EN BANC

 

 

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE                          G.R. No. 176951

PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented

by LCP National President

JERRY P. TREÑAS, CITY OF

ILOILO represented by

MAYOR JERRY P.  TREÑAS,

CITY OF CALBAYOG

represented by MAYOR

MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO,

and JERRY P.  TREÑAS in his

personal capacity as taxpayer,

                               Petitioners,

 

               - versus -

                            

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS;

MUNICIPALITY OF BAYBAY,

PROVINCE OF LEYTE;

MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO,

PROVINCE OF CEBU;

MUNICIPALITY OF CATBALOGAN,

PROVINCE OF WESTERN SAMAR;

MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG,

PROVINCE OF SURIGAO DEL SUR;

MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN,

PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR;

and MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS,

PROVINCE OF QUEZON,

                                 Respondents.

 

CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF  SANTIAGO,                    

CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO,

CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF

TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO,

CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF

SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,

CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF

GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN,

CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF

SAN CARLOS, CITY OF

SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF

TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB,

CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF

URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS,

CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF

HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF

BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS,

CITY OF CADIZ, and                                     

CITY OF TAGUM,

           Petitioners-In-Intervention.                        

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE                          G.R. No. 177499

PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented

by LCP National President

JERRY P. TREÑAS, CITY OF

ILOILO represented by

MAYOR JERRY P.  TREÑAS,

CITY OF CALBAYOG

represented by MAYOR

MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO,

and JERRY P.  TREÑAS in his

personal capacity as taxpayer,

                               Petitioners,

 

               - versus -

 

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS;

MUNICIPALITY OF LAMITAN,

PROVINCE OF BASILAN;

MUNICIPALITY OF TABUK,

PROVINCE OF KALINGA;

MUNICIPALITY OF BAYUGAN,

PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL SUR;

MUNICIPALITY OF BATAC,

PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE;

MUNICIPALITY OF MATI,

PROVINCE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL;

and MUNICIPALITY OF GUIHULNGAN,

PROVINCE OF NEGROS ORIENTAL,

                                 Respondents.

 

 

 

 

CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF                         

SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA,

CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI,

CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO,

CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF

SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,

CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF

GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN,

CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF

SAN CARLOS, CITY OF

SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF

TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB,

CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF

URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS,

CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF

HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF

BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS,

CITY OF CADIZ, and                   

CITY OF TAGUM,

           Petitioners-In-Intervention.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --x

 

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE                  G.R. No.  178056

PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented

by LCP National President                          Present:

JERRY P. TREÑAS, CITY OF

ILOILO represented by                               PUNO, C.J.,

MAYOR JERRY P.  TREÑAS,                   QUISUMBING,

CITY OF CALBAYOG                                YNARES-SANTIAGO,

represented by MAYOR                              CARPIO,

MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO,                  AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

and JERRY P.  TREÑAS in his                  CORONA,

personal capacity as taxpayer,                    CARPIO MORALES,

                               Petitioners,                     AZCUNA,

                                                                       TINGA,

                                                                  CHICO-NAZARIO,      

                  - versus -                                 VELASCO, JR.,                                                                                         NACHURA, 

                                                                     REYES,

                                                                      LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS;          BRION, JJ.      

MUNICIPALITY OF CABADBARAN,        

PROVINCE OF AGUSAN                      

DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY            

OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF             

CEBU; and MUNICIPALITY OF

EL SALVADOR, MISAMIS

ORIENTAL,

                                 Respondents.

 

 

CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF                         

SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA,

CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI,

CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO,

CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF  SILAY,

CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,

CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF

GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN,

CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF

SAN CARLOS, CITY OF

SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF

TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB,

CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF

URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS,

CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF

HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF

BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS,

CITY OF CADIZ, and                                         Promulgated:

CITY OF TAGUM,

           Petitioners-In-Intervention.                   November 18, 2008    

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

 

D E C I S I O N

 

CARPIO, J.:

 

The Case

        

         These are consolidated petitions for prohibition[1] with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines, City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treñas[2] assailing the constitutionality of the subject Cityhood Laws and enjoining the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and respondent municipalities from conducting plebiscites pursuant to the Cityhood Laws.

