MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2011) - Members of the Philippine Congress lauded the Supreme Court for affirming a previous ruling upholding the constitutionality of 16 laws which converted as many municipalities into full-fledged cities.
“We applaud the SC decision, which recognizes the authority of Congress to pass and amend laws as it sees fit, and the sovereign will of the people who ratified in plebiscites the upgrading of their municipalities into cities,” said House Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas.
Gullas said he and other members of Congress would immediately ask Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to release the Internal Revenue Allotment of the new cities.
The IRA represents a local government’s share of revenues from the national government.
The League of Cities of the Philippines has previously lobbied and blocked the conversion of municipalities into cities and strongly opposed the latest ruling of the High Court.
It is also reported to be planning a new strategy to again try to block the implementation of the SC ruling, but Gullas said: “We respectfully suggest to the LCP that they now abandon their stubborn resistance to the formation of the new cities. They should now acknowledge the lawmaking prerogative of Congress, and bow to the SC ruling.”
In their last summer session in Baguio City on Tuesday, the SC justices sustained their February 15, 7-6 vote dismissing the LCP’s appeal for the cityhood laws, passed by the 11th Congress, to be declared unconstitutional. The 16 new cities are: Baybay (Leyte); Bogo (Cebu); Catbalogan (Samar); Tandag (Surigao del Sur); Borongan (Eastern Samar); Tayabas (Quezon); Lamitan (Basilan); Tabuk (Kalinga); Bayugan (Agusan del Sur); Batac (Ilocos Norte); Mati (Davao Oriental); Guihulngan (Negros Oriental); Cabadbaran (Agusan del Norte); Carcar (Cebu); El Salvador (Misamis Oriental); and Naga (Cebu).
“We are counting on the installation of the 16 new cities to usher in a new era of sound and balanced rural development, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao, and to propel national economic growth,” Gullas said, adding the LCP had been “unreasonably opposed” to the creation of the 16 new cities “because of money.”
“LCP members simply they don’t want their share of the IRA to be diminished, with the new cities taking their share of the pie,” Gullas pointed out. “But the pie is always getting bigger every year, because the economy continues to expand, and government revenues continue to grow. So everybody will still be getting IRA increases.”