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SC: Cityhood Laws Constitutional

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-6, denied for lack of merit and with
finality the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration of its February 15,
2011 ruling that declared constitutional RA Nos. 9389 (Baybay City in
Leyte), 9390 (Bogo City in Cebu), 9391 (Catbalogan City in Samar), 9392
(Tandag City in Surigao del Sur), 9393 (Lamitan City in Basilan), 9394
(Borongan City in Samar), 9398 (Tayabas City in Quezon), 9404 (Tabuk
City in Kalinga), 9405 (Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur), 9407 (Batac City
in Ilocos Norte), 9408 (Mati City in Davao Oriental), 9409 (Guihulngan
City in Negros Oriental), 9434 (Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte),
9435 (El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental), 9436 (Carcar City in Cebu),
and 9491 (Naga City in Cebu).

In a 26-page resolution penned by Justice Lucas P. Bersamin,

who also penned the February 15, 2011 resolution, the Court
maintained that the said Cityhood Laws do not violate Art. X,
sections 6 and 10 and the equal protection clause of the
We should not ever lose sight of the fact that the 16 cities
covered by the Cityhood Laws not only had conversion bills
pending during the 11th Congress, but have also complied with
the requirements of the [Local Government Code] LGC
prescribed prior to its amendment by RA No. 9009. Congress
undeniably gave these cities all the considerations that justice
and fair play demanded. Hence, this Court should do no less by
stamping its imprimatur to the clear and unmistakable
legislative intent and by duly recognizing the certain collective
wisdom of Congress, the Court said.
The Court stressed that Congress clearly intended that the local
government units covered by the Cityhood Laws be exempted
from the coverage of RA 9009, which imposes a higher income
requirement of PhP100 million for the creation of cities.
The Court reiterated that while RA 9009 was being deliberated
upon, the Congress was well aware of the pendency of
conversion bills of several municipalities, including those
covered by the Cityhood Laws. It pointed out that RA 9009 took
effect on June 30, 2001, when the 12th Congress was incipient.
By reason of the clear legislative intent to exempt the
municipalities covered by the conversion bills pending during the
11th Congress, the House of Representatives adopted Joint
Resolution No. 29 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. However, the
Senate failed to act on the said Joint Resolution. Even so, the
House readopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1
during the 12th Congress, and forwarded the same for approval
to the Senate, which again failed to prove it. Eventually, the
conversion bills of respondents were individually filed in the
Lower House and were all unanimously and favorably voted
upon. When forwarded to the Senate, the bills were also
unanimously approved. The acts of both Chambers of Congress
show that the exemption clauses ultimately incorporated in the
Cityhood Laws are but the express articulations of the clear
legislative intent to exempt the respondents, without exception,
from the coverage of RA No. 9009. Thereby, RA 9009, and, by
necessity, the LCG, were amended, not by repeal but by way of
the express exemptions being embodied in the exemption
The Court held that the imposition of the income requirement of
P100 million from local sources under RA 9009 was arbitrary.
When the sponsor of the law chose the specific figure of P100
million, no research or empirical date buttressed the figure. Nor
was there proof that the proposal took into account the aftereffects that were likely to arise. While the Constitution mandates
that the creation of local government units must comply with the
criteria laid down in the LGC, it cannot be justified to insist that
the Constitution must have to yield to every amendment to the
LGC despite such amendment imminently producing effects
contrary to the original thrusts of the LGC to promote autonomy,
decentralization, countryside development, and the concomitant
national growth.
In its February 15 resolution, the Court granted the motion for
reconsideration of its August 24, 2010 resolution filed by
respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al. Hence, it reversed and
set aside its August 24, 2010 resolution and declared
constitutional the Cityhood Laws. It held that it should not be
restricted by technical rules of procedure at the expense of the

