TABUK CITY, Kalinga — There is no giving up in the pursuit of 16 local government units (LGUs) to have their municipalities reinstated as the country’s newest cities.
Today, former solicitor-general Estelito Mendoza, acting as counsel of the mayors of these 16 municipalities, will file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court (SC) on its ruling which voided the cityhood of this second-class town and 15 others.
In its ruling, the High Court reinstated an earlier declaration that the conversion of the 16 towns into cities is unconstitutional.
As agreed upon during their last meeting, the argument raised by the 16 concerned LGUs remains the same.
It is the assertion of “legitimacy in their right to be accorded cityhood – and not to be deprived of the same – which was already granted them by the laws passed by Congress which were then subsequently signed into law.”
With regard to the question of whether or not the 16 territories are still cities after the SC decision, legal luminaries here believe that pending the entry of judgment of the SC decision, all officials emanating from the affected local governments shall refer to them as a city until such time that the High Court shall have resolved the motion for reconsideration to be filed.
On the status of the two additional councillors who will be displaced once the SC upholds its original decision declaring the laws creating the new cities unconstitutional, local officials here claimed they will still wait for the opinion of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Thus, the status quo must be maintained to give supremacy to the will of the people because they were voted by the electorate with the belief that the city will remain.
In a 16-page decision, the SC reverted to its November 2008 decision declaring the cityhood laws of the 16 cities as “unconstitutional” thereby overturning its Resolution on Dec. 21, 2009 declaring the same laws as constitutional.
Earlier, the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) petitioned the SC against the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities and the negative effect of the same on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of the cities which they obviously do not want to share to developing towns.
Fiscal autonomy is one of the advocacies of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera as part of the renewed quest for regional autonomy and development.
Aside from Tabuk, the other new cities affected by the decision include Baybay City Leyte; Bogo City, Cebu; Catbalogan City, Samar; Tandag City, Surigao del Sur; Lamitan city, Basilan; Borongan City, Samar; Tayabas City, Quezon;
Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur; Batac City, Ilocos Norte; Mati City, Davao Oriental; Guihulangan City, Negros Oriental; Kabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte; El Salvador city, Misamis Oriental; Carcar; and Naga City in Cebu.
Dexter See, Manila Bulletin