Constitutional Law

Local Government Code/ Public Corporation Law Case Digests

SAMSON v. AGUIRRE

G.R. No. 133076 September 22, 1999

 

FACTS:

RA 8535 was signed into law creating the City of Novaliches out of 15 barangays of Quezon City. Petitioner Moises Samson, incumbent councilor of the first district of Quezon City, challenged the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8535 and sought to enjoin its implementation, the holding a plebiscite for the creation of the City of Novaliches, and the disbursement of funds for said plebiscite, on the following grounds:

a) R.A. No. 8535 failed to conform to the criteria established by Sections 7, 11(a) and 450(a) of the Local Government Code, as to the requirements of income, population and land area; seat of government; and no adverse effect to being a city of Quezon City, respectively, and its Implementing Rules as provided in Article 11(b)(1) and (2), as to furnishing a copy of the Quezon City Council of barangay resolution; an

b) The said law will in effect amend the Constitution.

 

ISSUE: Whether or not the proposed creation of the City of Novaliches will result in a prohibited amendment of the Constitution.

 

RULING:

Allegations, without more, cannot substitute for proof. The presumption stands that the law passed by Congress, based on the bill of Cong. Liban, had complied with all the requisites therefor.

In Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union, we had occasion to stress that:

All presumptions are indulged in favor of constitutionality; one who attacks a statute, alleging unconstitutionality must prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt; that a law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional; that if any reasonable basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld, and the challenger must negate all possible bases; that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a statute; and that a liberal interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality of legislation should be adopted.

Every statute is presumed valid.  Every law is presumed to have passed through regular congressional processes.  A person asserting the contrary has the burden of proving his allegations clearly and unmistakably. Having this in mind, we now proceed to examine whether or not petitioner was able to successfully overcome the presumption of validity accorded R.A. No. 8535.

The proposed creation of the City of Novaliches will in no way result in a prohibited amendment of the Constitution, contrary to petitioner’s contention. The ordinance appended to the Constitution merely apportions the seats of the House of Representatives to the different legislative districts in the country. Nowhere does it provide that Metro Manila shall forever be composed of only 17 cities and municipalities as claimed by petitioner. Too literal a reading of the ordinance in or appendix of the Constitution will only result in its erroneous interpretation.

Clearly, from the foregoing considerations, petitioner has failed to present clear and convincing proof to defeat the presumption of constitutionality being enjoyed by R.A. No. 8535. Nor did he succeed to convince the Court with substantial and persuasive legal reasons for us to grant the reliefs he seeks.

 

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) v. COMELEC

G.R. No. 176951             November 18, 2008

FACTS:

Congress enacted into law 33 bills converting 33 municipalities into cities but did not act on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities. Congress enacted into law RA 9009, which amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code by increasing the annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million.

The House of Representatives of the 12th Congress adopted Joint Resolution No. 29, which sought to exempt from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved. However, the 12th Congress ended without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29.

During the 13th Congress, the House re-adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarded it to the Senate for approval. However, the Senate again failed to approve the Joint Resolution. Sixteen (16) municipalities filed individual cityhood bills containing a common provision exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009.

The cityhood bills lapsed into law (Cityhood Laws)  without the President’s signature.

The Cityhood Laws direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites to determine whether the voters in each respondent municipality approve of the conversion of their municipality into a city.

Petitioners filed the present petitions to declare the Cityhood Laws unconstitutional for violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, as well as for violation of the equal protection clause.

Petitioners also lament that the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment because more cities will share the same amount of internal revenue set aside for all cities under Section 285 of the Local Government Code.

 

ISSUES:

  1. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution; and
  1. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause.

RULING:

1.

The Cityhood Laws violate Sections 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution, and are thus unconstitutional.

First, applying the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 to the present case is a prospective, not a retroactive application, because RA 9009 took effect in 2001 while the cityhood bills became law more than five years later.

Second, the Constitution requires that Congress shall prescribe all the criteria for the creation of a city in the Local Government Code and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.

Third, the Cityhood Laws violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution because they prevent a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units.

Fourth, the criteria prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, for converting a municipality into a city are clear, plain and unambiguous, needing no resort to any statutory construction.

Fifth, the intent of members of the 11th Congress to exempt certain municipalities from the coverage of RA 9009 remained an intent and was never written into Section 450 of the Local Government Code.

Sixth, the deliberations of the 11th or 12th Congress on unapproved bills or resolutions are not extrinsic aids in interpreting a law passed in the 13th Congress.

Seventh, even if the exemption in the Cityhood Laws were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, the exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.

Prohibition is the proper action for testing the constitutionality of laws administered by the COMELEC, like the Cityhood Laws, which direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites in implementation of the Cityhood Laws.

The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code. The Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write such criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws.

The criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code govern exclusively the creation of a city. No other law, not even the charter of the city, can govern such creation. The clear intent of the Constitution is to insure that the creation of cities and other political units must follow the same uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code. Any derogation or deviation from the criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.

In enacting RA 9009, Congress did not grant any exemption to respondent municipalities, even though their cityhood bills were pending in Congress when Congress passed RA 9009. The Cityhood Laws, all enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009. Such exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local Government Code and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.

2.
To be valid, the classification in the present case must be based on substantial distinctions, rationally related to a legitimate government objective which is the purpose of the law, not limited to existing conditions only, and applicable to all similarly situated. Thus, this Court has ruled:

The equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid classification under the following conditions:

  1. The classification must rest on substantial distinctions;
  2. The classification must be germane to the purpose of the law;
  3. The classification must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
  4. The classification must apply equally to all members of the same class.

There is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress does not affect or determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress might even have lower annual income than municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills. In short, the classification criterion − mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress − is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting into cities.

