Anda di halaman 1dari 2

Tongson, Marlene-Ruth C.

Dissent February 14, 2018


2015-90479 (League of Cities vs. COMELEC) Law 154 - Local Government

League of Cities vs. Commission on Elections: A Critique on the Majority Opinion

The case of League of Cities involves the determination of the constitutionality of the Cityhood
Laws enacted after the passage of RA 9009 increasing the income requirement for the
conversion of municipalities into cities from 20 Million Pesos to 100 Million Pesos locally generated
income. The case overturned itself thrice in these cases.

The point of contention in the five cases of the League of Cities, spanning from 2008 to 2011,
arose from when 11th Congress passed into law 33 of 57 Cityhood Bills but did not act on 24. The
13th Congress approved 16 of the 24 Cityhood Bills which lapsed into law on several dates. This
was contested by the petitioner on the ground of unconstitutionality for violation of Art. X,
Section 10 of the 1987 Constitution as well as Art. X, Sec. 6 and the equal protection clause.

The Court en banc on November 18, 2008, under the ponencia of Justice Carpio, nullified the
Cityhood Laws based on 7 grounds. However, the case was overturned in a decision penned by
Justice Velasco, Jr. on December 21, 2009. On a Resolution dates August 24, 2010, the Court
reversed itself for the second time holding that the Cityhood Laws were unconstitutional
reiterating the 2008 Decision. Again, for the third time, on February 15, 2011, the Court upheld
the constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws. On a Resolution dated April 12, 2011, the Court finally
upheld the constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws.

I concur with the Dissenting Opinion written by Justice Carpio on the April 12, 2011 Resolution.

The majority upheld the Constitutionality of the Cityhood laws arguing that the Congress, in the
exercise of its plenary power, lawfully exempted the 16 cities from the application of RA 9009. It
further argued that the framers of the 1987 Constitution could not have intended the isolation of
the criteria in the Local Government Code. Hence, the enactment of the Cityhood Laws were
essentially the same as the enactment of the RA 9009 as an amendatory law. In other words, the
Cityhood laws effectively amended the Local Government Code.

However, even assuming that the Congress employed its plenary power in approving the Bills
and enacting the same as amendatory laws, the same Cityhood Laws provided for a
separability clause expressly stating that, “If, for any reason or reasons, any part or provision of
this Charter shall be held  unconstitutional, invalid or  inconsistent with the Local Government
Code of 1991, the other parts or provisions hereof which are not affected thereby shall continue
to be in full force and effect. . .”

The separability clause essentially provides that provisions of the Cityhood Laws which are
inconsistent with the Local Government Code is null and void. In other words, in case of doubt
as to the validity of such, LGC provisions shall prevail. As such, the validity of the Cityhood laws
cannot be upheld on the ground of being contrary to the the LGC as amended by RA 9009.

The majority also cited legislative intent as one of the grounds in upholding the validity of the
Cityhood laws. I disagree.

It is hornbook doctrine under statutory construction that when the law is clear, there is no room
for interpretation. Here, as cited above, the Cityhood laws clearly provided in its separability
clause that the Local Government Code prevails in case of inconsistency. Assuming arguendo
that there was no separability clause, the fact still remains that, citing the 2008 Decision, “the
criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code govern exclusively the creation of a city. No
other law, not even the charter of the city, can govern such creation. The clear intent of the
Constitution is to insure that the creation of cities and other political units must follow the same
uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code.” Even though
RA 9009 amended the LGC, there was no provision therein expressly exempting those cities with 

pending bills in the Congress, to construe otherwise would be tantamount to a judicial
legislation.

Moreover, I do not agree with the Court pronouncement that strict application of the verba legis
construction may lead to inconvenience, an absurd situation, or injustice. There is no room for
interpretation. The law is clear. Although it is fundamental that the determination of the
legislative intent is the primary consideration, it is equally fundamental that that legislative intent
must be determined from the language of the statute itself. This principle must be adhered to
even though the court be convinced by extraneous circumstances that the Legislature intended
to enact something very different from that which it did enact. An obscurity cannot be created
to be cleared up by construction and hidden meanings at variance with the language used
cannot be sought out. To attempt to do so is a perilous undertaking, and is quite apt to lead to
an amendment of a law by judicial construction. To depart from the meaning expressed by the
words is to alter the statute, is to legislate not to interpret.1

As to the contention that the equal protection clause was violated, I would like to reiterate the
pronouncement in the 2008 decision stating that the requisites for valid classification was not
met. There is no substantial distinction between the those municipalities pending bills and those
without. The fact that these pending bills were not acted upon in the 11th Congress and was
only approved 6 years after the effectivity of the amending law is evidence enough of the lack
of intention of the Congress to pass them into law, that, in addition to the fact that the Congress
did not expressly exempt them from the coverage of RA 9009 in the law itself.

The Court also made a pass on the policy of the Constitution and the Local Government Code
to promote local autonomy. I do not subscribe to this construction of local autonomy. Local
autonomy is the means by which the local government units become self-reliant partners in the
attainment of national goals. In view of such, LGUs are given more power, authority,
responsibility, and resources by the central government. However, to construe the invalidation of
the subject Cityhood laws as violative of the local autonomy of the municipalities in question
would be to go against the very wisdom of RA 9009 which is to restrain, in the words of Senator
Aquilino Pimentel, "the mad rush" of municipalities to convert into cities solely to secure a larger
share in the Internal Revenue Allotment despite the fact that they are incapable of fiscal
independence.2 The mere fact that these municipalities are not immediately converted into
cities does not deprive them of their local autonomy, but rather, that the conversion of such are
being regulated by the Congress in order that Art. X, Sec. 6 of the Constitution on the just share if
local government units in the national taxes be protected. How can a municipality converted in
to a city with P20 Million income receive equal share in the national taxes to that of a city
earning more than P100 Million? Moreover, how can the subject municipalities earning P20
Million and with pending bills receive more than a municipality earning P20 Million but without
pending bills? I believe that this is not the just share the Constitution mandates.

On that note, I believe that these Cityhood Laws should be stricken down for being
unconstitutional.

1 Tañada vs. Yulo, G.R. No. L-43575, May 31, 1935


2 League of Cities vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 176951, November 8, 2008