Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Baguio City

 

EN BANC

 

RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, VICTOR F. BERNAL, and

RENE O. MEDINA,

Petitioners,

 

- versus -

 

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, representing the President of the Philippines; Senate of the Philippines, represented by the SENATE PRESIDENT; House of Representatives, represented by the HOUSE SPEAKER; GOVERNOR ROBERT ACE S. BARBERS, representing the mother province of Surigao del Norte; GOVERNOR GERALDINE ECLEO VILLAROMAN, representing the new Province of Dinagat Islands,

Respondents,

 

CONGRESSMAN FRANCISCO T. MATUGAS, HON. SOL T. MATUGAS, HON. ARTURO CARLOS A. EGAY, JR., HON. SIMEON VICENTE G. CASTRENCE, HON. MAMERTO D. GALANIDA, HON. MARGARITO M. LONGOS, and HON. CESAR M. BAGUNDOL,

Intervenors.

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 180050

 

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ,

MENDOZA, and

SERENO, JJ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promulgated:

 

April 12, 2011

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

 


RESOLUTION

 

NACHURA, J.:

 

 

For consideration of the Court is the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment dated October 20, 2010 filed by Movant-Intervenors[1] dated and filed on October 29, 2010, praying that the Court (a) recall the entry of judgment, and (b) resolve their motion for reconsideration of the July 20, 2010 Resolution.

 

To provide a clear perspective of the instant motion, we present hereunder a brief background of the relevant antecedents

 

On October 2, 2006, the President of the Republic approved into law Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9355 (An Act Creating the Province of Dinagat Islands).[2] On December 3, 2006, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) conducted the mandatory plebiscite for the ratification of the creation of the province under the Local Government Code (LGC).[3] The plebiscite yielded 69,943 affirmative votes and 63,502 negative votes.[4] With the approval of the people from both the mother province of Surigao del

Norte and the Province of Dinagat Islands (Dinagat), the President appointed the interim set of provincial officials who took their oath of office on January 26, 2007. Later, during the May 14, 2007 synchronized elections, the Dinagatnons elected their new set of provincial officials who assumed office on July 1, 2007.[5]

 

On November 10, 2006, petitioners Rodolfo G. Navarro, Victor F. Bernal and Rene O. Medina, former political leaders of Surigao del Norte, filed before this Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition (G.R. No. 175158) challenging the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9355.[6] The Court dismissed the petition on technical grounds. Their motion for reconsideration was also denied.[7]

 

Undaunted, petitioners, as taxpayers and residents of the Province of Surigao del Norte, filed another petition for certiorari[8] seeking to nullify R.A. No. 9355 for being unconstitutional. They alleged that the creation of Dinagat as a new province, if uncorrected, would perpetuate an illegal act of Congress, and would unjustly deprive the people of Surigao del Norte of a large chunk of the provincial territory, Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA), and rich resources from the area. They pointed out that when the law was passed, Dinagat had a land area of 802.12 square kilometers only and a population of only 106,951, failing to comply with Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and of Section 461 of the LGC, on both counts, viz.

 

Constitution, Article X Local Government

 

Section 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may 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 the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.

 

 

 

LGC, Title IV, Chapter I

 

Section 461. Requisites for Creation. (a) A province may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices and either of the following requisites:

 

(i)                 a continuous territory of at least two thousand (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or

(ii)               a population of not less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office:

 

Provided, That, 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 territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the income of the province.

 

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

 

 

On February 10, 2010, the Court rendered its Decision[9] granting the petition.[10] The Decision declared R.A. No. 9355 unconstitutional for failure to comply with the requirements on population and land area in the creation of a province under the LGC. Consequently, it declared the proclamation of Dinagat and the election of its officials as null and void. The Decision likewise declared as null and void the provision on Article 9(2) of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the LGC (LGC-IRR), stating that, [t]he land

area requirement shall not apply where the proposed province is composed of one (1) or more islands for being beyond the ambit of Article 461 of the LGC, inasmuch as such exemption is not expressly provided in the law.[11]

The Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, and Dinagat filed their respective motions for reconsideration of the Decision. In its Resolution[12] dated May 12, 2010,[13] the Court denied the said motions.[14]

 

Unperturbed, the Republic and Dinagat both filed their respective motions for leave of court to admit their second motions for reconsideration, accompanied by their second motions for reconsideration. These motions were eventually noted without action by this Court in its June 29, 2010 Resolution.[15]

 

Meanwhile, the movants-intervenors filed on June 18, 2010 a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010. They alleged that the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8790, relevant to this case, which provides

 

RESOLUTION NO. 8790

 

WHEREAS, Dinagat Islands, consisting of seven (7) municipalities, were previously components of the First Legislative District of the Province of Surigao del Norte. In December 2006 pursuant to Republic Act No. 9355, the Province of Dinagat Island[s] was created and its creation was ratified on 02 December 2006 in the Plebiscite for this purpose;

 

WHEREAS, as a province, Dinagat Islands was, for purposes of the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections, allocated one (1) seat for Governor, one (1) seat for Vice Governor, one (1) for congressional seat, and ten (10) Sangguniang Panlalawigan seats pursuant to Resolution No. 8670 dated 16 September 2009;

 

 

 

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 180050 entitled Rodolfo Navarro, et al., vs. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, as representative of the President of the Philippines, et al. rendered a Decision, dated 10 February 2010, declaring Republic Act No. 9355 unconstitutional for failure to comply with the criteria for the creation of a province prescribed in Sec. 461 of the Local Government Code in relation to Sec. 10, Art. X, of the 1987 Constitution;

 

WHEREAS, respondents intend to file Motion[s] for Reconsideration on the above decision of the Supreme Court;

 

WHEREAS, the electoral data relative to the: (1) position for Member, House of Representatives representing the lone congressional district of Dinagat Islands, (2) names of the candidates for the aforementioned position, (3) position for Governor, Dinagat Islands, (4) names of the candidates for the said position, (5) position of the Vice Governor, (6) the names of the candidates for the said position, (7) positions for the ten (10) Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members and, [8] all the names of the candidates for Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, have already been configured into the system and can no longer be revised within the remaining period before the elections on May 10, 2010.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, with the current system configuration, and depending on whether the Decision of the Supreme Court in Navarro vs. Ermita is reconsidered or not, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to declare that:

 

a.       If the Decision is reversed, there will be no problem since the current system configuration is in line with the reconsidered Decision, meaning that the Province of Dinagat Islands and the Province of Surigao del Norte remain as two (2) separate provinces;

b.      If the Decision becomes final and executory before the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District, Surigao del Norte.