Furthermore, limiting the exemption only to the 16 municipalities violates the requirement that the classification must apply to all similarly situated. Municipalities with the same income as the 16 respondent municipalities cannot convert into cities, while the 16 respondent municipalities can. Clearly, as worded the exemption provision found in the Cityhood Laws, even if it were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.

 

HON. ROY A. PADILLA, JR. v. COMELEC

G.R. No. 103328 October 19, 1992

FACTS:

 

The COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. 2312 which reads as follows:

WHEREAS, R.A. 7155 xxx creates the Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa in the Province of Camarines Norte to be composed of Barangays Tulay-Na-Lupa, Lugui, San Antonio, Mabilo I, Napaod, Benit, Bayan-Bayan, Matanlang, Pag-Asa, Maot, and Calabasa, all in the Municipality of Labo, same province.

 

WHERAS under Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution the creation of a municipality shall be subject to approval by a majority of votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected, and pursuant to Section 134 of the Local Government Code said plebiscite shall be conducted by the COMELEC;

xxx

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as the Commission hereby resolves, to promulgated (sic) the following guidelines to govern the conduct of said plebiscite:

  1. The plebiscite shall be held on December 15, 1991, in the areas or units affected, namely the barangays comprising he proposed Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa and the remaining areas of the mother Municipality of Labor, Camarines Norte (Tan vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 73155, July 11, 1986).

In the plebiscite throughout the Municipality of Labo, only 2,890 votes favored its creation while 3,439 voters voted against the creation of the Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa. The Plebiscite Board of Canvassers declared the rejection and disapproval of the independent Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa by a majority of votes.

Petitioner as Governor of Camarines Norte, seeks to set aside the plebiscite conducted by the COMELEC throughout the Municipality of Labo and prays that a new plebiscite be undertaken as provided by RA 7155, contending that the plebiscite was a complete failure and that the results obtained were invalid and illegal because the plebiscite should have been conducted only in the political unit or units affected, i.e. the 12 barangays comprising the new Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa. Petitioner stresses that the plebiscite should not have included the remaining area of the mother unit of the Municipality of Labo, Camarines Norte.

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in promulgating Resolution No. 2312

RULING:

Respondent COMELEC did not commit grave abuse in promulgating Resolution No. 2312 and that the plebiscite, which rejected the creation of the proposed Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa, is valid.

Petitioner’s contention that the ruling in Tan vs. COMELEC has been superseded with the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

Petitioner opines that since Tan vs. COMELEC was based on Section 3 of Article XI of the 1973 Constitution our ruling in said case is no longer applicable under Section 10 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution, especially since the latter provision deleted the words “unit or.”

We do not agree. The deletion of the phrase “unit or” in Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution from its precursor, Section 3 of Article XI of the 1973 Constitution did not affect our ruling in Tan vs. Comelec.

It stands to reason that when the law states that the plebiscite shall be conducted “in the political units directly affected,” it means that residents of the political entity who would be economically dislocated by the separation of a portion thereof have a right to vote in said plebiscite. Evidently, what is contemplated by the phase “political units directly affected,” is the plurality of political units which would participate in the plebiscite. Logically, those to be included in such political areas are the inhabitants of the 12 barangays of the proposed Municipality of Tulay-Na-Lupa as well as those living in the parent Municipality of Labo, Camarines Norte.

Petition DISMISSED.

 

ORDILLO, et al. vs.  COMELEC

G.R. No. 93054   December 4, 1990 192 SCRA 100

 

FACTS:

The people of the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Kalinga-Apayao and the city of Baguio cast their votes in a plebiscite held pursuant to RA 6766 entitled “An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).”

The official COMELEC results of the plebiscite showed that the creation of the Region was approved by a majority of 5,889 votes in only the Ifugao Province and was overwhelmingly rejected by 148,676 votes in the rest of the provinces and city above-mentioned.

Consequently, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 2259 stating that the Organic Act for the Region has been approved and/or ratified by majority of the votes cast only in the province of Ifugao.

Petitioner filed a petition with COMELEC to declare the non-ratification of the Organic Act for the Region.

The petitioners maintain that there can be no valid Cordillera Autonomous Region in only one province as the Constitution and RA 6766 require that the said Region be composed of more than one constituent unit.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the province of Ifugao, being the only province which voted favorably for the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region can, alone, legally and validly constitute such Region.

RULING:

This petition is meritorious.

The sole province of Ifugao cannot validly constitute the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

It is explicit in Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution that:

“Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The keywords — provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas connote that “region” is to be made up of more than one constituent unit. The term “region” used in its ordinary sense means two or more provinces. This is supported by the fact that the thirteen (13) regions into which the Philippines is divided for administrative purposes are groupings of contiguous provinces.

Aside from the 1987 Constitution, a reading of the provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 strengthens the petitioner’s position that the Region cannot be constituted from only one province.

Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Statute provide that the Cordillera Autonomous Region is to be administered by the Cordillera government consisting of the Regional Government and local government units. It further provides that:

“SECTION 2. The Regional Government shall exercise powers and functions necessary for the proper governance and development of all provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangay or ili within the Autonomous Region . . .”

From these sections, it can be gleaned that Congress never intended that a single province may constitute the autonomous region. Otherwise, we would be faced with the absurd situation of having two sets of officials, a set of provincial officials and another set of regional officials exercising their executive and legislative powers over exactly the same small area.

These sections of Republic Act No. 6766 show that a one province Cordillera Autonomous Region was never contemplated by the law creating it.

The entirety of Republic Act No. 6766 creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region is infused with provisions which rule against the sole province of Ifugao constituting the Region.

To contemplate the situation envisioned by the respondent would not only violate the letter and intent of the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 but would also be impractical and illogical.

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