 

The Facts

        

During the 11th Congress,[3] Congress enacted into law 33 bills converting 33 municipalities into cities.  However, Congress did not act on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities.

        

         During the 12th Congress,[4] Congress enacted into law Republic         Act  No. 9009 (RA 9009),[5] which took effect on 30 June 2001.  RA 9009 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 rationale for the amendment was to restrain, in the words of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, “the mad rush” of municipalities to convert into cities solely to secure a larger share in the Internal Revenue Allotment despite the fact that they are incapable of fiscal independence.[6] 

 

         After the effectivity of RA 9009, the House of Representatives of the 12th Congress[7] adopted Joint Resolution No. 29,[8] which sought to exempt from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved in the 11th Congress.   However, the 12th Congress ended without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29. 

 

         During the 13th Congress,[9] the House of Representatives 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. Following the advice of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, 16 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills.  The 16 cityhood bills contained a common provision exempting all  the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009.

 

         On 22 December 2006, the House of Representatives approved the cityhood bills.  The Senate also approved the cityhood bills in February 2007, except that of Naga, Cebu which was passed on 7 June 2007.  The cityhood bills lapsed into law (Cityhood Laws[10]) on various dates from March to July 2007 without the President’s signature.[11] 

 

         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.[12]  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.[13]

 

 

The Issues

 

         The petitions raise the following fundamental issues:

 

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

 

2.  Whether the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause. 

 

 

 

The Ruling of the Court

 

 

         We grant the petitions.

 

         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.

 

 

Preliminary Matters

 

         Prohibition is the proper action for testing the constitutionality of laws administered by the COMELEC,[14]  like the Cityhood Laws, which direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites in implementation of the Cityhood Laws.  Petitioner League of Cities of the Philippines has legal standing because Section 499 of the Local Government Code tasks the League with the “primary purpose of ventilating, articulating and crystallizing issues affecting city government administration and securing, through proper and legal means, solutions thereto.”[15]   Petitioners-in-intervention,[16] which are existing cities, have legal standing because their Internal Revenue Allotment will be reduced if the Cityhood Laws are declared constitutional.  Mayor Jerry P. Treñas has legal standing because as Mayor of Iloilo City and as a taxpayer he has sufficient interest to prevent the unlawful expenditure of public funds, like the release of more Internal Revenue Allotment to political units than what the law allows.

 

Applying RA 9009 is a Prospective Application of the Law

 

         RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001 during the 11th Congress.  This law specifically amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code, which now provides:

 

Section 450.    Requisites for Creation. — (a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has a locally generated average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least One hundred million pesos (P100,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:

 

(i)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              a contiguous territory of at least one hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by the Land Management Bureau; or

 

(ii) a population of not less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office. 

 

The creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population and income of the original unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.

 

(b)       The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the city proposed to be created is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.

 

(c)       The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

 

Thus, RA 9009 increased the income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million.   Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not provide any exemption from the increased income requirement.

 

         Prior to the enactment of RA 9009, a total of 57 municipalities had cityhood bills pending in Congress.  Thirty-three cityhood bills became law before the enactment of RA 9009.  Congress did not act on 24 cityhood bills during the 11th Congress.

 

         During the 12th Congress, the House of Representatives adopted Joint Resolution No. 29, exempting from the income requirement of P100 million  in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not acted upon during the 11th Congress.  This Resolution reached the Senate.  However, the 12th Congress adjourned without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29.

 

         During the 13th Congress, 16 of the 24 municipalities mentioned in the unapproved Joint Resolution No. 29 filed between November and December of 2006, through their respective sponsors in Congress,  individual cityhood bills containing a common provision, as follows:

 

Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009. — The City of x x x shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No. 9009.

 

 

This common provision exempted each of the 16 municipalities from the income requirement of P100 million prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.  These cityhood bills lapsed into law on various dates from March to July 2007 after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed to sign them. 

 

         Indisputably, Congress passed the Cityhood Laws long after the effectivity of RA 9009.  RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001 or during the 11th Congress.   The 13th Congress passed in December 2006 the cityhood bills which became law only in 2007.  Thus, respondent municipalities cannot invoke the principle of non-retroactivity of laws.[17]  This basic rule has no application because RA 9009, an earlier law to the Cityhood Laws, is not being applied retroactively but prospectively. 

