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Sunday, August 7, 2011

SC decision final | Bogo stays as city

      The Supreme Court (SC) finally issued an entry of judgment on July 6, 2011 on the cityhood status of 16 cities which includes the City of Bogo following a series of contradicting decisions on the case against the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP). The issuance of entry of judgment puts an end to the long legal battle.
       In a Resolution penned by Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, it concluded: “Congress undeniably gave these cities all the considerations that justice and fair play demanded. Hence, this Court should do no less by stamping its imprimatur to the clear and unmistakable legislative intent and by duly recognizing the certain collective wisdom of Congress.”
       “WHEREFORE, the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration) of the Decision dated 15 February 2011) is denied with finality.”
       Declared constitutional were RA 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 Eastern 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 Orienta), 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).
       Bogo City Mayor, Hon. Celestino E. Martinez Jr., said that the city government will ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) withheld from the time the cityhood law was ratified. 
         The 16 cities will submit a letter to Budget Secretary Francisco Abad, to this effect. Bogo received city-rate IRA in 2007, 2008 and the 1st quarter of 2009 only.

June 16, 2007. RA 9390 the cityhood law that converts the status of Bogo into city was ratified in a plebiscite.

November 18, 2008. SC declared the 16 cityhood laws unconstitutional for violation of Sections 6 and 10 of Article X of the Constitution specifying equality in creation of new cities. The 16 cities did not meet the criteria of a P100M income, SC ruled in a vote of 6-5 and written by Justice Antonio Carpio.

December 21, 2009. The Nov. 18, 2008 decision was reversed by SC in a vote 6-4 declaring the 16 cityhood laws were in fact, constitutional and not violative to the Constitution. The resolution was written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. The ruling declared that 16 new cities were explicitly exempt from income requirement pursuant to RA 9009.

August 24, 2010. The third ruling granted the motions for reconsideration filed by the LCP in a vote of 7-6 and written again by Justice Carpio. Two justices inhibited from the case. SC in effect, reinstated its November 18, 2008 decision.

February 15, 2011. The fourth ruling granted the motions for reconsideration filed by 16 cities. It reinstated the Dec. 21, 2009 decision declaring the 16 cityhood laws valid and constitutional.

April 12, 2011. SC denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by LCP.

June 28, 2011. SC dismissed the 2nd Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration (of Feb. 15, 2011 Decision).

July 6, 2011. SC issued the Entry of Judgment declaring the constitutionality of 16 laws final and executory.

The Bone of Contention. The LCP contend that the cityhood laws violate Sections 6 and 10 of Article X of the Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause, and the right of local governments to a just share in the national taxes.

However, SC ruled that Congress clearly intended that the 16 new cities be exempted from the coverage of RA 9009 particularly the adjustment in income requirement from P20M to P100M.

The 16 cities assert that in October 2000 Senate Bill No. 2157 prior to its adoption as RA 9009 was yet deliberated in Congress while the subject cityhood laws were already pending in Senate.

RA 9009 only took effect on June 30, 2011 already under the 12th Congress. Hence, it did not cover the conversion bills. Furthermore, the responses of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, author of RA 9009 made it clear that the law exempts the 16 cities from coverage.

With every fabric of contention settled, the Mayor said to those who attended the thanksgiving mass on June 30, 2011 held at the chapel of the city hall, “Be home and sleep soundly”.

By Ruby Ortega-Uy
July 2011 Issue, Vol. 1 No. 1

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