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No. L-23825. December 24, 1965.

EMMANUEL PELAEZ, petitioner, vs. THE AUDITOR GENERAL, respondent.

Administrative law; Power of President to create municipalities.—Since January 1, 1960, when


Republic Act No. 2370 became effective, barrios may "not be created or their boundaries altered nor
their names changed" except by Act of Congress or of the corresponding" provincial board "upon
petition of a majority of the voters in the areas affected" and the "recommendation of the council of
the municipality or municipalities in which the proposed barrio is situated." This statutory denial of
the presidential authority to create a new barrio implies a negation of the bigger power to create
municipalities, each of which consists of several barrios.

Same; Same; Nature of power to create municipalities.—Whereas the power to f ix a common


boundary, in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities, may
partake of an administrative nature—involving, as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry
into effect the law creating" said municipalities—the authority to create municipal corporations is
essentially legislative in nature,

Same; Same; Same; Requisites for valid delegation of power.—Although Congress may delegate to
another branch of the government the power to fill in the details in the execution, enforcement or
administration of a law, it is essential that said

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

law: (a) be complete in itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or
implemented by the delegate; and (b) fix a standard—the limits of which are sufficiently determinate
or determinable—to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Requirements of due delegation of power not met by Section 68 of Revised
Administrative Code.—Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, insofar as it grants to the
President the power to create municipalities, does not meet the well-settled requirements for a valid
delegation of the power to fix the details in the enforcement of a law. It does not enunciate any policy
to be carried out or implemented by the President.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Abdication of powers of Congress in favor of the Executive.—If the
validity of said delegation of powers, made in Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, were
upheld. there would no longer be any legal impediment to a statutory grant of authority to the
President to do anything which, in his opinion, may be required by public welfare or public interest.
Such grant of authority would be a virtual abdication of the powers of Congress in favor of the
Executive, and would bring about a total collapse of the democratic system established by the
Constitution.

Same; Same; Same; Nature of powers dealt with in Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code.—It
is true that in Calalang vs. WiIliams (70 Phil. 726) and People vs. Rosenthal (68 Phil. 328), this Court
had upheld "public welfare" and "public interest," respectively, as sufficient standards for a valid
delegation of the authority to execute the law. But the doctrine laid down in these cases must be
construed in relation to the specific facts and Issues involved therein, outside of which they do not
constitute precedents and have no binding effect. Both cases involved grants to administrative
officers of powers related to the exercise of their administrative functions, calling for the
determination of questions of fact. Such is not the nature of the powers dealt with in Section 68 of
the Revised Administrative Code. The creation of municipalities being essentially and eminently
legislative in character, the question whether or not "public interest" demands the exercise of such
power is not one of fact It is purely a legislative question (Carolina-Virginia Coastal Highway vs.
Coastal Turnpike Authority, 74 S.E. 2d. 310-313, 315-318), or a political question (Udall vs. Severn, 79
P. 2d. 347-349).

Same; Same; Same; Same; Proof that issuance of Executive Orders in question enteils exercise of
purely legislative functions.—The fact that Executive Orders Nos. 93 to 121, 124 and 128 to 129,
creating thirty-three municipalities, were issued

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

after the legislative bills for the creation of the said municipalities had failed to pass Congress, is the
best proof that their issuance entails the exercise of purely legislative functions.

Same; Same; Same; Power of control over local governments.—The power of control under Section
10 (a) of Article X of the Constitution implies the right of the President to interfere in the exercise of
such discretion as may be vested by law in the officers of the executive departments, bureaus or
offices of the national government, as well as to act in lieu of such officers. This power is denied by
the Constitution to the Executive, insofar as local governments are concerned. With respect to the
latter, the fundamental law permits him to wield no more authority than that of checking whether
said local governments or the officers thereof perform their duties as provided by statutory
enactments. Hence, the President cannot interfere with local governments, so long as the same or its
officers act within the scope of their authority. He may not, for instance, suspend an elective official
of a regular municipality or take any disciplinary action against him, 'except on appeal from a decision
of the corresponding provincial board. If, on the other hand, the President could create a municipality,
he could, in effect, remove any of' its officials, by creating a new municipality and including therein
the barrio in which the official concerned resides, for his office would thereby become vacant (Section
2179, Revised Administrative Code). Thus, by merely brandishing the power to create a new
municipality, without actually creating it, he could compel local officials to submit to his dictation;
thereby, in effect, exercising over them the power of control denied to him by the Constitution.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Section 68, Revised Administrative Code repealed by the
Constitution.—The power of control of the President over executive departments, bureaus or offices
under Section 10(a) of Article X of the Constitution implies no more than the authority to assume
directly the functions thereof or to interfere in the exercise of discretion by its officials. Manifestly,
such control does not include the authority either to abolish an executive department or bureau, or to
create a new one. As a consequence, the alleged power of the President to create municipal
corporations would necessarily connote the 'exercise by him of an authority even greater than that of
control which he has over the executive departments, bureaus or offices, Instead of giving the
President less power over local governments than that vested in him over the executive departments,
bureaus or offices, it reverses the process and does the exact opposite, by conferring upon him more
power over municipal corporations than that which he has over executive departments, bureaus or
offices. Even if, therefore, it did not entail an undue delegation of legislative powers, as

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

it certainly does, said Section 68, as part of the Revised Administrative Code, approved on March 10,
1967, must be deemed repealed by the subsequent adoption of the Constitution in 1935, which is
utterly incompatible and inconsistent with said statutory enactment. (De los Santos vs. Mallare, 87
Phil. 289, 298299.)

Same; Same; Same; Municipal officials concerned duly represented in present case.—lt is contended
that not all the proper parties have been impleaded in the present case. Suffice it to say that the
records do not show, and the parties do not claim, that the officers of any of the municipalities
concerned have been appointed or elected and have assumed office. At any rate, the Solicitor General,
who has appeared on behalf of respondent Auditor General, is the officer authorized by law "to act
and represent the Government of the Philippines, its offices and agents, in any official investigation,
proceeding or matter requiring the services of a lawyer" (Section 1661, Revised Administrative Code),
and, in connection with the creation of the municipalities involved in this case, which involves a
political, not proprietary function. said local officials, if any, are mere agents or representatives of the
national government. Their interest in the case has accordingly been duly represented. (Mangubat vs.
Osmeña, Jr., G.R. No. L-12837, April 30, 1959; City of Cebu vs. Judge Piccio, G.R. Nos L-13012 & 14876.
December 81, 1960.)

Same; Same; Action not premature.—The present action cannot be said to be premature simply
because respondent Auditor General has not yet acted on any of the executive orders in question and
has not intimated how he would act in connection therewith. It is a matter of common knowledge
that the President has for many years issued executive orders creating municipal corporations and
that the same have been organized and are in actual operation, thus indicating without peradventure
or doubt, that the expenditures incidental thereto have been sanctioned, approved or passed in audit
by the General Auditing Office and its officials. There is no reason to believe that respondent would
adopt a different policy as regards the new municipalities involved in this case, in the absence of an
allegation to such effect, and none has been made by him.

ORIGINAL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Prohibition with preliminary injunction.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Zulueta, Gonzales, Paculdo & Associates for petitioner.

Solicitor General for respondent.

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

CONCEPCION, J.:
During the period from September 4 to October 29, 1064 the President of the Philippines, purporting
to act pursuant to Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, issued Executive Orders Nos, 93 to
121, 124 and 126 to 129; creating thirty-three (33) municipalities enumerated in the margin.1 Soon
after the date last mentioned, or on November 10, 1964 petitioner Emmanuel Pelaez, as Vice
President of the Philippines and as taxpayer, instituted the present special civil action, for a writ of
prohibition with preliminary injunction, against the Auditor General, to restrain him, as well as his
representatives and agents from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds in implementation
of said executive orders and/or any disbursement by ,said municipalities.

Petitioner alleges that said executive orders are null and void, upon the ground that said Section 68
has been impliedly repealed by Republic Act No. 2370 and constitutes an undue delegation of
legislative power, Respondent maintains the contrary view and avers that the present action

_______________

Executive Order No.

Municipality

Province

Date Promulgated

Annex (Original Petition)

93

Nilo

Zamboanga del Sur

Sept. 4, 1961
A

94

Midsalip

"""

"""

95

Pitogo

"""

"""

96

Maruing

"""

"""

D
97

Naga

"""

"""

"

99

Sebaste

Antique

"26"

"

100

Molugan

Misamis Oriental

"""

G
"

101

Malixi

Surigao del Sur

"28"

"

102

Roxas

Davao

"""

"

103

Magsaysay

"
"""

"

104

Sta, Maria

"

"""

"

105

Badiangan

Iloilo

"""

"

106

Mina
"

Oct. 1 "

"

107

Andong

Lanao del Sur

"""

"

108

Sultan Alonto

"""

"""

"
109

Maguing

"""

"""

"

110

Dianaton

"""

"""

"

111

Elpidio Quirino

Mt. Province

"""

R
"

112

Bayog

Zamboanga del Sur

"""

"

117

Gloria

Oriental Mindoro

"""

GG

(Attached here to)

113

Maasin

Cotabato
"""

114

Siayan

Zamboanga del Norte

"""

LC

115

Roxas

"""

"""

116P

Panganuran

"""

"""
W

118

Kalilangan

Bukidnon

"""

119

Lantapan

"

"""

120

Libertad
Zamboanga del Sur

"""

121

General Aguinaldo

"""

"""

AA

124

Rizal

Surigao del Norte

"3"

BB

126
Tigao

Surigao del Sur

"23"

CC

127

Tampakan

Cotabato

"26"

DD

128

Maco

Davao

"29"

EE
129

New Corella

"

"""

FF

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

is premature and that not all proper parties—referring: to the officials of the new political
subdivisions in question—have been impleaded, Subsequently, the mayors of several municipalities
adversely affected by the aforementioned executive orders—because the latter have taken sway from
the former the barrios composing the new political subdivisions—intervened in the case. Moreover,
Attorneys Enrique M. Fernando and Emma Quisumbing-Fernando were allowed to and did appear as
amici curiae.

The third paragraph of Section 3 of Republic Act No. 2370, reads:

"Barrios shall not be created or their boundaries altered nor their names changed except under the
provisions of this Act or by Act of Congress."

Pursuant to the first two (2) paragraphs of the same Section 3:


"All barrios existing at the time of the passage of this Act shall come under the provisions hereof.

"Upon petition of a majority of the voters in the areas affected, a new barrio may be created or the
name of an existing one may' be changed by the provincial board of the province, upon
recommendation of the council of the municipality or municipalities in which the proposed barrio is
stipulated. The recommendation of the municipal council shall be embodied in a resolution approved
by at least two-thirds of the entire membership of the said council: Provided, however, That no new
barrio may be created if its population is less than five hundred persons."

Hence, since January 1, 1960, when Republic Act No. 2370 became effective, barrios may "not be
created or their boundaries altered nor their names changed'' except by Act of Congress or of the
corresponding provincial board "upon petition of a majority of the voters in the areas affected" and
the "recommendation of the council of the municipality or municipalities in which the proposed
barrio is situated." Petitioner argues, accordingly: "If the President, under this new law, cannot even
create a barrio, can he create a municipality which is composed of several barrios, since barrios are
units of municipalities?"

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

Respondent answers in the affirmative, upon the theory that a new municipality can be created
without creating new barrios, such as, by placing old barrios under the jurisdiction of the new
municipality. This theory overlooks, however, the main import of the petitioner's argument, which is
that the statutory denial of the presidential authority to create a new barrio implies a negation of the
bigger power to create municipalities, each of which consists of se everal barrios. The cogency and
force of this argument is too obvious to be denied or even questioned. Founded upon logic and
experience, it cannot be offset except by a clear manifestation of the intent of Congress to the
contrary, and no such manifestation, subsequent to the passage of Republic Act No. 2379, has been
brought to our attention.

Moreover, section 68 of the Administrative Code, upon which the disputed executive orders are
based, provides:

"The (Governor-General) President of the Philippines may by executive order define the or
boundaries, of any province, subprovince, municipality, [township] district, or other political
subdivision, and increase or diminish the territory comprised therein, may divide any province into
one or more subprovices, separate any political division other than a province, into such portions as
may be required, merge any of such subdivisions or portions with another, name any new subdivision
so created, may change the seat of government within any subdivision to such place therein as the
public welfare may require: Provided, That the authorization of the (Philippine Legislature) Congress
of the Philippines shall first be obtained whenever the boundary of any province or subprovince is to
be defined or any province is to be divided into one or more subprovinces. When action by the
(Governor-General) President of the Philippines in accordance herewith makes necessary a change of
the territory under the jurisdiction of any administrative officer or any judicial officer, the
(Governor-General) President of the Philippines, with the recommendation and advice of the head of
the Department having executive control of such officer, shall redistrict the territory of the several
officers affected and assign such officers to the new districts so formed.

"Upon the changing of the limits of political divisions in pursuance of the foregoing authority, an
equitable distribution of the funds and obligations of the divisions thereby affected

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

shall be made in such manner as may be recommended by the (Insular Auditor) Auditor General and
approved by the (Governor-General) President of the Philippines,"

Respondent alleges that the power of the President to create municipalities under this section does
not amount to an undue delegation of legislative power, relying upon Municipality of Cardona vs,
Municipality of Binañgonan (86 Phil. 547), which, he claims, has settled it. Such claim is untenable, for
said case involved, not the creation of a new municipality, but a mere transfer of territory—from an
already existing municipality (Cardona) to another municipality (Binañgonan), likewise, existing at the
time of and prior to said transfer (See Gov't of the P.I. ex rel. Municipality of Cardona vs. Municipality
of Binañgonan [34 Phil. 518, 519-520])—in consequence of the fixing and definition, pursuant to Act.
No. 1748, of the common bound aries of two municipalities.

It is obvious, however, that, whereas the power to fix such common boundary, in order to avoid or
settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities, may partake of an administrative
nature—involving, as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the law creating
said municipalities—the authority to create municipal corporations is essentially legislative in nature,
In the language of other courts, it is "strictly a legislative function" (State ex rel. Higgins vs. Aicklen,
119 S. 425, January 2, 1959) or "solely and exclusively the exercise of legislative power" (Udall vs.
Severn, May 29, 1938, 79 P. 2d 347-349). As the Supreme Court of Washington has put it (Territory ex
rel. Kelly vs. Stewart, February 13, 1890, 23 Pac. 405, 409), "municipal corporations are purely the
creatures of statutes."

Although1a Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the power to fill in the
details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to forestall a violation
of the principle of separation of -powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself

______________

1a Except to local governments, to which legislative powers, with respect to matters of local concern,
may be delegated.

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—it must set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the
delegate2—and (b) fix a standard—the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or
determinable—to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.2a Indeed,
without a statutory declaration of policy, the delegate would in effect, make or formulate such policy,
which is the essence of every law; and without the aforementioned standard, there would be no
means to determine, with reasonable certainty, whether the delegate has acted within or beyond the
scope of his authority.2b Hence, he could thereby arrogate upon himself the power, not only to make
the law, but, also—and this is worse—to unmake it, by adopting measures inconsistent with the end
sought to be attained by the Act of Congress, thus nullifying the principle of separation of powers and
the system of checks and balances, and, consequently, undermining the very foundation of our
Republican. system.

Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code does not meet these well settled requirements for a
valid delegation of the power to fix the details in the enforcement of a law,

_____________
2 Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726; Pangasinan Transp. Co. vs. Public Service Commission, 70 Phil.
221; Cruz vs. Youngberg, 56 Phil. 234; Alegre vs. Collector of Customs, 53 Phil. 394; Mulford vs. Smith,
307 U.S. 38.

2a People vs. Lim Ho, L- 12091-2, January 28, 1960; People vs. Jolliffe. L-9553, May 13, 1959; People
vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56; U.S. vs. Ang Tang Ho, 43 Phil. 1; Compañia General de Tabacos vs. Board of Public
Utility, 34 Phil. 136; Mutual Film Co. vs. Industrial Commission, 236 U.S. 247, 59 L. Ed. 561; Mutual
Film Corp. vs. Industrial Commission, 236 U.S. 230, 59 L. Ed. 552; Pamana Refining Co. vs. Ryan, 293
U.S. 388, 79 L. Ed. 446; A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. vs. U.S., 295 U.S. 495, 79 L Ed. 1570; U S. vs.
Rock Royal Coop., 307 U.S. 533, 83 L. Ed. 1446; Bowles vs. Willingham, 321 U.S. 503, 88 L. Ed. 892;
Araneta vs. Gatmaitan, L-8895, April 30, 1957; Cervantes vs. Auditor General, L-4043, May 26,1952;
Phil. Association of Colleges vs. See. of Education, 51 Off. Gaz. 6230; People vs. Arnault, 48 Off. Gaz.
4805; Antamok Gold Fields vs. CIR, 68 Phil. 340; U.S. vs. Barrias, 11 Phil. 327; Yakus vs. White, 321 U.S.
414; Ammann vs. Mailonce. 332 U.S. 245

2b Vigan Electric Light Company, Inc. vs. The Public Service Commission, L-19850, January 30, 1964.

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It does not enunciate any policy to be carried out or implemented by the President Neither does it
give a standard suf f iciently precise to avoid the evil effects above referred to, In this connection, we
do not overlook the fact that, under the last clause of the first sentence of Section 68, the President:

"x x x may change the seat of the government within any subdivision to such place therein as the
public welfare may require"

it is apparent, however, from the language of this clause, that the phrase "as the public welfare may
require" qualified, not the clauses preceding the one just quoted, but only the place to which the seat
of the government may be transferred. This fact becomes more apparent when we consider that said
Section 68 was originally Section 1 of Act No. 1748,3 which provided that, "whenever in the judgment
of the Governor-General the public welfare, requires, he may, by executive order," effect the changes
enumerated therein (as in said section 68), including the change of the seat of the government "to
such place x x x
_____________

3 Whenever in the judgment of the Governor-General the public welfare requires, he may, by
executive order, enlarge, contract, or otherwise change the boundary of any province, subprovince,
municipality or township or other political subdivision, or separate any such subdivision into such
portions as may be required as aforesaid, merge any of such subdivisions or portions with another,
divide any province into one or more subprovinces as may be required as aforesaid, name any new
subdivision so created, change the seat of government within any subdivision, 'existing or created
hereunder, to such place therein as the public interests require, and shall fix in such executive order
the date when the change, merger, separation, or other action shall take effect. Whenever such
action as aforesaid creates a new political subdivision the Governor-General shall appoint such
officers for the new subdivision with such powers and duties as may be required by the existing
provisions of law applicable to the case and fix their salaries; such appointees shall hold office until
their successors are elected or appointed and qualified. Successors to the elective offices shall be
elected at the next general election following such appointment, Such equitable distribution of the
funds of changed subdivisions between the subdivisions affected shall be as is recommended by the
Insular Auditor and approved by the Governor-General.

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

as the public interest requires" The opening statement of said Section 1 of Act No, 1748—which was
not included in Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code—governed the time at which, or the
conditions under which, the powers therein conferred could be exercised; whereas the last part of the
first sentence of said section referred exclusively to the place to which the seat of the government
was to be transferred.

At any rate, the conclusion would be the same, insofar as the case at bar is concerned, even if we
assumed that the phrase "as the public welfare may require," in said Section 68, qualifies all other
clauses thereof. It is true that in Calalang vs. Williams (70 Phil. 726) and People vs. Rosenthal (68 Phil.
328), this Court had upheld "public welfare" and "public interest," respectively, as sufficient standards
for a valid delegation of the authority to execute the law, But, the doctrine laid down in these
cases—as all judicial pronouncements—must be construed in relation to the specific facts and issues
involved 'therein, outside of which they do not constitute precedents and have no binding effect.4
The law construed in the Calalang case conferred upon the Director of Public Works, with the
approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, the power to issue rules and
regulations to promote safe transit upon national roads and streets. Upon the other hand, the
Rosenthal case referred to the authority of the Insular Treasurer, under Act No. 2581, to issue and
cancel certificates or permits for the sale of speculative securities. Both cases involved grants to.
administrative officers of powers related to the exercise of their administrative functions, calling for
the determination of questions of fact.

Such is not the nature of the powers dealt with in section 880 As above indicated, the creation of
municipalities,

_____________

4 McGirr vs. Hamilton, 30 Phil. 563; Hebron vs. Reyes, L-9124. July 28, 1958; U.S. vs. More, 3 Cranch
159, 172; U.S. vs. Sanges, 144 U.S. 310, 319; Cross vs. Burke, 146 U.S. 82; Louisville Trust Co. vs. Knott,
191 U.S. 225. See also, 15 C.J., 929-940; 21 C.J.S. 297, 299; 14 Am. Jur. 345.

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is not an administrative function, but one which is essentially and eminently legislative in character.
The question of whether or not "public interest" demands the exercise of such power is not one of
fact. It is "purely a legislative question "(Carolina-Virginia Coastal Highway vs. Coastal Turnpike
Authority, 74 S.E. 2d. 310-313, 315-318), or a political question (Udall vs. Severn, 79 P. 2d. 347-349),
As the Supreme Court of Wisconsin has aptly characterized it, "the question as to whether
incorporation is for the best interest of the community in any case is emphatically a question of public
policy and statecraft" (In re Village of North Milwaukee, 67 N.W. 1033, 1035-1037).

For this reason, courts of justice have annulled, as constituting undue delegation of legislative powers,
state laws granting the judicial department the power to determine whether certain territories should
be annexed to a particular municipality (Udall vs. Severn, supra, 258-359); or vesting in a Commission
the right to determine the plan and frame of government of proposed villages and what functions
shall be exercised by the same, although the powers and functions of the village are specifically
limited by statute (In re Municipal Charters, 86 Atl. 307-308); or conferring upon courts the authority
to declare a given town or village incorporated, and designate its metes and bounds, upon petition of
a majority of the taxable inhabitants thereof, setting forth the area desired to be included in such
village (Territory ex rel Kelly vs. Stewart, 28 Pac. 405-409); or authorizing the territory of a town,
containing a given area and population, to be incorporated as a town, on certain steps, being taken by
the inhabitants thereof and on certain determination by a court and subsequent vote of the
inhabitants in favor thereof, insofar as the court is allowed to determine whether the lands embraced
in the petition "ought justly" to be included in the village, and whether the interest of the inhabitants
will be promoted by such incorporation, and to enlarge and diminish the boundaries of the proposed
village "as justice may require" (In re Villages of North Milwaukee, 67 N.W. 10351037); or creating a
Municipal Board of Control which shall 'determine whether or not the laying out, construc-

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

tion or operation of a toll road is in the "public interest" and whether the requirements of the law had
been complied with, in which case the board shall enter an order creating a municipal corporation
and fixing the name of the same (Carolina-Virginia Coastal Highway vs. Coastal Turnpike Authority, 74
S.E. 2d. 310).

Insofar as the validity of a delegation of power by Congress to the President is concerned, the case of
Schechter Poultry Corporation vs. U.S. (79 L. Ed. 1570) is quite relevant to the one at bar. The
Schechter case involved the constitutionality of Section 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act
authorizing the President of the United States to approve "codes of fair competiton" submitted to him
by one or more trade or industrial associations or corporations which "impose no inequitable
restrictions on admission to membership therein and are truly representative," provided that such
codes are not designed "to promote monopolies or to eliminate or oppress small enterprises and will
not operate to discriminate against them, and will tend to effectuate the policy" of said Act. The
Federal Supreme Court held:

"To summarize and conclude upon this point: Sec. 3 of the Recovery Act is without precedent. It
supplies no standards for any trade, industry or activity. It does not undertake to prescribe rules of
conduct to be applied to particular states of fact determined by appropriate administrative procedure.
Instead of prescribing rules of conduct, it authorizes the making of codes to prescribe them. For that
legislative undertaking, Sec. 3 sets up no standards, aside from the statement of the general aims of
rehabilitation. correction and expansion described in Sec. 1. In view of the scope of that broad
declaration, and of the nature of the few restrictions that are imposed, the discretion of the President
in approving or prescribing codes, and thus enacting laws for the government of trade and industry
throughout the country, is virtually unfettered. We think that the code making authority thus
conferred is an un constitutional delegation of legislative power."

If the term "unfair competition" is so broad as to vest in the President a discretion that is "virtually
unfettered." and, consequently, tantamount to a delegation of legislative power, it is obvious that
"public welfare," which has even a broader connotation, leads to the same result. In

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

fact, if the validity of the delegation of powers made in Section 88 were upheld, there would no
longer be any legal impediment to a statutory grant of authority to the President to do anything
which, in his opinion, may be required by public welfare or public interest. Such grant of authority
would be a virtual abdication of the powers of Congress in favor of the Executive, and would bring
about a total collapse of the democratic system established by our Constitution, which it is the special
duty and privilege of this Court to uphold.

It may not be amiss to note that the executive orders in question were issued after the legislative bills
for the creation of the municipalities involved in this case had failed to pass Congress. A better proof
of the fact that the issuance of said executive orders entails the exercise of purely legislative functions
can hardly be given.

Again, Section 10(1) of Article VII of our fundamental law ordains:

"The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices, exercise
general supervision over all local governments as may be provided by law, and take care that the laws
be faithfully executed."

The power of control under this provision implies the right of the President to interfere in the exercise
of such discretion as may be vested by law in the officers of the executive departments, bureaus, or
offices of the national government, as well as to act in lieu of such officers. This power is, denied by
the Constitution to the Executive, insofar as local governments are concerned. With respect to the
latter, the fundamental law permits him to wield no more authority than that of checking whether
said local governments or the officers thereof perform their duties as provided by statutory
enactments. Hence, the President cannot interfere with local governments, so long as the same or its
officers act within the scope of their authority, He may not enact an ordinance which the municipal
council has failed or refused to pass, even if it had thereby violated a duty imposed thereto by law,
although he may see to it that the corresponding provincial officials take appropriate disciplinary
action therefor.

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Neither may he vote, set aside or annul an ordinance passed by said council within the scope of its
jurisdiction, no matter how patently unwise it may be. He may not even suspend an elective official of
a regular municipality or take any disciplinary action against him, except on appeal from a decision of
the corresponding provincial board.5

Upon the other hand, if the President could create a municipality, he could, in effect, remove any of
its officials, by creating a new municipality and including therein the barrio in which the official
concerned resides, for his office would thereby become vacant,6 Thus, by merely brandishing the
power to create a new municipality (if he had it), without actually creating it, he could compel local
officials to submit to his dictation, thereby, in effect, exercising over them the power of control
denied to him by the Constitution.

Then, also, the power of control of the President over executive departments, bureaus or offices
implies no more than the authority to assume directly the f unctions thereof or to interfere in the
exercise of discretion by its officials. Manifestly, such control does not include the authority either to
abolish an executive department or bureau, or to create a new one. As a consequence, the alleged
power of the President to create municipal corporations would necessarily connote the exercise by
him of an authority even greater than that of control which he has over the executive departments,
bureaus or offices. In other words, Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code does not mere-

_____________

5 Hebron vs. Reyes, L-9124, July 28, 1958; Mondano vs. Silvosa, 51 Off. Gaz. 2884; Rodriguez vs.
Montinola, 50 Off. Gaz, 4820; Querubin vs. Castro, L-9779, July 31, 1958.

6 Pursuant to Section 2179 of the Revised Administrative Code:

"When a part 01 a barrio is detached from a municipality to form a new municipality or to be added
to an existing municipality, any officer of the old municipality living in the detached territory may
continue to hold his office and exert the functions thereof for the remainder of his term; but if he is
resident of a barrio the whole of which is detached, his office shall be deemed to be vacated"

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ly fail to comply with the constitutional mandate above quoted. Instead of giving the President less
power over local governments than that vested in him over the executive departments, bureaus or
offices, it reverses the pro cess and does the exact opposite, by conferring upon him more power over
municipal corporations than that which he has over said executive departments, bureaus or offices.

In short, even if it did entail an undue delegation of legislative powers, as it certainly does, said
Section 68, as part of the Revised Administrative Code, approved on March 10, 1917, must be
deemed repealed by the subsequent adoption of the Constitution, in 1935, which is utterly
incompatible and inconsistent with said statutory enactment.7

There are only two (2) other points left for consideration, namely, respondent's claim (a) that "not all
the proper parties"—referring to the officers of the newly created municipalities—"have been
impleaded in this case," and (b) that "the present petition is premature/'

As regards the first point, suffice it to say that the records do not show, and the parties do not claim,
that the officers, of any of said municipalities have been appointed or elected and assumed office. At
any rate, the Solicitor General. who has appeared on behalf of respondent Auditor General, is the
officer authorized by law "to act and represent the Government of the Philippines, its offices and
agents, in any official investigation, proceeding or matter requiring the services of a lawyer" (Section
1661, Revised Administrative Code), and, in connection with the creation of the aforementioned
municIpalities, which involves a political, not proprietary, function, said local officials, if any, are mere
agents or representatives of the national government. Their interest in the case at bar has,
accordingly, been, in effect, duly represented.8

With respect to the second point, respondent alleges that

______________

7 De los Santos vs. Mallare, 87 Phil, 289, 298-299.

8 Mangubat vs. Osmeña, Jr., L-12837, April 20, 1959; City of Cebu vs. Judge Piccio. L-13012 & L-14876,
December 31, 1960,

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he has not as yet acted on any of the executive orders in question and has not intimated how he
would act in connection therewith. It is, however, a matter of common, public knowledge, subject to
judicial cognizance, that the President has, for many years, issued executive orders creating municipal
corporations and that the same have been organized and in actual operation, thus indicating, without
peradventure of doubt, that the expenditures incidental thereto have been sanctioned, approved or
passed in audit by the General Auditing Office and its officials. There is no reason to believe, therefore,
that respondent would adopt a different policy as regards the new municipalities involved in this case,
in the absence of an allega-tion to such effect, and none has been made by him

WHEREFORE, the Executive Orders in question are hereby declared null and void ab initio and the
respondent permanently restrained from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds in
implementation of said Executive Orders or any disbursement by the municipalities above referred to.
It is so ordered.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera and Dizon, JJ., concur.