 

 

Congress Must Prescribe in the Local Government Code All Criteria

 

         Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:

 

           No province, city, municipality, or barangay shall be created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

 

 

         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.[18]  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.  

 

 

RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code to increase the income requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the creation of a city. This took effect on 30 June 2001. Hence, from that moment the Local Government Code required that any municipality desiring to become a city must satisfy the P100 million income requirement.  Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not contain any exemption from this income requirement. 

 

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.

 

 

Cityhood Laws Violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution

 

Uniform and non-discriminatory criteria as prescribed in the Local Government Code are essential to implement a fair and equitable distribution of national taxes to all local government units.  Section 6, Article X of the Constitution provides:

 

Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

If the criteria in creating local government units are not uniform and discriminatory, there can be no fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units. 

 

A city with an annual income of only P20 million, all other criteria being equal, should not receive the same share in national taxes as a city with an annual income of P100 million or more. The criteria of land area, population and income, as prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, must be strictly followed because such criteria, prescribed by law, are material in determining the “just share” of local government units in national taxes.   Since the Cityhood Laws do not follow the income criterion in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, they prevent the fair and just distribution of the Internal Revenue Allotment in violation of Section 6, Article X of the Constitution.

 

 

Section 450 of the Local Government Code is Clear,

Plain and Unambiguous

 

 

         There can be no resort to extrinsic aids — like deliberations of Congress — if the language of the law is plain, clear and unambiguous.  Courts determine the intent of the law from the literal language of the law, within the law’s four corners.[19]  If the language of the law is plain, clear and unambiguous, courts simply apply the law according to its express terms.  If a literal application of the law results in absurdity, impossibility or injustice, then courts may resort to extrinsic aids of statutory construction like the legislative history of the law.[20] 

 

 

 

Congress, in enacting RA 9009 to amend Section 450 of the Local Government Code, did not provide any exemption from the increased income requirement, not even to respondent municipalities whose cityhood bills were then pending when Congress passed RA 9009.  Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, contains no exemption whatsoever.  Since the law is clear, plain and unambiguous that any municipality desiring to convert into a city must meet the increased income requirement, there is no reason to go beyond the letter of the law in applying Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.

 

 

The 11th Congress’ Intent was not Written into the Local Government Code

 

         True, members of Congress discussed exempting respondent municipalities from RA 9009, as shown by the various deliberations on the matter during the 11th Congress.  However, Congress did not write this intended exemption into law. Congress could have easily included such exemption in RA 9009 but Congress did not. This is fatal to the cause of respondent municipalities because such exemption must appear in RA 9009 as an amendment to Section 450 of the Local Government Code. The Constitution requires that the criteria for the conversion of a municipality into a city, including any exemption from such criteria, must all be written in the Local Government Code.   Congress cannot prescribe such criteria or exemption from such criteria in any other law.  In short, Congress cannot create a city through a law that does not comply with the criteria or exemption found in the Local Government Code. 

 

         Section 10 of Article X is similar to Section 16, Article XII of the Constitution prohibiting Congress from creating private corporations except by a general law.  Section 16 of Article XII provides:

 

The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations. Government-owned or controlled corporations may be created or established by special charters in the interest of the common good and subject to the test of economic viability.   (Emphasis supplied)

 

 

Thus, Congress must prescribe all the criteria for the “formation, organization, or regulation” of private corporations in a general law applicable to all without discrimination.[21]   Congress cannot create a private corporation through a special law or charter.  

 

 

Deliberations of the 11th Congress on Unapproved Bills Inapplicable

 

Congress is not a continuing body.[22]  The unapproved cityhood bills filed during the 11th Congress became mere scraps of paper upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress.  All the hearings and deliberations conducted during the 11th Congress on unapproved bills also became worthless upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress.  These hearings and deliberations cannot be used to interpret bills enacted into law in the 13th or subsequent Congresses.  