 

But because of the current system configuration, the ballots for the Province of Dinagat Islands will, for the positions of Member, House of Representatives, Governor, Vice Governor and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, bear only the names of the candidates for the said positions.

 

Conversely, the ballots for the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, will, for the position of Governor, Vice Governor, Member, House of Representatives, First District of Surigao del Norte and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, show only candidates for the said position. Likewise, the whole Province of Surigao del Norte, will, for the position of Governor and Vice Governor, bear only the names of the candidates for the said position[s].

 

 

Consequently, the voters of the Province of Dinagat Islands will not be able to vote for the candidates of Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and Member, House [of] Representatives, First Legislative District, Surigao del Norte, and candidates for Governor and Vice Governor for Surigao del Norte. Meanwhile, voters of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, will not be able to vote for Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Member, House of Representatives, Dinagat Islands. Also, the voters of the whole Province of Surigao del Norte, will not be able to vote for the Governor and Vice Governor, Dinagat Islands. Given this situation, the Commission will postpone the elections for Governor, Vice Governor, Member, House of Representatives, First Legislative District, Surigao del Norte, and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First Legislative District, Surigao del Norte, because the election will result in [a] failure to elect, since, in actuality, there are no candidates for Governor, Vice Governor, Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First Legislative District, and Member, House of Representatives, First Legislative District (with Dinagat Islands) of Surigao del Norte.

 

c.       If the Decision becomes final and executory after the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte. The result of the election will have to be nullified for the same reasons given in Item b above. A special election for Governor, Vice Governor, Member, House of Representatives, First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First District, Surigao del Norte (with Dinagat Islands) will have to be conducted.

x x x x

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

They further alleged that, because they are the duly elected officials of Surigao del Norte whose positions will be affected by the nullification of the election results in the event that the May 12, 2010 Resolution is not reversed, they have a legal interest in the instant case and would be directly affected by the declaration of nullity of R.A. No. 9355. Simply put, movants-intervenors election to their respective offices would necessarily be annulled since Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte and a special election will have to be conducted for governor, vice governor, and House of Representatives member and Sangguniang Panlalawigan member for the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte. Moreover, as residents of Surigao del Norte and as public servants representing the interests of their constituents, they have a clear and strong interest in the outcome of this case inasmuch as the reversion of Dinagat as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte will affect the latter province such that: (1) the whole administrative set-up of the province will have to be restructured; (2) the services of many employees will have to be terminated; (3) contracts will have to be invalidated; and (4) projects and other developments will have to be discontinued. In addition, they claim that their rights cannot be adequately pursued and protected in any other proceeding since their rights would be foreclosed if the May 12, 2010 Resolution would attain finality.

 

In their motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution, movants-intervenors raised three (3) main arguments to challenge the above Resolution, namely: (1) that the passage of R.A. No. 9355 operates as an act of Congress amending Section 461 of the LGC; (2) that the exemption from territorial contiguity, when the intended province consists of two or more islands, includes the exemption from the application of the minimum land area requirement; and (3) that the Operative Fact Doctrine is applicable in the instant case.

 

In the Resolution dated July 20, 2010,[16] the Court denied the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010 on the ground that the allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court, and that the appropriate time to file the said motion was before and not after the resolution of this case.

 

On September 7, 2010, movants-intervenors filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the July 20, 2010 Resolution, citing several rulings[17] of the Court, allowing intervention as an exception to Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court that it should be filed at any time before the rendition of judgment. They alleged that, prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, their legal interest in this case was not yet existent. They averred that prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, they were unaware of the proceedings in this case. Even for the sake of argument that they had notice of the pendency of the case, they pointed out that prior to the said elections, Sol T. Matugas was a simple resident of Surigao del Norte, Arturo Carlos A. Egay, Jr. was a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Second District of Surigao del Norte, and Mamerto D. Galanida was the Municipal Mayor of Socorro, Surigao del Norte, and that, pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 8790, it was only after they were elected as Governor of Surigao del Norte, Vice Governor of Surigao del Norte and Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member of the First District of Surigao del Norte, respectively, that they became possessed with legal interest in this controversy.

 

On October 5, 2010, the Court issued an order for Entry of Judgment, stating that the decision in this case had become final and executory on May 18, 2010. Hence, the above motion.

 

At the outset, it must be clarified that this Resolution delves solely on the instant Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment of movants-intervenors, not on the second motions for reconsideration of the original parties, and neither on Dinagats Urgent Omnibus Motion, which our


esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Arturo D. Brion considers as Dinagats third motion for reconsideration. Inasmuch as the motions for leave to admit their respective motions for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution and the aforesaid motions for reconsideration were already noted without action by the Court, there is no reason to treat Dinagats Urgent Omnibus Motion differently. In relation to this, the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment of movants-intervenors could not be considered as a second motion for reconsideration to warrant the application of Section 3, Rule 15 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court.[18] It should be noted that this motion prays for the recall of the entry of judgment and for the resolution of their motion for reconsideration of the July 20, 2010 Resolution which remained unresolved. The denial of their motion for leave to intervene and to admit motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution did not rule on the merits of the motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution, but only on the timeliness of the intended intervention. Their motion for reconsideration of this denial elaborated on movants-intervenors interest in this case which existed only after judgment had been rendered. As such, their motion for intervention and their motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution merely stand as an initial reconsideration of the said resolution.

 

With due deference to Mr. Justice Brion, there appears nothing in the records to support the claim that this was a ploy of respondents legal tactician to reopen the case despite an entry of judgment. To be sure, it is actually COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 that set this controversy into motion anew. To reiterate, the pertinent portion of the Resolution reads:

 

c.       If the Decision becomes final and executory after the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte. The result of the election will have to be nullified for the same reasons given in Item b above. A special election for Governor, Vice Governor, Member, House of Representatives, First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First District, Surigao del Norte (with Dinagat Islands) will have to be conducted. (Emphasis supplied.)

 

 

Indeed, COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 spawned the peculiar circumstance of proper party interest for movants-intervenors only with the specter of the decision in the main case becoming final and executory. More importantly, if the intervention be not entertained, the movants-intervenors would be left with no other remedy as regards to the impending nullification of their election to their respective positions. Thus, to the Courts mind, there is an imperative to grant the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment by movants-intervenors.

 

It should be remembered that this case was initiated upon the filing of the petition for certiorari way back on October 30, 2007. At that time, movants-intervenors had nothing at stake in the outcome of this case. While it may be argued that their interest in this case should have commenced upon the issuance of COMELEC Resolution No. 8790, it is obvious that their interest in this case then was more imaginary than real. This is because COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 provides that should the decision in this case attain finality prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, the election of the local government officials stated therein would only have to be postponed. Given such a scenario, movants-intervenors would not have suffered any injury or adverse effect with respect to the reversion of Dinagat as part of Surigao del Norte since they would simply have remained candidates for the respective positions they have vied for and to which they have been elected.