Zaldivar, J., took no part.

Bengzon, J.P., J., concurs and dessents is a seperate opinion.

Makalintal and Regala, JJ., concur with the opinion of Justice J.P. Bengzon.

BENGZON, J.P., J., concurring and dissenting:

A sign of progress in a developing nation is the rise of new municipalities. Fostering their rapid growth
has long been the aim pursued by all three branches of our Government.

So it was that the Governor-General during the time of the Jones Law was given authority by the
Legislature (Act No. 1748) to act upon certain details with respect to said local governments, such as
fixing of boundaries, subdivisions and mergers. And the Supreme Court, within the framework of the
Jones Law, ruled in 1917 that the exec-
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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

ution or implementation of such details, did not entail abdication of legislative power (Government vs.
Municipality of Binangonan, 34 Phil. 518; Municipality ,of Cardona vs. Municipality of Binañgonan, 36
Phil. 547). Subsequently, Act No. 1748's aforesaid statutory authorization was embodied in Section 68
of the Revised Administrative Code. And Chief Executives since then up to the present continued to
avail of said provision, time and again invoking it to issue executive orders providing for the creation
of municipalities.

From September 4, 1964 to October 29, 1964 the President of the Philippines issued executive orders
to create thirty-three municipalities pursuant to Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code. Public
funds thereby stood to be disbursed in implementation of said executive orders.

Suing as private citizen and taxpayer, Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez filed in this Court a petition for
prohibition with preliminary injunction against the Auditor General. It seeks to restrain the
respondent or any person acting in his behalf, from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds in
implementation of the executive orders aforementioned.

Petitioner contends that the President has no power to create a municipality by executive order. It is
argued that Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, so far as it purports to grant any
such power, is invalid or, at the least, already repealed, in light of the Philippine Constitution and
Republic Act 2370 (The Barrio Charter),

Section 68 is again reproduced hereunder for convenience:

"SEC. 68. General authority of [Governor-General] President of the Philippines to fix boundaries and
make new subdivisions.—The [Governor-General] President of the Philippines may by executive order
define the boundary, or boundaries, of any province, subprovince, municipality, [township] municipal
district, or other political subdivision, and increase or diminish the territory comprised therein, may
divide any province into one or more subprovinces, separate any political division other than a
province, into such portions as may be required.

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merge any of such subdivisions or portions with another, name any new subdivision so created, and
may change the seat of government within any subdivision to such place therein as the public welfare
may require: Provided, That the authorization of the [Philippine Legislature] Congress of the
Philippines shall first be obtained whenever the boundary of any province or subprovince is to be
defined or any province is to be divided into one or more subprovinces. When action by the
[GovernorGeneral] President of the Philippines in accordance herewith makes necessary a change of
the territory under the jurisdiction of any administrative officer or any judicial officer, the
[Governor-General] President of the Philippines, with the recommendation and advice of the head of
the Department having executive control of such officer, shall redistrict the territory of the several
officers to the new districts so formed.

"Upon the changing of the limits of political divisions in pursuance of the foregoing authority, an
equitable distribution of the funds and obligations of the divisions thereby affected shall be made in
such manner as may be recommended by the [Insular Audtior] Auditor General and approved by the
[Governor-General] President of the Philippines."

From such working I believe that power to create a municipality is included: to "separate any political
division other than a province, into such portions as may be required, merge any such subdivisions or
portions with another, name any new subdivision so created." The issue, however, is whether the
legislature can validly delegate to the Executive such power,

The power to create a municipality is legislative in character. American authorities have therefore
favored the view that it cannot be delegated; that what is delegable is not the power to create
municipalities but only the power to determine the existence of facts under which creation of a
municipality will result (37 Am. Jur. 628).

The test is said to lie in whether the statute allows any discretion on the delegate as to whether the
municipal corporation should be created, If so, there is an attempted delegation of legislative power
and the statute is invalid (Ibid.). Now Section 68 no doubt gives the President such discretion, since it
says that the President "may by executive order" exercise the powers therein granted. Furthermore,
Section 5 of the same Code states:

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"SEC. 5. Exercise of administrative discretion.—The exercise of the permissive powers of all executive
or administrative officers and bodies is based upon discretion, and when such officer or body is given
authority to do any act but not required to do such act, the doing of the same shall be dependent on a
sound discretion to be exercised for the good of the service and benefit of the public, whether so
expressed in the statute giving the authority or not"

Under the prevailing rule in the United States—and Section 68 is of American origin—the provision in
question would be an invalid attempt to delegate purely legislative powers, contrary to the principle
of separation of powers.

It is very pertinent that Section 68 should be considered with the stream of history in mind. A proper
knowledge of the past is the only adequate background for the present. Section 68 was adopted half
a century ago. Political change, two world wars, the recognition of our independence and rightful
place in the family of nations, have since taken place. In 1917 the Philippines had for its Organic Act
the Jones Law. And under the setup ordained therein 110 strict separation of powers was adhered to.
Consequently, Section 68 was not constitutionally objectionable at the time of its enactment.

The advent of the Philippine Constitution in 1935 however altered the situation. For not only was
separation of powers strictly ordained, except only in specific instances therein provided, but the
power of the Chief Executive over local governments suffered an explicit reduction.

Formerly, Section 21 of the Jones Law provided that the Governor-General "shall have general
supervision and control of all the departments and bureaus of the government in the Philippine
Islands," Now Section 10 (1), Article VII of the Philippine Constitution provides: "The President shall
have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices. exercise general supervision over
all local governments as may be provided by law, and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

In short, the power of control over local governments had now been taken away from the Chief
Executive. Again,

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to fully understand the significance of this provision, one must trace its development and growth.

As early as April 7, 1900 President McKinley of the United States, in his Instructions to the Second
Philippine Commission, laid down the policy that our municipal governments should be "subject to
the least degree of supervision and control" on the part of the national government. Said supervision
and control was to be confined within the "narrowest limits" or so much only as "may be necessary to
secure and enforce faithful and efficient administration by local officers/' And the national
government "shall have no direct administration except of matters of purely general concern." (See
Hebron v. Reyes, L-9158, July 28, 1958.)

All this had one aim, to enable the Filipinos to acquire experience in the art of self-government, with
the end in view of later allowing them to assume complete management and control of the
administration of their local affairs. Such aim is the policy now embodied in Section 10(1), Article VII
of the Constitution (Rodriguez v. Montinola, 50 O.G. 4820).

It is the evident decree of the Constitution, therefore, that the President shall have no power of
control over local governments. Accordingly, Congress cannot by law grant him such power (Hebron v.
Reyes, supra). And any such power formerly granted under the Jones Law thereby became
unavoidably inconsistent with the Philippine Constitution.

It remains to examine the relation of the power to create and the power to control local governments.
Said relationship has already been passed upon by this Court in Hebron v. Reyes, supra, In said case, it
was ruled that the power to control is an incident of the power to create or abolish municipalities,
Respondent's view therefore, that creating municipalities and controlling their local governments are
"two worlds apart," is untenable. And since as stated, the power to control local governments can no
longer be conferred on or exercised by the President, it follows a fortiori that the power to create
them, all the more cannot be so conferred or exercised.

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I am compelled to conclude, therefore, that Section 10(1), Article VII of the Constitution has repealed
Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code as far as the latter empowers the President to create
local governments. Repeal by the Constitution of prior statutes inconsistent with it has already been
sustained in De los Santos v. Mallare, 87 Phil. 289. And it was there held that such repeal differs from
a declaration of unconstitutionality of a posterior legislation, so much so that only a majority vote of
the Court is needed to sustain a finding of repeal.

Since the Constitution repealed Section 68 as far back as 1935, it is academic to ask whether Republic
Act 2370 likewise has provisions in conflict with Section 68 so as to repeal it. Suffice it to state, at any
rate, that statutory prohibition on the President from creating a barrio does not, in my opinion,
warrant the inference of statutory prohibition for creating a municipality. For although municipalities
consist of barrios, there is nothing in the statute that would preclude creation of new municipalities
out of pre-existing barrios.

It is not contrary to the logic of local autonomy to be able to create larger political units and unable to
create smaller ones. For as long ago observed in President McKinley's instructions to the Second
Philippine Commission, greater autonomy is to be imparted to the smaller of the two political units.
The smaller the unit of local government, the lesser 'is the need for the national government's
intervention in its political affairs. Furthermore, for practical reasons, local autonomy cannot be given
from the to? downwards. The national government. in such a case, could still exercise power over the
supposedly autonomous unit, e.g., municipalities, by exercising it over the smaller units that comprise
them, e.g., the barrios. A realistic program of decentralization therefore calls for autonomy from the
bottom upwards, so that it is not surprising for Congress to deny the national government some
power over barrios without denying it over municipalities. For this reason, I disagree with the majority
view that because the President could not create a barrio under Republic Act 2370, a fortiori he
cannot create a municipality.

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It is my view, therefore, that the Constitution, and not Republic Act 2370, repealed Section 68 of the
Revised Administrative Code's provision giving the President authority to create local governments.
And for this reason I agree with the ruling in the majority opinion that the executive orders in
question are null and void.

In thus ruling, the Court is but sustaining the fulfillment of our historic desire to be free and
independent under a republican form of government, and exercising a function derived from the very
sovereignty that it upholds,
Executive orders declared null and void.

ANNOTATION

CREATION OF MUNICIPALITIES

Historical Background of the Power of Creating Municipalities in the Philippines.

During the Spanish regime the procedure of the creation of municipalities has been prescribed by the
Leyes de las Indias (Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaro vs. Director of Lands, 34 Phil. 528; see also Law VIII,
Title VII, Book IV of Recopilación de Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias).

In the case of Catbalogan vs. Director of Lands, 17 Phil., 214, the Court took cognizance of the
procedure for the formation of towns during the Spanish regime, Executive authorities and officials
who then represented the Spanish government were obliged to adjust their procedures in the
fulfillment of their duties with regard to the establishment and laying out of new towns to the Leyes
de las Indias.

An Ayuntamiento corresponds to the English term municipal corporation and the municipal
government in the Islands falls short of being such a corporation (Government of the Philippine
Islands vs. Abadilla, 46 Phil. 842; see also Roman Catholic Church vs. Municipally of Cebu, 31 Phil.
517).

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

The unit of local administration during the Spanish regime was the "pueblo" which ordinarily
embraces an area of. many square miles and contained numerous barrios or villages.

Historical Background under the American Regime.

The law governing municipalities was first provided for in General Order No. 43, Series of 1899. This
law was followed by General Order No. 40, Series of 1900 promulgated by the Military Governor.
President it William McKinley's Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission also stressed the
importance of the creation of municipal governments.
The Philippine Commission forthwith enacted Act No. 82 on January 31, 1901 providing for the
organization and government of municipalities. Act No. 88 was passed on February 5, 1901 for the
organization of the provinces. The law on provincial and municipal governments were embodied in
Chapters 56, 57, 64 and 67 of the Revised Administrative Code.

The Power to Create Corporations is Essentially Legislative.

The power of the municipal corporation is essentially legislative in nature. The power is exclusive and
almost unlimited. In the absence of any constitutional limitations, a legislative body may create any
corporation it deems essential for the more efficient administration of the government (I McQuillin,
Municipal Corporations, 3rd ed., 509; 19 R.C.L. section 2).

The legislative power to create municipal corporations may not be delegated (Cooley, Municipal
Corporations, p. 30), The delegation, if at all, may be made if the legislature imposes conditions on
which the municipal corporation may be created. The legislative may prescribe standards for guidance
and authorize an agency to determine facts on which the statute may be implemented for the
creation of such corporation.

In some jurisdictions, it has been held that the legislative

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

body may vest in a court the power to determine when the incorporation of the community is
necessary or useful or to determine the extent and boundary of such corporations. (I McQuillin,
Municipal Corporations, 3rd Ed., p. 505). Usually, in the creation of municipal corporations the
conditions needed in order to obtain its incorporation as a city or town are prescribed. Such
conditions may indicate the extent of the area proposed to incorporate, the nature of the territory,
the character of the lands and the uses to which it may be devoted, the number of inhabitants and
even the density and location of the area to be incorporated (I McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, p.
531).

The Nature of the Power to Create Municipal Corporation in the Philippines.

The power to create corporation including municipal corporation resides in the Congress of the
Philippines. Such power included in the general legislative power of Congress states: "The legislative
power shall be vested in a Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of
Representatives" (Art VI, Section 1, Constitution of the Philippines; Tiaco vs. Forbes, 228 U.S. 549;
Asuncion vs. Yriarte, 37 Phil. 67).

Under this authority, Congress may enact laws creating provinces, sub-provinces, cities, municipalities,
municipal districts, barrios and other local entities. It may group into one area those which are
already existing. It may subdivide them into several other local areas. It may abolish them. There is no
limitation upon Its power except the provisions of Art. VII, Section 1 of the Constitution (Aruego, Law
on Municipal Government, 1968 Ed., p. 37),

The Provincial Board may also organize barrios under Republic Act No. 2370. See also Republic Act No.
2264, June 19, 1959, Republic Act No, 5185 and Republic Act No. 1205. For organization of
municipalities, see Section 2170 of the Revised Administrative Code as amended by Republic Act No.
2368.

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The Nature of the Legislative Power to Create the Area For Local Government.

The legislative power to create an area of the local government involves two things: (1) the
determination of whether a local area -shall be created or not; (2) the determination of whether said
decision shall have the force of law. To leave the decision to another agency or person to create or
not to create and to determine the conditions under which he would create, or to have discretion
whether to follow or not to follow the rule laid down in the law, would be undue delegation of
legislative power (Aruego, op. cit., 1968 Ed., p. 37).

There would be no unlawful delegation of legislative power to create the area when the legislative
power determines by law the conditions under which the local area may be created. Not leaving this
or some of them to be determined by another agency of the government. It 10 not unlawf ul
delegation of legislative power to create when the agency has the authority to carry out the
provisions of the law and the discretion is only as to the manner of executing the law (Id.).

Creation of Barrios by Authority of Law.

Under the Revised Barrio Charter (Republic Act No. 3590) barrios may be created directly by the
lawmaking body, or a creation of the same may be caused by another agency (Sec. 3, Republic Act No.
3590). The Barrio Charter Law does not give the uncontrolled power to determine whether or not to
create the barrio and the conditions under which such barrio should be created because the law has
set forth specific conditions (Aruego, Id.).

Constitutional Validity of Creation under Administrative Code by the Executive.

Before the effectivity of the Administrative Code of 1918, Act 1748 was passed authorizing the
Governor General of the Philippines to make adjustment of provincial and municipal boundaries and
the change of capitals of

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

provinces from time to time to serve the public convenience and interest

The Supreme Court overruled the contention that the act was an undue delegation of legislative
power. The Supreme Court ruled:

"The delegation of the power referred to on the Governor General does not involve an abdication of
legislative functions on the part of the legislature with regard to the particular subject matter with
which it authorizes the Governor General to deal. It is simply a transference of certain details with
respect to provinces, municipalities, and townships, many of them newly created, and all of them
subject to more or less rapid change both in development and center of population, the proper
regulation of which might require not only prompt action but action of such a detailed character as
not to permit the legislative body, as such, to take it efficiently." (Cardona vs. Binañgonan, 36 Phil.
547).

The Supreme Court likewise upheld the constitutional legality of an executive order of the Governor
General in redefining the boundary between the municipalities of Cardona and Binañgonan
(Government of the P.I. vs. Municipality of Binañgonan, 35 Phil. 518).

Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 was enacted.

"SEC. 68. General Authority of the (Governor General) President of the Philippines to fix boundaries
and make new subdivisions.—The Governor General (now President of the Philippines) may by
executive order define the boundary, or boundaries, of any province, subprovince, municipality,
(township) municipal district (See Act 27824), or other political subdivision, and increase or diminish
the territory comprised therein, may divide any province into one or more subprovinces, separate any
political division other than a province, into such portions as may be required, merge any of such
subdivisions or portions with another, name any new division so created, and may change the seat of
government within any subdivision into such place therein as the public welfare may require:
Provided. That the authorization of the Philippine Legislature (now Congress of the Philippines) shall
first be obtained whenever the boundary of any province or subprovince is to be defined or any
province is to be divided into one or more subprovinces. x x x."

The Governors General and later the Presidents of the

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Philippines create several municipalities under this section. This law practically gave uncontrolled
discretion to the executive to create new areas as municipalities and is of doubtf ul legality, For cases
on delegation of legislative powers as valid standards for delegation of power, see People vs. Lim Ho,
L-12091-2, January 28,1960; People vs. Jolliffe, L-9553, May 13, 1959; People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56; U.S.
vs. Ang Tang Ho, 43 Phil. 1; Compañia General de Tabacos vs. Board of Public Utility, 34 Phil. 136;
Mutual Film Co. vs. Industrial Commission, 236 U.S. 247, 59 L. Ed. 561; Mutual Film Corp. vs. Industrial
Commission, 236 U.S. 230, 59 L. Ed. 552; Pamana Refining Co. vs. Ryan, 293 U.S. 388, 79 L. Ed. 446;
A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. vs. U.S., 295 U.S. 79 L. Ed. 1570, U.S. vs. Rock Royal Coop., 307 U.S. 533,
L. Ed. 1446; Bowles vs. Willingham, 321, U.S. 503, 88 L. Ed. 892; Araneta vs. Gatmaitan, L8895, April
30, 1957; Cervantes vs. Auditor General, L4043, May 30, 1952; Phil. Association of Colleges vs.
Secretary of Education, 51 Off. Gaz. 6230; People vs. Arnault. 48 Off. Gaz, 4805; Antamok Gold
Field-vs. CIR. 68 Phil. 340; U.S. vs. Barrias, 11 Phil. 327; Yajus vs. White, 821 U.S. 414; Ammann vs.
Mailonce, 332 U.S. 245.

Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code has been declared unconstitutional in the case of
Pelaez vs. Jimenez, G.R. No. L-23825. December 24, 1965. The Supreme Court thus reiterated the f
undamental principle that the creation of municipal corporations is legislative in nature.

Moreover, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 2370 which took effect on January 1, 1960 provided that
barrios may not be created or their boundaries altered except by act of Congress or by the
corresponding provincial board upon petition of the majority of the voters in the area affected and
the recommendation of the municipality in which the proposed barrios are situated. If under this new
law the President cannot create a barrio, he cannot create municipalities which are composed of
several barrios (See Republic Act No. 5185).
For creation of barrios, see Revised Barrio Charter (Republic Act No. 3590).—JUDGE JORGE COQUIA

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ANNOTATION

VALID DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER

I. Principle of separation of powers.

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not
through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the
government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own
sphere. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission, et al., 63 Phil. 139).

II. Constitutional provisions on separation of powers.

The Legislative power shall be vested in a Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate
and a House of Representatives. (Article VI, Sec, I, Phil. Constitution).

The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the Philippines. (Art. VII, Sec. 1, Phil.
Constitution).

The Judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as may be
established by law. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1, Phil. Constitution).

The Government of the United States in the Philippines is one whose powers have been carefully
apportioned between three distinct departments which have their powers alike, limited and defined,
and are of equal dignity and, within their respective spheres of action, equally independent. (Abueva
vs. Wood, 46 Phil. 613).

III. Importance of the principle.

It has been said that the principle of separation of powers of government is fundamental to the very
existence of every constitutional government. It represents the most important principle of
government declaring and guaranteeing the liberties of the people. (Am. Jur. 182) Under our
constitutional system, the powers of government are distributed among three co-ordinate and
substantially independent organs: the legislative, the executive and the

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judicial. Each of these departments of the government derives its authority from the Constitution,
which, in turn, is the highest expression of the popular will. Each has exclusive cognizance of the
matters within the jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere. (People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 63).

By the organic law of the Philippine Islands and the Constitution of the United States, all powers are
vested in the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, It is the duty of the Legislature to make the law; of
the Executive to execute; and of the Judiciary to construe the law. The Legislature has no authority to
execute or construe the law; the Executive has no authority to make or construe the law; and the
judiciary has no -power to make or execute the law. Subject to the Constitution only, the power of
each branch is supreme within its own jurisdiction, and it is for the judiciary only to say when any Act
of the Legislature is or is not constitutional. (U.S. vs. Ang Tang Ho, 48 Phil. 1).

IV. Scope of the principle of separation of powers.

The three departments of the government are co-ordinate, co-important, co-equal and independent
of each other; that each of the several departments of the government derives its authority directly
or indirectly from the people and is responsible to them; that each has exclusive cognizance of the
matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere. In the exercise of the powers of
government assigned to them severally, the departments operate harmoniously and independently of
the others and the action of any one of them in the exercise of its powers is not subject to the control
by either of the others. (Province of Tarlac vs. Gale, 26 Phil. 338; Barcelona vs. Baker, 5 Phil. 87).

V. Principle of checks and balances.

It does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the
Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The
Constitution has provided for

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the elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of various
departments of the government For example, the Chief Executive under our Constitution in so far
made a check on the Legislative power that his assent is required in the enactment of laws. This,
however, is subject to the further check that a bill may become a law notwithstanding the refusal of
the President to approve it, by a vote of two-thirds or threefourths as the case may be, of the
National Assembly. The President has also the right to convene the Assembly in special session
whenever he chooses, On the other hand, the National Assembly operates as a check on the
Executive in the sense that its consent through the Commission on Appointments is necessary in the
appointment of certain officers; and the concurrence of a majority of all its members is essential to
the conclusion of treaties. Furthermore, in Its power to determine what courts, other than the
Supreme Court shall be established, to define their jurisdiction and to appropriate funds for the
support, the National Assembly exercises to a certain ,extent control over the judicial power of trying
impeachments and the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, effectively checks
the other departments in the exercise of its power to determine the law, and hence, to declare
executive and legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission,
supra).

VI. Principle of non-delegation of powers.

The maxim of Constitutional law forbidding the delegation of legislative power should be zealously
protected. "The true distinction, therefore, is between the delegation of power to make the law,
which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be and conferring authority or discretion as
to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the
latter no valid objection can be made." (Cincinnati, W. & Z. R. Co. vs. Comrs. Clinton County, 1 Ohio St.
88) Rubi vs. Province of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 662.

Thus, an Act of the Philippine Legislature giving to the Board of Public Utility Commissioners power to
require

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General


public utility "to furnish annually a detailed report of finances and operations, in such form and
containing such matters as the Board may from time to time by order prescribe" is invalid for the
reason that it is a delegation of legislative power to the Board of Public Utility Commissioners and is in
violation of the Act of July 1, 1902. (Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas vs. Board of Public
Utility Commissioners, 34 Phil. 137).

VII. Delegation of legislative power; historical development.

The power to make laws—the legislative power—is vested in a bicameral Legislature by the Jones Law
and in a unicameral National Assembly by the Constitution. The Philippine Legislature or the National
Assembly may not escape Its duties and responsibilities by delegating that power to any other body or
authority. Any attempt to abdicate the power is unconstitutional and void, on the principle that
potestas delegata, non delegare potest. This principle is said to have originated with the glossators,
was. introduced into English, law through a misreading of Bracton, there developed as a principle of
agency, was established by Lord Coke in the English public law in decisions forbidding the delegation
of judicial power, and found its way into America as an enlightened principle of free Government. It
has since become an accepted corollary of the principle of separation of powers. (People vs. Vera,
supra).

VIII. Exceptions to the principle of non-delegation.

The rule, however, which forbids the delegation of legislative power is not absolute and inflexible, It
admits of exceptions, An exception sanctioned by immemorial practice permits the central legislative
body to delegate legislative power to local authorities. On quite the same principle, Congress is
empowered to delegate legislative power to such agencies in the territories of the United States as it
may select. Courts have also sustained the delegation of legislative powers to the people at large,
though some authorities maintain that this may not be done, Doubtless, also, legislative power may
be delegated by the

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Constitution itself. Section 14, paragraph 2 of Article VI of the Constitution of the Philippines provides
that "the National Assembly may by law authorize the President, subject to such limitations and
restrictions as it may impose, to fix within specified limits, tariff rates, import or export quotas, and
tonnage and wharfage dues." In times of war or other national emergency, the National Assembly
may by law authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may
prescribe, to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out a declared national policy. (People vs. Vera,
supra).

The provision of section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 548 does not confer legislative power upon the
Director of Public Works and the Secretary 01 Public Works and Communications. The authority
conferred upon them and under which they promulgated the rules and regulations now complained
of is not to determine what public policy demands but merely to carry out the legislative policy laid
down by the National Assembly in said Act, to wit, to promote safe transit upon, and avoid
obstruction on roads and streets designated as national roads by Acts of the National Assembly and to
close them temporarily to any or all classes of traffic "whenever the condition of the road or the
traffic thereon makes such action necessary or advisable in the public convenience and interest." The
delegated power, if at all, therefore, is not the determination of what the law shall be, but merely the
ascertainment of the facts and circumstances upon which the application of said law is to be
predicated. (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726).

IX. Tests of undue delegation.

In testing whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to
inquire whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the
legislature so that nothing is left to the judgment of any other appointee or delegate of the legislature.
In U.S. vs. Ang Tang Ho (43 Phil. 1) the Supreme Court adhered to the foregoing rule. The general rule,
however, is limited by another

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Pelaez vs. Auditor General

rule that to a certain extent matters of detail may be left to be filled in by rules and regulations to be
adopted or promulgated by executive officers and administrative boards. As a rule, an act of the
legislature is incomplete and hence, invalid if it does not lay down by any rule or definite standard by
which the administrative board may be guided in the exercise of the discretionary powers delegated
to it. (People vs. Vera, supra).

In one case, appellants argue that, while Act No. 2581 empowers the Insular Treasurer to issue and
cancel certificates or permits for the sale of speculative securities, no standard or rule is fixed in the
Act which can guide said official in determining the cases in which a certificate or permit ought to be
issued, thereby making his opinion the sole criterion in the matter of its issuance, with the result that
legislative powers being unduly delegated to the Insular Treasurer, Act No. 2581 is unconstitutional.
The Court is of the opinion that the Act furnishes a sufficient standard for the Insular Treasurer to
follow in reaching a decision regarding the issuance or cancellation of a certificate or permit,

In view of the intention and purpose of Act No. 2581—to protect the public against "speculative
schemes which have no more basis than so many feet of blue sky" and against the "sale of stock in
fly-by-night concerns, visionary oil wells, distant gold mines and other like fraudulent
exploitations,"—the Court was inclined to hold that "public interest" in this case is suf f icient
standard to guide the Insular Treasurer, in reaching a decision on a matter pertaining to the issuance
of certificates or permits. (People vs. Rosenthal, 68 Phil. 328).

The Legislature cannot delegate legislative power to enact any law. If Act No. 2868 is a law unto itself
and within itself, and it does nothing more than to authorize the Governor General to make rules and
regulations to carry it into effect, then the Legislature created the law. There is no delegation of
power and it is valid. On the other hand, if the Act within itself does not define the crime and it is not
complete, and some legislative act renains to be done to make it a law or a crime the doing

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of which is vested in the Governor General, the Act is a delegation of legislative power, and is
unconstitutional and void. (People vs. Vera, supra).

The Probation Act does not, by the force of any of Its provisions, fix and impose upon the provincial
boards any standard or guide in the exercise of their discretionary power. What is granted is a "roving
commission'' which enables the provincial boards to exercise arbitrary discretion. By section 11 of the
Act, the Legislature does seemingly on its own authority extend the benefits of the probation Act to
the provinces but in reality leaves the entire matter for the various provincial boards to determine. If
a provincial board does not wish to have the Act applied in its province, all that it has to do is to
decline to appropriate the needed amount for the salary of a probation officer. This is a virtual
surrender of legislative power to the provincial boards. (People vs. Vera, supra).

