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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Supreme Court upholds Cityhood of Bogo and 15 others

by: Dante J. Mayor

The employees of the City of Bogo shouted in jubilation after Mayor Junie Martinez’ announcement that the Supreme Court has declared again RA 9390 constitutional and valid. Tears of joy rolled down from the eyes of some of the city hall employees while others are clapping and smiling.

Yesterday, February 15, 2011 in an 8:00am Mass officiated by Msgr. Isidro Ullamot at the St. Joseph Chapel - Bogo City Hall, all employees offered their prayers for the Supreme Court’s deliberation of the cityhood case on that day. 

At about 4:00 pm, all city hall employees came out of their respective offices as the city hall bell rang. All employees proceeded then to the session hall for an emergency meeting with the Honorable Mayor. 
At about 4:18pm, Mayor Junie Martinez gladly announced that the Supreme Court has voted a while ago in favor of the cityhood case of Bogo and 15 others.

In a 7-6 vote with two abstentions, the Supreme Court has reversed itself anew as it declared constitutional the laws that converted 16 municipalities into cities.

With the ruling, the SC granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the 16 LGUs whose laws had earlier been declared unconstitutional.

Declared as valid and constitutional are Republic Act No. 9389 (Baybay City in Leyte), RA 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu), RA 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar), RA 9392 (Tandag City in Surigao del Sur), RA 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan), RA 9394 (Borongan City in Samar), RA 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon), RA 9404 (Tabuk City in Kalinga), RA 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur), RA 9407 (Batac City in Ilocos Norte), RA 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental), RA 9409 (Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental), RA 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte), RA 9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental), RA 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu), and RA 9491 (Naga City in Cebu).

This decision which was handed down by the SC during its full court session last Tuesday February 15, 2011 was the fourth ruling issued since 2008 when the issue on the legality of the 16 cityhood laws was challenged by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP). A copy of the new ruling was not immediately available.

The first decision handed down in a 6-5 vote and written by Justice Antonio T. Carpio was first issued on Nov. 18, 2008 declaring unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws for violation of the Constitution.  It said the 16 towns did not meet the criteria of a P100 million income to qualify them into cities.

On Dec. 21, 2009, the first decision was reversed by the SC with a ruling that the laws converting 16 municipalities into cities are constitutional. This time, the decision in a 6-4 vote was written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.

The 2009 ruling declared that all cityhood laws, enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009 which increased the income requirement for cityhood from P20 million to P100 million in Section 450 of the Local Government Code (LGC), explicitly exempt the 16 municipalities from the said increased income requirement.

The third ruling was handed down on Aug. 24, 2010 in a 7-6 vote with two justices inhibiting themselves from the case. The ruling granted the motions for reconsideration filed by the LCP and its member cities as it reinstated the Nov. 18, 2008 decision declaring unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws.
Upon receipt of the Aug. 24, 2010 ruling, the 16 municipalities filed their respective motions for reconsideration. Their motion for oral argument was denied by the SC.
The new ruling was written by Justice Lucas P. Bersamin. Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Roberto A. Abad, Jose Portugal Perez, and Jose Castral Mendoza concurred in the ruling.

Justices Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales, Arturo D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Martin S. Villarama Jr., and Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno dissented this ruling while Justices Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura and Mariano C. Del Castillo inhibited themselves.

Court Administrator and Supreme Court Spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez confirmed Wednesday, February 16, 2011 the new decision on the case involving the cityhood of 16 LGUs.

Marquez said: “Ponente (writer) is Justice Bersamin but it’s still being circulated. They have taken a vote, its 7-6. This is really an unusual case considering this is the fourth decision on the case, this is the third reversal. If you will recall, the first decision was handed down by the court before the change in the composition of the court way back in 2008. There were seven justices who retired, the first decision was before the seven justices retired, the second was after the seven justices were replaced. Up until today… the votes of the justices were tight... So it’s not very surprising the votes will be changing. Prior to this vote, the vote was 7-6 in favor of the cities. Last Tuesday, again it was reversed 7-6 now in favor of the municipalities.”

“As I have said it’s really not far-fetched for the court to reverse itself considering the voting was very tight, if the voting was maybe 10-5, or 11-4, you can have more assurances the decision won’t be reversed. A change in the composition of the court can influence the succeeding decision of the court,” he added.
It was not yet known whether this is a final and executory ruling or the LCP would still file a motion for reconsideration.

This morning (Feb. 16 2011), at 9:00am the city hall employees headed by Mayor Junie Martinez and Vice Mayor Santiago Sevilla, with all City Councilors offered a thanksgiving mass officiated by Msgr. Isidro “Dodong” Ullamot at the St. Joseph Chapel of the City Hall. Some DepEd officials and employees also attended the mass. 

Bogohanons believed that this good news is God’s plan through the intercession of the beloved patron saint of Bogo, St. Vincente Ferrer and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

See Related news:
          Manila Bulletin
          Inquirer. net
          GMA News

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