For a party to have locus standi, one must allege such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is likely to affect other persons, a preliminary question frequently arises as to this interest in the constitutional question raised.[19]

 

It cannot be denied that movants-intervenors will suffer direct injury in the event their Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment dated October 29, 2010 is denied and their Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010 is denied with finality. Indeed, they have sufficiently shown that they have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that if the May 12, 2010 Resolution be not reconsidered, their election to their respective positions during the May 10, 2010 polls and its concomitant effects would all be nullified and be put to naught. Given their unique circumstances, movants-intervenors should not be left without any remedy before this Court simply because their interest in this case became manifest only after the case had already been decided. The consequences of such a decision would definitely work to their disadvantage, nay, to their utmost prejudice, without even them being parties to the dispute. Such decision would also violate their right to due process, a right that cries out for protection. Thus, it is imperative that the movants-intervenors be heard on the merits of their cause. We are not only a court of law, but also of justice and equity, such that our position and the dire repercussions of this controversy should be weighed on the scales of justice, rather than dismissed on account of mootness.


The moot and academic principle is not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts from resolving a case. Courts will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if: (1) there is a grave violation of the Constitution; (2) there is an exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved; (3) the constitutional issue raised requires formation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.[20] The second exception attends this case.

 

This Court had taken a liberal attitude in the case of David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[21] where technicalities of procedure on locus standi were brushed aside, because the constitutional issues raised were of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the Court. Along parallel lines, the motion for intervention should be given due course since movants-intervenors have shown their substantial legal interest in the outcome of this case, even much more than petitioners themselves, and because of the novelty, gravity, and weight of the issues involved.

 

Undeniably, the motion for intervention and the motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution of movants-intervenors is akin to the right to appeal the judgment of a case, which, though merely a statutory right that must comply with the requirements of the rules, is an essential part of our judicial system, such that courts should proceed with caution not to deprive a party of the right to question the judgment and its effects, and ensure that every party-litigant, including those who would be directly affected, would have the amplest opportunity for the proper and just disposition of their cause, freed from the constraints of technicalities.[22]

 

Verily, the Court had, on several occasions, sanctioned the recall entries of judgment in light of attendant extraordinary circumstances.[23] The power to suspend or even disregard rules of procedure can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself had already declared final.[24] In this case, the compelling concern is not only to afford the movants-intervenors the right to be heard since they would be adversely affected by the judgment in this case despite not being original parties thereto, but also to arrive at the correct interpretation of the provisions of the LGC with respect to the creation of local government units. In this manner, the thrust of the Constitution with respect to local autonomy and of the LGC with respect to decentralization and the attainment of national goals, as hereafter elucidated, will effectively be realized.

On the merits of the motion for intervention, after taking a long and intent look, the Court finds that the first and second arguments raised by movants-intervenors deserve affirmative consideration.

 

It must be borne in mind that the central policy considerations in the creation of local government units are economic viability, efficient administration, and capability to deliver basic services to their constituents. The criteria prescribed by the LGC, i.e., income, population and land area, are all designed to accomplish these results. In this light, Congress, in its collective wisdom, has debated on the relative weight of each of these three criteria, placing emphasis on which of them should enjoy preferential consideration.


Without doubt, the primordial criterion in the creation of local government units, particularly of a province, is economic viability. This is the clear intent of the framers of the LGC. In this connection, the following excerpts from congressional debates are quoted hereunder

 

 

HON. ALFELOR. Income is mandatory. We can even have this doubled because we thought

 

CHAIRMAN CUENCO. In other words, the primordial consideration here is the economic viability of the new local government unit, the new province?

 

x x x x

 

HON. LAGUDA. The reason why we are willing to increase the income, double than the House version, because we also believe that economic viability is really a minimum. Land area and population are functions really of the viability of the area, because you have an income level which would be the trigger point for economic development, population will naturally increase because there will be an immigration. However, if you disallow the particular area from being converted into a province because of the population problems in the beginning, it will never be able to reach the point where it could become a province simply because it will never have the economic take off for it to trigger off that economic development.

 

Now, were saying that maybe Fourteen Million Pesos is a floor area where it could pay for overhead and provide a minimum of basic services to the population. Over and above that, the provincial officials should be able to trigger off economic development which will attract immigration, which will attract new investments from the private sector. This is now the concern of the local officials. But if we are going to tie the hands of the proponents, simply by telling them, Sorry, you are now at 150 thousand or 200 thousand, you will never be able to become a province because nobody wants to go to your place. Why? Because you never have any reason for economic viability.

 

x x x x

 

CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay, what about land area?

 

HON. LUMAUIG. 1,500 square kilometers

 

HON. ANGARA. Walang problema yon, in fact thats not very critical, yong land area because

 

CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay, ya, our, the Senate version is 3.5, 3,500 square meters, ah, square kilometers.

 

HON. LAGUDA. Ne, Ne. A province is constituted for the purpose of administrative efficiency and delivery of basic services.

CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Right.

 

HON. LAGUDA. Actually, when you come down to it, when government was instituted, there is only one central government and then everybody falls under that. But it was later on subdivided into provinces for purposes of administrative efficiency.

 

CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay.

 

HON. LAGUDA. Now, what were seeing now is that the administrative efficiency is no longer there precisely because the land areas that we are giving to our governors is so wide that no one man can possibly administer all of the complex machineries that are needed.

 

Secondly, when you say delivery of basic services, as pointed out by Cong. Alfelor, there are sections of the province which have never been visited by public officials, precisely because they dont have the time nor the energy anymore to do that because its so wide. Now, by compressing the land area and by reducing the population requirement, we are, in effect, trying to follow the basic policy of why we are creating provinces, which is to deliver basic services and to make it more efficient in administration.

 

CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Yeah, thats correct, but on the assumption that the province is able to do it without being a burden to the national government. Thats the assumption.

 

HON. LAGUDA. Thats why were going into the minimum income level. As we said, if we go on a minimum income level, then we say, this is the trigger point at which this administration can take place.[25]

 

Also worthy of note are the requisites in the creation of a barangay, a municipality, a city, and a province as provided both in the LGC and the LGC-IRR, viz.

 

For a Barangay:

 

LGC: SEC. 386. Requisites for Creation. (a) A barangay may be created out of a contiguous territory which has a population of at least two thousand (2,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office except in cities and municipalities within Metro Manila and other metropolitan political subdivisions or in highly urbanized cities where such territory shall have a certified population of at least five thousand (5,000) inhabitants: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the population of the original barangay or barangays to less than the minimum requirement prescribed herein.