The legislature may enact laws for a particular locality different from those applicable to other
localities and while recognizing the f orce of the principle hereinabove expressed, courts in many
jurisdictions have sustained the constitutionality of the submission of option laws to the vote of the
people. (6 R.C.L. 171). But option laws thus sustained treat of subjects purely local in character which
should receive different treatment in different localities placed under different circumstances.
Without denying the right of self-government and the propriety of leaving matters of purely local
concern in the hands of local authorities or for the people of small communities to pass upon in the
matters of general legislation like that which treats of criminals in general, and as regards the general
subject of probation, discretion may not be vested in a manner so unqualified and absolute as
provided in Act No. 4221. (People vs. Vera, supra).

X. Distinction between power to make laws and discretion as to its execution.

The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a
discretion Pelaez vs. Auditor General, 15 SCRA 569, No. L-23825 December 24, 1965

G.R. No. 149848. November 25, 2004.*

ARSADI M. DISOMANGCOP and RAMIR M. DIMALOTANG, petitioners, vs. THE SECRETARY OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, SIMEON A. DATUMANONG and THE SECRETARY
OF BUDGET and MANAGEMENT EMILIA T. BONCODIN, respondents.

Constitutional Law; Political Law; The 1987 Constitution is explicit in defining the scope of judicial
power; It establishes the authority of the courts to determine in an appropriate action the validity of
acts of the political departments; Requisites for the exercise of judicial power.—The 1987
Constitution is explicit in defining the scope of judicial power. It establishes the authority of the courts
to determine in an appropriate action the validity of acts of the political departments. It speaks of
judicial prerogative in terms of duty. Jurisprudence has laid down the following requisites for the
exercise of judicial power: First, there must be before the Court an actual case calling for the exercise
of judicial review. Second, the question before the Court must be ripe for adjudication. Third, the
person challenging the validity of the act must have standing to challenge. Fourth, the question of
constitutionality must have been raised at the earliest opportunity. Fifth, the issue of constitutionality
must be the very lis mota of the case.

Same; Same; Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the
Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute;
Grounds to strike down acts of the political departments of government.—In seeking to nullify acts of
the legislature and the executive department on the ground that they contravene the Constitution,
the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. As held in Tañada v. Angara, “where an action
of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only
the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.” But in deciding to take jurisdiction
over this petition questioning acts of the political departments of government, the Court will not
review

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* EN BANC.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

the wisdom, merits, or propriety thereof, but will strike them down only on either of two grounds: (1)
unconstitutionality or illegality and (2) grave abuse of discretion.

Same; Same; Definition of Legal Standing or Law Stands; Petitioner must show that he has been, or is
about to be, denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled, or that he is about to be
subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute complained of.—Legal standing or
locus standi is defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has
sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The
term “interest” means a material interest, an interest in issue affected by the decree, as distinguished
from a mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. A party challenging the
constitutionality of a law, act, or statute must show “not only that the law is invalid, but also that he
has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its
enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way.” He must show that he
has been, or is about to be, denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled, or that he is
about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute complained of.

Same; Same; Court is inclined to take cognizance of a suit although it does not satisfy the requirement
of legal standing when paramount interests are involved.—Following the new trend, this Court is
inclined to take cognizance of a suit although it does not satisfy the requirement of legal standing
when paramount interests are involved. In several cases, the Court has adopted a liberal stance on
the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental
significance to the people.
Same; Same; Petitioners can legitimately challenge the validity of the enactments subject of the
instant case.—As the two offices have apparently been endowed with functions almost identical to
those of DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur, it is likely that petitioners are in
imminent danger of being eased out of their duties and, not remotely, even their jobs. Their material
and substantial interests will definitely be prejudiced by the enforcement of D.O. 119 and R.A. 8999.
Such injury is direct and immediate.

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Thus, they can legitimately challenge the validity of the enactments subject of the instant case.

Same; Statutes; The organic acts are more than ordinary statutes hence the provisions thereof cannot
be amended by an ordinary statute such as R.A. 8999.—The ARMM Organic Acts are deemed a part of
the regional autonomy scheme. While they are classified as statutes, the Organic Acts are more than
ordinary statutes because they enjoy affirmation by a plebiscite. Hence, the provisions thereof cannot
be amended by an ordinary statute, such as R.A. 8999 in this case. The amendatory law has to be
submitted to a plebiscite.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Mapupuno, Mapupuno and Associates for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

TINGA, J.:
At stake in the present case is the fate of regional autonomy for Muslim Mindanao which is the
epoch-making, Constitution-based project for achieving national unity in diversity.

Challenged in the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction1 (Petition) are the constitutionality
and validity of Republic Act No. 8999 (R.A. 8999),2 entitled “An Act Establishing An Engineering
District in the First District of the Province of Lanao del Sur and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” and
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Department Order No. 119 (D.O. 119)3 on the
subject, “Creation of Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office.”

_______________

1 Dated 25 September 2001; Rollo, pp. 3-30, with annexes.

2 Approved on 17 January 2001.

3 Dated 20 May 1999.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

The Background

The uncontested legal and factual antecedents of the case follow.

For the first time in its history after three Constitutions, the Philippines ordained the establishment of
regional autonomy with the adoption of the 1987 Constitution. Sections 14 and 15, Article X mandate
the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras. Section 15 specifically
provides that “[t]here shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the
Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and
distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant
characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as
territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.” To effectuate this mandate, the Charter
devotes a number of provisions under Article X.5
_______________

4 SEC. 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces,
cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. (Art. X, 1987 CONST.)

5 SEC. 16. The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions to ensure that
laws are faithfully executed.

SEC. 17. All powers, functions, and responsibilities not granted by this Constitution or by law to the
autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government.

SEC. 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and
participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the
President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic
structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative
assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The
organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family and property law
jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and national laws.

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Pursuant to the constitutional mandate, Republic Act No. 6734 (R.A. 6734), entitled “An Act Providing
for An Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” was enacted and signed into
law on 1 August 1989. The law called for the holding of a plebiscite in the provinces of Basilan,
Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato,
Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur, and the cities of
Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and
Zamboanga.6 In the ensuing plebiscite held on 19 November 1989, only four (4) provinces voted for
the creation of an autonomous region, namely: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and

_______________
The creation of autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast
by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.

SEC. 19. The first Congress elected under this Constitution shall, within eighteen months from the
time of organization of both Houses, pass the organic acts for the autonomous regions in Muslim
Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

SEC. 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and
national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:

(1) Administrative organization;

(2) Creation of sources of revenues;

(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;

(4) Personal, family, and property relations;

(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;

(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;

(7) Educational policies;

(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and

(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of general welfare of the
people of the region.

SEC. 21. The preservation of peace and order within the regions shall be the responsibility of the local
police agencies which shall be organized, maintained, supervised, and utilized in accordance with
applicable laws. The defense and security of the regions shall be the responsibility of the National
Government.

6 Par. (2), Sec. 1, R.A. 6734.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong


Tawi-Tawi. These provinces became the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).7 The law
contains elaborate provisions on the powers of the Regional Government and the areas of jurisdiction
which are reserved for the National Government.8

_______________

7 Chiongbian v. Orbos, 315 Phil. 251, 257; 245 SCRA 253, 258 (1995).

ARTICLE V

POWERS OF GOVERNMENT

SECTION 1. The Regional Government shall exercise powers and functions necessary for the proper
governance and development of all the constituent units within the Autonomous Region consistent
with the constitutional policy on regional and local autonomy and decentralization: Provided, That
nothing herein shall authorize the diminution of the powers and functions already enjoyed by local
government units.

SEC. 2. The Autonomous Region is a corporate entity with jurisdiction in all matters devolved to it by
the Constitution and this Organic Act as herein enumerated:

(1) Administrative organization;

(2) Creation of sources of revenues;

(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;

(4) Personal, family and property relations;

(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;

(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;

(7) Educational policies;

(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage;

(9) Powers, functions and responsibilities now being exercised by the departments of the National
Government except;

(a) Foreign affairs;

(b) National defense and security;

(c) Postal service;


(d) Coinage, and fiscal and monetary policies;

(e) Administration of justice;

(f) Quarantine;

(g) Customs and tariff;

(h) Citizenship;

(i) Naturalization, immigration and deportation;

(j) General auditing, civil service and elections;

(k) Foreign trade;

(l) Maritime, land and air transportation and communications that affect areas outside the
Autonomous Region; and

(m) Patents, trademarks, tradenames, and copyrights; and

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In accordance with R.A. 6734, then President Corazon C.

_______________

(10) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the
people of the Region.

ARTICLE XII

URBAN AND RURAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

SECTION 1. The Regional Government shall promote and formulate comprehensive and integrated
regional urban and rural development policies, plans, programs and projects responsive to the needs,
aspirations and values of the people within the Region.

...
ARTICLE XIX

TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

...

SEC. 4. Upon the organization of the Autonomous Region, the line agencies and offices of the National
Government dealing with local government, social services, science and technology, labor, natural
resources, and tourism, including their personnel, equipment, properties and budgets, shall be
immediately placed under the control and supervision of the Regional Government.

Other National Government offices and agencies in the Autonomous Region which are not excluded
under paragraph (9), Section 2, Article V of this Organic Act, together with their personnel, equipment,
properties and budgets, shall be placed under the control and supervision of the Regional
Government pursuant to a schedule prescribed by the Oversight Committee mentioned in Section 3,
Article XIX of this Organic Act: Provided, however, That the transfer of these offices and agencies and
their personnel, equipment, properties and budgets shall be accomplished within six (6) years from
the organization of the Regional Government.

The National Government shall continue such levels of expenditures as may be necessary to carry out
the functions devolved under this Act: Provided, however, That the annual budgetary support shall, as
soon as practicable, terminate as to the line agencies or offices devolved to the Regional Government.

...

SEC. 10. The National Government shall, in addition to its regular annual allotment to the
Autonomous Region, provide the Regional Government Two billion pesos (P2,000,000,000.00) as
annual assistance for five (5) years, to fund infrastructure projects duly identified, endorsed and
approved by the Regional Planning and Development Board herein created: Provided, however, That
the annual assistance herein mentioned shall be appropriated and disbursed through a Public Works
Act duly enacted by the Regional Assembly: Provided, further, That this annual assistance may be
adjusted

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

Aquino issued on 12 October 1990, Executive Order No. 426 (E.O. 426), entitled “Placing the Control
and Supervision of the Offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways within the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under the Autonomous Regional Government, and for
other purposes.” Sections 1 to 39 of the Executive Order are its operative provisions.

_______________

proportionately in accordance with the number of provinces and cities joining the Autonomous
Region: and Provided, finally, That the national programs and projects in the Autonomous Region
shall continue to be financed out of national funds.

9 SEC. 1. Transfer of Control and Supervision.—The offices of the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH) within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including their
functions, powers and responsibilities, personnel, equipment, properties, budgets and liabilities are
hereby placed under the control and supervision of the Autonomous Regional Government.

In particular, these offices are identified as the four (4) District Engineering Offices (DEO) in each of
the four provinces respectively and the three (3) Area Equipment Services (AES) located in Tawi-Tawi,
Sulu and Maguindanao (Municipality of Sultan Kudarat).

SEC. 2. Functions Transferred.—The Autonomous Regional Government shall be responsible for


highways, flood control and water resource development systems, and other public works within the
ARMM and shall exercise the following functions:

1. Undertake and evaluate the planning, design, construction and works supervision for the
infrastructure projects whose location and impact are confined within the ARMM;

2. Undertake the maintenance of infrastructure facilities within the ARMM and supervise the
maintenance of such local roads and other infrastructure facilities receiving financial assistance from
the National Government;

3. Ensure the implementation of laws, policies, programs, rules and regulations regarding
infrastructure projects as well as all public and private physical structures within the ARMM;

4. Provide technical assistance related to their functions to other agencies within the ARMM,
especially the local government units;

5. Coordinate with other national and regional government departments, agencies, institutions and
organizations, especially the local government units within the ARMM in the planning and
implementation of infrastructure projects;

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ARMM was formally organized on 6 November 1990. President Corazon C. Aquino flew to Cotabato,
the seat of the Regional Government, for the inauguration. At that point, she had already signed
seven (7) Executive Orders devolving to ARMM the powers of seven (7) cabinet departments, namely:
(1) local government; (2) labor and employment; (3) science and technology; (4) public works and
highways; (5) social welfare and development; (6) tourism; and (7) environment and national
resources.10

Nearly nine (9) years later, on 20 May 1999, then Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
Secretary Gregorio R. Vigilar issued D.O. 119 which reads, thus:

Subject: Creation of Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office

Pursuant to Sections 6 and 25 of Executive Order No. 124 dated 30 January 1987, there is hereby
created a DPWH Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office which shall have jurisdiction over all national
infrastructure projects and facilities under the DPWH within Marawi City and the province of Lanao
del Sur. The headquarters of the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office shall be at the former
quarters of the Marawi City Engineering Office.

_______________

6. Conduct continuing consultations with the local communities, take appropriate measures to make
the services of the Autonomous Regional Government responsive to the needs of the general public
and recommend such appropriate actions as may be necessary; and

7. Perform such other related duties and responsibilities within the ARMM as may be assigned or
delegated by the Regional Governor or as may be provided by law.

SEC. 3. Functions Retained by the National Government. Functions not specified herein shall be
retained by the DPWH. These include, among others, the reserved powers of the National
Government in accordance with Article V, Section 2, as well as those subject to specific provisions, of
Republic Act No. 6734; Provided, That, the DPWH and the Autonomous Regional Government may
enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with reference to operationalizing these functions within
the ARMM subject to the approval of the Office of the President; Provided, however, That the
operations of the National Government are not prejudiced.
10 M. Tiquia, AUTONOMY: A HISTORICAL EXPERIMENT, Congressional Research and Training Service
15 (1991).

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

Personnel of the above-mentioned Sub-District Engineering Office shall be made up of employees of


the National Government Section of the former Marawi City Engineering Office who are now assigned
with the Iligan City Sub-District Engineering Office as may be determined by the DPWH Region XII
Regional Director. (Emphasis supplied)

Almost two (2) years later, on 17 January 2001, then President Joseph E. Estrada approved and signed
into law R.A. 8999. The text of the law reads:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN ENGINEERING DISTRICT IN THE FIRST DISTRICT OF THE PROVINCE OF


LANAO DEL SUR AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. The City of Marawi and the municipalities comprising the First District of the Province of
Lanao del Sur are hereby constituted into an engineering district to be known as the First Engineering
District of the Province of Lanao del Sur.

SEC. 2. The office of the engineering district hereby created shall be established in Marawi City,
Province of Lanao del Sur.

SEC. 3. The amount necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act shall be included in the General
Appropriations Act of the year following its enactment into law. Thereafter, such sums as may be
necessary for the maintenance and continued operation of the engineering district office shall be
included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SEC. 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. (Emphasis supplied)

Congress later passed Republic Act No. 9054 (R.A. 9054), entitled “An Act to Strengthen and Expand
the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic
Act No. 6734, entitled An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as
Amended.” Like its forerunner, R.A. 9054 contains detailed

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provisions on the powers of the Regional Government and the retained areas of governance of the
National Government.11

_______________

11

ARTICLE IV

POWERS OF GOVERNMENT

SEC. 1. Powers and Functions.—Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Regional
Government shall exercise those powers and functions expressly granted to it in this Organic Act, or
necessary for or incidental to the proper governance and development of all the constituent units
within the autonomous region consistent with the policy on regional and local autonomy and
decentralization.

The Regional Government may enact its own regional administrative code and regional local
government code consistent with the Constitution. The powers and functions already vested upon
and the shares of the national taxes provided by Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code
of 1991, to provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangay in the autonomous region shall not be
reduced.
SEC. 2. Corporate Entity.—The autonomous region is a corporate entity with jurisdiction over all
matters devolved to it by the Constitution and this Organic Act.

SEC. 3. Scope of Regional Assembly Legislative Power; Exceptions.—The Regional Assembly may
exercise legislative power in the autonomous region for the benefit of the people and for the
development of the region except on the following matters:

(a) Foreign affairs;

(b) National defense and security;

(c) Postal service;

(d) Coinage and fiscal and monetary policies;

(e) Administration of justice; It may, however, legislate on matters covered by the Shari’ah. The
Shari’ah shall apply only to Muslims. Its application shall be limited by pertinent constitutional
provisions, particularly by the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and by pertinent
national legislation that promotes human rights and the universally accepted legal principles and
precepts;

(f) Quarantine;

(g) Customs and tariff;

(h) Citizenship;

(i) Naturalization, immigration and deportation;

(j) General auditing;

(k) National Elections;

(l) Maritime, land, air transportation, and communications; The autonomous government shall,
however, have the power to grant franchises, licenses and permits to land, sea and air transportation
plying routes in the provinces or cities within the region, and commu-

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R.A. 9054 lapsed into law12 on 31 March 2001. It was ratified in a plebiscite held on 14 August 2001.
The province of

_______________
nications facilities where frequencies are confined to and whose main offices are located within the
autonomous region.

(m) Patents, trademarks, trade names, and copyrights, and

(n) Foreign trade.

...

ARTICLE VI

THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

...

SEC. 20. Annual Budget and Infrastructure Funds.—The annual budget of the Regional Government
shall be enacted by Regional Assembly. Funds for infrastructure in the autonomous region allocated
by the central government or national government shall be appropriated through a Regional
Assembly Public Works Act.

Unless approved by the Regional Assembly, no public works funds allocated by the central
government or national government for the Regional Government or allocated by the Regional
Government from its own revenues may be disbursed, distributed, realigned, or used in any manner.

...

ARTICLE XI

URBAN AND RURAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

SECTION 1. Urban and Rural Development.—The Regional Government shall promote and formulate
comprehensive and integrated regional urban and rural development policies, plans, programs, and
projects responsive to the needs, aspirations, and values of the people in the autonomous region.

...

ARTICLE XVIII
TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

SEC. 11. Annual Assistance.—In addition to the regular annual allotment to fund the regular
operations of the Regional Government, such amounts as may be needed to fund the infrastructure
projects duly identified, endorsed, and approved by the Regional Economic and Development
Planning Board as created herein shall be provided by the central government or national
government as annual assistance for six (6) years after the approval of this Organic Act, and shall be
included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA). The annual assistance herein mentioned
shall be appropriated and disturbed through a Public Works Act duly enacted by the Regional
Assembly. The national programs and projects in the autonomous region shall continue to be
financed by the central government or national government funds.

12 See Sec. 27 (1), Art. VI, 1987 CONST.

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Basilan and the City of Marawi also voted to join ARMM on the same date. R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054
are collectively referred to as the ARMM Organic Acts.

On 23 July 2001, petitioners Arsadi M. Disomangcop (Disomangcop) and Ramir M. Dimalotang


(Dimalotang) addressed a petition to then DPWH Secretary Simeon A. Datumanong, seeking the
revocation of D.O. 119 and the non-implementation of R.A. 8999. No action, however, was taken on
the petition.13

Consequently, petitioners Disomangcop and Dimalotang filed the instant petition, in their capacity as
Officer-in-Charge and District Engineer/Engineer II, respectively, of the First Engineering District of the
Department of Public Works and Highways, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DPWH-ARMM)
in Lanao del Sur.

Petitioners seek the following principal reliefs: (1) to annul and set aside D.O. 119; (2) to prohibit
respondent DPWH Secretary from implementing D.O. 119 and R.A. 8999 and releasing funds for
public works projects intended for Lanao del Sur and Marawi City to the Marawi Sub-District
Engineering Office and other administrative regions of DPWH; and (3) to compel the Secretary of the
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release all funds for public works projects intended
for Marawi City and the First District of Lanao del Sur to the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in
Lanao del Sur only; and to compel respondent DPWH Secretary to let the DPWH-ARMM First
Engineering District in Lanao del Sur implement all public works projects within its jurisdictional
area.14

The petition includes an urgent application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO)
and, after hearing, a writ of preliminary injunction, to enjoin respondent DBM Secretary from
releasing funds for public works projects in

_______________

13 Rollo, p. 9.

14 Id., at pp. 5 and 10.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

Lanao del Sur to entities other than the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur, and
also to restrain the DPWH Secretary from allowing others besides the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering
District in Lanao del Sur to implement public works projects in Lanao del Sur.15

To support their petition, petitioners allege that D.O. 119 was issued with grave abuse of discretion
and that it violates the constitutional autonomy of the ARMM. They point out that the challenged
Department Order has tasked the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office with functions that have
already been devolved to the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur.16

Petitioners also contend that R.A. 8999 is a piece of legislation that was not intelligently and
thoroughly studied, and that the explanatory note to House Bill No. 995 (H.B. 995) from which the law
originated is questionable. Petitioners assert as well that prior to the sponsorship of the law, no public
hearing nor consultation with the DPWH-ARMM was made. The House Committee on Public Works
and Highways (Committee) failed to invite a single official from the affected agency. Finally,
petitioners argue that the law was skillfully timed for signature by former President Joseph E. Estrada
during the pendency of the impeachment proceedings.17
In its resolution of 8 October 2001, the Court required respondents to file their comment.18 In
compliance, respondents DPWH Secretary and DBM Secretary, through the Solicitor General, filed on
7 January 2002, their Comment.

In their Comment,19 respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, maintain the validity of
D.O. 119, arguing that it was issued in accordance with Executive Order No. 124

_______________

15 Id., at p. 19.

16 Id., at p. 14.

17 Id., at pp. 17-18.

18 Id., at p. 31.

19 Dated 7 January 2002; Rollo pp. 36-49.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

(E.O. 124).20 In defense of the constitutionality of R.A. 8999,

_______________

20 Entitled “Reorganizing The Ministry Of Public Works and Highways, Redefining Its Powers And
Functions, And For Other Purposes”; Approved on 30 January 1987.
D.O. 119 was issued pursuant to Sections 6 and 25 of E.O. 124:

SEC. 6. Minister of Public Works and Highways.—The authority and responsibility for the exercise of
the mandate of the Ministry and for the discharge of its powers and functions shall be vested in the
Minister of Public Works and Highways, hereinafter referred to as the Minister, who shall have
supervision and control over the Ministry and shall be appointed by the President for such purposes,
the Minister shall:

(a) Advise the President on the promulgation of executive or administrative orders, regulations,
proclamations and other issuances relative to matters under the jurisdiction of the Ministry;

(b) Establish the policies and standards for the operation of the Ministry pursuant to the President’s
guidelines;

(c) Promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out Ministry objectives, policies, and
functions;

(d) Exercise supervision and control over all Bureaus and Offices under the Ministry;

(e) Supervise all attached agencies and corporations in accordance with law;

(f) As deemed appropriate by the Minister, delegate authority for the performance of any power or
function, as defined herein or as delegated by the President of the Philippines, to officers and
employees under his direction;

(g) Perform such other authorities and responsibilities as may be provided by law.

SEC. 25. District Office.—There shall be a District Office in each of the provinces and cities throughout
the country to be headed by a District Engineer appointed by the Minister. A province or city may,
however, be divided into two (2) or more engineering districts, upon determination and issuance of
an administrative order by the Minister. The District Office shall be responsible for all highways, flood
control and water resource development system, and other public works within the district, except
those defined under Section 5 (d) hereof. For this purpose, it shall have the following duties and
responsibilities:

(a) Undertake and evaluate the planning, design, construction and works supervision functions of the
Ministry for the abovementioned infrastructure in the district;

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong


they submit that the powers of the autonomous regions did not diminish the legislative power of
Congress.21 Respondents also contend that the petitioners have no locus standi or legal standing to
assail the constitutionality of the law and the department order. They note that petitioners have no
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.22

Asserting their locus standi, petitioners in their Memorandum23 point out that they will suffer actual
injury as a result of the enactments complained of.24

_______________

(b) Undertake the maintenance of the abovementioned infrastructure within the district and
supervise the maintenance of such local roads and other infrastructure receiving national government
financial assistance as the Minister may determine;

(c) Coordinate with other Ministries, agencies, institutions, and organizations, especially local
government units within the district in the planning and implementation of infrastructure projects;

(d) Provide technical assistance to other agencies at the local level on public works planning, design,
construction, maintenance, and other engineering matters including securing assistance from the
Regional Office or, through the same office, assistance from the Ministry proper or Bureaus;

(e) Conduct continuing consultations with the local communities, take appropriate measures to make
the services of the Ministry responsive to the needs of the general public, compile and submit such
information to the Regional Office, and recommend such appropriate actions may be necessary;

(f) Perform such other related duties and responsibilities as may be assigned or delegated by the
Minister or as may be required by law.

SEC. 5. Powers and Functions.—The Ministry, in order to carry out its mandate shall have the
following powers and functions;

...

(d) Identify, plan, secure funding for program, design, construct or undertake prequalification, bidding
and award of contracts of public works projects with the exception only of specialized projects
undertaken by Government corporate entities with established technical capability and as directed by
the President of the Philippines or as provided by law;

21 Rollo, p. 47.

22 Id., at pp. 43-45.

23 Id., at pp. 27-48.


24 Id., at pp. 44-45.

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Jurisdictional Considerations

First, the jurisdictional predicates.

The 1987 Constitution is explicit in defining the scope of judicial power. It establishes the authority of
the courts to determine in an appropriate action the validity of acts of the political departments. It
speaks of judicial prerogative in terms of duty.25

Jurisprudence has laid down the following requisites for the exercise of judicial power: First, there
must be before the Court an actual case calling for the exercise of judicial review. Second, the
question before the Court must be ripe for adjudication. Third, the person challenging the validity of
the act must have standing to challenge. Fourth, the question of constitutionality must have been
raised at the earliest opportunity. Fifth, the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the
case.26

_______________

25 Santiago v. Guingona, Jr., 359 Phil. 276, 293; 298 SCRA 756, 774 (1998). Par. 2, Sec. 1, Article VIII of
the 1987 CONST., provides:

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government.

26 Mirasol v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128448, 1 February 2001, 351 SCRA 44, 53-54 citing Board of
Optometry v. Colet, 260 SCRA 88, 103 (1996); See also Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,
G.R. Nos. 113105, 113174, 113766, 19 August 1994, 235 SCRA 506, 518 [citing Luz Farms v. Secretary
of the Department of Agrarian Reform, 192 SCRA 51, (1990); Dumlao v. Commission on Elections, 95
SCRA 392 (1980); People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 (1937)]; Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections, 312
Phil. 259, 270; 242 SCRA 211, 220 (1995); Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Court of Tax Appeals,
G.R. No. 44007, 20 March 1991, 195 SCRA 444, 452; Fernandez v. Torres, G.R. No. 102940, 6
November 1992, 215 SCRA 489, 493; Macasiano v. National Housing Authority, G.R. No.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

In seeking to nullify acts of the legislature and the executive department on the ground that they
contravene the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. As held in Tañada
v. Angara,27 “where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the
Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.”
But in deciding to take jurisdiction over this petition questioning acts of the political departments of
government, the Court will not review the wisdom, merits, or propriety thereof, but will strike them
down only on either of two grounds: (1) unconstitutionality or illegality and (2) grave abuse of
discretion.28

For an abuse to be grave, the power must be exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason
of passion or personal hostility. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an
evasion of a positive duty, or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation
of law. There is grave abuse of discretion when respondent acts in a capricious or whimsical manner
in the exercise of its judgment as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.29

_______________

107921, 1 July 1993, 224 SCRA 236, 242; Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, 392 Phil. 618,
632; 338 SCRA 81, 99 (2000), Citations omitted.

27 338 Phil. 546, 574; 272 SCRA 18, 47 (1997).

28 Supra note 25 at p. 294; p. 775.

29 Microsoft Corporation v. Best Deal Computer Center Corporation, 438 Phil. 408, 414; 389 SCRA 615
(2002), citations omitted; J. L. Bernardo Construction v. Court of Appeals, 381 Phil. 25, 36; 324 SCRA
24, 34 (2000), Citation omitted; Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Zamora, G.R. Nos. 138570,
138572, 138587, 138680, 138698, 10 October 2000, 342 SCRA 449, 494. See also Estate of Salud
Jimenez v. Philippine Export Processing Zone, G.R. No. 137285, 16 January 2001, 349 SCRA 240,
252-253; Toh v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 140274, 15 November 2000, 344 SCRA 831, 836-837 citing
Solvic Industrial Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 296 SCRA 432, 441 (1998).

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The challenge to the legal standing of petitioners cannot succeed. Legal standing or locus standi is
defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will
sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The term “interest”
means a material interest, an interest in issue affected by the decree, as distinguished from a mere
interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest.30

A party challenging the constitutionality of a law, act, or statute must show “not only that the law is
invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of sustaining some
direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite
way.” He must show that he has been, or is about to be, denied some right or privilege to which he is
lawfully entitled, or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the
statute complained of.31

But following the new trend, this Court is inclined to take cognizance of a suit although it does not
satisfy the requirement of legal standing when paramount interests are involved. In several cases, the
Court has adopted a liberal stance on the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to
craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people.32

In the instant case, petitioner Disomangcop holds the position of Engineer IV. When he filed this
petition, he was the

_______________

30 Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, 392 Phil. 618, 632-633; 388 SCRA 81, 100 (2000),
citations omitted.
31 Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Zamora, G.R. Nos. 138570, 138572, 138587, 138680,
138698, 10 October 2000, 342 SCRA 449, 478, citing Valmonte v. Philippine Charity Sweepstakes
Office, (res.) G.R. No. 78716, 22 September 1987. See also Bugnay Const. and Dev. Corp. v. Laron, G.R.
79983, 10 August 1989, 176 SCRA 240, 251-252; Tatad v. Garcia, Jr., G.R. No. 114222, 6 April 1995,
243 SCRA 436, 474.

