its first decision, returning the 16 back to cities. It contended that these cities were not covered by Republic Act 9009 – the law enacted in June 2001 that increased the income requirement for cities from P20 million to P100 million – as proven by transcripts of Senate debates while crafting RA 9009.

On August 24, 2010, the SC made a reversal again, reinstating its November 2008 decision. It concluded that the Local Government Code as amended by RA 9009 should be followed, without exception.

But on February 15, 2011, the 16 became cities again after the SC made a third reversal. This time, the High Court acknowledged, among others, that the 16 cityhood laws amended RA 9009, effectively amending the Local Government Code itself.

With the latest SC decision on the matter, there are now 143 cities in the Philippines. – Rappler.com