To enhance the delivery of basic services in the indigenous cultural communities, barangays may be created in such communities by an Act of Congress, notwithstanding the above requirement.

 

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of the new barangay shall be properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less permanent natural boundaries. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.

 

(c) The governor or city mayor may prepare a consolidation plan for barangays, based on the criteria prescribed in this Section, within his territorial jurisdiction. The plan shall be submitted to the sangguniang panlalawigan or sangguniang panlungsod concerned for appropriate action. In the case of municipalities within the Metropolitan Manila area and other metropolitan political subdivisions, the barangay consolidation plan can be prepared and approved by the sangguniang bayan concerned.

 

LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 14. Barangays. (a) Creation of barangays by the sangguniang panlalawigan shall require prior recommendation of the sangguniang bayan.

 

(b) New barangays in the municipalities within MMA shall be created only by Act of Congress, subject to the limitations and requirements prescribed in this Article.

 

(c) Notwithstanding the population requirement, a barangay may be created in the indigenous cultural communities by Act of Congress upon recommendation of the LGU or LGUs where the cultural community is located.

 

(d) A barangay shall not be created unless the following requisites are present:

 

(1)   Population which shall not be less than two thousand (2,000) inhabitants, except in municipalities and cities within MMA and other metropolitan political subdivisions as may be created by law, or in highly-urbanized cities where such territory shall have a population of at least five thousand (5,000) inhabitants, as certified by the NSO. The creation of a barangay shall not reduce the population of the original barangay or barangays to less than the prescribed minimum/

(2)   Land Area which must be contiguous, unless comprised by two (2) or more islands. The territorial jurisdiction of a barangay sought to be created shall be properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less permanent natural boundaries.

 

 

Municipality:

 

LGC: SEC. 442. Requisites for Creation. (a) A municipality may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the provincial treasurer, or at least Two million five hundred thousand pesos (P2,500,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on the 1991 constant prices; a population of at least twenty-five thousand (25,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office; and a contiguous territory of at least fifty (50) square kilometers as certified by the Lands

Management Bureau: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population or income of the original municipality or municipalities at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.

 

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created municipality shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the municipality 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 of the municipality concerned, exclusive of special funds, transfers and non-recurring income.

 

(d) Municipalities existing as of the date of effectivity of this Code shall continue to exist and operate as such. Existing municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective set of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of this Code shall henceforth be considered regular municipalities.

 

LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 13. Municipalities. (a) Requisites for Creation A municipality shall not be created unless the following requisites are present:

 

(i)                 Income An average annual income of not less than Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,500,000.00), for the immediately preceding two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the provincial treasurer. The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, special accounts, transfers, and nonrecurring income;

(ii)               Population which shall not be less than twenty five thousand (25,000) inhabitants, as certified by NSO; and

 

(iii)             Land area which must be contiguous with an area of at least fifty (50) square kilometers, as certified by LMB. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the proposed municipality is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territorial jurisdiction of a municipality sought to be created shall be properly identified by metes and bounds.

 

The creation of a new municipality shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original LGU or LGUs at the time of said creation to less than the prescribed minimum requirements. All expenses incidental to the creation shall be borne by the petitioners.

 

 

 

 

City:

 

LGC: SEC. 450. Requisites for Creation. (a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisities:

 

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

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

 

LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 11. Cities. (a) Requisites for creation A city shall not be created unless the following requisites on income and either population or land area are present:

 

(1)   Income An average annual income of not less than Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00), for the immediately preceding two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by DOF. The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, special accounts, transfers, and nonrecurring income; and

(2)   Population or land area Population which shall not be less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the NSO; or land area which must be contiguous with an area of at least one hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by LMB. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the income of the province. The land area requirement shall not apply where the proposed city is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territorial jurisdiction of a city sought to be created shall be properly identified by metes and bounds.


The creation of a new city shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original LGU or LGUs at the time of said creation to less than the prescribed minimum requirements. All expenses incidental to the creation shall be borne by the petitioners.

 

 

Provinces:

 

LGC: SEC. 461. Requisites for Creation. (a) A province may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on 1991 prices and either of the following requisites:

 

(i)                 a contiguous territory of at least two thousand (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or,

(ii)               a population of not less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office:

 

Provided, That 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 territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the income of the province.

 

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

 

LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 9. Provinces. (a) Requisites for creation A province shall not be created unless the following requisites on income and either population or land area are present:

 

(1)   Income An average annual income of not less than Twenty Million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for the immediately preceding two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by DOF. The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, special accounts, transfers, and non-recurring income; and

(2)   Population or land area Population which shall not be less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) inhabitants, as certified by NSO; or land area which must be contiguous with an area of at least two thousand (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by LMB. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the income of the province. The land area requirement shall not apply where the proposed province is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territorial jurisdiction of a province sought to be created shall be properly identified by metes and bounds.

 

The creation of a new province shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original LGU or LGUs at the time of said creation to less than the prescribed minimum requirements. All expenses incidental to the creation shall be borne by the petitioners. (Emphasis supplied.)

 

It bears scrupulous notice that from the above cited provisions, with respect to the creation of barangays, land area is not a requisite indicator of viability. However, with respect to the creation of municipalities, component cities, and provinces, the three (3) indicators of viability and projected capacity to provide services, i.e., income, population, and land area, are provided for.

 

But it must be pointed out that when the local government unit to be created consists of one (1) or more islands, it is exempt from the land area requirement as expressly provided in Section 442 and Section 450 of the LGC if the local government unit to be created is a municipality or a component city, respectively. This exemption is absent in the enumeration of the requisites for the creation of a province under Section 461 of the LGC, although it is expressly stated under Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR.

 

There appears neither rhyme nor reason why this exemption should apply to cities and municipalities, but not to provinces. In fact, considering the physical configuration of the Philippine archipelago, there is a greater likelihood that islands or group of islands would form part of the land area of a newly-created province than in most cities or municipalities. It is, therefore, logical to infer that the genuine legislative policy decision was expressed in Section 442 (for municipalities) and Section 450 (for component cities) of the LGC, but was inadvertently omitted in Section 461 (for provinces). Thus, when the exemption was expressly provided in Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR, the inclusion was intended to correct the congressional oversight in Section 461 of the LGC and to reflect the true legislative intent. It would, then, be in order for the Court to uphold the validity of Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR.

This interpretation finds merit when we consider the basic policy considerations underpinning the principle of local autonomy.