32 Supra note 30 at p. 634; p. 101.

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Officer-in-Charge, Office of the District Engineer of the First Engineering District of DPWH-ARMM,
Lanao del Sur. On the other hand, petitioner Dimalotang is an Engineer II and President of the rank
and file employees also of the First Engineering District of DPWH-ARMM in Lanao del Sur. Both are
charged with the duty and responsibility of supervising and implementing all public works projects to
be undertaken and being undertaken in Lanao del Sur which is the area of their jurisdiction.33

It is thus not far-fetched that the creation of the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office under D.O.
119 and the creation of and appropriation of funds to the First Engineering District of Lanao del Sur as
directed under R.A. 8999 will affect the powers, functions and responsibilities of the petitioners and
the DPWH-ARMM. As the two offices have apparently been endowed with functions almost identical
to those of DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur, it is likely that petitioners are in
imminent danger of being eased out of their duties and, not remotely, even their jobs. Their material
and substantial interests will definitely be prejudiced by the enforcement of D.O. 119 and R.A. 8999.
Such injury is direct and immediate. Thus, they can legitimately challenge the validity of the
enactments subject of the instant case.

Points of Contention

In the petition before us, petitioners contend that R.A. 8999 and D.O. 119 are unconstitutional and
were issued with grave abuse of discretion.

We agree in part.

_______________
33 Memorandum for the Petitioners, Rollo pp. 44-45.

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Republic Act No. 8999

At the outset, let it be made clear that it is not necessary to declare R.A. No. 8999 unconstitutional for
the adjudication of this case. The accepted rule is that the Court will not resolve a constitutional
question unless it is the lis mota of the case, or if the case can be disposed of or settled on other
grounds.34

The plain truth is the challenged law never became operative and was superseded or repealed by a
subsequent enactment.

The ARMM Organic Acts are deemed a part of the regional autonomy scheme. While they are
classified as statutes, the Organic Acts are more than ordinary statutes because they enjoy
affirmation by a plebiscite.35 Hence, the provisions thereof cannot be amended by an ordinary
statute, such as R.A. 8999 in this case. The amendatory law has to be submitted to a plebiscite.

We quote excerpts of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:

FR. BERNAS. Yes, that is the reason I am bringing this up. This thing involves some rather far-reaching
consequences also in relation to the issue raised by Commissioner Romulo with respect to federalism.
Are we, in effect, creating new categories of laws? Generally, we have statutes and constitutional
provisions. Is this organic act equivalent to a constitutional provision? If it is going to be equivalent to
a constitutional provision, it would seem to me that the formulation of the provisions of the organic
act will have to be done by the legislature, acting as a constituent assembly, and therefore, subject to
the provisions of the Article on Amendments. That is the point that I am trying to bring up. In effect, if
we opt for federalism,

_______________
34 Separate Opinion of J. Panganiban in Sanlakas and Partido ng Manggagawa v. Executive Secretary
Angelo Reyes, Gen. Narciso Abaya, Dir. Gen. Hermogenes Ebdane, G.R. No. 159085, 3 February 2004,
421 SCRA 656.

35 J. BERNAS, THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, A COMMENTARY 1103
(2003).

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it would really involve an act of the National Assembly or Congress

acting as a constituent assembly and present amendments to this Constitution, and the end product
itself would be a constitutional provision which would only be amendable according to the processes
indicated in the Constitution.

MR. OPLE. Madam President, may I express my personal opinion in this respect.

I think to require Congress to act as a constituent body before enacting an organic act would be to
raise an autonomous region to the same level as the sovereign people of the whole country. And I
think the powers of the Congress should be quite sufficient in enacting a law, even if it is now exalted
to the level of an organic act for the purpose of providing a basic law for an autonomous region
without having to transform itself into a constituent assembly. We are dealing still with one
subordinate subdivision of the State even if it is now vested with certain autonomous powers on
which its own legislature can pass laws.

FR. BERNAS. So the questions I have raised so far with respect to this organic act are: What segment
of the population will participate in the plebiscite? In what capacity would the legislature be acting
when it passes this? Will it be a constituent assembly or merely a legislative body? What is the nature,
therefore, of this organic act in relation to ordinary statutes and the Constitution? Finally, if we are
going to amend this organic act, what process will be followed?

MR. NOLLEDO. May I answer that, please, in the light of what is now appearing in our report.
First, only the people who are residing in the units composing the regions should be allowed to
participate in the plebiscite. Second, the organic act has the character of a charter passed by the
Congress, not as a constituent assembly, but as an ordinary legislature and, therefore, the organic act
will still be subject to amendments in the ordinary legislative process as now constituted, unless the
Gentlemen has another purpose.

FR. BERNAS. But with plebiscite again.

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MR. NOLLEDO. Those who will participate in the plebiscite are those who are directly affected, the
inhabitants of the units constitutive of the region. (Emphasis supplied)36

Although R.A. 9054 was enacted later, it reaffirmed the imperativeness of the plebiscite
requirement.37 In fact, R.A. 9054 itself, being the second or later ARMM Organic Act, was subjected
to and ratified in a plebiscite.

The first ARMM Organic Act, R.A. 6074, as implemented by E.O. 426, devolved the functions of the
DPWH in the ARMM which includes Lanao del Sur (minus Marawi City at the time)38 to the Regional
Government. By creating an office with previously devolved functions, R.A. 8999, in essence, sought
to amend R.A. 6074. The amendatory law should therefore first obtain the approval of the people of
the ARMM before it could validly take effect. Absent compliance with this requirement, R.A. 8999 has
not even become operative.

From another perspective, R.A. 8999 was repealed and superseded by R.A. 9054. Where a statute of
later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the
subject, that intention must be given effect.

Of course, the intention to repeal must be clear and manifest.39 Implied repeal by irreconcilable
inconsistency takes place when the two statutes cover the same subject matter;

_______________
36 III Record of the Constitutional Commission (III Record) 182-183; 11 August 1986.

37 Sec. 3, Art. XVII of R.A. 9054 provides:

Any amendment to or revision of this Organic Act shall become effective only when approved by a
majority of the vote cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose, which shall be held not earlier than
sixty (60) days or later than ninety (90) days after the approval of such amendment or revision.

38 Marawi City joined ARMM after voting affirmatively at the plebiscite for the ratification of R.A.
9054 on 14 August 2001.

39 Mecano v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 103982, 11 December 1992 216 SCRA 505-506, Citations
omitted.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

they are clearly inconsistent and incompatible with each other that they cannot be reconciled or
harmonized; and both cannot be given effect, that is, that one law cannot be enforced without
nullifying the other.40

The Court has also held that statutes should be construed in light of the objective to be achieved and
the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the
object, suppress the mischief and secure the benefits intended.41

R.A. 9054 is anchored on the 1987 Constitution. It advances the constitutional grant of autonomy by
detailing the powers of the ARG covering, among others, Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, one of which
is its jurisdiction over regional urban and rural planning. R.A. 8999, however, ventures to reestablish
the National Government’s jurisdiction over infrastructure programs in Lanao del Sur. R.A. 8999 is
patently inconsistent with R.A. 9054, and it destroys the latter law’s objective.

Clearly, R.A. 8999 is antagonistic to and cannot be reconciled with both ARMM Organic Acts, R.A.
6734 and R.A. 9054. The kernel of the antagonism and disharmony lies in the regional autonomy
which the ARMM Organic Acts ordain pursuant to the Constitution. On the other hand, R.A. 8999
contravenes true decentralization which is the essence of regional autonomy.

_______________

40 Mecano v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 103982, 11 December 1992 216 SCRA 505-506, citations
omitted; See also Berces, Sr. v. Guingona, Jr., 311 Phil. 614, 620; 241 SCRA 539, 544-545 (1995);
Republic v. Asuncion, G.R. No. 108208, 11 March 1994, 231 SCRA 211, 230; Hon. Hagad v. Hon.
Gozo-Dadole, 321 Phil. 604, 613-614; 251 SCRA 242 (1995), citations omitted; Manzano v. Hon. Valera,
354 Phil. 66, 76; 292 SCRA 66 (1998), citations omitted.

41 Intia, Jr. v. Commission on Audit, 366 Phil. 273, 291; 306 SCRA 593, 609 (1999) citing Paat v. Court
of Appeals, G.R. No. 111107, 10 January 1997, 266 SCRA 167.

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Regional Autonomy Under R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054

The 1987 Constitution mandates regional autonomy to give a bold and unequivocal answer to the cry
for a meaningful, effective and forceful autonomy.42 According to Commissioner Jose Nolledo,
Chairman of the Committee which drafted the provisions, it “is an indictment against the status quo
of a unitary system that, to my mind, has ineluctably tied the hands of progress in our country . . . our
varying regional characteristics are factors to capitalize on to attain national strength through
decentralization.”43

The idea behind the Constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to allow the separate
development of peoples with distinctive cultures and traditions.44 These cultures, as a matter of right,
must be allowed to flourish.45

Autonomy, as a national policy, recognizes the wholeness of the Philippine society in its
ethnolinguistic, cultural, and even religious diversities. It strives to free Philippine society of the strain
and wastage caused by the assimilationist approach.46 Policies emanating from the legislature are
invariably assimilationist in character despite channels being open for minority representation. As a
result, democracy becomes an irony to the minority group.47
_______________

42 Supra note 36 at p. 169.

43 Ibid.

44 S. Rood, INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS IN A CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS REGION, VOL. XXXIII


No. 4 PHIL. J. PUB. ADM 379, 391 (1989).

45 Supra note 35 at p. 1099.

46 S. Tanggol, Regional Autonomy and Social Development, in LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE


PHILIPPINES: A BOOK OF READINGS, VOL. II, CURRENT ISSUES IN GOVERNANCE 631, 651 (1998).

47 S. Tanggol, MUSLIM AUTONOMY IN THE PHILIPPINES: RHETORIC AND REALITY 12 (1993).

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Several commissioners echoed the pervasive sentiment in the plenary sessions in their own inimitable
way. Thus, Commissioner Blas Ople referred to the recognition that the Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras “do not belong to the dominant national community” as the justification for conferring on
them a “measure of legal self-sufficiency, meaning self-government, so that they will flourish
politically, economically and culturally,” with the hope that after achieving parity with the rest of the
country they would “give up their own autonomous region in favor of joining the national
mainstream.”48 For his part, the Muslim delegate, Commissioner Ahmad Alonto, spoke of the
diversity of cultures as the framework for nation-building.49 Finally, excerpts of the poignant plea of
Commissioner Ponciano Bennagen deserve to be quoted verbatim:

. . . They see regional autonomy as the answer to their centuries of struggle against oppression and
exploitation. For so long, their names and identities have been debased. Their ancestral lands have
been ransacked for their treasures, for their wealth. Their cultures have been defiled, their very lives
threatened, and worse, extinguished, all in the name of national development; all in the name of
public interest; all in the name of common good; all in the name of the right to property; all in the
name of Regalian Doctrine; all in the name of national security. These phrases have meant nothing to
our indigenous communities, except for the violation of their human rights.

...

Honorable Commissioners, we wish to impress upon you the gravity of the decision to be made by
every single one of us in this Commission. We have the overwhelming support of the Bangsa Moro
and the Cordillera Constitution. By this we mean meaningful and authentic regional autonomy. We
propose that we have a separate Article on the autonomous regions for the Bangsa Moro and
Cordillera people clearly spelled out in this Constitution, instead of pro-

_______________

48 III RECORD 570; 21 August 1986.

49 Supra note 36 at p. 170; SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF COMMISSIONER ALONTO.

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longing the agony of their vigil and their struggle. This, too is a plea for national peace. Let us not pass
the buck to the Congress to decide on this. Let us not wash our hands of our responsibility to attain
national unity and peace and to settle this problem and rectify past injustices, once and for all.50

The need for regional autonomy is more pressing in the case of the Filipino Muslims and the
Cordillera people who have been fighting for it. Their political struggle highlights their unique cultures
and the unresponsiveness of the unitary system to their aspirations.51 The Moros’ struggle for
self-determination dates as far back as the Spanish conquest in the Philippines. Even at present, the
struggle goes on.52
Perforce, regional autonomy is also a means towards solving existing serious peace and order
problems and secessionist movements. Parenthetically, autonomy, decentralization and
regionalization, in international law, have become politically acceptable answers to intractable
problems of nationalism, separatism, ethnic conflict and threat of secession.53

However, the creation of autonomous regions does not signify the establishment of a sovereignty
distinct from that of the Republic, as it can be installed only “within the framework of this
Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the
Philippines.”54

_______________

50 Id., at pp. 171-172.

51 S. TANGGOL, op. cit. supra note 47.

52 Id., at p. 13.

53 N. Roht-Arriaza, THE COMMITTEE ON THE REGIONS AND THE ROLE OF REGIONAL GOVERNMENTS
IN THE EUROPEAN UNION, 20 Hastings Int’l. & Comp. L. Rev. 413, 417 (1997).

54 Sec. 15, Art. X, 1987 CONST.

See also III RECORD 235, 12 August 1986:

MR. NOLLEDO. As I already stated, these autonomous regions are established within the framework
of our national sovereignty. And in answer to the question of Commissioner Bengzon this morning
that should there be rebels against the

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Regional autonomy is the degree of self-determination exercised by the local government unit
vis-à-vis the central government.

In international law, the right to self-determination need not be understood as a right to political
separation, but rather as a complex net of legal-political relations between a certain people and the
state authorities. It ensures the right of peoples to the necessary level of autonomy that would
guarantee the support of their own cultural identity, the establishment of priorities by the
community’s internal decision-making processes and the management of collective matters by
themselves.55

If self-determination is viewed as an end in itself reflecting a preference for homogeneous,


independent nation-states, it is incapable of universal application without massive disruption.
However, if self-determination is viewed as a means to an end—that end being a democratic,
participatory political and economic system in which the rights of individuals and

_______________

government, whether this will prevent the President from sending armed forces to suppress the
rebellion, I said, “No, because of the expression ‘within the framework of national sovereignty.’ ” We
are not granting sovereignty to the autonomous region. That is why the term “power of autonomous
region” was appropriately used because as an accepted principle in constitutional law, sovereignty is
indivisible. That is why we also maintain the provision in both Committee Report Nos. 21 and 25 that
the President of the Philippines has supervisory power over autonomous regions to see to it that laws
are faithfully executed. So, I find no inconsistency between the powers to be granted to autonomous
regions and the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.

55 H. Rojas, STOP CULTURAL EXCLUSIONS (IN CHILE!): REFLECTIONS ON THE PRINCIPLE OF


MULTICULTURALISM, 55 Fla. L. Rev. 121, 149 (2003).

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the identity of minority communities are protected—its continuing validity is more easily
perceived.56
Regional autonomy refers to the granting of basic internal government powers to the people of a
particular area or region with least control and supervision from the central government.57

The objective of the autonomy system is to permit determined groups, with a common tradition and
shared social-cultural characteristics, to develop freely their ways of life and heritage, exercise their
rights, and be in charge of their own business. This is achieved through the establishment of a special
governance regime for certain member communities who choose their own authorities from within
the community and exercise the jurisdictional authority legally accorded to them to decide internal
community affairs.58

In the Philippine setting, regional autonomy implies the cultivation of more positive means for
national integration. It would remove the wariness among the Muslims, increase their trust in the
government and pave the way for the unhampered implementation of the development programs in
the region.59 Again, even a glimpse of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission could lend
a sense of the urgency and the inexorable appeal of true decentralization:

MR. OPLE. . . . We are writing a Constitution, of course, for generations to come, not only for the
present but for our posterity. There is no harm in recognizing certain vital pragmatic needs for
national peace and solidarity, and the writing of this Constitution just happens at a time when it is
possible for this Commission to

_______________

56 H. Hannum, RETHINKING SELF-DETERMINATION, 34 Va. J. Int’l. L. 1, 66 (1993).

57 A. Brillantes and J. Cuaresma, Jr., Local Governments, Local Autonomy and Decentralization 29
(1990).

58 H. Rojas, op. cit. supra note 55 at p. 140.

59 S. Tanggol, op. cit. supra note 46.

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help the cause of peace and reconciliation in Mindanao and the Cordilleras, by taking advantage of a
heaven-sent opportunity. . . . 60

...

MR. ABUBAKAR. . . . So in order to foreclose and convince the rest of the of the Philippines that
Mindanao autonomy will be granted to them as soon as possible, more or less, to dissuade these
armed men from going outside while Mindanao will be under the control of the national government,
let us establish an autonomous Mindanao within our effort and capacity to do so within the shortest
possible time. This will be an answer to the Misuari clamor, not only for autonomy but for
independence.61

...

MR. OPLE. . . . The reason for this abbreviation of the period for the consideration of the Congress of
the organic acts and their passage is that we live in abnormal times. In the case of Muslim Mindanao
and the Cordilleras, we know that we deal with questions of war and peace. These are momentous
issues in which the territorial integrity and the solidarity of this country are being put at stake, in a
manner of speaking.

We are writing a peace Constitution. We hope that the Article on Social Justice can contribute to a
climate of peace so that any civil strife in the countryside can be more quickly and more justly
resolved. We are providing for autonomous regions so that we give constitutional permanence to the
just demands and grievances of our own fellow countrymen in the Cordilleras and in Mindanao. One
hundred thousand lives were lost in that struggle in Mindanao, and to this day, the Cordilleras is being
shaken by an armed struggle as well as a peaceful and militant struggle.

...

Rather than give opportunity to foreign bodies, no matter how sympathetic to the Philippines, to
contribute to the settlement of this issue, I think the Constitutional Commission ought not to forego
the opportunity to put the stamp of this Commission through definitive action on the settlement of
the problems that have nagged us and our forefathers for so long.62

_______________

60 III RECORD 534; 20 August 1986.


61 Id., at p. 536; 20 August 1986.

62 Ibid.

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A necessary prerequisite of autonomy is decentralization.63

Decentralization is a decision by the central government authorizing its subordinates, whether


geographically or functionally defined, to exercise authority in certain areas. It involves
decision-making by subnational units. It is typically a delegated power, wherein a larger government
chooses to delegate certain authority to more local governments. Federalism implies some measure
of decentralization, but unitary systems may also decentralize. Decentralization differs intrinsically
from federalism in that the sub-units that have been authorized to act (by delegation) do not possess
any claim of right against the central government.64

Decentralization comes in two forms—deconcentration and devolution. Deconcentration is


administrative in nature; it involves the transfer of functions or the delegation of authority and
responsibility from the national office to the regional and local offices. This mode of decentralization
is also referred to as administrative decentralization.65

Devolution, on the other hand, connotes political decentralization, or the transfer of powers,
responsibilities, and resources for the performance of certain functions from the central government
to local government units.66 This is a more liberal form of decentralization since there is an actual
trans-

_______________

63 P. Tapales, The Nature and State of Local Government, in LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE
PHILIPPINES: A BOOK OF READINGS, VOL. I, LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION 5, 12-13 (1998).
64 F. Cross, THE FOLLY OF FEDERALISM, 24 Cardozo L. Rev. 1, 19, 28 (2002).

65 R. Guzman, and M. Reforma, Decentralization Towards Democratization and the Development in


the Asian Pacific Region, in LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES: A BOOK OF READINGS, VOL. I,
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION, 21, 24 (1998); A. Brillantes and J. Cuaresma, Jr., op. cit.
supra note 57 at p. 28.

66 P. Tapales, op. cit. supra note 63; Id., at pp. 23-24.

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fer of powers and responsibilities.67 It aims to grant greater autonomy to local government units in
cognizance of their right to self-government, to make them self-reliant, and to improve their
administrative and technical capabilities.68

This Court elucidated the concept of autonomy in Limbona v. Mangelin,69 thus:

“Autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is


decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to
political subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make
local governments “more responsive and accountable,” and “ensure their fullest development as
self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national
development and social progress.” At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden
of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises
“general supervision” over them, but only to “ensure that local affairs are administered according to
law.” He has no control over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his
own.

“Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor
of local government units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is
free to chart its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities.
According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to “self-immolation,” since in
that event the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its
constituency.”
In the case, the Court reviewed the expulsion of a member from the Sangguniang Pampook,
Autonomous Region. It held that the Court may assume jurisdiction as the local govern-

_______________

67 A. Brillantes and J. Cuaresma, Jr., op. cit. supra note 57.

68 R. Guzman, and M. Reforma, op. cit. supra note 65 at pp. 23-24.

69 G.R. No. 80391, 28 February 1989, 170 SCRA 786, 794-795, citations omitted.

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ment unit, organized before 1987, enjoys autonomy of the former category. It refused, though, to
resolve whether the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao under the 1987 Constitution involves,
truly, an effort to decentralize power rather than mere administration.70

A year later, in Cordillera Broad Coalition v. Commission on Audit,71 the Court, with the same
composition, ruled without any dissent that the creation of autonomous regions contemplates the
grant of political autonomy—an autonomy which is greater than the administrative autonomy
granted to local government units. It held that “the constitutional guarantee of local autonomy in the
Constitution (Art. X, Sec. 2) refers to administrative autonomy of local government units or, cast in
more technical language, the decentralization of government authority. . . On the other hand, the
creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the
1987 Constitution, contemplates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative
autonomy to these regions.”72

And by regional autonomy, the framers intended it to mean “meaningful and authentic regional
autonomy.”73 As articulated by a Muslim author, substantial and meaningful autonomy is “the kind
of local self-government which allows the people of the region or area the power to determine what
is best for their growth and development without undue interference or dictation from the central
government.”74
_______________

70 Ibid.

71 G.R. Nos. 79956 and 82217, 29 January 1990, 181 SCRA 495, 506.

72 Ibid.; emphasis supplied.

73 Supra note 36 at p. 172; SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF BENNAGEN.

74 M. TAMANO, AUTONOMY: TO KEEP THIS NATION INTACT 131 (1986).

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To this end, Section 16, Article X75 limits the power of the President over autonomous regions.76 In
essence, the provision also curtails the power of Congress over autonomous regions.77 Consequently,
Congress will have to re-examine national laws and make sure that they reflect the Constitution’s
adherence to local autonomy. And in case of conflicts, the underlying spirit which should guide its
resolution is the Constitution’s desire for genuine local autonomy.78

The diminution of Congress’ powers over autonomous regions was confirmed in Ganzon v. Court of
Appeals,79 wherein this Court held that “the omission (of “as may be provided by law”) signifies
nothing more than to underscore local governments’ autonomy from Congress and to break Congress’
‘control’ over local government affairs.”

This is true to subjects over which autonomous regions have powers, as specified in Sections 18 and
20, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. Expressly not included therein are powers over certain areas.
Worthy of note is that the area of public works is not excluded and neither is it reserved for the
National Government. The key provisions read, thus:
_______________

75 Sec. 16, Art. X, 1987 CONST.: “The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous
regions to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.”

76 Fr. Bernas stressed this point:

FR. BERNAS. I think what we were saying is that when we speak of autonomy, we are speaking of
autonomy not just vis-à-vis the President but also vis-à-vis the Legislature. So that while we are
curtailing the power of the President, we are also curtailing the power of the Legislature. (III RECORD
515; 19 August 1986).

77 J. Bernas, op. cit. supra note 35 at 1100, citing III RECORD 514-516.

78 Id., at p. 1107.

79 G.R. Nos. 93252, 93746, 95245, 5 August 1991, 200 SCRA 271, 281.

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SEC. 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and
participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the
President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic
structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative
assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The
organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family and property law
jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and national laws.

The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast
by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.
SEC. 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and
national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:

(1) Administrative organization;

(2) Creation of sources of revenues;

(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;

(4) Personal, family and property relations;

(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;

(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;

(7) Educational policies;

(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and

(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of general welfare of the
people of the region. (Emphasis supplied)

E.O. 426 officially devolved the powers and functions of the DPWH in ARMM to the Autonomous
Regional Government (ARG). Sections 1 and 2 of E.O. 426 provide:

SECTION 1. Transfer of Control and Supervision.—The offices of the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH) within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including their
functions, powers and responsibili-

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ties, personnel, equipment, properties, budgets and liabilities are hereby placed under the control
and supervision of the Autonomous Regional Government.

In particular, these offices are identified as the four (4) District Engineering Offices (DEO) in each of
the four provinces respectively and the three (3) Area Equipment Services (AES) located in Tawi-Tawi,
Sulu and Maguindanao (Municipality of Sultan Kudarat).
SEC. 2. Functions Transferred.—The Autonomous Regional Government shall be responsible for
highways, flood control and water resource development systems, and other public works within the
ARMM and shall exercise the following functions:

1. Undertake and evaluate the planning, design, construction and works supervision for the
infrastructure projects whose location and impact are confined within the ARMM;

2. Undertake the maintenance of infrastructure facilities within the ARMM and supervise the
maintenance of such local roads and other infrastructure facilities receiving financial assistance from
the National Government;

3. Ensure the implementation of laws, policies, programs, rules and regulations regarding
infrastructure projects as well as all public and private physical structures within the ARMM;

4. Provide technical assistance related to their functions to other agencies within the ARMM,
especially the local government units;

5. Coordinate with other national and regional government departments, agencies, institutions and
organizations, especially the local government units within the ARMM in the planning and
implementation of infrastructure projects;

6. Conduct continuing consultations with the local communities, take appropriate measures to make
the services of the Autonomous Regional Government responsive to the needs of the general public
and recommend such appropriate actions as may be necessary; and

7. Perform such other related duties and responsibilities within the ARMM as may be assigned or
delegated by the Regional Governor or as may be provided by law. (Emphasis supplied)

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More importantly, Congress itself through R.A. 9054 transferred and devolved the administrative and
fiscal management of public works and funds for public works to the ARG. Section 20, Article VI of R.A.
9054 provides:

ARTICLE VI

THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

...
SEC. 20. Annual Budget and Infrastructure Funds.—The annual budget of the Regional Government
shall be enacted by Regional Assembly. Funds for infrastructure in the autonomous region allocated
by the central government or national government shall be appropriated through a Regional
Assembly Public Works Act.

Unless approved by the Regional Assembly, no public works funds allocated by the central
government or national government for the Regional Government or allocated by the Regional
Government from its own revenues may be disbursed, distributed, realigned, or used in any manner.

The aim of the Constitution is to extend to the autonomous peoples, the people of Muslim Mindanao
in this case, the right to self-determination—a right to choose their own path of development; the
right to determine the political, cultural and economic content of their development path within the
framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippine Republic.80 Self-determination
refers to the need for a political structure that will respect the autonomous peoples’ uniqueness and
grant them sufficient room for self-expression and self-construction.81

In treading their chosen path of development, the Muslims in Mindanao are to be given freedom and
independence with minimum interference from the National Government. This

_______________

80 III RECORD 224; 12 August 1986.

81 S. Tanggol, op. cit. supra note 46 at p. 159.

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necessarily includes the freedom to decide on, build, supervise and maintain the public works and
infrastructure projects within the autonomous region. The devolution of the powers and functions of
the DPWH in the ARMM and transfer of the administrative and fiscal management of public works
and funds to the ARG are meant to be true, meaningful and unfettered. This unassailable conclusion is
grounded on a clear consensus, reached at the Constitutional Commission and ratified by the entire
Filipino electorate, on the centrality of decentralization of power as the appropriate vessel of
deliverance for Muslim Filipinos and the ultimate unity of Muslims and Christians in this country.

With R.A. 8999, however, this freedom is taken away, and the National Government takes control
again. The hands, once more, of the autonomous peoples are reined in and tied up.

The challenged law creates an office with functions and powers which, by virtue of E.O. 426, have
been previously devolved to the DPWH-ARMM, First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur.

E.O. 426 clearly ordains the transfer of the control and supervision of the offices of the DPWH within
the ARMM, including their functions, powers and responsibilities, personnel, equipment, properties,
and budgets to the ARG. Among its other functions, the DPWH-ARMM, under the control of the
Regional Government shall be responsible for highways, flood control and water resource
development systems, and other public works within the ARMM. Its scope of power includes the
planning, design, construction and supervision of public works. According to R.A. 9054, the reach of
the Regional Government enables it to appropriate, manage and disburse all public work funds
allocated for the region by the central government.

The use of the word “powers” in E.O. 426 manifests an unmistakable case of devolution.