 

The members and officers of each Congress are different. All unapproved bills filed in one Congress become functus officio upon adjournment of that Congress and must be re-filed anew in order to be taken up in the next Congress. When their respective authors re-filed the cityhood bills in 2006 during the 13th Congress, the bills had to start from square one again, going  through the legislative mill just like bills taken up for the first time, from the filing to the approval.   Section 123, Rule XLIV of the Rules of the Senate, on Unfinished Business, provides:

Sec. 123.  x x x 

       All pending matters and proceedings shall terminate upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be taken by the succeeding Congress as if presented for the first time.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

Similarly, Section 78 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, on Unfinished Business, states:

Section 78. Calendar of Business. The Calendar of Business shall consist of the following:

a.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Unfinished Business. This is business being considered by the House at the time of its last adjournment. Its consideration shall be resumed until it is disposed of. The Unfinished Business at the end of a session shall be resumed at the commencement of the next session as if no adjournment has taken place. At the end of the term of a Congress, all Unfinished Business are deemed terminated.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

Thus, the deliberations during the 11th Congress on the unapproved cityhood bills, as well as the deliberations during the 12th and 13th Congresses on the unapproved resolution exempting from RA 9009 certain municipalities, have no legal significance.  They do not qualify as extrinsic aids in construing laws passed by subsequent Congresses.

 

 

Applicability of Equal Protection Clause

        

         If Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, contained an exemption to the P100 million annual income requirement, the criteria for such exemption could be scrutinized for possible violation of the equal protection clause.  Thus, the criteria for the exemption, if found in the Local Government Code, could be assailed on the ground of absence of a valid classification.  However, Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not contain any exemption.   The exemption is contained in the Cityhood Laws, which are unconstitutional because such exemption must be prescribed in the Local Government Code as mandated in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.  

 

Even if the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, such exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.  The exemption provision merely states, “Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009  ─ The City of x x x shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No. 9009.   This one sentence exemption provision contains no classification standards or guidelines differentiating the exempted municipalities from those that are not exempted. 

 

Even if we take into account the deliberations in the 11th Congress that municipalities with pending cityhood bills should be exempt from the P100 million income requirement, there is still no valid classification to satisfy the equal protection clause.  The exemption will be based solely on the fact that the 16 municipalities had cityhood bills pending in the 11th Congress when RA 9009 was enacted.  This is not a valid classification between those entitled and those not entitled to exemption from the P100 million income requirement. 

 

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,[23] 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.[24]

 

 

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. 

 

         Municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills were not informed that a pending cityhood bill in the 11th Congress would be a condition for exemption from the increased P100 million income requirement.  Had they been informed, many municipalities would have caused the filing of their own cityhood bills.    These municipalities, even if they have bigger annual income than the 16 respondent municipalities, cannot now convert into cities if their income is less than P100 million. 

 

         The fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress limits the exemption to a specific condition existing at the time of passage of RA 9009.   That specific condition will never happen again.  This violates the requirement that a valid classification must not be limited to existing conditions only.   This requirement is illustrated in Mayflower Farms, Inc. v. Ten Eyck,[25] where the challenged law allowed milk dealers engaged in business prior to a fixed date to sell at a price lower than that allowed to newcomers in the same business.  In Mayflower, the U.S. Supreme Court held:

 

We are referred to a host of decisions to the effect that a regulatory law may be prospective in operation and may except from its sweep those presently engaged in the calling or activity to which it is directed. Examples are statutes licensing physicians and dentists, which apply only to those entering the profession subsequent to the passage of the act and exempt those then in practice, or zoning laws which exempt existing buildings, or laws forbidding slaughterhouses within certain areas, but excepting existing establishments. The challenged provision is unlike such laws, since, on its face, it is not a regulation of a business or an activity in the interest of, or for the protection of, the public, but an attempt to give an economic advantage to those engaged in a given business at an arbitrary date as against all those who enter the industry after that date. The appellees do not intimate that the classification bears any relation to the public health or welfare generally; that the provision will discourage monopoly; or that it was aimed at any abuse, cognizable by law, in the milk business. In the absence of any such showing, we have no right to conjure up possible situations which might justify the discrimination. The classification is arbitrary and unreasonable and denies the appellant the equal protection of the law.  (Emphasis supplied)

 

 

In the same vein, the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws gives the 16 municipalities a unique advantage based on an arbitrary date   the filing of their cityhood bills before the end of the 11th Congress as against all other municipalities that want to convert into cities after the effectivity of RA 9009.