transcendental interest of justice and equity. While it is true that

litigation must end, even at the expense of errors in judgment, it
is nobler rather for this Court of last resort, as vanguard of truth,
to toil in order to dispel apprehensions and doubt.
The February 15, 2011 resolution is the fourth ruling since the
High Court first resolved the Cityhood case in 2008.
The cases at bar were spawned by the consolidated petitions
filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), et al. On
November 18, 2008, the Court, by a 6-5 vote, granted the
petitions and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional
for violating sections 10 and 6, Art. X, and the equal protection
On March 31, 2009, the Court, by a 7-5 vote, denied the first
motion for reconsideration.
On April 28, 2009, the Court, with a 6-6 vote, denied a second
motion for reconsideration for being a prohibited pleading.
However, the Court, in its June 2, 2009 resolution, clarified its
April 28, 2009 resolution that it voted on the second motion for
reconsideration and that it allowed the filing of the second MR,
hence, the second MR was no longer a prohibited pleading.
However, for lack or the required number of votes to overturn
the November 18, 20009 decision and March 31, 2009
resolution, the Court denied the second MR in its April 28, 2009
On December 21, 2009, the Court, by a vote of 6-4, declared the
Cityhood Laws as constitutional.
On August 24, 2010, the Court, this time by a vote of 7-6,
resolved the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration and Motion
to Annul the Decision of December 21, 2009, both filed by
petitioners, and the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration
filed by petitioners-in-intervention Batangas City, et al.,
reinstating the November 18, 2008 decision.
Concurring with Justice Bersamin were Chief Justice Renato C.
Corona and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Teresita J. LeonardoDe Castro, Jose Portugal Perez, and Jose Catral Mendoza. Justice
Roberto A. Abad wrote a separate concurring opinion.
Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio maintained his dissent and was
joined in his opinion by Justices Conchita Carpio Morales, Arturo
D. Brion, Diosdado M. Peralta, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., and Maria
Lourdes P. A. Sereno.
Justices Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura and Mariano C. Del Castillo
did not take part.
Justice Carpio opined that the said Cityhood Laws contravene the
letter and intent of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. He
stressed that the Constitution expressly requires Congress to
stipulate in the Local Government Code itself all the criteria
necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a
municipality into a city. To avoid discrimination and ensure
uniformity and equality, such criteria cannot be embodied in any
other law except the Local Government Code. In this case, the
Cityhood Laws, which are unmistakably laws other than the Local
Government Code, provide an exemption from the increased
income requirement for the creation of cities under 450 of the
Local Government Code, as amended by RA No. 9009. He said
that This Court has made history with its repeated flip-flopping
in this case.
For his part, Justice Abad opined that there was no flip-flopping
and that such charge was unfair. To flip-flop, he pointed out,
means to vote for one proposition at first (take a stand), shift to
the opposite proposition upon the second vote (flip), and revert
to his first position upon the third (flop). Not one of the 23
Justices flipped-flopped in his vote. He stressed that the Justices
did not decide to change their minds on a mere whim. The two
sides filed motions for reconsideration in the case and the
Justices had no options, considering their divided views, but
perform their duties and vote on the same on the dates the
matters came up for resolution. He stressed that of the 23
Justices who voted in the case at any of its various stages, 20
Justices stood by their original positions and never reconsidered
their views. Only three did so and not on the same occasion,
showing not wholesale change of votes at any time. He noted

that in 2009 alone, seven Justices retired and were replaced by

an equal number. It is such that the resulting change in the
combination of minds produced multiple shifts in the outcomes
of the voting. He said that no law or rule requires succeeding
Justices to adopt the views of their predecessors.
He said that the three Justices who changed their votes did not
do so in one direction. Justice Velasco changed his vote from a
vote to annul to a vote to uphold; Justice Villarama from a vote
to uphold to a vote to annul; and Justice Mendoza from a vote to
annul to a vote to uphold. Not one of the three flipped-flopped

since they never changed their votes again afterwards. [N]o

one can dispute the right of a judge, acting on a motion for
reconsideration, to change his mind regarding the case. The
rules are cognizant of the fact that human judges could err and
that it would merely be fair and right for them to correct their
perceived errors upon a motion for reconsideration. The three
Justices who changed their votes had the right to do so, Justice
Abad said. (GR No. 176951, League of City of the Philippines v.
COMELEC; GR No. 177499, League of City of the Philippines v.
COMELEC: GR No. 178056, League of City of the Philippines v.
COMELEC, April 12, 2011)