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In this regard, it is not amiss to cite Opinion No. 120, S. 199182 of the Secretary of Justice on whether
the national departments or their counterpart departments in the ARG are responsible for
implementation of roads, rural water supply, health, education, women in development, agricultural
extension and watershed management. Referring to Section 2, Article V of R.A. 6734 which
enumerates the powers of the ARG, he states:

It is clear from the foregoing provision of law that except for the areas of executive power mentioned
therein, all other such areas shall be exercised by the Autonomous Regional Government (“ARG”) of
the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is noted that programs relative to infrastructure
facilities, health, education, women in development, agricultural extension and watershed
management do not fall under any of the exempted areas listed in the abovequoted provision of law.
Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that all these spheres of executive responsibility have been
transferred to the ARG.

Reinforcing the aboveview (sic) are the various executive orders issued by the President providing for
the devolution of the powers and functions of specified executive departments of the National
Government to the ARG. These are E.O. Nos. 425 (Department of Labor and Employment, Local
Government, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Social Welfare and Development and
Science and Technology), 426 (Department of Public Works and Highways), 459 (Department of
Education, Culture and Sports) and 460 (Department of Agriculture). The execution of projects on
infrastructure, education, women, agricultural extension and watershed management within the
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao normally fall within the responsibility of one of the
aforementioned executive departments of the National Government, but by virtue of the aforestated
EOs, such responsibility has been transferred to the ARG.

E.O. 426 was issued to implement the provisions of the first ARMM Organic Act, R.A. 6734—the
validity of which this

_______________

82 Dated 20 August 1991.

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Court upheld in the case of Abbas v. Commission on Elections.83 In Section 4, Article XVIII of said Act,
“central government or national government offices and agencies in the autonomous region which
are not excluded under Section 3, Article IV84 of this Organic Act, shall be placed under the

_______________

83 G.R. Nos. 89651, 89965, 10 November 1989, 179 SCRA 287.


84 SEC. 3. Scope of Regional Assembly Legislative Power; Exceptions.—The Regional Assembly may
exercise legislative power in the autonomous region for the benefit of the people and for the
development of the region except on the following matters:

(a) Foreign affairs;

(b) National defense and security;

(c) Postal service;

(d) Coinage and fiscal and monetary policies;

(e) Administration of justice; It may, however, legislate on matters covered by the Shari’ah. The
Shari’ah shall apply only to Muslims. Its application shall be limited by pertinent constitutional
provisions, particularly by the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and by pertinent
national legislation that promotes human rights and the universally accepted legal principles and
precepts;

(f) Quarantine;

(g) Customs and tariff;

(h) Citizenship;

(i) Naturalization, immigration and deportation;

(j) General auditing;

(k) National Elections;

(l) Maritime, land, air transportation, and communications; The autonomous government shall,
however, have the power to grant franchises, licenses and permits to land, sea and air transportation
plying routes in the provinces or cities within the region, and communications facilities where
frequencies are confined to and whose main offices are located within the autonomous region.

(m) Patents, trademarks, trade names, and copyrights; and

(n) Foreign trade.

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control and supervision of the Regional Government pursuant to a schedule prescribed by the
oversight committee.”
Evidently, the intention is to cede some, if not most, of the powers of the national government to the
autonomous government in order to effectuate a veritable autonomy. The continued enforcement of
R.A. 8999, therefore, runs afoul of the ARMM Organic Acts and results in the recall of powers which
have previously been handed over. This should not be sanctioned, elsewise the Organic Acts’ desire
for greater autonomy for the ARMM in accordance with the Constitution would be quelled. It bears
stressing that national laws are subject to the Constitution one of whose state policies is to ensure the
autonomy of autonomous regions. Section 25, Article II of the 1987 Constitution states:

Sec. 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.

R.A. 8999 has made the DPWH-ARMM effete and rendered regional autonomy illusory with respect to
infrastructure projects. The Congressional Record shows, on the other hand, that the “lack of an
implementing and monitoring body within the area” has hindered the speedy implementation, of
infrastructure projects.85 Apparently, in the legislature’s estima-

_______________

85 The Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 995, the source of R.A. 8999, was adopted as its
sponsorship speech. It reads:

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This bill aims to establish an engineering district in the First District of the Province of Lanao del Sur. It
seeks to respond to the urgent need to accelerate the completion of the infrastructural foundation
that will bring about the timely fulfillment Lanao del Sur’s economic and social objectives in
consonance with the national goals.

Lanao del Sur teems with natural riches including a highly trainable human resource. But despite such
abundance, the province is immersed in destitution. There are concerted efforts to improve the plight
of the inhabitants but these are being hampered by an

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tion, the existing DPWH-ARMM engineering districts failed to measure up to the task. But if it was
indeed the case, the problem could not be solved through the simple legislative creation of an
incongruous engineering district for the central government in the ARMM. As it was, House Bill No.
995 which ultimately became R.A. 8999 was passed in record time on second reading (not more than
10 minutes), absolutely without the usual sponsorship speech and debates.86 The precipitate speed
which characterized the passage of R.A. 8999 is difficult to comprehend since R.A. 8999 could have
resulted in the amendment of the first ARMM Organic Act and, therefore, could not take effect
without first being ratified in a plebiscite. What is more baffling is that in March 2001, or barely two (2)
months after it enacted R.A. 8999 in January 2001, Congress passed R.A. 9054, the second ARMM
Organic Act, where it reaffirmed the devolution of the DPWH in ARMM, including Lanao del Sur and
Marawi City, to the Regional Government and effectively repealed R.A. 8999.

DPWH Department Order No. 119

Now, the question directly related to D.O. 119.

D.O. 119 creating the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office which has jurisdiction over infrastructure
projects within

_______________

acute infrastructural deficiency. Projects are being earmarked for the province but the lack of an
implementing and monitoring body within the area hinders their speedy implementation. This snag
can, however, be eradicated if an engineering district is established in the province, particularly in the
First District where the seat of the provincial government is located.

With an engineering district in the vicinity, all the infrastructural programs envisioned for Lanao del
Sur can be realized and once the physical requirements for progress are effectively laid down, the
province can then hasten its development.

Early approval of this bill is therefore earnestly sought. (Emphasis supplied)

86 Transcript of Session, 3 February 1999, pp. 108-110.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

Marawi City and Lanao del Sur is violative of the provisions of E.O. 426. The Executive Order was
issued pursuant to R.A. 6734—which initiated the creation of the constitutionally-mandated
autonomous region87 and which defined the basic structure of the autonomous government.88 E.O.
426 sought to implement the transfer of the control and supervision of the DPWH within the ARMM
to the Autonomous Regional Government. In particular, it identified four (4) District Engineering
Offices in each of the four (4) provinces, namely: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.89
Accordingly, the First Engineering District of the DPWH-ARMM in Lanao del Sur has jurisdiction over
the public works within the province.

The office created under D.O. 119, having essentially the same powers, is a duplication of the
DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur formed under the aegis of E.O. 426. The
department order, in effect, takes back powers which have been previously devolved under the said
ex-ecutive order. D.O. 119 runs counter to the provisions of E.O. 426. The DPWH’s order, like spring
water, cannot rise higher than its source of power—the Executive.

The fact that the department order was issued pursuant to E.O. 124—signed and approved by
President Aquino in her residual legislative powers—is of no moment. It is a finely-imbedded principle
in statutory construction that a special provision or law prevails over a general one.90 Lex specialis
derogant generali. As this Court expressed in the case of Leveriza v. Intermediate Appellate Court,91
“another basic princi-

_______________

87 Supra note 83 at p. 301.

88 Sec. 18, Art. X, 1987 CONST.

89 Sec. 1, E.O. 426.

90 Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Zamora, G.R. Nos. 138570, 138572, 138587, 138680,
138698, 10 October 2000, 342 SCRA 483-484.

91 No. L-66614, 25 January 1988, 157 SCRA 282, 294, citations omitted.

246

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

ple of statutory construction mandates that general legislation must give way to special legislation on
the same subject, and generally be so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which the special
provisions are not applicable, that specific statute prevails over a general statute and that where two
statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular case, the one designed therefor specially
should prevail.”

E.O. No. 124, upon which D.O. 119 is based, is a general law reorganizing the Ministry of Public Works
and Highways while E.O. 426 is a special law transferring the control and supervision of the DPWH
offices within ARMM to the Autonomous Regional Government. The latter statute specifically applies
to DPWH-ARMM offices. E.O. 124 should therefore give way to E.O. 426 in the instant case.

In any event, the ARMM Organic Acts and their ratification in a plebiscite in effect superseded E.O.
124. In case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the later enactment
prevails because it is the later legislative will.92

Further, in its repealing clause, R.A. 9054 states that “all laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations,
and other issuances or parts thereof, which are inconsistent with this Organic Act, are hereby
repealed or modified accordingly.”93 With the repeal of E.O. 124 which is the basis of D.O. 119, it
necessarily follows that D.O. 119 was also rendered functus officio by the ARMM Organic Acts.

Grave abuse of discretion

Without doubt, respondents committed grave abuse of discretion. They implemented R.A. 8999
despite its inoperativeness and repeal. They also put in place and maintained the

_______________

92 David v. Commission on Elections, 337 Phil. 535, 547; 271 SCRA 90, 101 (1997), citation omitted.

93 Sec. 18, R.A. 9054.

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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

DPWH Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office in accordance with D.O. 119 which has been rendered
functus officio by the ARMM Organic Acts.

Still, on the issue of grave abuse of discretion, this Court, however, cannot uphold petitioners’
argument that R.A. 8999 was signed into law under suspicious circumstances to support the assertion
that there was a capricious and whimsical exercise of legislative authority. Once more, this Court
cannot inquire into the wisdom, merits, propriety or expediency of the acts of the legislative branch.

Likewise, the alleged lack of consultation or public hearing with the affected agency during the
inception of the law does not render the law infirm. This Court holds that the Congress did not
transgress the Constitution nor any statute or House Rule in failing to invite a resource person from
the DPWH-ARMM during the Committee meeting. Section 27, Rule VII of the Rules of the House94
only requires that a written notice

_______________

94 SEC. 27. Place and Time of Meetings.—Committee and subcommittee meetings, conferences or
hearings shall be held in the House building or whenever necessary in any government office during
periods of session or during recess. They may, however, be held in any other place when so
authorized by the Speaker.

Except the Committee on Rules, no committee may meet while the House is sitting in plenary session
without special permission from the Committee on Rules.

All standing committees and subcommittees shall meet at the hour and place provided by schedule,
unless otherwise ordered by the House.

Seven (7) calendar days before a regularly scheduled committee meeting, written notice thereof shall
be given to all Members, specifying therein the subject matter and the names of the resource persons
invited to said meeting.

No bill, resolution or petition shall be set for hearing unless it has been officially referred to an
appropriate committee or subcommittee, provided that, no initial hearing on any bill, resolution or
petition shall be conducted unless written notice thereof has been
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

be given to all the members of a Committee seven (7) calendar days before a regularly scheduled
meeting, specifying the subject matter of the meeting and the names of the invited resource persons.
And it must be emphasized that the questions of who to invite and whether there is a need to invite
resource persons during Committee meetings should be addressed solely to Congress in its plenary
legislative powers.95

Conclusion

The repeal of R.A. 8999 and the functus officio state of D.O. 119 provide the necessary basis for the
grant of the writs of certiorari and prohibition sought by the petitioners. However, there is no similar
basis for the issuance of a writ of mandamus to compel respondent DBM Secretary to release funds
appropriated for public works projects in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur to the DPWH-ARMM First
Engineering District in Lanao del Sur and to compel respondent DPWH Secretary to allow the
DPWH-ARMM, First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur to implement all public works projects within
its jurisdictional area. Section 20, Article VI of R.A. 9054 clearly provides that “(f)unds for
infrastructure in the autonomous region allocated by the central government or national government
shall only be appropriated through a Regional Assembly Public Works Act” passed by the Regional
Assembly. There is no showing that such Regional Assembly Public Works Act has been enacted.

_______________

issued to members of the concerned committee or subcommittee at least seven (7) calendar days
before such hearing.

The committees and/or subcommittees shall, as far as practicable, schedule bills, resolutions or
petitions of similar or related subject matter for the same hearing.

95 Sec. 1, Art. VI, 1987 CONST.: “The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the
Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent
reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.”
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Disomangcop vs. Datumanong

WHEREFORE, considering that Republic Act No. 9054 repealed Republic Act No. 8999 and rendered
DPWH Department Order No. 119 functus officio, the petition insofar as it seeks the writs of certiorari
and prohibition is GRANTED. Accordingly, let a writ of prohibition ISSUE commanding respondents to
desist from implementing R.A. 8999 and D.O. 119, and maintaining the DPWH Marawi Sub-District
Engineering Office and the First Engineering District of the Province of Lanao del Sur comprising the
City of Marawi and the municipalities within the First District of Lanao del Sur. However, the petition
insofar as it seeks a writ of mandamus against respondents is DENIED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Puno (Actg. C.J.), Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio,


Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Chico-Nazario and Garcia, JJ., concur.

Davide, Jr. (C.J.), On Official Leave.

Corona, J., On Leave.

Petition for writ of certiorari and prohibition granted, while petition for writ of mandamus denied.

Note.—A citizen acquires standing only if he can establish that he has suffered some actual or
threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; the injury is fairly
traceable to the challenged action; and the injury is likely to be redeemed by a favorable action.
(Gonzales vs. Narvasa, 337 SCRA 733 [2000])

——o0o—— Disomangcop vs. Datumanong, 444 SCRA 203, G.R. No. 149848 November 25, 2004
G.R. No. 38204. September 24, 1991.*

THE MUNICIPALITY OF SOGOD, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III, THE PROVINCIAL BOARD OF SOUTHERN LEYTE, HON.
SALVACION O. YNIGUEZ, in her capacity as Governor of Southern Leyte and the MUNICIPALITY OF
BONTOC, respondents.

G.R. No. 38205. September 24, 1991.*

THE MUNICIPALITY OF SOGOD, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III and the Municipality of Bontoc, respondents.

Administrative Law; Jurisdiction; Definition of; It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is
determined by the statute in force at the time of commencement of action.—Jurisdiction has been
defined as the power and authority to hear and determine a cause or the right to act in a case
(Herrera v. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. 245; Conchada v. Director of Prisons, 31 Phil. 4). Jurisdiction
is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. It cannot be fixed by the will of the parties nor can it
be acquired or diminished by any act of the parties. In determining whether a case lies within or
outside the jurisdiction of a court, reference to the applicable statute on the matter is indispensable.
It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at the time of
commencement of action.

Same; Same; Same; The applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether
the trial court has the authority to decide on the Municipal boundary dispute are 1) Republic Act No.
522, 2) Republic Act No. 3590, and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1971.—At
the time the civil actions were filed with the trial court by petitioner municipality in 1970, the
applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether the trial court has the
authority to decide on the municipal boundary dispute are the following: 1) Republic Act No. 522,
creating the municipality of Bontoc; 2) Republic Act No. 3590, the Revised Barrio Charter, revising

________________

* FIRST DIVISION.

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633
Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

Republic Act No. 2370; and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Although Republic Act No. 522 is clear as to which territories shall belong
to each Municipality, the law is silent however as to the specifications of the boundary line which will
separate the two Municipalities.—Republic Act No. 522 defines the jurisdiction of the municipality of
Bontoc. It clearly enumerates the barrios which shall compose the municipality of Bontoc, to wit:
Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu, Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their
corresponding sitios. This means that all the other barrios in Southern Leyte which are not included in
the law creating the municipality of Bontoc are deemed to remain under the jurisdiction of the
municipality of Sogod. Although the said law is clear as to which territories shall belong to each
municipality, the law is silent however, as to the specifications of the boundary line which will
separate the two municipalities.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Under the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board.—With the
passage of Republic Act No. 2370 which took effect on January 1, 1960 as revised by Republic Act No.
3590 on June 22, 1963, known as the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board upon petition of
the majority of the voters in the area affected and the recommendation of the municipality in which
the proposed barrios are situated. Thus, the provincial board was empowered under the said law to
determine and alter boundaries of municipalities and barrios.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The law vested the right to settle boundary disputes between
municipalities on the provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative
Code.—Further, the law then vested the right to settle boundary disputes between municipalities on
the provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It is clear that the authority to hear and resolve municipal boundary
disputes belongs to the provincial boards and not to the trial courts.—It is clear from the aforestated
legal provision that the authority to hear and resolve municipal boundary disputes belongs to the
provincial boards and not to the trial courts. The decisions of the boards are then appealable to the
Execu-

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Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

tive Secretary.

Same; Same; Court finds that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the cases for want of
jurisdiction.—Considering the foregoing, We find that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the
cases for want of jurisdiction and in allowing the provincial board to continue with the pending
investigation and proceedings on the boundary dispute.

Same; Same; Under the 1987 Constitution, any alteration or modification of the boundaries of the
municipalities shall only be by a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the approval by a majority
of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the barrios affected.—The 1987 Constitution now mandates that 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly
affected. Hence, any alteration or modification of the boundaries of the municipalities shall only be by
a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite
in the barrios affected (Section 134, Local Government Code), Thus, under present laws, the function
of the provincial board to fix the municipal boundaries are now strictly limited to the factual
determination of the boundary lines between municipalities, to be specified by natural boundaries or
by metes and bounds in accordance with the laws creating said municipalities.

PETITIONS for certiorari to review the orders of the then Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte.
Rosal, J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Godofredo L. Cualteros for petitioner.

Francisco A. Puray, Sr. and Inego A. Gorduiz for Municipality of Bontoc.

MEDIALDEA, J.:

This refers to two (2) petitions for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul and
set aside the assailed orders of respondent judge which dismissed the complaints filed with the trial
court, as having been issued with grave abuse of discretion, and to order the same respondent to
assume jurisdiction and proceed with the determination of the cases on

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Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

the merits.

The antecedent facts of each case are as follows:

G.R. No. 38204

On June 15, 1950, Congress passed Republic Act No. 522 creating the municipality of Bontoc, formerly
a barrio of the municipality of Sogod in the province of Leyte, which shall be composed of the barrios
of Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu, Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their
corresponding sitios.

A boundary dispute however, later arose between the municipality of Bontoc and the municipality of
Sogod with the latter claiming that the former exercised jurisdiction not only over the barrios
above-mentioned but also over other ten (10) barrios allegedly belonging to Sogod.

On June 17, 1952, the Provincial Board of Leyte issued Resolution No. 617 directing the holding of a
plebiscite among the barrios of Pangi, Taa part of Sta. Cruz, Tuburan, Lawgawan and their
corresponding sitios. The purpose of the plebiscite is to determine whether the people in these
barrios would like to remain with the municipality of Sogod or with Bontoc. The plebiscite was
conducted on August 1, 1952, and the results thereof show that more votes were cast in favor of
Sogod than those in favor of Bontoc.

On April 4, 1959, the Provincial Board of Leyte issued Resolution No. 519 recommending to the
President of the Philippines and/or to the Congress of the Philippines that Republic Act 522 be
amended so as to include in said Act creating the municipality of Bontoc, the following barrios
claimed by Sogod which are in the heart of Bontoc but not included in said law, namely: Baugo,
Himakilo, Esperanza, Hibagwan, Pamahawan, Mahayahay, Bunga, Da-o and Maoylab. The Board also
recommended that a law be enacted annexing to the municipality of Sogod the following barrios
which are very near Sogod and are claimed by the latter but are included in the law creating Bontoc,
namely: Laogawan, Ta-a, Tuburan, Sta. Cruz and Pangi. The board further recommended that the
boundary line between the two municipalities be placed at Granada Creek.
On December 28, 1959, Carlos P. Garcia, then President of the Philippines, promulgated Executive
Order No. 368, which

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

approved the recommendation of the provincial board of Leyte, and reconstituted the barrios and
sitios which shall compose the municipalities of Bontoc and Sogod. The executive order also specified
Granada Creek as the boundary line separating Bontoc and Sogod.

However, on July 14,1960, the President of the Philippines, thru then Executive Secretary Castillo sent
a telegram to the Provincial Board of Southern Leyte which states as follows:

“BY DIRECTION OF PRESIDENT PLEASE SUSPEND IMPLEMENTATION OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 368 SERIES
1959 RECONSTITUTION (sic) BARRIOS AND SITIOS TO COMPOSE MUNICIPALITIES OF SOGOD AND
BONTOC AND READJUSTING TERRITORIES SAID MUNICIPALITIES UNTIL FURTHER ADVISE STOP TO
DETERMINE TRUE WISHES OF INHABITANTS PLEASE SUPERVISE HOLDING OF PLEBISCITE IN BARRIO
AND SITIOS AFFECTED ADVISING THIS OFFICE IMMEDIATELY OF RESULT.

SEC. CASTILLO" (p. 20, Rollo)

On July 18, 1960, the Provincial Board of Southern Leyte passed Resolution No. 62 suspending the
implementation of Executive Order 368. The Board also created a committee to conduct the holding
of a plebiscite in the barrios and sitios affected by Executive Order 368 and to finally settle the
boundary dispute.

On June 24, 1970, the municipality of Sogod filed Civil Case No. R-1 706 for certiorari and prohibition
with the Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte (now Regional Trial Court), to enjoin the provincial
board and provincial governor from taking cognizance of the long pending boundary dispute between
the two municipalities and to enjoin the municipality of Bontoc from exercising territorial jurisdiction
over the barrios of Pangi, Taa, Casao, Sta. Cruz, Tuburan and Laogawan all allegedly belonging to the
municipality of Sogod.
On August 31, 1973, the trial court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter
of the case. On December 17, 1973, the trial court denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

Hence, this petition was filed alleging that the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion
in dismissing the

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Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

case.

G.R. No. 38205

On December 7, 1970, the municipality of Sogod filed Civil Case No. R-1707 with the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte (now Regional Trial Court) for recovery of taxes with receivership against
the municipality of Bontoc. The complaint alleged that the municipality of Bontoc, without any legal
basis, exercised jurisdiction not only over the barrios emunerated in Republic Act No. 522 but also
over ten (10) barrios belonging to the complainant municipality of Sogod. The complaint prayed that
the municipality of Bontoc be ordered to pay Sogod onehalf of the total amount of taxes collected by
the former from the inhabitants of the aforesaid barrios during the period from 1950 to 1959.

On August 31, 1973, the trial court issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. R-1707 on the ground
that the right to collect taxes would ultimately depend on Civil Case No. R-1706, which was already
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and that the issue as to boundary dispute have not yet been decided
in a plebiscite far that purpose.

Hence this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to annul the above order of the judge.

The common issue to be resolved in these petitions is whether or not the trial court gravely erred in
dismissing the two cases for lack of jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction has been defined as the power and authority to hear and determine a cause or the right
to act in a case (Herrera v. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. 245; Conchada v. Director of Prisons, 31 Phil.
4). Jurisdiction is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. It cannot be fixed by the will of the
parties nor can it be acquired or diminished by any act of the parties. In determining whether a case
lies within or outside the jurisdiction of a court, reference to the applicable statute on the matter is
indispensable. It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at
the time of commencement of action (Tolentino v. Social Security Commission, L-28870, September 6,
1985, 138 SCRA 428; Lee v. Municipal Trial Court of Legaspi City Br. I, No. 68789, November 10, 1986,
145 SCRA 408; Dela Cruz v. Moya, No. 65192, April

638

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

27, 1988, 160 SCRA 838).

At the time the civil actions were filed with the trial court by petitioner municipality in 1970, the
applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether the trial court has the
authority to decide on the municipal boundary dispute are the following: 1) Republic Act No. 522,
creating the municipality of Bontoc; 2) Republic Act No. 3590, the Revised Barrio Charter, revising
Republic Act No. 2370; and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.

Republic Act No. 522 defines the jurisdiction of the municipality of Bontoc. lt clearly enumerates the
barrios which shall compose the municipality of Bontoc, to wit: Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu,
Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their corresponding sitios. This means that all
the other barrios in Southern Leyte which are not included in the law creating the municipality of
Bontoc are deemed to remain under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Sogod. Although the said
law is clear as to which territories shall belong to each municipality, the law is silent however, as to
the specifications of the boundary line which will separate the two municipalities.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 2370 which took effect on January 1,1960 as revised by Republic
Act No. 3590 on June 22, 1963, known as the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board upon petition of
the majority of the voters in the area affected and the recommendation of the municipality in which
the proposed barrios are situated. Thus, the provincial board was empowered under the said law to
determine and alter boundaries of municipalities and barrios.

Further, the law then vested the right to settle boundary disputes between municipalities on the
provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code, which reads:
“SEC. 2167. Municipal boundary disputes.—How settled.—Disputes as to jurisdiction of municipal
governments over places or barrios shall be decided by the provincial boards of the provinces in
which such municipalities are situated, after an investigation at which the municipalities concerned
shall be duly heard, From the

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Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

decision of the provincial board appeal may be taken by the municipality aggrieved to the Secretary of
the Interior (now the Office of the Executive Secretary), whose decision shall be final. Where the
places or barrios in dispute are claimed by municipalities situated in different provinces, the provincial
boards of the provinces concerned shall come to an agreement if possible, but, in the event of their
failing to agree, an appeal shall be had to the Secretary of Interior (Executive Secretary), whose
decision shall be final.” (Municipality of Hinabañgan v. Municipality of Wright, 107 Phil. 394).

It is clear from the aforestated legal provision that the authority to hear and resolve municipal
boundary disputes belongs to the provincial boards and not to the trial courts. The decisions of the
boards are then appealable to the Executive Secretary. Records in the instant case show that when
petitioner municipality filed the civil actions in 1970 before the trial court, the provincial board of
Southern Leyte had not yet conducted a plebiscite as ordered by the Executive Department in 1960 or
rendered any order settling the dispute. Petitioner municipality should have elevated the matter of
delay to the then Secretary of Interior (now Executive Secretary) for action instead of bringing it to
the trial court. Although existing laws then vested on the provincial board the power to determine or
even alter municipal boundaries, the Secretary of Interior or the Executive Department for that
matter, was not precluded during that time from taking necessary steps for the speedy settlement of
the boundary dispute. In Pelaez v. Auditor General, No. L-23825, December 24, 1965, 15 SCRA 569,
which applied Republic Act No. 2370, known as the Barrio Charter, We held that the power to fix
common boundaries in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining
municipalities may also partake of an administrative nature that can be decided by the administrative
department, involving as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the laws
creating said municipalities.

Considering the foregoing, We find that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the cases for want
of jurisdiction and in allowing the provincial board to continue with the pending investigation and
proceedings on the boundary dispute. It is worthy to note however, that up to this time, the
controversy between these two municipalities has not been settled.
640

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

However, this dispute has already been overtaken by events, namely, the enactment of the 1987
Constitution and the New Local Government Code on February 10, 1983, which imposed new
mandatory requirements and procedures on the fixing of boundaries between municipalities. The
1987 Constitution now mandates that 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite in the political units directly affected. Hence, any alteration or modification of the
boundaries of the municipalities shall only be by a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the
approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the barrios affected (Section 134, Local
Government Code). Thus, under present laws, the function of the provincial board to fix the municipal
boundaries are now strictly limited to the factual determination of the boundary lines between
municipalities, to be specified by natural boundaries or by metes and bounds in accordance with the
laws creating said municipalities.

In view of the length of time that this municipal boundary dispute had remained unresolved, due to
the possibility that Republic Act No. 522 has lost its practicability or has become obsolete considering
the geographical Iocation of barrios in Southern Leyte, especially those enumerated in Republic Act
No. 522, which apparently, are much nearer to Sogod than to Bontoc, this Court finds that this matter
should be referred to the Congress of the Philippines for whatever legislative action that may be
necessary under the circumstances.

ACCORDINGLY, the petitions are DISMISSED. The assailed orders of the respondent judge dated
August 31, 1973 and December 17, 1973 in G.R. No. L-38204 and orders dated August 31, 1973 and
December 17, 1973 in G.R. No. L-38205 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal, 201 SCRA 632, G.R. No. 38204, G.R. No. 38205
September 24, 1991
G.R. No. 38204. September 24, 1991.*

THE MUNICIPALITY OF SOGOD, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III, THE PROVINCIAL BOARD OF SOUTHERN LEYTE, HON.
SALVACION O. YNIGUEZ, in her capacity as Governor of Southern Leyte and the MUNICIPALITY OF
BONTOC, respondents.

G.R. No. 38205. September 24, 1991.*

THE MUNICIPALITY OF SOGOD, petitioner, vs. HON. AVELINO S. ROSAL, as Judge of the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte, Branch III and the Municipality of Bontoc, respondents.

Administrative Law; Jurisdiction; Definition of; It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is
determined by the statute in force at the time of commencement of action.—Jurisdiction has been
defined as the power and authority to hear and determine a cause or the right to act in a case
(Herrera v. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. 245; Conchada v. Director of Prisons, 31 Phil. 4). Jurisdiction
is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. It cannot be fixed by the will of the parties nor can it
be acquired or diminished by any act of the parties. In determining whether a case lies within or
outside the jurisdiction of a court, reference to the applicable statute on the matter is indispensable.
It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at the time of
commencement of action.