 

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.

 

         WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petitions and declare UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Cityhood Laws, namely: Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491.  

 

         SO ORDERED.

 

 

                                                                        ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                                                             Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

 REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

                                                                      (On leave)

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 RENATO C. CORONA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA

Associate Justice

 

 

   DANTE O. TINGA

  Associate Justice

 

 

 

          MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO

Associate Justice

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice

 

 

RUBEN T. REYES

Associate Justice

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

 

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

 

CERTIFICATION

 

         Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

 

 

                                                          REYNATO S. PUNO

                                                                 Chief Justice



[1]              Under Section 2, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

[2]              As National President of the League of Cities of the Philippines, Mayor of Iloilo City, and               taxpayer.

[3]              June 1998 to June 2001.

[4]              June 2001 to June 2004.

[5]              Entitled AN ACT AMENDING SECTION 450 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7160, OTHERWISE               KNOWN AS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991, BY INCREASING THE            AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME REQUIREMENT FOR A MUNICIPALITY OR CLUSTER OF       BARANGAYS TO BE CONVERTED INTO A COMPONENT CITY.

[6]              Sponsorship Speech of  Senator Aquilino Pimentel, 5 October 2000.

[7]              June 2004 to June 2007.

[8]              Entitled Joint Resolution to Exempt Certain Municipalities Embodied in Bills Filed in Congress               before June 30, 2001 from the Coverage of Republic Act No. 9009.

[9]              June 2007 to June 2010.

[10]            The sixteen (16) Cityhood Laws are the following:

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9389, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Baybay in the Province of Leyte into a component city to be known as the City of Baybay.” Lapsed into law on 15 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9390, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Bogo, Cebu Province into a component city to be known as the City of Bogo.” Lapsed into law on 15 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9391, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Catbalogan in the Province of  Samar into a component city to be known as the City of Catbalogan.” Lapsed into law on 15 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9392, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Tandag in the Province of Surigao del Sur into a component city to be known as the City of Tandag.” Lapsed into law on 15 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9394, entitled  “An Act converting the Municipality of Borongan in the Province of Eastern Samar into a component city to be known as the City of Borongan.” Lapsed into law on 16 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9398, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Tayabas in the Province of Quezon into a component city to be known as the City of Tayabas.” Lapsed into law on 18 March 2007;

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                   Republic Act No. 9393, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Lamitan in the Province of Basilan into a component city to be known as the City of Lamitan.” Lapsed into law on 15 March  2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9404, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Tabuk into a component city of the Province of Kalinga to be known as the City of Tabuk.” Lapsed into law on 23 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9405, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Bayugan in the Province of Agusan del Sur into a component city to be known as the City of Bayugan.” Lapsed into law on 23 March  2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9407, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Batac in the Province of Ilocos Norte into a component city to be known as the City of Batac.” Lapsed into law on 24 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9408, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Mati in the Province of Davao Oriental into a component city to be known as the City of Mati.” Lapsed into law on 24 March  2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9409, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Guihulngan in the Province of Negros Oriental into a component city to be known as the City of Guihulngan.” Lapsed into law on 24 March 2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9434, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Cabadbaran into a component city of the Province of Agusan Del Norte to be known as the City of Cabadbaran.” Lapsed into law on 12 April 2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9436, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Carcar in the Province of Cebu into a component city to be known as the City of Carcar.” Lapsed into law on 15 April 2007;

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9435, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of El Salvador in the Province of Misamis Oriental into a component city to be known as the City of El Salvador.” Lapsed into law on 12 April 2007; and

 

                                                                                                                             Republic Act No. 9491, entitled “An Act converting the Municipality of Naga in the Province of Cebu into a component city to be known as the City of Naga.” Lapsed into law on 15 July  2007.  

[11]             Section 27 (1), Article VI of the Constitution.

[12]             Section 1,  Article III of the Constitution.