 

Section 2 of the LGC, of which paragraph (a) is pertinent to this case, provides

 

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall proceed from the national government to the local government units.

 

 

This declaration of policy is echoed in Article 3(a) of the LGC-IRR[26] and in the Whereas clauses of Administrative Order No. 270,[27] which read

 

WHEREAS, Section 25, Article II of the Constitution mandates that the State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments;

 

WHEREAS, pursuant to this declared policy, Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, affirms, among others, that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals;

 

WHEREAS, Section 533 of the Local Government Code of 1991 requires the President to convene an Oversight Committee for the purpose of formulating and issuing the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient and effective implementation of all the provisions of the said Code; and


WHEREAS, the Oversight Committee, after due deliberations and consultations with all the concerned sectors of society and consideration of the operative principles of local autonomy as provided in the Local Government Code of 1991, has completed the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations; x x x

 

 

Consistent with the declared policy to provide local government units genuine and meaningful local autonomy, contiguity and minimum land area requirements for prospective local government units should be liberally construed in order to achieve the desired results. The strict interpretation adopted by the February 10, 2010 Decision could prove to be counter-productive, if not outright absurd, awkward, and impractical. Picture an intended province that consists of several municipalities and component cities which, in themselves, also consist of islands. The component cities and municipalities which consist of islands are exempt from the minimum land area requirement, pursuant to Sections 450 and 442, respectively, of the LGC. Yet, the province would be made to comply with the minimum land area criterion of 2,000 square kilometers, even if it consists of several islands. This would mean that Congress has opted to assign a distinctive preference to create a province with contiguous land area over one composed of islands and negate the greater imperative of development of self-reliant communities, rural progress, and the delivery of basic services to the constituency. This preferential option would prove more difficult and burdensome if the 2,000-square-kilometer territory of a province is scattered because the islands are separated by bodies of water, as compared to one with a contiguous land mass.

 

Moreover, such a very restrictive construction could trench on the equal protection clause, as it actually defeats the purpose of local autonomy and decentralization as enshrined in the Constitution. Hence, the land area requirement should be read together with territorial contiguity.


Another look at the transcript of the deliberations of Congress should prove enlightening:

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Can we give time to Congressman Chiongbian,[28] with respect to his

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Okay.

 

HON. CHIONGBIAN. At the outset, Chairman Lina, we would like to apprise the distinguished Senator about the action taken by the House, on House Bill No. 7166. This was passed about two years ago and has been pending in the Senate for consideration. This is a bill that I am not the only one involved, including our distinguished Chairman here. But then we did want to sponsor the bill, being the Chairman then of the Local Government.

 

So, I took the cudgels for the rest of the Congressmen, who were more or less interested in the creation of the new provinces, because of the vastness of the areas that were involved.

 

At any rate, this bill was passed by the House unanimously without any objection. And as I have said a while ago, that this has been pending in the Senate for the last two years. And Sen. Pimentel himself was just in South Cotabato and he delivered a speech that he will support this bill, and he says, that he will incorporate this in the Local Government Code, which I have in writing from him. I showed you the letter that he wrote, and naturally, we in the House got hold of the Senate version. It becomes an impossibility for the whole Philippines to create a new province, and that is quite the concern of the respective Congressmen.

 

Now, insofar as the constitutional provision is concerned, there is nothing to stop the mother province from voting against the bill, if a province is going to be created.

 

So, we are talking about devolution of powers here. Why is the province not willing to create another province, when it can be justified. Even Speaker Mitra says, what will happen to Palawan? We wont have one million people there, and if you look at Palawan, there will be about three or four provinces that will comprise that island. So, the development will be hampered.

 

Now, I would like to read into the record the letter of Sen. Pimentel, dated November 2, 1989. This was practically about a year after 7166 was approved by the House, House Bill 7166.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On November 2, 1989, the Senator wrote me:

 

Dear Congressman Chiongbian:

 

We are in receipt of your letter of 17 October. Please be informed that your House No. 7166 was incorporated in the proposed Local Government Code, Senate Bill No. 155, which is pending for second reading.

 

Thank you and warm regards.

 

Very truly yours,

 

That is the very context of the letter of the Senator, and we are quite surprised that the Senate has adopted another position.

 

So, we would like because this is a unanimously approved bill in the House, thats the only bill that is involving the present Local Government Code that we are practically considering; and this will be a slap on the House, if we do not approve it, as approved by the lower House. This can be [an] irritant in the approval of the Conference Committee Report. And I just want to manifest that insofar as the creation of the province, not only in my province, but the other provinces. That the mother province will participate in the plebiscite, they can defeat the province, lets say, on the basis of the result, the province cannot be created if they lose in the plebiscite, and I dont see why, we should put this stringent conditions to the private people of the devolution that they are seeking.

 

So, Mr. Senator, I think we should consider the situation seriously, because, this is an approved version of the House, and I will not be the one to raise up and question the Conference Committee Report, but the rest of the House that are interested in this bill. And they have been approaching the Speaker about this. So, the Speaker reminded me to make sure that it takes the cudgel of the House approved version.

 

So, thats all what I can say, Mr. Senator, and I dont believe that it is not, because its the wish of the House, but because the mother province will participate anyhow, you vote them down; and that is provided for in the Constitution. As a matter of fact, I have seen the amendment with regards to the creation of the city to be urbanized, subject to the plebiscite. And why should we not allow that to happen in the provinces! In other words, we dont want the people who wants to create a new province, as if they are left in the devolution of powers, when they feel that they are far away from civilization.

 

Now, I am not talking about other provinces, because I am unaware, not aware of their situation. But the province of South Cotabato has a very unique geographical territorial conglomerations. One side is in the other side of the Bay, of Sarangani Bay. The capital town is in the North; while these other municipalities are in the East and in the West. And if they have to travel from the last town in the eastern part of the province, it is about one hundred forty kilometers to the capital town. And from the West side, it is the same distance. And from the North side, it is about one hundred kilometers. So that is the problem there. And besides, they have enough resources and I feel that, not because I am interested in the province, I am after their welfare in the future. Who am I to dictate on those people? I have no interest but then I am looking at the future development of these areas.

 

As a matter of fact, if I am in politics, its incidental; I do not need to be there, but I can foresee what the creation of a new province will bring to these people. It will bring them prosperity; it will bring them more income, and it will encourage even foreign investors. Like the PAP now, they are concentrating in South Cotabato, especially in the City of

General Santos and the neighboring municipalities, and they are quite interested and even the AID people are asking me, What is holding the creation of a new province when practically you need it? Its not 20 or 30 kilometers from the capital town; its about 140 kilometers. And imagine those people have to travel that far and our road is not like Metropolitan Manila. That is as far as from here to Tarlac. And there are municipalities there that are just one municipality is bigger than the province of La Union. They have the income. Of course, they dont have the population because thats a part of the land of promise and people from Luzon are migrating everyday because they feel that there are more opportunities here.