Same; Same; Same; The applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether
the trial court has the authority to decide on the Municipal boundary dispute are 1) Republic Act No.
522, 2) Republic Act No. 3590, and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1971.—At
the time the civil actions were filed with the trial court by petitioner municipality in 1970, the
applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether the trial court has the
authority to decide on the municipal boundary dispute are the following: 1) Republic Act No. 522,
creating the municipality of Bontoc; 2) Republic Act No. 3590, the Revised Barrio Charter, revising

________________

* FIRST DIVISION.

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633
Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

Republic Act No. 2370; and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Although Republic Act No. 522 is clear as to which territories shall belong
to each Municipality, the law is silent however as to the specifications of the boundary line which will
separate the two Municipalities.—Republic Act No. 522 defines the jurisdiction of the municipality of
Bontoc. It clearly enumerates the barrios which shall compose the municipality of Bontoc, to wit:
Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu, Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their
corresponding sitios. This means that all the other barrios in Southern Leyte which are not included in
the law creating the municipality of Bontoc are deemed to remain under the jurisdiction of the
municipality of Sogod. Although the said law is clear as to which territories shall belong to each
municipality, the law is silent however, as to the specifications of the boundary line which will
separate the two municipalities.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Under the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board.—With the
passage of Republic Act No. 2370 which took effect on January 1, 1960 as revised by Republic Act No.
3590 on June 22, 1963, known as the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board upon petition of
the majority of the voters in the area affected and the recommendation of the municipality in which
the proposed barrios are situated. Thus, the provincial board was empowered under the said law to
determine and alter boundaries of municipalities and barrios.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The law vested the right to settle boundary disputes between
municipalities on the provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative
Code.—Further, the law then vested the right to settle boundary disputes between municipalities on
the provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It is clear that the authority to hear and resolve municipal boundary
disputes belongs to the provincial boards and not to the trial courts.—It is clear from the aforestated
legal provision that the authority to hear and resolve municipal boundary disputes belongs to the
provincial boards and not to the trial courts. The decisions of the boards are then appealable to the
Execu-

634

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

tive Secretary.

Same; Same; Court finds that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the cases for want of
jurisdiction.—Considering the foregoing, We find that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the
cases for want of jurisdiction and in allowing the provincial board to continue with the pending
investigation and proceedings on the boundary dispute.

Same; Same; Under the 1987 Constitution, any alteration or modification of the boundaries of the
municipalities shall only be by a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the approval by a majority
of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the barrios affected.—The 1987 Constitution now mandates that 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly
affected. Hence, any alteration or modification of the boundaries of the municipalities shall only be by
a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite
in the barrios affected (Section 134, Local Government Code), Thus, under present laws, the function
of the provincial board to fix the municipal boundaries are now strictly limited to the factual
determination of the boundary lines between municipalities, to be specified by natural boundaries or
by metes and bounds in accordance with the laws creating said municipalities.

PETITIONS for certiorari to review the orders of the then Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte.
Rosal, J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Godofredo L. Cualteros for petitioner.

Francisco A. Puray, Sr. and Inego A. Gorduiz for Municipality of Bontoc.

MEDIALDEA, J.:

This refers to two (2) petitions for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul and
set aside the assailed orders of respondent judge which dismissed the complaints filed with the trial
court, as having been issued with grave abuse of discretion, and to order the same respondent to
assume jurisdiction and proceed with the determination of the cases on

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Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

the merits.

The antecedent facts of each case are as follows:

G.R. No. 38204

On June 15, 1950, Congress passed Republic Act No. 522 creating the municipality of Bontoc, formerly
a barrio of the municipality of Sogod in the province of Leyte, which shall be composed of the barrios
of Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu, Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their
corresponding sitios.

A boundary dispute however, later arose between the municipality of Bontoc and the municipality of
Sogod with the latter claiming that the former exercised jurisdiction not only over the barrios
above-mentioned but also over other ten (10) barrios allegedly belonging to Sogod.

On June 17, 1952, the Provincial Board of Leyte issued Resolution No. 617 directing the holding of a
plebiscite among the barrios of Pangi, Taa part of Sta. Cruz, Tuburan, Lawgawan and their
corresponding sitios. The purpose of the plebiscite is to determine whether the people in these
barrios would like to remain with the municipality of Sogod or with Bontoc. The plebiscite was
conducted on August 1, 1952, and the results thereof show that more votes were cast in favor of
Sogod than those in favor of Bontoc.

On April 4, 1959, the Provincial Board of Leyte issued Resolution No. 519 recommending to the
President of the Philippines and/or to the Congress of the Philippines that Republic Act 522 be
amended so as to include in said Act creating the municipality of Bontoc, the following barrios
claimed by Sogod which are in the heart of Bontoc but not included in said law, namely: Baugo,
Himakilo, Esperanza, Hibagwan, Pamahawan, Mahayahay, Bunga, Da-o and Maoylab. The Board also
recommended that a law be enacted annexing to the municipality of Sogod the following barrios
which are very near Sogod and are claimed by the latter but are included in the law creating Bontoc,
namely: Laogawan, Ta-a, Tuburan, Sta. Cruz and Pangi. The board further recommended that the
boundary line between the two municipalities be placed at Granada Creek.

On December 28, 1959, Carlos P. Garcia, then President of the Philippines, promulgated Executive
Order No. 368, which
636

636

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

approved the recommendation of the provincial board of Leyte, and reconstituted the barrios and
sitios which shall compose the municipalities of Bontoc and Sogod. The executive order also specified
Granada Creek as the boundary line separating Bontoc and Sogod.

However, on July 14,1960, the President of the Philippines, thru then Executive Secretary Castillo sent
a telegram to the Provincial Board of Southern Leyte which states as follows:

“BY DIRECTION OF PRESIDENT PLEASE SUSPEND IMPLEMENTATION OF EXECUTIVE ORDER 368 SERIES
1959 RECONSTITUTION (sic) BARRIOS AND SITIOS TO COMPOSE MUNICIPALITIES OF SOGOD AND
BONTOC AND READJUSTING TERRITORIES SAID MUNICIPALITIES UNTIL FURTHER ADVISE STOP TO
DETERMINE TRUE WISHES OF INHABITANTS PLEASE SUPERVISE HOLDING OF PLEBISCITE IN BARRIO
AND SITIOS AFFECTED ADVISING THIS OFFICE IMMEDIATELY OF RESULT.

SEC. CASTILLO" (p. 20, Rollo)

On July 18, 1960, the Provincial Board of Southern Leyte passed Resolution No. 62 suspending the
implementation of Executive Order 368. The Board also created a committee to conduct the holding
of a plebiscite in the barrios and sitios affected by Executive Order 368 and to finally settle the
boundary dispute.

On June 24, 1970, the municipality of Sogod filed Civil Case No. R-1 706 for certiorari and prohibition
with the Court of First Instance of Southern Leyte (now Regional Trial Court), to enjoin the provincial
board and provincial governor from taking cognizance of the long pending boundary dispute between
the two municipalities and to enjoin the municipality of Bontoc from exercising territorial jurisdiction
over the barrios of Pangi, Taa, Casao, Sta. Cruz, Tuburan and Laogawan all allegedly belonging to the
municipality of Sogod.

On August 31, 1973, the trial court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter
of the case. On December 17, 1973, the trial court denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Hence, this petition was filed alleging that the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion
in dismissing the

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637

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

case.

G.R. No. 38205

On December 7, 1970, the municipality of Sogod filed Civil Case No. R-1707 with the Court of First
Instance of Southern Leyte (now Regional Trial Court) for recovery of taxes with receivership against
the municipality of Bontoc. The complaint alleged that the municipality of Bontoc, without any legal
basis, exercised jurisdiction not only over the barrios emunerated in Republic Act No. 522 but also
over ten (10) barrios belonging to the complainant municipality of Sogod. The complaint prayed that
the municipality of Bontoc be ordered to pay Sogod onehalf of the total amount of taxes collected by
the former from the inhabitants of the aforesaid barrios during the period from 1950 to 1959.

On August 31, 1973, the trial court issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. R-1707 on the ground
that the right to collect taxes would ultimately depend on Civil Case No. R-1706, which was already
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and that the issue as to boundary dispute have not yet been decided
in a plebiscite far that purpose.

Hence this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to annul the above order of the judge.

The common issue to be resolved in these petitions is whether or not the trial court gravely erred in
dismissing the two cases for lack of jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction has been defined as the power and authority to hear and determine a cause or the right
to act in a case (Herrera v. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. 245; Conchada v. Director of Prisons, 31 Phil.
4). Jurisdiction is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. It cannot be fixed by the will of the
parties nor can it be acquired or diminished by any act of the parties. In determining whether a case
lies within or outside the jurisdiction of a court, reference to the applicable statute on the matter is
indispensable. It is a settled rule that jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at
the time of commencement of action (Tolentino v. Social Security Commission, L-28870, September 6,
1985, 138 SCRA 428; Lee v. Municipal Trial Court of Legaspi City Br. I, No. 68789, November 10, 1986,
145 SCRA 408; Dela Cruz v. Moya, No. 65192, April

638

636

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

27, 1988, 160 SCRA 838).

At the time the civil actions were filed with the trial court by petitioner municipality in 1970, the
applicable laws necessary for the determination of the question of whether the trial court has the
authority to decide on the municipal boundary dispute are the following: 1) Republic Act No. 522,
creating the municipality of Bontoc; 2) Republic Act No. 3590, the Revised Barrio Charter, revising
Republic Act No. 2370; and 3) Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.

Republic Act No. 522 defines the jurisdiction of the municipality of Bontoc. lt clearly enumerates the
barrios which shall compose the municipality of Bontoc, to wit: Bontoc, Divisoria, Onion, Pacu,
Beniton, Catmon, Hilaan, Taa, Sta. Cruz, Mahayahay and their corresponding sitios. This means that all
the other barrios in Southern Leyte which are not included in the law creating the municipality of
Bontoc are deemed to remain under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Sogod. Although the said
law is clear as to which territories shall belong to each municipality, the law is silent however, as to
the specifications of the boundary line which will separate the two municipalities.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 2370 which took effect on January 1,1960 as revised by Republic
Act No. 3590 on June 22, 1963, known as the Revised Barrio Charter, barrios may be created and their
boundaries altered only by Act of Congress or by the corresponding provincial board upon petition of
the majority of the voters in the area affected and the recommendation of the municipality in which
the proposed barrios are situated. Thus, the provincial board was empowered under the said law to
determine and alter boundaries of municipalities and barrios.

Further, the law then vested the right to settle boundary disputes between municipalities on the
provincial board pursuant to Section 2167 of the Revised Administrative Code, which reads:

“SEC. 2167. Municipal boundary disputes.—How settled.—Disputes as to jurisdiction of municipal


governments over places or barrios shall be decided by the provincial boards of the provinces in
which such municipalities are situated, after an investigation at which the municipalities concerned
shall be duly heard, From the

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639

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

decision of the provincial board appeal may be taken by the municipality aggrieved to the Secretary of
the Interior (now the Office of the Executive Secretary), whose decision shall be final. Where the
places or barrios in dispute are claimed by municipalities situated in different provinces, the provincial
boards of the provinces concerned shall come to an agreement if possible, but, in the event of their
failing to agree, an appeal shall be had to the Secretary of Interior (Executive Secretary), whose
decision shall be final.” (Municipality of Hinabañgan v. Municipality of Wright, 107 Phil. 394).

It is clear from the aforestated legal provision that the authority to hear and resolve municipal
boundary disputes belongs to the provincial boards and not to the trial courts. The decisions of the
boards are then appealable to the Executive Secretary. Records in the instant case show that when
petitioner municipality filed the civil actions in 1970 before the trial court, the provincial board of
Southern Leyte had not yet conducted a plebiscite as ordered by the Executive Department in 1960 or
rendered any order settling the dispute. Petitioner municipality should have elevated the matter of
delay to the then Secretary of Interior (now Executive Secretary) for action instead of bringing it to
the trial court. Although existing laws then vested on the provincial board the power to determine or
even alter municipal boundaries, the Secretary of Interior or the Executive Department for that
matter, was not precluded during that time from taking necessary steps for the speedy settlement of
the boundary dispute. In Pelaez v. Auditor General, No. L-23825, December 24, 1965, 15 SCRA 569,
which applied Republic Act No. 2370, known as the Barrio Charter, We held that the power to fix
common boundaries in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining
municipalities may also partake of an administrative nature that can be decided by the administrative
department, involving as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the laws
creating said municipalities.

Considering the foregoing, We find that the trial court acted correctly in dismissing the cases for want
of jurisdiction and in allowing the provincial board to continue with the pending investigation and
proceedings on the boundary dispute. It is worthy to note however, that up to this time, the
controversy between these two municipalities has not been settled.

640
640

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal

However, this dispute has already been overtaken by events, namely, the enactment of the 1987
Constitution and the New Local Government Code on February 10, 1983, which imposed new
mandatory requirements and procedures on the fixing of boundaries between municipalities. The
1987 Constitution now mandates that 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite in the political units directly affected. Hence, any alteration or modification of the
boundaries of the municipalities shall only be by a law to be enacted by Congress subject to the
approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the barrios affected (Section 134, Local
Government Code). Thus, under present laws, the function of the provincial board to fix the municipal
boundaries are now strictly limited to the factual determination of the boundary lines between
municipalities, to be specified by natural boundaries or by metes and bounds in accordance with the
laws creating said municipalities.

In view of the length of time that this municipal boundary dispute had remained unresolved, due to
the possibility that Republic Act No. 522 has lost its practicability or has become obsolete considering
the geographical Iocation of barrios in Southern Leyte, especially those enumerated in Republic Act
No. 522, which apparently, are much nearer to Sogod than to Bontoc, this Court finds that this matter
should be referred to the Congress of the Philippines for whatever legislative action that may be
necessary under the circumstances.

ACCORDINGLY, the petitions are DISMISSED. The assailed orders of the respondent judge dated
August 31, 1973 and December 17, 1973 in G.R. No. L-38204 and orders dated August 31, 1973 and
December 17, 1973 in G.R. No. L-38205 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. Municipality of Sogod vs. Rosal, 201 SCRA 632, G.R. No. 38204, G.R. No. 38205
September 24, 1991

No. L-52304. January 28, 1980.*


RAMON B. CENIZA, FEDERICO C. CABILAO, JR., NELSON J. ROSAL and ALEJANDRO R. ALINSUG,
petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, COMMISSION ON AUDIT, and NATIONAL TREASURER,
respondents.

Constitutional Law; Elections; Voting; Local Governments: Thrust of the 1973 Constitution is for fullest
autonomy of local government units.—The thrust of the 1973 Constitution is towards the fullest
autonomy of local government units. In the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, it is stated
that “The State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units, especially the
barrio, to ensure their fullest development as selfreliant communities.” To this end, the Constitution
directs the National Assembly to “enact a local government code which may not thereafter be
amended except by a majority vote of all its members, defining a more responsive and accountable
local government structure with an effective system of recall, allocating among the different local
governments their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and providing for the qualifications,
election and removal, term, salaries, powers, functions, and duties of local officials, and all other
matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units,” and em-

_____________

* EN BANC

764

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

powered local government units “to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, subject to
limitations as may be provided by law.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; Constitution places highly urbanized cities like Cebu City outside the
supervisory power of the province where they are geographically located.—Art. XI, Section 4 of the
said Constitution places highly urbanized cities outside the supervisory power of the province where
they are geographically located. This is as it should be because of the complex and varied problems in
a highly urbanized city due to a bigger population and greater economic activity which require greater
autonomy.
Same; Same; Same; Voters in highly urbanized cities do not have the right to select elective provincial
officials; Reasons.—Corollary to independence however, is the concomitant loss of the right to
participate in provincial affairs, more particularly the selection of elective provincial officials since
these provincial officials have ceased to exercise any governmental jurisdiction and authority over
said city.

Same; Same; Same; Basis of classification of cities into highly urbanized and component cities on the
basis of their regular annual income.—The classification of cities into highly urbanized cities and
component cities on the basis of their regular annual income is based upon substantial distinction.
The revenue of a city would show whether or not it is capable of existence and development as a
relatively independent social, economic, and political unit. It would also show whether the city has
sufficient economic or industrial activity as to warrant its independence from the province where it is
geographically situated. Cities with smaller income need the continued support of the provincial
government thus justifying the continued participation of the voters in the election of provincial
officials in some instances.

Same; Same; Same; Allowing voters in one component city to vote for provincial officials and denying
the same privilege to the voters in another component city is a matter of legislative discretion and not
violative of the Constitution on the voters’ right of suffrage.—The petitioners also contend that the
voters in Mandaue City are denied equal protection of the law since the voters in other component
cities are allowed to vote for provincial officials. The contention is without merit. The practice of
allowing voters in one component city to vote for provincial officials and denying the same privilege
to voters in another component city is a matter of

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Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

legislative discretion which violates neither the Constitution nor the voter’s right of suffrage.

Same; Same; Same; Equal protection of law, scope of; Prohibiting an individual or group of voters in
Cebu City from voting for provincial officials and granting the same right to another group of voters in
the same city not a violation of the equal protection of the law nor on petitioners’ rights of
suffrage.—The equal protection of the law contemplates equality in the enjoyment of similar rights
and privileges granted by law. It would have been discriminatory and a denial of the equal protection
of the law if the statute prohibited an individual or group of voters in the city from voting for
provincial officials while granting it to another individual or group of voters in the same city. Neither
can it be considered an infringement upon the petitioners’ rights of suffrage since the Constitution
confers no right to a voter in a city to vote for the provincial officials of the province where the city is
located. Their right is limited to the right to vote for elective city officials in local elections which the
questioned statutes neither withdraw nor restrict.

Same; Same; Same; Prohibition of voters in a city from voting for elective provincial officials;
Prohibition not violative of the sanctity of the ballot as no burdens on the right of suffrage are
imposed upon the voters of the city.—The petitioners further claim that to prohibit the voters in a city
from voting for elective provincial officials would impose a substantial requirement on the exercise of
suffrage and would violate the sanctity of the ballot, contrary to the provisions of Art. VI, Section 1 of
the Constitution. The prohibition contemplated in the Constitution, however, has reference to such
requirements, as the Virginia poll tax, invalidated in Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections, or the New
York requirement that to be eligible to vote in a school district, one must be a parent of a child
enrolled in a local public school, nullified in Kramer vs. Union Free School Dist., 395 U.S. 621, which
impose burdens on the right of suffrage without achieving permissible state objectives. In this
particular case, no such burdens are imposed upon the voters of the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.
They are free to exercise their rights without any other requirement, save that of being registered
voters in the cities where they reside and the sanctity of their ballot is maintained.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Prohibition does not subvert the principle of republicanism, as the
provincial government of Cebu has no governmental supervision over highly urbanized cities.—It is
also

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

contended that the prohibition would subvert the principle of republicanism as it would deprive a
citizen his right to participate in the conduct of the affairs of the government unit through the
exercise of his right of suffrage. It has been pointed out, however, that the provincial government has
no governmental supervision over highly urbanized cities. These cities are independent of the
province in the administration of their affairs. Such being the case, it is but just and proper to limit the
selection and election of the provincial officials to the voters of the province whose interests are
vitally affected and exclude therefrom the voters of highly urbanized cities.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Charter of City of Mandaue not unconstitutional; Constitutional
requirement in Sec. 3, Art X that the creation of a city should be subject to approval by majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite in the governmental unit or units affected exists only with the 1973
Constitution and does not affect the existence of Mandaue City; Constitutional requirement
prospective in character.—Petitioners assail the charter of the City of Mandaue as unconstitutional
for not having been ratified by the residents of the city in a plebiscite. This contention is untenable.
The Constitutional requirement that the creation, division, merger, abolition, or alteration of the
boundary of a province, city, municipality, or barrio should be subject to the approval by the majority
of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the governmental unit or units affected is a new requirement that
came into being only with the 1973 Constitution. It is prospective in character and therefore cannot
affect the creation of the City of Mandaue which came into existence on June 21, 1969.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Gerrymandering, nature of; Applicable to cases where representative
districts are opportioned.—“Gerrymandering” is a “term employed to describe an opportionment of
representative districts so contrived as to give an unfair advantage to the party in power.” The
questioned statutes Batas Blg. 51 and Section 96 of the Charter of Mandaue City in this particular case
do not apportion representative districts. The said representative districts remain the same. Nor has it
been shown that there is an unfair advantage in favor of the candidates of the party in power. As the
Solicitor General pointed out, it may even be that the majority of the city voters are supporters of the
administration candidates, so that the enactment of the questioned statutes will work to their
disadvantage.

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767

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

CONCEPCION JR., J.:

Petition for prohibition and mandamus with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction.

On December 22, 1979, the Interim Batasang Pambansa enacted Batas Blg. 51 providing for local
elections on January 30, 1980. Section 3 of the statute provides:

“SEC. 3. Cities.—There shall be in each city such elective local officials as provided in their respective
charters, including the city mayor, the city vice-mayor, and the elective members of the sangguniang
panglungsod, all of whom shall be elected by the qualified voters in the city. In addition thereto, there
shall be appointive sangguniang panglungsod members consisting of the president of the city
association of barangay councils, the president of the city federation of the kabataang barangay, and
one representative each from the agricultural and industrial labor sectors who shall be appointed by
the President (Prime Minister) whenever, as determined by the sangguniang panglungsod, said
sectors are of sufficient number in the city to warrant representation.

Until cities are reclassified into highly urbanized and component cities in accordance with the
standards established in the Local Government Code as provided for in Article XI, Section 4(1) of the
Constitution, any city now existing with an annual regular income derived from infrastructure and
general funds of not less than forty million pesos (P40,000,000.00) at the time of the approval of this
Act shall be classified as a highly urbanized city. All other cities shall be considered components of the
provinces where they are gaographically located.

The City of Baguio, because of its special functions as the summer capital of the Philippines, shall be
classified as a highly urbanized city irrespective of its income.

The registered voters of a component city may be entitled to vote in the election of the officials of the
province of which that city is a component, if its charter so provides. However, voters registered in a
highly urbanized city, as hereinabove defined, shall not participate nor vote in the election of the
officials of the province in which the highly urbanized city is geographically located.”

To implement this Act, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC, for short) adopted Resolution No.
1421, which reads as follows:

768

768

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

“WHEREAS, Batas Pambansa Blg. 51 in calling for the election of the provincial governor, provincial
vice-governor and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in each province classified the
chartered cities of the Philippines into “highly urbanized” and “component” cities based on the
annual regular income of each city, and provided that “the registered voter of a component city may
be entitled to vote in the election of the officials of the province of which that city is a component, if
its charter provides”, but that “voters registered in a highly urbanized city, shall not participate nor
vote in the election of the officials of the province in which the highly urbanized city is geographically
located”;

“WHEREAS, inasmuch as the charters of the different cities vary with respect to the right of their
registered voters to vote for the provincial officials of the provinces where they are located, there is
need to study the various charters of the cities and determine what cities shall, and shall not vote for
provincial officials pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 51;

“WHEREAS, the voters in the cities should be accordingly informed if they are going to vote for
provincial officials or not, for their proper guidance;

“NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission on Elections, by virtue of the powers conferred upon it by the
Constitution, the 1978 Election Code and Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 (51) RESOLVED, as it hereby
RESOLVES, that the qualified voters in each city shall or shall not be entitled to vote for the provincial
officials of the province where they are geographically located, to wit:

A.

Cities not entitled to participate in the election of provincial officials

1.

Baguio

11.

Mandaue

2.

Bais

12.

Manila

3.

Canlaon
13.

Naga

4.

Caloocan

14.

Ormoc

5.

Cebu

15.

Oroquieta

6.

Cotabato

16.

Ozamis

7.

Dagupan

17.
Pasay

8.

Davao

18.

Quezon

9.

General Santos

19.

San Carlos (Pangasinan)

10.

Iloilo

29.

Zamboanga”

Because the City of Cebu has an income of P51,603,147.64 it is classified as a highly urbanized city and
the voters thereof

769

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769

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

cannot take part in the election of the elective provincial officials of the province of Cebu, although
the Charter of Cebu City1 allows the qualified voters of the city to vote in the election of the
provincial officials of the Province of Cebu.

The City of Mandaue, not having an annual regular income of not less than P40 million, is classified as
a component city. But the registered voters of the city cannot vote for the provincial elective officials
because its Charter2 expressly provides that the registered voters of the city cannot participate in the
election of the provincial officials of the Province of Cebu, except to be a candidate therefor.

The petitioners filed the instant suit as taxpayers and registered voters in the Cities of Cebu and
Mandaue. They are members of a civic and non-partisan group known as D-O-E-R-S (an accronym for
“DEMOCRACY OR EXTINCTION: RESOLVED TO SUCCEED), which counts lawyers among its members,
and extends free legal assistance to citizens regardless of economic and social status in meritorious
cases involving violation of civil liberties and basic human rights. They vigorously assail Section 3 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 51, which uses the annual income of a given city as the basis for classification of
whether or not a particular city is a highly urbanized city whose voters may not participate in the
election of provincial officials of the province where the city is geographically located; and Republic
Act No. 5519, otherwise known as the Charter of Mandaue City, which went into effect without the
benefit of ratification by the residents of Mandaue in a plebiscite or referendum. They pray that upon
filing of the instant petition, a restraining order be issued “temporarily prohibiting the holding of
election for Provincial Governor and other elective provincial officials in the province where the 18
cities listed by the respondent COMELEC are located, particularly Cebu City and Mandaue City, and
temporarily prohibiting the National Treasurer to release public funds and the COA to pass in audit
said funds in connection with and for the purpose of holding local elections in said provinces; and
after

_____________

1 Commonwealth Act No. 58, as revised by Rep. Act No. 3857.

2 Rep. Act No. 5519, Sec. 96.

770

770
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

hearing, to make the injunction permanent declaring unconstitutional and therefore void Section 3 of
Batas Blg. 885 as well as Section 96, Art. XVIII of the Charter of Mandaue, otherwise known as RA
5519,” and should the stopping of the provincial elections in the provinces concerned be not possible,
the respondent COMELEC be directed “to allow the qualified registered voters in the cities listed by
said respondent, particularly Cebu City and Mandaue City, to participate in the election of, and vote
for, the Provincial Governor and other elective provincial officials and preparing the corresponding
official ballots for this purpose which shall provide spaces therein for Provincial Governor and other
elective provincial officials of the provinces concerned, particularly the Province of Cebu.”

The petitioners contend that “Section 3 of Batas Blg. 8853 insofar as it classifies cities including Cebu
City as highly urbanized as the only basis for not allowing its electorate to vote for the provincial
officials is inherently and palpably unconstitutional in that such classification is not based on
substantial distinctions germane to the purpose of the law which in effect provides for and regulates
the exercise of the right of suffrage, and therefore such unreasonable classification amounts to a
denial of equal protection.”

We find no merit in the petition. The thrust of the 1973 Constitution is towards the fullest autonomy
of local government units. In the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, it is stated that “The
State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units, especially the barrio, to
ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities.”4 To this end, the Constitution directs
the National Assembly to “enact a local government code which may not thereafter be amended
except by a majority vote of all its members, defining a more responsive and accountable local
government structure with an effective system of recall, allocating among the different local
governments their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and providing for the qualifications,
election and

_____________

3 Should be Batas Blg. 51.

4 Art 11, Sec. 10, 1973 Constitution.

771

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Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

removal, term, salaries, powers, functions, and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating
to the organization and operation of the local units.”5 and empowered local government units “to
create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, subject to limitations as may be provided by
law.”6 Art. XI, Section 4(1) of the said Constitution places highly urbanized cities outside the
supervisory power of the province where they are geographically located. This is as it should be
because of the complex and varied problems in a highly urbanized city due to a bigger population and
greater economic activity which require greater autonomy.

Corollary to independence however, is the concomitant loss of the right to participate in provincial
affairs, more particularly the selection of elective provincial officials since these provincial officials
have ceased to exercise any governmental jurisdiction and authority over said city. Thus, in the case
of Teves vs. Commission on Election7 this Court, in holding that the registered voters of the City of
Dumaguetfe cannot vote for the provincial officials of Negros Oriental because the charter of the city
does not expressly allow the voters in the city to do so, ruled:

“The creation of Dumaguete City has made it a political entity separate from and independent of the
province of Negros Oriental. The purpose of an election is to enable the electorate to choose the men
that will run their government, whether national, provincial, municipal or city. If so, no useful end will
be served by allowing—in the absence of express legislative preference—the voters of a city to
participate in the election of the officials of the province which has ceased to have any governmental
jurisdiction and authority over said city.

To confirm our view that the City of Dumaguete has been segregated from the province of Oriental
Negros for purposes of provincial elections, we should point to the penultimate section of the charter
providing that “until otherwise provided by law, the City of Dumaguete shall continue as part of the
first representative district of the Province of Oriental Negros.” This is an express exception to

_____________

5 Art. II, Sec. 2, Id.

6 Art. XI, Sec. 5.

7 90 Phil. 370.
772

772

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

the general effect of separation—an exception that serves to reiterate or even establish the rule. In
other words, the Congress meant that the inhabitants of the city may not vote for provincial officials,
but may vote for their representative in Congress.”