[13]             Section 285 of the Local Government Code provides: “Allocation to Local Government Units. —                 The share of local government units in the internal revenue allotment shall be allocated in the         following manner:  

      (a)    Provinces — Twenty-three percent (23%);

      (b)    Cities — Twenty-three percent (23%);

      (c)    Municipalities — Thirty-four percent (34%); and

      (d)    Barangays — Twenty percent (20%)

               Provided, however, That the share of each province, city, and municipality shall be determined on the basis of the following formula:  

      (a)    Population — Fifty percent (50%);

      (b)    Land Area — Twenty-five percent (25%); and

      (c)    Equal sharing — Twenty-five percent (25%)

               Provided, further, That the share of each barangay with a population of not less than one hundred (100) inhabitants shall not be less than Eighty thousand (P80,000.00) per annum chargeable against the twenty percent (20%) share of the barangay from the internal revenue allotment, and the balance to be allocated on the basis of the following formula: 

      (a)    On the first year of the effectivity of this Code:

              (1)  Population — Forty percent (40%); and

              (2)  Equal Sharing — Sixty percent (60%)

      (b) On the second year:

              (1)  Population — Fifty percent (50%); and

              (2)  Equal Sharing — Fifty percent (50%)

      (c)    On the third year and thereafter:

              (1)  Population — Sixty percent (60%); and

              (2)  Equal sharing — Forty percent (40%).

               Provided, finally, That the financial requirements of barangays created by local government units after the effectivity of this Code shall be the responsibility of the local government unit concerned.”

[14]             Sema v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 177597, 16 July 2008; Social Weather Stations, Inc. v. COMELEC,     409 Phil. 571, 592 (2001); Mutuc v. COMELEC, 146 Phil. 798 (1970).

[15]             Section 499 of the Local Government Code provides: “Purpose of Organization. — There shall be                 an organization of all cities to be known as the League of Cities for the primary purpose of    ventilating, articulating and crystallizing issues affecting city government administration, and      securing, through proper and legal means, solutions thereto.

 

        The league may form chapters at the provincial level for the component cities of a province.  Highly-urbanized cities may also form a chapter of the League. The National League shall be composed of the presidents of the league of highly-urbanized cities and the presidents of the provincial chapters of the league of component cities.”

[16]             The Court granted the interventions of the following cities: Santiago City, Iriga City, Ligao City,    Legazpi City, Tagaytay City,  Surigao City, Bayawan City, Silay City, General Santos City,     Zamboanga City, Gingoog City, Cauayan City, Pagadian City, San Carlos City, San Fernando City,             Tacurong City, Tangub City, Oroquieta City, Urdaneta City, Victorias City, Calapan City,   Himamaylan City, Batangas City, Bais City, Tarlac City, Cadiz City, and Tagum City.

               

[17]             Article 4 of the Civil Code provides: “Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is                provided.”

[18]             Republic Act No. 7160, as amended.

[19]             Ramirez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 93833, 28 September 1995, 248 SCRA 590, 596;  Security        Bank and Trust Company v. RTC of Makati, Br. 61, G.R. No. 113926, 23 October 1996, 263 SCRA                483, 488.

[20]             Republic v. Court of Appeals, 359 Phil. 530, 559 (1998); Commissioner of Internal Revenue v.         Solidbank Corp., 462 Phil. 96, 129-131 (2003).

[21]             The Corporation Code of the Philippines (Batas Pambansa Blg. 68)  is the general law providing    for the formation, organization and regulation of private corporations.

[22]             See Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, G.R. No.   180643, 25 March 2008, 549 SCRA 77, 135-136.

[23]             The rational basis test is the minimum level of scrutiny that all government actions challenged under the equal protection clause must meet.   The strict scrutiny test is used in discriminations based on race or those which result in violations of fundamental rights. Under the strict scrutiny test, to be valid the classification must promote a compelling state interest. The intermediate scrutiny test is used in discriminations based on gender or illegitimacy of children. Under the intermediate scrutiny test, the classification must be substantially related to an important government objective. Laws not subject to the strict or intermediate scrutiny test are evaluated under the rational basis test, which is the easiest test to satisfy since the classification must only show a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose.  See Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law, Principles and Policies, 2nd Edition, pp. 645-646.

[24]             De Guzman, Jr. v. COMELEC, 391 Phil. 70, 79 (2000); Tiu v. Court of Tax Appeals, 361 Phil. 229,      242 (1999).

[25]             297 U.S. 266 (1936).