 

So, by creating the new provinces, not only in my case, in the other cases, it will enhance the development of the Philippines, not because I am interested in my province. Well, as far as I am concerned, you know, I am in the twilight years of my life to serve and I would like to serve my people well. No personal or political interest here. I hope the distinguished Chairman of the Committee will appreciate the House Bill 7166, which the House has already approved because we dont want them to throw the Conference Committee Report after we have worked that the house Bill has been, you know, drawn over board and not even considered by the Senate. And on top of that, we are considering a bill that has not yet been passed. So I hope the Senator will take that into account.

 

Thank you for giving me this time to explain.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Thank you very much, Congressman James. We will look into the legislative history of the Senate version on this matter of creation of provinces. I am sure there was an amendment. As I said, Ill look into it. Maybe the House version was incorporated in toto, but maybe during the discussion, their amendments were introduced and, therefore, Senator Pimentel could not hold on to the original version and as a result new criteria were introduced.

 

But because of the manifestation that you just made, we will definitely, when we reach a book, Title IV, on the matter of provinces, we will look at it sympathetically from your end so that the objective that you want [to] achieve can be realized. So we will look at it with sympathy. We will review our position on the matter, how we arrived at the Senate version and we will adopt an open mind definitely when we come into it.

 

 

 

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Kanino yan?

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Book III.

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Title?

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Title IV.

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. I have been pondering on the case of James, especially on economic stimulation of a certain area. Like our case, because I put myself on our province, our province is quite very big. Its composed of four (4) congressional districts and I feel it should be five now. But during the Batasan time, four of us talked and conversed proposing to divide the province into two.

 

There are areas then, when since time immemorial, very few governors ever tread on those areas. That is, maybe youre acquainted with the Bondoc Peninsula of Quezon, fronting that is Ragay Gulf. From Ragay there is a long stretch of coastal area. From Albay going to Ragay, very few governors ever tread [there] before, even today. That area now is infested with NPA. That is the area of Congressman Andaya.

 

Now, we thought that in order to stimulate growth, maybe provincial aid can be extended to these areas. With a big or a large area of a province, a certain administrator or provincial governor definitely will have no sufficient time. For me, if we really would like to stimulate growth, I believe that an area where there is physical or geographical impossibilities, where administrators can penetrate, I think we have to create certain provisions in the law where maybe we can treat it with special considerations.

 

Now, we went over the graduate scale of the Philipppine Local Government Data as far as provinces are concerned. It is very surprising that there are provinces here which only composed of six municipalities, eight municipalities, seven municipalities. Like in Cagayan, Tuguegarao, there are six municipalities. Ah, excuse me, Batanes.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Will you look at the case of --- how many municipalities are there in Batanes province?

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Batanes is only six.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Six town. Siquijor?

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Siquijor. It is region?

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Seven.

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR.L Seven. Anim.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Six also.

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Six also.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. It seems with a minimum number of towns?

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. The population of Siquijor is only 70 thousand, not even one congressional district. But tumaas in 1982. Camiguin, that is Region 9. Wala dito. Nagtataka nga ako ngayon.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Camiguin, Camiguin.

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. That is region? Camiguin has five municipalities, with a population of 63 thousand. But we do not hold it against the province because maybe thats one stimulant where growth can grow, can start. The land area for Camiguin is only 229 square kilometers. So if we hard fast on requirements of, we set a minimum for every province, palagay ko we just leave it to legislation, eh. Anyway, the Constitution is very clear that in case we would like to divide, we submit it to a plebiscite. Pabayaan natin ang tao. Kung maglalagay tayo ng set ng minimum, tila yata mahihirapan tayo, eh. Because what is really the thrust of the Local Government Code? Growth. To devolve powers in order for the community to have its own idea how they will stimulate growth in their respective areas.

 

So, in every geographical condition, mayroon sariling id[i]osyncracies eh, we cannot make a generalization.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Will the creation of a province, carved out of the existing province because of some geographical id[i]osyncracies, as you called it, stimulate the economic growth in the area or will substantial aid coming from the national government to a particular area, say, to a municipality, achieve the same purpose?

 

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Ano tayo dito sa budget. All right, here is a province. Usually, tinitingnan lang yun, provision eh, hindi na yung composition eh. You are entitled to, say, 20% of the area.

 

Theres a province of Camarines Sur which have the same share with that of Camiguin and Siquijor, but Camiguin is composed only of five municipalities; in Siquijor, its composed of six, but the share of Siquijor is the same share with that of the province of Camarines Sur, having a bigger area, very much bigger.

 

That is the budget in process.

 

CHAIRMAN LINA. Well, as I said, we are going to consider this very seriously and even with sympathy because of the explanation given and we will study this very carefully.[29]

 

The matters raised during the said Bicameral Conference Committee meeting clearly show the manifest intention of Congress to promote development in the previously underdeveloped and uninhabited land areas by allowing them to directly share in the allocation of funds under the


national budget. It should be remembered that, under Sections 284 and 285

of the LGC, the IRA is given back to local governments, and the sharing is based on land area, population, and local revenue.[30]

 

Elementary is the principle that, if the literal application of the law results in absurdity, impossibility, or injustice, then courts may resort to extrinsic aids of statutory construction, such as the legislative history of the law,[31] or may consider the implementing rules and regulations and pertinent executive issuances in the nature of executive and/or legislative construction. Pursuant to this principle, Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR should be deemed incorporated in the basic law, the LGC.

 

It is well to remember that the LGC-IRR was formulated by the Oversight Committee consisting of members of both the Executive and Legislative departments, pursuant to Section 533[32] of the LGC. As Section 533 provides, the Oversight Committee shall formulate and issue the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient and effective implementation of any and all provisions of this Code, thereby ensuring compliance with the principles of local autonomy as defined under the Constitution. It was also mandated by the Constitution that a local government code shall be enacted by Congress, to wit

 

 

Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units. (Emphasis supplied.)

 

 

These State policies are the very reason for the enactment of the LGC, with the view to attain decentralization and countryside development. Congress saw that the old LGC, Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, had to be replaced with a new law, now the LGC of 1991, which is more dynamic and cognizant of the needs of the Philippines as an archipelagic country. This accounts for the exemption from the land area requirement of local government units composed of one or more islands, as expressly stated under Sections 442 and 450 of the LGC, with respect to the creation of municipalities and cities, but inadvertently omitted from Section 461 with respect to the creation of provinces. Hence, the void or missing detail was filled in by the Oversight Committee in the LGC-IRR.