The classification of cities into highly urbanized cities and component cities on the basis of their
regular annual income is based upon substantial distinction. The revenue of a city would show
whether or not it is capable of existence and development as a relatively independent social,
economic, and political unit. It would also show whether the city has sufficient economic or industrial
activity as to warrant its independence from the province where it is geographically situated. Cities
with smaller income need the continued support of the provincial government thus justifying the
continued participation of the voters in the election of provincial officials in some instances.

The petitioners also contend that the voters in Mandaue City are denied equal protection of the law
since the voters in other component cities are allowed to vote for provincial officials. The contention
is without merit. The practice of allowing voters in one component city to vote for provincial officials
and denying the same privilege to voters in another component city is a matter of legislative
discretion which violates neither the Constitution nor the voter’s right of suffrage. In the case of Teves
vs. Commission on Election8 the Court said:

“Petitioners’ contention is that, as the Charter of Dumaguete City is silent as to the right of its
qualified voters to participate in the election of provincial officials of Negros Oriental, and as said
voters are residents of the province, they are clearly entitled to vote for said provincial officials.

The charters of other recently formed cities are articulate on the matter. Thus, in the cases of Bacolod,
Cabanatuan, Legaspi, Naga, and Ormoc, their charters expressly prohibit the residents therein from
voting for provincial officials of the province to which said cities formerly belonged. Upon the other
hand, the charters of Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Cavite, Iloilo, Calbayog, Lipa, San Pablo, and Dagupan

_____________

8 Supra.
773

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Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

contain provisions extending to their residents the privilege to take part in the election of the
provincial officials of the provinces in which said cities were previously included.

The question that presents itself has reference to the effect of the omission in the charter of
Dumaguete City of an express provision on the right of its residents to vote for provincial officials of
Negros Oriental, in the light of the legislative practice that, when desired, the right is either
recognized or withdrawn expressly. We are inclined to overrule petitioners’ position.”

The equal protection of the law contemplates equality in the enjoyment of similar rights and
privileges granted by law. It would have been discriminatory and a denial of the equal protection of
the law if the statute prohibited an individual or group of voters in the city from voting for provincial
officials while granting it to another individual or group of voters in the same city.

Neither can it be considered an infringement upon the petitioners’ rights of suffrage since the
Constitution confers no right to a voter in a city to vote for the provincial officials of the province
where the city is located. Their right is limited to the right to vote for elective city officials in local
elections which the questioned statutes neither withdraw nor restrict.

The petitioners further claim that to prohibit the voters in a city from voting for elective provincial
officials would impose a substantial requirement on the exercise of suffrage and would violate the
sanctity of the ballot, contrary to the provisions of Art. VI, Section 1 of the Constitution. The
prohibition contemplated in the Constitution, however, has reference to such requirements, as the
Virginia poll tax, invalidated in Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections,9 of the New York requirement
that to be eligible to vote in a school district, one must be a parent of a child enrolled in a local public
school, nullified in Kramer vs. Union Free School District, 395 U.S. 621, which impose burdens on the
right of suffrage without achieving permissible estate objectives. In this particular case, no such
burdens are imposed upon the voters of the cities of Cebu and

_____________

9 383 U.S. 663.


774

774

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

Mandaue. They are free to exercise their rights without any other requirement, save that of being
registered voters in the cities where they reside and the sanctity of their ballot is maintained.

It is also contended that the prohibition would subvert the principle of republicanism as it would
deprive a citizen his right to participate in the conduct of the affairs of the government unit through
the exercise of his right of suffrage. It has been pointed out, however, that the provincial government
has no governmental supervision over highly urbanized cities. These cities are independent of the
province in the administration of their affairs. Such being the case, it is but just and proper to limit the
selection and election of the provincial officials to the voters of the province whose interests are
vitally affected and exclude therefrom the voters of highly urbanized cities.

Petitioners assail the charter of the City of Mandaue as unconstitutional for not having been ratified
by the residents of the city in a plebiscite. This contention is untenable. The Constitutional
requirement that the creation, division, merger, abolition, or alteration of the boundary of a province,
city, municipality, or barrio should be subject to the approval by the majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite in the governmental unit or units affected10 is a new requirement that came into being
only with the 1973 Constitution. It is prospective11 in character and therefore cannot affect the
creation of the City of Mandaue which came into existence on June 21, 1969.

Finally, the petitioners claim that political and gerrymandering motives were behind the passage of
Batas Blg. 51 and Section 96 of the Charter of Mandaue City. They contend that the Province of Cebu
is politically and historically known as an opposition bailiwick and of the total 952,716 registered
voters in the province, 234,582 are from Cebu City and 44,358 come from Mandaue City, so that
278,940 electors, or close to one-third (1/3) of the entire province of Cebu would

_____________

10 Art. XI, Sec. 3 of the 1973 Constitution.

11 Magtoto vs. Manguera, L-37201-02, March 3, 1975 and other cases, 63 SCRA 4.
775

VOL. 95, JANUARY 28, 1980

775

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

be barred from voting for the provincial officials of the province of Cebu. Such charge has no factual
and legal basis. “Gerrymandering” is a “term employed to describe an apportionment of
representative districts so contrived as to give an unfair advantage to the party in power.”12 The
questioned statutes in this particular case do not apportion representative districts. The said
representative districts remain the same. Nor has it been shown that there is an unfair advantage in
favor of the candidates of the party in power. As the Solicitor General pointed out, it may even be
that the majority of the city voters are supporters of the administration candidates, so that the
enactment of the questioned statutes will work to their disadvantage.

WHEREFORE, the petition should be, as it is hereby dismissed. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Fernando (C.J.), Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino, Fernandez, Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro
and MelencioHerrera, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, J., takes no part.

Petition dismissed.

Notes.—Appeals in election cases shall proceed as in a criminal case in order to compel appellants to
make such assignments and thereby lighten the burden of the court in reviewing the entire record
and mass of evidence. (Tagoranao vs. Court of Appeals, 37 SCRA 490).

Section 2, paragraph 2 of Article XIII-C of the New Constitution which made the COMELEC sole judge
of contests involving elective provincial and city officials does not refer to election protests filed as a
result of the November 8, 1971 elections. (Paredes vs. Abad, 56 SCRA 522).

An election contest is deemed most and academic where one of the contestants accepts a position in
the Judiciary for in
_____________

12 18 Am. Jur. 194.

776

776

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections

such a case he has in effect abandoned his claim in the contested position. (Purisima vs. Solis, 43 SCRA
123).

The finding of the COMELEC as a constitutional independent entity, if supported by substantial


evidence, will not be disturbed on appeal or in special civil actions. (Bashier vs. COMELEC, 43 SCRA
238). Ceniza vs. Commission on Elections, 95 SCRA 763, No. L-52304 January 28, 1980

G.R. No. 118303. January 31, 1996.*

SENATOR HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, SENATOR JOSE D. LINA, JR., MR. NICASIO B. BAUTISTA, MR. JESUS P.
GONZAGA, MR. SOLOMON D. MAYLEM, LEONORA C. MEDINA, CASIANO S. ALIPON, petitioners, vs.
HON. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. RAFAEL ALUNAN, in
his capacity as Secretary of Local Government, HON. SALVADOR ENRIQUEZ, in his capacity as
Secretary of Budget, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, HON. JOSE MIRANDA, in his capacity as Municipal
Mayor of Santiago and HON. CHARITO MANUBAY, HON. VICTORINO MIRANDA, JR., HON. ARTEMIO
ALVAREZ, HON. DANILO VERGARA, HON. PETER DE JESUS, HON. NELIA NATIVIDAD, HON. CELSO
CALEON and HON. ABEL MUSNGI, in their capacity as SANGGUNIANG BAYAN MEMBERS, MR.
RODRIGO L. SANTOS, in his capacity as Municipal Treas-

____________________________
* EN BANC.

696

696

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

urer, and ATTY. ALFREDO S. DIRIGE, in his capacity as Municipal Administrator, respondents.

Constitutional Law; Local Governments; Internal Revenue Allotments form part of the income of Local
Government Units.—In this regard, we hold that petitioners’ asseverations are untenable because
Internal Revenue Allotments form part of the income of Local Government Units.

Same; Same; The IRA’s are items of income because they form part of the gross accretion of the funds
of the local government unit.—The IRAs are items of income because they form part of the gross
accretion of the funds of the local government unit. The IRAs regularly and automatically accrue to
the local treasury without need of any further action on the part of the local government unit. They
thus constitute income which the local government can invariably rely upon as the source of much
needed funds.

Same; Same; A Local Government Unit is a political subdivision of the State which is constituted by
law and possessed of substantial control over its own affairs.—A Local Government Unit is a political
subdivision of the State which is constituted by law and possessed of substantial control over its own
affairs. Remaining to be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign nation, but not intended,
however, to be an imperium in imperio, the local government unit is autonomous in the sense that it
is given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources. Power which used to be highly
centralized in Manila, is thereby deconcentrated, enabling especially the peripheral local government
units to develop not only at their own pace and discretion but also with their own resources and
assets.

Same; On the side of every law lies the presumption of constitutionality.—It is a well-entrenched
jurisprudential rule that on the side of every law lies the presumption of constitutionality.
Consequently, for RA No. 7720 to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal
breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful and equivocal one; in other words, the grounds for
nullity must be clear and beyond reasonable doubt. Those who petition this court to declare a law to
be unconstitutional must clearly and fully establish the basis that will justify such a declaration;
otherwise, their petition must fail.

697
VOL. 252, JANUARY 31, 1996

697

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Prohibition.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Belo, Gozon, Elma, Parel, Asuncion & Lucila for petitioners.

Renato P. Pine for city officials of Santiago City, Isabela.

HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:

Of main concern to the petitioners is whether Republic Act No. 7720, just recently passed by Congress
and signed by the President into law, is constitutionally infirm.

Indeed, in this Petition for Prohibition with prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Prohibitory Injunction, petitioners assail the validity of Republic Act No. 7720, entitled, “An Act
Converting the Municipality of Santiago, Isabela into an Independent Component City to be known as
the City of Santiago,” mainly because the Act allegedly did not originate exclusively in the House of
Representatives as mandated by Section 24, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

Also, petitioners claim that the Municipality of Santiago has not met the minimum average annual
income required under Section 450 of the Local Government Code of 1991 in order to be converted
into a component city. Undisputed is the following chronicle of the metamorphosis of House Bill No.
8817 into Republic Act No. 7720:

On April 18, 1993, HB No. 8817, entitled “An Act Converting the Municipality of Santiago into an
Independent Component City to be known as the City of Santiago,” was filed in the House of
Representatives with Representative Antonio Abaya as principal author. Other sponsors included
Representatives Ciriaco Alfelor, Rodolfo Albano, Santiago Respicio and Faustino Dy. The bill was
referred to the House Committee on Local Government and the House Committee on Appropriations
on May 5, 1993.
698

698

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

On May 19, 1993, June 1, 1993, November 28, 1993, and December 1, 1993, public hearings on HB No.
8817 were conducted by the House Committee on Local Government. The committee submitted to
the House a favorable report, with amendments, on December 9, 1993.

On December 13, 1993, HB No. 8817 was passed by the House of Representatives on Second Reading
and was approved on Third Reading on December 17, 1993. On January 18, 1994, HB No. 8817 was
transmitted to the Senate.

Meanwhile, a counterpart of HB No. 8817, Senate Bill No. 1243, entitled, “An Act Converting the
Municipality of Santiago into an Independent Component City to be Known as the City of Santiago,”
was filed in the Senate. It was introduced by Senator Vicente Sotto III, as principal sponsor, on May 19,
1993. This was just after the House of Representatives had conducted its first public hearing on HB No.
8817.

On February 23, 1994, or a little less than a month after HB No. 8817 was transmitted to the Senate,
the Senate Committee on Local Government conducted public hearings on SB No. 1243. On March 1,
1994, the said committee submitted Committee Report No. 378 on HB No. 8817, with the
recommendation that it be approved without amendment, taking into consideration the reality that
H.B. No. 8817 was on all fours with SB No. 1243. Senator Heherson T. Alvarez, one of the herein
petitioners, indicated his approval thereto by signing said report as member of the Committee on
Local Government.

On March 3, 1994, Committee Report No. 378 was passed by the Senate on Second Reading and was
approved on Third Reading on March 14, 1994. On March 22, 1994, the House of Representatives,
upon being apprised of the action of the Senate, approved the amendments proposed by the Senate.

The enrolled bill, submitted to the President on April 12, 1994, was signed by the Chief Executive on
May 5, 1994 as Republic Act No. 7720. When a plebiscite on the Act was held on July 13, 1994, a great
majority of the registered voters of

699
VOL. 252, JANUARY 31, 1996

699

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

Santiago voted in favor of the conversion of Santiago into a city.

The question as to the validity of Republic Act No. 7720 hinges on the following twin issues: (I)
Whether or not the Internal Revenue Allotments (IRAs) are to be included in the computation of the
average annual income of a municipality for purposes of its conversion into an independent
component city, and (II) Whether or not, considering that the Senate passed SB No. 1243, its own
version of HB No. 8817, Republic Act No. 7720 can be said to have originated in the House of
Representatives.

The annual income of a local government unit includes the IRAs

Petitioners claim that Santiago could not qualify into a component city because its average annual
income for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices falls below the required
annual income of Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00) for its conversion into a city, petitioners
having computed Santiago’s average annual income in the following manner:

Total income (at 1991 constant prices) for 1991

P20,379,057.07

Total income (at 1991 constant prices) for 1992

P21,570,106.87

Total income for 1991and 1992

P41,949,163.94

Minus:
IRAs for 1991 and 1992

P15,730,043.00

Total income for 1991 and 1992

P26,219,120.94

Average Annual Income

P13,109,560.47

700

700

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

By dividing the total income of Santiago for calendar years 1991 and 1992, after deducting the IRAs,
the average annual income arrived at would only be P13,109,560.47 based on the 1991 constant
prices. Thus, petitioners claim that Santiago’s income is far below the aforesaid Twenty Million Pesos
average annual income requirement.

The certification issued by the Bureau of Local Government Finance of the Department of Finance,
which indicates Santiago’s average annual income to be P20,974,581.97, is allegedly not accurate as
the Internal Revenue Allotments were not excluded from the computation. Petitioners asseverate
that the IRAs are not actually income but transfers and/or budgetary aid from the national
government and that they fluctuate, increase or decrease, depending on factors like population, land
and equal sharing.

In this regard, we hold that petitioners’ asseverations are untenable because Internal Revenue
Allotments form part of the income of Local Government Units.
It is true that for a municipality to be converted into a component city, it must, among others, have an
average annual income of at least Twenty Million Pesos for the last two (2) consecutive years based
on 1991 constant prices.1 Such income must be duly certified by the Department of Finance.2

Resolution of the controversy regarding compliance by the Municipality of Santiago with the
aforecited income requirement hinges on a correlative and contextual explication of the meaning of
internal revenue allotments (IRAs) vis-a-vis the notion of income of a local government unit and the
principles of local autonomy and decentralization underlying the institutionalization and intensified
empowerment of the local government system.

A Local Government Unit is a political subdivision of the State which is constituted by law and
possessed of substantial

____________________________

1 Local Government Code, Section 450.

2 Ibid.

701

VOL. 252, JANUARY 31, 1996

701

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

control over its own affairs.3 Remaining to be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign nation,
but not intended, however, to be an imperium in imperio,4 the local government unit is autonomous
in the sense that it is given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources.5 Power which
used to be highly centralized in Manila, is thereby deconcentrated, enabling especially the peripheral
local government units to develop not only at their own pace and discretion but also with their own
resources and assets.6

The practical side to development through a decentralized local government system certainly
concerns the matter of financial resources. With its broadened powers and increased responsibilities,
a local government unit must now operate on a much wider scale. More extensive operations, in turn,
entail more expenses. Understandably, the vesting of duty, responsibility and accountability in every
local government unit is accompanied with a provision for reasonably adequate resources to
discharge its powers and effectively carry out its functions.7 Availment of such resources is
effectuated through the vesting in every local government unit of (1) the right to create and broaden
its own source of revenue; (2) the right to be allocated a just share in national taxes, such share being
in the form of internal revenue allotments (IRAs); and (3) the right to be given its equitable share in
the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth, if any, within its territorial
boundaries.8

The funds generated from local taxes, IRAs and national wealth utilization proceeds accrue to the
general fund of the local government and are used to finance its operations subject to specified
modes of spending the same as provided

____________________________

3 Basco v. PAGCOR, 197 SCRA 52.

4 Ibid.

5 Local Government Code, Section 2.

6 Pimentel, Jr., Aquilino, The Local Government Code of 1991: The Key to National Development,
1993 Edition, p. 4.

7 Local Government Code, Section 3(d).

8 Ibid.

702

702

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

for in the Local Government Code and its implementing rules and regulations. For instance, not less
than twenty percent (20%) of the IRAs must be set aside for local development projects.9 As such, for
purposes of budget preparation, which budget should reflect the estimates of the income of the local
government unit, among others, the IRAs and the share in the national wealth utilization proceeds are
considered items of income. This is as it should be, since income is defined in the Local Government
Code to be all revenues and receipts collected or received forming the gross accretions of funds of the
local government unit.10

The IRAs are items of income because they form part of the gross accretion of the funds of the local
government unit. The IRAs regularly and automatically accrue to the local treasury without need of
any further action on the part of the local government unit.11 They thus constitute income which the
local government can invariably rely upon as the source of much needed funds.

For purposes of converting the Municipality of Santiago into a city, the Department of Finance
certified, among others, that the municipality had an average annual income of at least Twenty
Million Pesos for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices. This, the
Department of Finance did after including the IRAs in its computation of said average annual income.

Furthermore, Section 450 (c) of the Local Government Code provides that “the average annual
income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers,
and non-recurring income.” To reiterate, IRAs are a regular, recurring item of income; nil is there a
basis, too, to classify the same as a special fund or transfer,

____________________________

9 Local Government Code, Section 17(g); Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government
Code of 1991, Rule XXXII, Article 385.

10 Local Government Code, Section 306(i).

11 Local Government Code, Section 7

703

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703

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.


since IRAs have a technical definition and meaning all its own as used in the Local Government Code
that unequivocally makes it distinct from special funds or transfers referred to when the Code speaks
of “funding support from the national government, its instrumentalities and government-owned- or
controlled corporations.”12

Thus, Department of Finance Order No. 35-9313 correctly encapsulizes the full import of the above
disquisition when it defined ANNUAL INCOME to be “revenues and receipts realized by provinces,
cities and municipalities from regular sources of the Local General Fund including the internal revenue
allotment and other shares provided for in Sections 284, 290 and 291 of the Code, but exclusive of
non-recurring receipts, such as other national aids, grants, financial assistance, loan proceeds, sales of
fixed assets, and similar others” (Italics ours).14 Such order, constituting executive or
contemporaneous construction of a statute by an administrative agency charged with the task of
interpreting and applying the same, is entitled to full respect and should be accorded great weight by
the courts, unless such construction is clearly shown to be in sharp conflict with the Constitution, the
governing statute, or other laws.15

____________________________

12 Local Government Code, Section 17(g).

13 Dated June 16, 1993 on the subject of “Updating the Income Classification of Provinces, Cities and
Municipalities Pursuant to the Provisions of Section 8 of the Local Government Code of 1991.” (This
DOF order was issued to implement Executive Order No. 249 dated July 25, 1987 entitled, “Providing
for a New Income Classification of Provinces, Cities and Municipalities and for Other Purposes.”)

14 Id, Section 3.

15 Nestlé Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 203 SCRA 504.

704

704

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

II

In the enactment of RA No. 7720,


there was compliance with Section 24,

Article VI of the 1987 Constitution

Although a bill of local application like HB No. 8817 should, by constitutional prescription,16 originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives, the claim of petitioners that Republic Act No. 7720 did
not originate exclusively in the House of Representatives because a bill of the same import, SB No.
1243, was passed in the Senate, is untenable because it cannot be denied that HB No. 8817 was filed
in the House of Representatives first before SB No. 1243 was filed in the Senate. Petitioners
themselves cannot disvow their own admission that HB No. 8817 was filed on April 18, 1993 while SB
No. 1243 was filed on May 19, 1993. The filing of HB No. 8817 was thus precursive not only of the said
Act in question but also of SB No. 1243. Thus, HB No. 8817, was the bill that initiated the legislative
process that culminated in the enactment of Republic Act No. 7720. No violation of Section 24, Article
VI, of the 1987 Constitution is perceptible under the circumstances attending the instant controversy.

Furthermore, petitioners themselves acknowledge that HB No. 8817 was already approved on Third
Reading and duly transmitted to the Senate when the Senate Committee on Local Government
conducted its public hearing on HB No. 8817. HB No. 8817 was approved on the Third Reading on
December 17, 1993 and transmitted to the Senate on January 28, 1994; a little less than a month
thereafter, or on February 23, 1994, the Senate Committee on Local Government conducted public
hearings on SB No. 1243. Clearly, the Senate held in abeyance any action on SB No. 1243 until it
received HB No. 8817, already approved on the Third Reading, from the House of Representatives.
The filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the

____________________________

16 1987 Constitution, Article VI, Section 24.

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Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.

House, does not contravene the constitutional requirement that a bill of local application should
originate in the House of Representatives, for as long as the Senate does not act there-upon until it
receives the House bill.
We have already addressed this issue in the case of Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance.17 There, on
the matter of the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law, which, as a revenue bill, is nonetheless
constitutionally required to originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, we explained:

“x x x To begin with, it is not the law—but the revenue bill—which is required by the Constitution to
‘originate exclusively’ in the House of Representatives. It is important to emphasize this, because a bill
originating in the House may undergo such extensive changes in the Senate that the result may be a
rewriting of the whole. x x x as a result of the Senate action, a distinct bill may be produced. To insist
that a revenue statute—and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process culminating in the
enactment of the law—must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the
Senate’s power not only to ‘concur with amendments’ but also to ‘propose amendments.’ It would be
to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of Congress and in fact make the
House superior to the Senate.

xxx xxx xxx

It is insisted, however, that S. No. 1630 was passed not in substitution of H. No. 11197 but of another
Senate bill (S. No. 1129) earlier filed and that what the Senate did was merely to ‘take [H. No. 11197]
into consideration’ in enacting S. No. 1630. There is really no difference between the Senate
preserving H. No. 11197 up to the enacting clause and then writing its own version following the
enacting clause (which, it would seem petitioners admit is an amendment by substitution), and, on
the other hand, separately presenting a bill of its own the same subject matter. In either case the
result are two bills on the same subject.

Indeed, what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff, or tax bills,
bills authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application

____________________________

17 235 SCRA 630.

706

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr.


must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the
districts, the members of the House can be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and
problems. On the other hand, the senators, who are elected at large, are expected to approach the
same problems from the national perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear on the
enactment of such laws.

Nor does the Constitution prohibit the filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its
receipt of the bill from the House, so long as action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending
receipt of the House bill. x x x”18

III

Every law, including RA No. 7720,

has in its favor the presumption

of constitutionality

It is a well-entrenched jurisprudential rule that on the side of every law lies the presumption of
constitutionality.19 Consequently, for RA No. 7720 to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a
clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful and equivocal one; in other
words, the grounds for nullity must be clear and beyond reasonable doubt.20 Those who petition this
court to declare a law to be unconstitutional must clearly and fully establish the basis that will justify
such a declaration; otherwise, their petition must fail. Taking into consideration the justification of
our stand on the immediately preceding ground raised by petitioners to challenge the
constitutionality of RA No. 7720, the Court stands on the holding that petitioners have failed to
overcome the presumption. The dismissal of this petition is, therefore, inevitable.

____________________________

18 Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, supra.

19 Basco v. PAGCOR, 197 SCRA 52; Abbas v. COMELEC, 179 SCRA 287; Peralta v. COMELEC, 82 SCRA
30; Salas v. Jarencio, 48 SCRA 734; Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387.

20 Peralta v. COMELEC, supra; Basco v. PAGCOR, supra.

707

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707
Balais vs. Velasco

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit with costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED. Alvarez vs. Guingona, Jr., 252 SCRA 695, G.R. No. 118303 January 31, 1996

G.R. No. 125646. September 10, 1999.*

CITY OF PASIG, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and THE MUNICIPALITY
OF CAINTA, PROVINCE OF RIZAL, respondents.

G.R. No. 128663. September 10, 1999.*

MUNICIPALITY OF CAINTA, PROVINCE OF RIZAL, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, CITY OF


PASIG, respondent.

Actions; Prejudicial Questions; Election Law; Plebiscites; Municipal Corporations; A case involving a
boundary dispute between local government units presents a prejudicial question which must first be
decided before plebiscites for the creation of the proposed barangays may be held.—We agree with
the position of the COME-LEC that Civil Case No. 94-3006 involving the boundary dispute between the
Municipality of Cainta and the City of Pasig presents a prejudicial question which must first be
decided before plebiscites for the creation of the proposed barangays may be held.

Same; Same; While it may be the general rule that a prejudicial question contemplates a civil and
criminal action and does not come into play where both cases are civil, in the interest of good order,
the Supreme Court can very well suspend action on one case pending the final outcome of another
case closely interrelated or linked to the first.—The City of Pasig argues that there is no prejudicial
question since the same contemplates a civil and criminal action and does not come into play where
both cases are civil, as in the instant case. While this may be the general rule, this Court has held in
Vidad v. RTC of Negros Oriental, Br. 42, that, in the interest of good order, we can very well suspend
action on one case pending the final outcome of another case closely interrelated or linked to the
first.

Same; Same; Election Law; Plebiscites; Municipal Corporations; Where territorial jurisdiction is an
issue raised in a pending civil case, until and unless such issue is resolved with finality, to

_______________

* EN BANC.
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City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

define the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed barangays would only be an exercise in futility.—In
the case at bar, while the City of Pasig vigorously claims that the areas covered by the proposed
Barangays Karangalan and Napico are within its territory, it can not deny that portions of the same
area are included in the boundary dispute case pending before the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo.
Surely, whether the areas in controversy shall be decided as within the territorial jurisdiction of the
Municipality of Cainta or the City of Pasig has material bearing to the creation of the proposed
Barangays Karangalan and Napico. Indeed, a requisite for the creation of a barangay is for its
territorial jurisdiction to be properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less permanent
natural boundaries. Precisely because territorial jurisdiction is an issue raised in the pending civil case,
until and unless such issue is resolved with finality, to define the territorial jurisdiction of the
proposed barangays would only be an exercise in futility.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Any uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will
sow costly conflicts in the exercise of governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the
people’s welfare.—Not only that, we would be paving the way for potentially ultra vires acts of such
barangays. Indeed, in Mariano, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, we held that—“The importance of
drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of government cannot be
overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of the territorial jurisdiction
of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of government only within the limits of
its territorial jurisdiction. Beyond these limits, its acts are ultra vires. Needless to state, any
uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly conflicts in the exercise of
governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Moot and Academic Questions; Merely because a plebiscite had
already been held in regard to a proposed barangay does not necessarily render a pending petition
for settlement of a boundary dispute involving said barangay moot and academic.—Neither do we
agree that merely because a plebiscite had already been held in the case of the proposed Barangay
Napico, the petition of the Municipality of Cainta has already been rendered moot and academic. The
issues raised by the Municipality of Cainta in its petition before the COMELEC against the holding of

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City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

the plebiscite for the creation of Barangay Napico are still pending determination before the Antipolo
Regional Trial Court.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Berlin A. Castillo for Pasig City.

Virgilio J. Yparraguirre, Claudio C. Batiles and Arcadio G. de la Cruz for the Municipality of Cainta.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Before us are two (2) petitions which both question the propriety of the suspension of plebiscite
proceedings pending the resolution of the issue of boundary disputes between the Municipality of
Cainta and the City of Pasig.

G.R. No. 125646 involves the proposed Barangay Karangalan while G.R. No. 128663 involves the
proposed Barangay Napico. The City of Pasig claims these areas as part of its jurisdiction/territory
while the Municipality of Cainta claims that these proposed barangays encroached upon areas within
its own jurisdiction/territory.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

On April 22, 1996, upon petition of the residents of Karangalan Village that they be segregated from
its mother Barangays Manggahan and Dela Paz, City of Pasig, and to be converted and separated into
a distinct barangay to be known as Barangay Karangalan, the City Council of Pasig passed and
approved Ordinance No. 21, Series of 1996, creating Barangay Karangalan in Pasig City.1 Plebiscite on
the creation of said barangay was thereafter set for June 22, 1996.
Meanwhile, on September 9, 1996, the City of Pasig similarly issued Ordinance No. 52, Series of 1996,
creating Baran-

_______________

1 Petition, G.R. No. 125646, Annex “A,” Rollo, pp. 23-25.

182

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

gay Napico in Pasig City.2 Plebiscite for this purpose was set for March 15, 1997.