 

With three (3) members each from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, particularly the chairpersons of their respective Committees on Local Government, it cannot be gainsaid that the inclusion by the Oversight Committee of the exemption from the land area requirement with respect to the creation of provinces consisting of one (1) or more islands was intended by Congress, but unfortunately not expressly stated in Section 461 of the LGC, and this intent was echoed through an express provision in the LGC-IRR. To be sure, the Oversight Committee did not just arbitrarily and whimsically insert such an exemption in Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR. The Oversight Committee evidently conducted due deliberation and consultations with all the concerned sectors of society and considered the operative principles of local autonomy as provided in the LGC when the IRR was formulated.[33] Undoubtedly, this amounts not only to an executive construction, entitled to great weight and respect from this Court,[34] but to legislative construction as well, especially with the inclusion of representatives from the four leagues of local government units as members of the Oversight Committee.

 

With the formulation of the LGC-IRR, which amounted to both executive and legislative construction of the LGC, the many details to implement the LGC had already been put in place, which Congress understood to be impractical and not too urgent to immediately translate into direct amendments to the LGC. But Congress, recognizing the capacity and viability of Dinagat to become a full-fledged province, enacted R.A. No. 9355, following the exemption from the land area requirement, which, with respect to the creation of provinces, can only be found as an express provision in the LGC-IRR. In effect, pursuant to its plenary legislative powers, Congress breathed flesh and blood into that exemption in Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR and transformed it into law when it enacted R.A. No. 9355 creating the Island Province of Dinagat.

 

Further, the bill that eventually became R.A. No. 9355 was filed and favorably voted upon in both Chambers of Congress. Such acts of both Chambers of Congress definitively show the clear legislative intent to incorporate into the LGC that exemption from the land area requirement, with respect to the creation of a province when it consists of one or more islands, as expressly provided only in the LGC-IRR. Thereby, and by necessity, the LGC was amended by way of the enactment of R.A. No. 9355.

 

What is more, the land area, while considered as an indicator of viability of a local government unit, is not conclusive in showing that Dinagat cannot become a province, taking into account its average annual income of P82,696,433.23 at the time of its creation, as certified by the Bureau of Local Government Finance, which is four times more than the minimum requirement of P20,000,000.00 for the creation of a province. The delivery of basic services to its constituents has been proven possible and sustainable. Rather than looking at the results of the plebiscite and the May 10, 2010 elections as mere fait accompli circumstances which cannot operate in favor of Dinagats existence as a province, they must be seen from the perspective that Dinagat is ready and capable of becoming a province. This Court should not be instrumental in stunting such capacity. As we have held in League of Cities of the Philippines v. Commission on Elections[35]

Ratio legis est anima. The spirit rather than the letter of the law. A statute must be read according to its spirit or intent, for what is within the spirit is within the statute although it is not within its letter, and that which is within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the statute. Put a bit differently, that which is within the intent of the lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within the letter, and that which is within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless within the intent of the lawmakers. Withal, courts ought not to interpret and should not accept an interpretation that would defeat the intent of the law and its legislators.

So as it is exhorted to pass on a challenge against the validity of an act of Congress, a co-equal branch of government, it behooves the Court to have at once one principle in mind: the presumption of constitutionality of statutes. This presumption finds its roots in the tri-partite system of government and the corollary separation of powers, which enjoins the three great departments of the government to accord a becoming courtesy for each others acts, and not to interfere inordinately with the exercise by one of its official functions. Towards this end, courts ought to reject assaults against the validity of statutes, barring of course their clear unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain, the theory in context being that the law is the product of earnest studies by Congress to ensure that no constitutional prescription or concept is infringed. Consequently, before a law duly challenged is nullified, an unequivocal breach of, or a clear conflict with, the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative one, must be demonstrated in such a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the Court.

 

 

 

WHEREFORE, the Court resolved to:

 

1. GRANT the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment by movants-intervenors, dated and filed on October 29, 2010;

 

2. RECONSIDER and SET ASIDE the July 20, 2010 Resolution, and GRANT the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated July 20, 2010;

 

3. GRANT the Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010. The May 12, 2010 Resolution is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. The provision in Article 9(2) of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 stating, The land area requirement shall not apply where the proposed province is composed of one (1) or more islands, is declared VALID. Accordingly, Republic Act No. 9355 (An Act Creating the Province of Dinagat Islands) is declared as VALID and CONSTITUTIONAL, and the proclamation of the Province of Dinagat Islands and the election of the officials thereof are declared VALID; and

 

4. The petition is DISMISSED.

 

No pronouncement as to costs.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

I join the dissenting opinions of Justice Diosdado Peralta and Justice Brion & reserve the right to write a separate dissenting opinion.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

As I join J. Brions dissent, I maintain my original vote, hence, I dissent.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

See: Dissenting Opinion

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

 

 

 

See Dissenting Opinion

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice

 

 

 

See concurring opinion subject also to internal rules of S.C.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

 

 

 

See: Dissenting Opinion J. Peralta I join it

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

Associate Justice

 

 

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

 

 

Concurring subject to internal rules

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

I dissent and join J. Peralta in his opinion. I also join J. Brion in his dissent

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

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

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice



[1] Congressman Francisco T. Matugas (incumbent Congressman of the First Legislative District of Surigao del Norte), Hon. Sol T. Matugas, Hon. Arturo Carlos A. Egay, Jr. (incumbent Governor and Vice Governor, respectively, of the Province of Surigao del Norte), Hon. Simeon Vicente G. Castrence, Hon. Mamerto D. Galanida, Hon. Margarito M. Longos, and Hon. Cesar M. Bagundol (incumbent Board Members of the First Provincial District of Surigao del Norte).

[2] Passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on August 28, 2006 and August 14, 2006, respectively.

[3] R.A. No. 7160, Sec. 10.

SECTION. 10. Plebiscite Requirement. No creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units shall take effect unless approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose in the political unit or units directly affected. Said plebiscite shall be conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of effectivity of the law or ordinance effecting such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another date.

[4] Rollo, pp. 124-127.

[5] Id. at 143.

[6] Rollo (G.R. No. 175158), pp. 3-20.

[7] Per the November 28, 2006 Resolution, the Court dismissed the petition due to its defective or insufficient verification and certification of non-forum shopping and the failure of petitioners counsel to indicate an updated Integrated Bar of the Philippines official receipt. In its February 13, 2007 Resolution, the Court dismissed the petition with finality. On April 11, 2007, an Entry of Judgment was issued. (Id. at 77A and 112.)

[8] Rollo, pp. 3-43.

[9] Id. at 736-765.

[10] Penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, with Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno (now retired) and Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales, Arturo D. Brion, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, and Jose Catral Mendoza, concurring.

[11] Dissented to by Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, joined by Associate Justices Renato C. Corona (now Chief Justice), Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Roberto A. Abad.

[12] Penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, with Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno (now retired) and Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Arturo D. Brion, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., and Jose Catral Mendoza, concurring.

[13] Dissented to by Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez, joined by Associate Justices Renato C. Corona (now Chief Justice), Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, and Roberto A. Abad.

[14] Rollo, pp. 984-997.

[15] Id. at 1153-1154.

[16] Id. at 1155- 1158.

[17] Quinto v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 189698, February 22, 2010, 613 SCRA 385; Office of the Ombudsman v. Miedes, Sr., G.R. No. 176409, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 148; Pinlac v. Court of Appeals, 457 Phil. 527 (2003); Mago v. Court of Appeals, 363 Phil. 225 (1999); Lim v. Pacquing, G.R. No. 115044, January 27, 1995, 240 SCRA 649; Tahanan Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 203 Phil. 652 (1982); and Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals, 181 Phil. 432 (1979).

[18] Sec. 3. Second Motion for Reconsideration. The Court shall not entertain a second motion for reconsideration and any exception to this rule can only be granted in the higher interest of just by the Court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership. There is reconsideration in the higher interest of justice when the assailed decision is not only legally erroneous, but is likewise patently unjust and potentially capable of causing unwarranted and irremediable injury or damage to the parties. A second motion for reconsideration can only be entertained before the ruling sought to be reconsidered becomes final by operation of law or by the Courts declaration.

[19] The Province of North Cotabato v. Republic, G.R. No. 183591, October 14, 2008, 568 SCRA 402, citing Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 372 Phil. 401 (1999) and Vicente V. Mendoza, JUDICIAL REVIEW OF CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS 137 (2004).

[20] David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006, 489 SCRA 160.

[21] Id. at 223.

[22] See Tan Tiac Chiong v. Hon. Rodrigo Cosico, 434 Phil. 753 (2002); People v. Hon. Chavez, 411 Phil. 482 (2001).

[23] Id.

[24] Manotok IV v. Heirs of Homer L. Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, December 18, 2008, 574 SCRA 468, 492.

[25] Bicameral Conference Committee Meeting of the Committee on Local Government, May 22, 1991, 4th Regular Session, pp. 57-67.

 

[26] ARTICLE 3. Declaration of Policy. (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the Sate that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units (LGUs) shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall proceed from the National Government to the LGUs.

[27] Prescribing the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code of 1991.

[28] Congressman Chiongbian is one of the sponsors of House Bill No. 34061, the House of Representatives version of the proposed Local Government Code.

[29] Bicameral Conference Committee on Local Government (Book III), March 13, 1991, pp. 18-28.

[30] Section 284. Allotment of Internal Revenue Taxes. Local government units shall have a share in the national internal revenue taxes based on the collection of the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year as follows:

(a)     On the first year of the effectivity of this Code, thirty percent (30%);

(b)     On the second year, thirty-five percent (35%); and

(c)     On the third year and thereafter, forty percent (40%):

Provided, That in the event that the National Government incurs an unmanageable public sector deficit, the President of the Philippines is hereby authorized, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Interior and Local Government, and Secretary of Budget and Management, and subject to consultation with the presiding officers of both Houses of Congress and the presidents of the liga, to make the necessary adjustments in the internal revenue allotment of local government units but in no case shall the allotment be less than thirty percent (30%) of the collection of national internal revenue taxes of the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year: Provided, further, That in the first year of the effectivity of this Code, the local government units shall, in addition to the thirty percent (30%) internal revenue allotment which shall include the cost of devolved functions for essential public services, be entitled to receive the amount equivalent to the cost of devolved personal services.

Section 285. 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 pesos (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.

[31] Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Solidbank Corp., 462 Phil. 96, 129-131, 416 SCRA 436 (2003); Republic v. Court of Appeals, 359 Phil. 530, 559; 299 SCRA 199 (1998).

[32] Sec. 533. Formulation of Implementing Rules and Regulations.(a) Within one (1) month after the approval of this Code, the President shall convene the Oversight Committee as herein provided for. The said Committee shall formulate and issue the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient and effective implementation of any and all provisions of this Code, thereby ensuring compliance with the principles of local autonomy as defined under the Constitution.

(b) The Committee shall be composed of the following:

(1) The Executive Secretary, who shall be the Chairman;

(2) Three (3) members of the Senate to be appointed by the President of the Senate, to include the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government;

(3) Three (3) members of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker, to include the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government;

(4) The Cabinet, represented by the following:

(i) Secretary of the Interior and Local Government;

(ii) Secretary of Finance;

(iii) Secretary of Budget and Management; and

(5) One (1) representative from each of the following;

(i) The League of Provinces;

(ii) The League of Cities;

(iii) The League of Municipalities; and

(iv) The Liga ng mga Barangay.

(c) The Committee shall submit its report and recommendation to the President within two (2) months after its organization. If the President fails to act within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof, the recommendation of the Oversight Committee shall be deemed approved. Thereafter, the Committee shall supervise the transfer of such powers and functions mandated under this Code to the local government units, together with the corresponding personnel, properties, assets and liabilities of the offices or agencies concerned, with the least possible disruptions to existing programs and projects. The Committee shall likewise recommend the corresponding appropriations necessary to effect the said transfer.

For this purpose, the services of a technical staff shall be enlisted from among the qualified employees of Congress, the government offices, and the leagues constituting the Committee.

(d) The funding requirements and the secretariat of the Committee shall be provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

(e) The sum of Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00), which shall be charged against the Contingent Fund, is hereby allotted to the Committee to fund the undertaking of an information campaign on this Code. The Committee shall formulate the guidelines governing the conduct of said campaign, and shall determine the national agencies or offices to be involved for this purpose. (Emphasis supplied.)

[33] As found in the Whereas clauses of Administrative Order No. 270 prescribing the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code of 1991, viz.:

WHEREAS, the Oversight Committee, after due deliberations and consultations with all the concerned sectors of society and consideration of the operative principles of local autonomy as provided in the Local Government Code of 1991, has completed the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations. (Emphasis supplied.)

[34] Galarosa v. Valencia, G.R. No. 109455, November 11, 1993, 227 SCRA 728.

[35] G.R. Nos. 176951, 177499, and 178056, December 21, 2009, 608 SCRA 636, 644-645.