Immediately upon learning of such Ordinances, the Municipality of Cainta moved to suspend or
cancel the respective plebiscites scheduled, and filed Petitions with the Commission on Elections
(hereinafter referred to as COMELEC) on June 19, 1996 (UND No. 96-016)3 and March 12, 1997 (UND
No. 97-002), respectively. In both Petitions, the Municipality of Cainta called the attention of the
COMELEC to a pending case before the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 74, for
settlement of boundary dispute.4 According to the Municipality of Cainta, the proposed barangays
involve areas included in the boundary dispute subject of said pending case; hence, the scheduled
plebiscites should be suspended or cancelled until after the said case shall have been finally decided
by the court.

In UND No. 96-016, the COMELEC accepted the position of the Municipality of Cainta and ordered the
plebiscite on the creation of Barangay Karangalan to be held in abeyance until after the court has
settled with finality the boundary dispute involving the two municipalities.5 Hence, the filing of G.R.
No. 125646 by the City of Pasig.

The COMELEC, however, ruled differently in UND No. 97-002, dismissing the Petition for being moot
in view of the holding of the plebiscite as scheduled on March 15, 1997 where the creation of
Barangay Napico was ratified and approved by the majority of the votes cast therein.6 Hence, the
filing of G.R. No. 128663 by the Municipality of Cainta.

_______________
2 Petition, G.R. No. 128663, Annex, Rollo, pp. 37-39.

3 Petition, G.R. No. 125646, Annex “B,” Rollo, pp. 26-31.

4 Petition, G.R. No. 125646, Annex “Q,” Civil Case No. 94-3006, Rollo, pp. 170-177; Petition, G.R. No.
128663, Annex “J,” Rollo, pp. 42-45.

5 See Petition, G.R. No. 125646, Annex “D,” Order, UND No. 96-016, Rollo, pp. 35-36.

6 See Petition, G.R. No. 128663, Annex “M,” Order, UND No. 97-002, Rollo, pp. 67-68.

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City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

The issue before us is whether or not the plebiscites scheduled for the creation of Barangays
Karangalan and Napico should be suspended or cancelled in view of the pending boundary dispute
between the two local governments.

To begin with, we agree with the position of the COMELEC that Civil Case No. 94-3006 involving the
boundary dispute between the Municipality of Cainta and the City of Pasig presents a prejudicial
question which must first be decided before plebiscites for the creation of the proposed barangays
may be held.

The City of Pasig argues that there is no prejudicial question since the same contemplates a civil and
criminal action and does not come into play where both cases are civil, as in the instant case. While
this may be the general rule, this Court has held in Vidad v. RTC of Negros Oriental, Br. 42,7 that, in
the interest of good order, we can very well suspend action on one case pending the final outcome of
another case closely interrelated or linked to the first.

In the case at bar, while the City of Pasig vigorously claims that the areas covered by the proposed
Barangays Karangalan and Napico are within its territory, it can not deny that portions of the same
area are included in the boundary dispute case pending before the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo.
Surely, whether the areas in controversy shall be decided as within the territorial jurisdiction of the
Municipality of Cainta or the City of Pasig has material bearing to the creation of the proposed
Barangays Karangalan and Napico. Indeed, a requisite for the creation of a barangay is for its
territorial jurisdiction to be properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less permanent
natural boundaries.8 Precisely because territorial jurisdiction is an issue raised in the pending civil
case, until and unless such issue is resolved with finality, to define the territorial jurisdiction of the
proposed barangays would only be an exercise in futility. Not only that, we would

_______________

7 See Vidad v. RTC of Negros Oriental, Br. 42, G.R. No. 98084, 227 SCRA 271, 276 (1993).

8 Sec. 386(b), R.A. No. 7160.

184

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

be paving the way for potentially ultra vires acts of such barangays. Indeed, in Mariano, Jr. v.
Commission on Elections,9 we held that—

“The importance of drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of
government cannot be overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of
the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of
government only within the limits of its territorial jurisdiction. Beyond these limits, its acts are ultra
vires. Needless to state, any uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly
conflicts in the exercise of governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare.

Moreover, considering the expenses entailed in the holding of plebiscites, it is far more prudent to
hold in abeyance the conduct of the same, pending final determination of whether or not the entire
area of the proposed barangays are truly within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Pasig.

Neither do we agree that merely because a plebiscite had already been held in the case of the
proposed Barangay Napico, the petition of the Municipality of Cainta has already been rendered moot
and academic. The issues raised by the Municipality of Cainta in its petition before the COMELEC
against the holding of the plebiscite for the creation of Barangay Napico are still pending
determination before the Antipolo Regional Trial Court.

In Tan v. Commission on Elections,10 we struck down the moot and academic argument as follows—

“Considering that the legality of the plebiscite itself is challenged for non-compliance with
constitutional requisites, the fact that such plebiscite had been held and a new province proclaimed
and its officials appointed, the case before Us cannot truly be viewed as already moot and academic.
Continuation of the existence of this newly proclaimed province which petitioners strongly profess to

_______________

9 G.R. Nos. 118577 and 118627, 242 SCRA 211, 217 (1995).

10 G.R. No. 73155, 142 SCRA 727, 741-742 (1986).

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City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

have been illegally born, deserves to be inquired into by this Tribunal so that, if indeed, illegality
attaches to its creation, the commission of that error should not provide the very excuse for
perpetration of such wrong. For this Court to yield to the respondents’ urging that, as there has been
fait accompli, then this Court should passively accept and accede to the prevailing situation is an
unacceptable suggestion. Dismissal of the instant petition, as respondents so propose is a proposition
fraught with mischief. Respondents’ submission will create a dangerous precedent. Should this Court
decline now to perform its duty of interpreting and indicating what the law is and should be, this
might tempt again those who strut about in the corridors of power to recklessly and with ulterior
motives, create, merge, divide and/or alter the boundaries of political subdivisions, either brazenly or
stealthily, confident that this Court will abstain from entertaining future challenges to their acts if
they manage to bring about a fait accompli.”

Therefore, the plebiscite on the creation of Barangay Karangalan should be held in abeyance pending
final resolution of the boundary dispute between the City of Pasig and the Municipality of Cainta by
the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City. In the same vein, the plebiscite held on March 15, 1997 to
ratify the creation of Barangay Napico, Pasig City, should be annulled and set aside.

WHEREFORE, premises considered,

1. The Petition of the City of Pasig in G.R. No. 125646 is DISMISSED for lack of merit; while

2. The Petition of the Municipality of Cainta in G.R. No. 128663 is GRANTED. The COMELEC Order in
UND No. 97-002, dated March 21, 1997, is SET ASIDE and the plebiscite held on March 15, 1997 to
ratify the creation of Barangay Napico in the City of Pasig is declared null and void. Plebiscite on the
same is ordered held in abeyance until after the courts settle with finality the boundary dispute
between the City of Pasig and the Municipality of Cainta, in Civil Case No. 94-3006.

No pronouncement as to costs.

186

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections

SO ORDERED. City of Pasig vs. Commission on Elections, 314 SCRA 179, G.R. No. 125646, G.R. No.
128663 September 10, 1999

No. L-19870. March 18, 1967.

MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JOAQUIN, petitioner-appellant, vs. NICANOR SIVA, BASILIO SAPITANAN, ET AL.,
respondents-appellees.

Constitutional law; Municipal corporations; Creation of municipalities; Delegation of power to


President is unconstitutional.—Executive Order No. 436 of the President of the Philippines, creating
the municipality of Lawigan out of twenty-one (21) barrios theretofore forming part of the
municipality of San Joaquin, is void ab initio, on the ground that Section 68 of the Revised
Administrative Code, on which said Executive Order is based, constitutes an undue delegation of
legislative powers to the President of the Philippines. Hence, it is unconstitutional.
Prohibition; Writ lies against those appointed to act as officers of an illegally created
town.—Prohibition lies against persons appointed by the President of the Philippines as mayor,
vice-mayor and councilors of a municipality which was created under a void Executive Order.

APPEAL from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioner-appellant.

Solicitor General for respondent-appellee.

N.G. Rico and B. Tiña for respondents-appellees.

CONCEPCION, C.J.:

Petitioner, Municipality of San Joaquin, seeks the reversal of a decision of the Court of First Instance
of Iloilo dismissing the former’s petition for prohibition, contesting the legality of Executive Order No.
436 of the President of the Philippines, dated July 10, 1961, creating the municipality of Lawigan out
of twenty-one (21) barrios theretofore forming part of said municipality of San Joaquin.
Respondents-appellees are the persons appointed by the President as mayor, vice-mayor and
councilors of Lawigan, who are sought to be restrained from performing their functions as such, upon
the ground that Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, on which said Executive Order is
based, constitutes an undue delegation of legislative powers, and, hence, unconstitutional. The lower
court, however, held otherwise. Hence, this appeal.

600

600

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Abellera vs. City of Baguio, et al.

The issue herein has been squarely taken up and settled in Pelaez vs. Auditor General, G.R, No.
L-23825, promulgated on December 24, 1965, which upheld the theory of appellant herein, and
rejected the view taken in the appealed decision.
Wherefore, said decision is hereby reversed, and another one shall be entered declaring the
aforementioned Executive Order No. 436 null and void ab initio, and directing herein
respondents-appellees to refrain from acting as officers of the municipality of Lawigan, with costs
against them. It is so ordered. Municipality of San Joaquin vs. Siva, et al., 19 SCRA 599, No. L-19870
March 18, 1967

G.R. No. 114783. December 8, 1994.*

ROBERT V. TOBIAS, RAMON M. GUZMAN, TERRY T. LIM, GREGORIO D. GABRIEL, and ROBERTO R.
TOBIAS, JR., petitioners, vs. HON. CITY MAYOR BENJAMIN S. ABALOS, CITY TREASURER WILLIAM
MARCELINO, and THE SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD, all of the City of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila,
respondents.

Municipal Corporations; Highly Urbanized Cities; Congressional Districts; The statutory conversion of
Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city indubitably complies with the “one city-one representative”
proviso in the Constitution.—Anent the first issue, we agree with the observation of the Solicitor
General that the statutory conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city with a population
of not less than two hundred fifty thousand indubitably ordains compliance with the “one city-one
representative” proviso in the Constitution: “x x x Each city with a population of at least two hundred
fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative” (Article VI, Section 5(3),
Constitution). Hence, it is in compliance with the aforestated constitutional mandate that the creation
of a separate congressional district for the City of Mandaluyong is decreed under Article VIII, Section
49 of R.A. No. 7675.

Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Statutes; Titles of Bills; The creation of a separate congressional
district for Mandaluyong is not a subject separate and distinct from the subject of its conversion into
a highly urbanized city but is a natural and logical consequence of such conversion.—Contrary to
petitioners’ assertion, the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong is not a
subject separate and distinct from the subject of its conversion into a highly urbanized city but is a
natural and logical consequence of its conversion into a highly urbanized city. Verily, the title of R.A.
No. 7675, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Mandaluyong Into a Highly Urbanized City of
Manda-luyong” necessarily includes and contemplates the subject treated under Section 49 regarding
the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule has been
invariably adopted by the Supreme Court so as not to cripple or impede legislation.—Moreover, a
liberal

______________

* EN BANC.
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Tobias vs. Abalos

construction of the “one title-one subject” rule has been invariably adopted by this court so as not to
cripple or impede legislation. Thus, in Sumulong v. Comelec (73 Phil. 288 [1941]), we ruled that the
constitutional requirement as now expressed in Article VI, Section 26(1) “should be given a practical
rather than a technical construction. It should be sufficient compliance with such requirement if the
title expresses the general subject and all the provisions are germane to that general subject.”

Same; Same; Same; Same; It is not required that all laws emanating from the legislature must contain
all relevant data considered by Congress in the enactment of said laws.—Proceeding now to the other
constitutional issues raised by petitioners to the effect that there is no mention in the assailed law of
any census to show that Mandaluyong and San Juan had each attained the minimum requirement of
250,000 inhabitants to justify their separation into two legislative districts, the same does not suffice
to strike down the validity of R.A. No. 7675. The said Act enjoys the presumption of having passed
through the regular congressional processes, including due consideration by the members of
Congress of the minimum requirements for the establishment of separate legislative districts. At any
rate, it is not required that all laws emanating from the legislature must contain all relevant data
considered by Congress in the enactment of said laws.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Congressional Districts; The present composition of Congress may be
increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative enactment.—As to the contention that
the assailed law violates the present limit on the number of representatives as set forth in the
Constitution, a reading of the applicable provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as aforequoted, shows
that the present limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that the
House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members, “unless otherwise
provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is that the present composition of
Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative enactment. Therefore,
the increase in congressional representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not unconstitutional.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right which pertains to
itself.—As to the contention that Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 in effect preempts the right of Congress
to reapportion legislative districts, the said argument borders on the absurd since petitioners
overlook the glaring fact that it was Congress itself which drafted, deliberated upon and enacted the
assailed law,

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Tobias vs. Abalos

including Section 49 thereof. Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right which pertains to
itself.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Plebiscite; The inhabitants of San Juan, which used to be part of the
congressional district together with Mandaluyong, were properly excluded from the plebiscite on the
conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city since the matter of separate district
representation was only ancillary thereto.—Petitioners contend that the people of San Juan should
have been made to participate in the plebiscite on R.A. No. 7675 as the same involved a change in
their legislative district. The contention is bereft of merit since the principal subject involved in the
plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city. The matter of separate
district repre-sentation was only ancillary thereto. Thus, the inhabitants of San Juan were properly
excluded from the said plebiscite as they had nothing to do with the change of status of neighboring
Mandaluyong.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; “Gerry-mandering,” Defined.—Similarly,
petitioners’ additional argument that the subject law has resulted in “gerrymandering,” which is the
practice of creating legislative districts to favor a particular candidate or party, is not worthy of
credence. As correctly observed by the Solicitor General, it should be noted that Rep. Ronaldo Zamora,
the author of the assailed law, is the incumbent representative of the former San Juan/ Mandaluyong
district, having consistently won in both localities. By dividing San Juan/Mandaluyong, Rep. Zamora’s
constituency has in fact been diminished, which development could hardly be considered as favorable
to him.

PETITION to render Republic Act No. 7675 unconstitutional.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Estrella, Bautista & Associates for petitioners.


BIDIN, J.:

Invoking their rights as taxpayers and as residents of Manda-luyong, herein petitioners assail the
constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7675, otherwise known as “An Act Converting the Municipality of
Mandaluyong into a Highly Urbanized City to be Known as the City of Mandaluyong.”

Prior to the enactment of the assailed statute, the municipalities of Mandaluyong and San Juan
belonged to only one legislative

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district. Hon. Ronaldo Zamora, the incumbent congressional representative of this legislative district,
sponsored the bill which eventually became R.A. No. 7675. President Ramos signed R.A. No. 7675 into
law on February 9, 1994.

Pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, a plebiscite was held on April 10, 1994. The people
of Mandaluyong were asked whether they approved of the conversion of the Municipality of
Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city as provided under R.A. No. 7675. The turnout at the
plebiscite was only 14.41% of the voting population. Nevertheless, 18,621 voted “yes” whereas 7,911
voted “no.” By virtue of these results, R.A. No. 7675 was deemed ratified and in effect.

Petitioners now come before this Court, contending that R.A. No. 7675, specifically Article VIII, Section
49 thereof, is unconstitutional for being violative of three specific provisions of the Constitution.

Article VIII, Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 provides:

“As a highly-urbanized city, the City of Mandaluyong shall have its own legislative district with the first
representative to be elected in the next national elections after the passage of this Act. The
remainder of the former legislative district of San Juan/Mandaluyong shall become the new legislative
district of San Juan with its first representative to be elected at the same election.”
Petitioners’ first objection to the aforequoted provision of R.A. No. 7675 is that it contravenes the
“one subject-one bill” rule, as enunciated in Article VI, Section 26 (1) of the Constitution, to wit:

“Section 26 (1). Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be
expressed in the title thereof.”

Petitioners allege that the inclusion of the assailed Section 49 in the subject law resulted in the latter
embracing two principal subjects, namely: (1) the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized
city; and (2) the division of the congressional district of San Juan/Mandaluyong into two separate
districts.

Petitioners contend that the second aforestated subject is not germane to the subject matter of R.A.
No. 7675 since the said law treats of the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city, as
expressed in the title of the law. Therefore, since Section

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49 treats of a subject distinct from that stated in the title of the law, the “one subject-one bill” rule
has not been complied with.

Petitioners’ second and third objections involve Article VI, Sections 5 (1) and (4) of the Constitution,
which provide, to wit:

“Section 5 (1). The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and
fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts
apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the
number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those
who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party list system of registered national, regional
and sectoral parties or organizations.”

“Section 5(4). Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a
reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standard provided in this section.”
Petitioners argue that the division of San Juan and Mandaluyong into separate congressional districts
under Section 49 of the assailed law has resulted in an increase in the composition of the House of
Representatives beyond that provided in Article VI, Sec. 5 (1) of the Constitution. Furthermore,
petitioners contend that said division was not made pursuant to any census showing that the subject
municipalities have attained the minimum population requirements. And finally, petitioners assert
that Section 49 has the effect of preempting the right of Congress to reapportion legislative districts
pursuant to Sec. 5 (4) as aforecited.

The contentions are devoid of merit.

Anent the first issue, we agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that the statutory
conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city with a population of not less than two
hundred fifty thousand indubitably ordains compliance with the “one city-one representative” proviso
in the Constitution:

“x x x Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have
at least one representative” (Article VI, Section 5(3), Constitution).

Hence, it is in compliance with the aforestated constitutional mandate that the creation of a separate
congressional district for the City of Mandaluyong is decreed under Article VIII, Section

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49 of R.A. No. 7675.

Contrary to petitioners’ assertion, the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong is
not a subject separate and distinct from the subject of its conversion into a highly urbanized city but is
a natural and logical consequence of its conversion into a highly urbanized city. Verily, the title of R.A.
No. 7675, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Mandaluyong Into a Highly Urbanized City of
Mandaluyong” necessarily includes and contemplates the subject treated under Section 49 regarding
the creation of a separate congressional district for Mandaluyong.
Moreover, a liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule has been invariably adopted by
this court so as not to cripple or impede legislation. Thus, in Sumulong v. Comelec (73 Phil. 288
[1941]), we ruled that the constitutional requirement as now expressed in Article VI, Section 26(1)
“should be given a practical rather than a technical construction. It should be sufficient compliance
with such requirement if the title expresses the general subject and all the provisions are germane to
that general subject.”

The liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule had been further elucidated in Lidasan v.
Comelec (21 SCRA 496 [1967]), to wit:

“Of course, the Constitution does not require Congress to employ in the title of an enactment,
language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the minute
details therein. It suffices if the title should serve the purpose of the constitutional demand that it
inform the legislators, the persons interested in the subject of the bill and the public, of the nature,
scope and consequences of the proposed law and its operation” (emphasis supplied).

Proceeding now to the other constitutional issues raised by petitioners to the effect that there is no
mention in the assailed law of any census to show that Mandaluyong and San Juan had each attained
the minimum requirement of 250,000 inhabitants to justify their separation into two legislative
districts, the same does not suffice to strike down the validity of R.A. No. 7675. The said Act enjoys
the presumption of having passed through the regular congressional processes, including due
consideration by the members of Congress of the minimum requirements for the

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establishment of separate legislative districts. At any rate, it is not required that all laws emanating
from the legislature must contain all relevant data considered by Congress in the enactment of said
laws.

As to the contention that the assailed law violates the present limit on the number of representatives
as set forth in the Constitution, a reading of the applicable provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as
aforequoted, shows that the present limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly
provides that the House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members,
“unless otherwise provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is that the present
composition of Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative
enactment. Therefore, the increase in congressional representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not
unconstitutional.

Thus, in the absence of proof that Mandaluyong and San Juan do not qualify to have separate
legislative districts, the assailed Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 must be allowed to stand.

As to the contention that Section 49 of R.A. No. 7675 in effect preempts the right of Congress to
reapportion legislative districts, the said argument borders on the absurd since petitioners overlook
the glaring fact that it was Congress itself which drafted, deliberated upon and enacted the assailed
law, including Section 49 thereof. Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right which pertains to
itself.

Aside from the constitutional objections to R.A. No. 7675, petitioners present further arguments
against the validity thereof.

Petitioners contend that the people of San Juan should have been made to participate in the
plebiscite on R.A. No. 7675 as the same involved a change in their legislative district. The contention is
bereft of merit since the principal subject involved in the plebiscite was the conversion of
Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city. The matter of separate district representation was only
ancillary thereto. Thus, the inhabitants of San Juan were properly excluded from the said plebiscite as
they had nothing to do with the change of status of neighboring Mandaluyong.

Similarly, petitioners’ additional argument that the subject law has resulted in “gerrymandering,”
which is the practice of creating legislative districts to favor a particular candidate or

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party, is not worthy of credence. As correctly observed by the Solicitor General, it should be noted
that Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the author of the assailed law, is the incumbent representative of the
former San Juan/Mandaluyong district, having consistently won in both localities. By dividing San
Juan/Mandaluyong, Rep. Zamora’s constituency has in fact been diminished, which development
could hardly be considered as favorable to him.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED. Tobias vs. Abalos, 239 SCRA 106, G.R. No. 114783 December 8, 1994

No. L-41322. September 29, 1988.*

MUNICIPALITY OF KAPALONG, thru its Mayor, PORFIRIO F. ROYO, Vice Mayor, TOMAS D. MANZANO,
Municipal Councilors VALERIANO CLARO, CARIDAD A. DORONIO, FELICULO ESTRADA, GEORGE EXALA,
PEDRO JAIN, LIDO E. MONOY, SALVADOR PASPE and AGUEDO ROTOL, petitioners, vs. HON. FELIX L.
MOYA, Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IX, and the MUNICIPALITY OF STO.
TOMAS, thru its Mayor, ANICETO SOLIS, Vice-Mayor LEOPOLDO RECTO, Municipal Councilors
DOMINGO CAGADAS, WENCESLAO CASTRO, WILDA ESPIRITU, PASTOR FERNANDEZ, MACROSQUE
PIMENTEL, DOMINADOR SOLIS, JOSE TAGHOY and ALFONSO VALDEZ, and Municipal Treasurer JOSE
AVENIDO, respondents.

Civil Law; Parties; Only entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.—Rule 3, Section 1 of
the Rules of Court expressly provides that only “entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil
action.” Now then, as ruled in the Pelaez case supra, the President has no power to create a
municipality. Since private respondent has no legal personality, it can not be a party to any civil action,
and as such, respondent Judge should have dismissed the case, since further proceedings would be
pointless.

PETITION for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction to review the order of the Court of
First Instance of Davao, Br. IX. Moya, J.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Martin V. Delgra, Jr. for petitioners.

Simeon N. Millan, Jr. for respondent Santo Tomas.

PARAS, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction seeking: (a) the reversal
(annulment) of the February 17, 1975 Order of the then Court of First Instance of Davao denying the
motion to dismiss Civil Case No. 475; and the March 17, 1975 and July 10, 1975 Orders of the same
Court denying petitioner’s motions for reconsideration; and (b)
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Municipality of Kapalong vs. Moya

the issuance of a writ of prohibition directing respondent Judge to desist from taking cognizance of
Civil Case No. 475.

From portions of the Municipality of Kapalong, President Carlos P. Garcia created respondent
Municipality of Santo Tomas, and the latter now asserts jurisdiction over eight (8) barrios of petitioner.
For many years and on several occasions, this conflict of boundaries between the two municipalities
was brought, at the instance of private respondent, to the Provincial Board of Davao for it to consider
and decide. However, it appears that no action was taken on the same. Private respondent then filed
a complaint with the then Court of First Instance of Davao, presided over by herein public respondent
Judge Felix L. Moya against the Municipality of Kapalong, for settlement of the municipal boundary
dispute, recovery of collected taxes and damages, docketed therein as Civil Case No. 475.

On March 7, 1974, petitioner filed its Answer (Rollo, pp. 14-17).

On November 22, 1974, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of
the lower court and lack of legal personality of the Municipality of Santo Tomas (Ibid., pp. 18-22),
which was opposed by private respondent (Ibid., pp. 23-26). On December 12, 1974, petitioner filed
its reply to the opposition (Ibid., pp. 27-30), after which respondent Judge, in an Order dated February
17, 1975, denied the motion to dismiss (Ibid., pp. 34-36).

On March 3, 1975, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration (Ibid., pp. 37-40), but in an Order
dated March 17, 1975, the same was denied by respondent Judge and so was the Second Motion for
Reconsideration (Ibid., pp. 42-43), in an Order dated July 10, 1975 (Ibid., p. 44). Hence, the instant
petition (Ibid., pp. 1-10).

The Second Division of this Court, in a Resolution dated September 10, 1975, resolved to require the
respondents to answer and to issue a temporary restraining order (Ibid., p. 49). In compliance
therewith, private respondent filed its Answer on October 28, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 53-57). In the
Resolution dated November 3, 1975, the parties were required to file their respective memoranda
(Ibid., p. 65). Petitioner filed its Memorandum on December 10, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 68-76), and private
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Municipality of Kapalong vs. Moya

respondent on January 5, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 77-85).

Petitioner raised four (4) issues, to wit:

1. WHETHER OR NOT PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS LEGAL P ERSONALITY TO SUE;

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE MATTER OF SETTLEMENT OF BOUNDARY DISPUTE IS A POLITICAL


QUESTION;

3. WHETHER OR NOT PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 242 SUPERSEDED REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6128; AND

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE ACTION HAS ALREADY PRESCRIBED.

The instant petition is impressed with merit.

The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not the Municipality of Santo Tomas legally exists.

Petitioner contends that the ruling of this Court in Pelaez v. Auditor General (15 SCRA 569) is clear
that the President has no power to create municipalities. Thus, there is no Municipality of Santo
Tomas to speak of. It has no right to assert, no cause of action, no corporate existence at all, and it
must perforce remain part and parcel of Kapalong. Based on this premise, it submits that respondent
Judge should have dismissed the case.

On the ground of jurisdiction, petitioner argues that the settlement of boundary disputes is
administrative in nature and should originate in the political or administrative agencies of the
government, and not in the courts whose power is limited to judicial review on appropriate occasions
(Ibid., pp. 73-74).

Rule 3, Section 1 of the Rules of Court expressly provides that only “entities authorized by law may be
parties in a civil action.” Now then, as ruled in the Pelaez case supra, the President has no power to
create a municipality. Since private respondent has no legal personality, it can not be a party to any
civil action, and as such, respondent Judge should have dismissed the case, since further proceedings
would be pointless.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is GRANTED; the Orders of February 17, 1975, March 17, 1975
and July 10, 1975 of respondent Judge are SET ASIDE; and Civil Case No. 475 is DISMISSED. The
restraining order previously issued by this Court is made permanent.

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Tan vs. City of Davao

SO ORDERED. Municipality of Kapalong vs. Moya, 166 SCRA 70, No. L-41322 September 29, 1988

G.R. No. 146319. October 26, 2001.

BENJAMIN E. CAWALING, JR., petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and Rep. FRANCIS
JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO, respondents.

G.R. No. 146342. October 26, 2001.*

BENJAMIN E. CAWALING, JR., petitioner, vs. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, SECRETARY
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, SOLICITOR GENERAL, PROVINCE OF
SORSOGON, MUNICIPALITY OF SORSOGON, MUNICIPALITY OF BACON, respondents:

Constitutional Law; Statute; Every statute has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality; Court
may declare a law or portions thereof, unconstitutional, where a petitioner has shown a clear and
unequivocal

_______________

* EN BANC.

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

breach of the Constitution not merely a doubtful or argumentative one.—Every statute has in its favor
the presumption of constitutionality. This presumption is rooted in the doctrine of separation of
powers which enjoins upon the three coordinate departments of the Government a becoming
courtesy for each other’s acts. The theory is that every law, being the joint act of the Legislature and
the Executive, has passed careful scrutiny to ensure that it is in accord with the fundamental law. This
Court, however, may declare a law, or portions thereof, unconstitutional, where a petitioner has
shown a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative
one. In other words, the grounds for nullity must be beyond reasonable doubt, for to doubt is to
sustain, .

Administrative Law; Courts; The judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or
expediency of legislation; In the exercise of judi-cial power, Courts are allowed only to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable and may not annul an
act of the political departments simply because they feel it is unwise or impractical.—Petitioner
further submits that, in any case, there is no “compelling” reason for merging the Municipalities of
Bacon and Sorsogon in order to create the City of Sorsogon considering that the Municipality of
Sorsogon alone already qualifies to be upgraded to a component city. This argument goes into the
wisdom of R.A. No. 8806, a matter which we are not competent to rule. In Angara v. Electoral
Commission, this Court, through Justice Jose P. Laurel, made it clear that “the judiciary does not pass
upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.” In the exercise of judicial power, we
are allowed only “to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable,” and “may not annul an act of the political departments simply because we feel it is
unwise or impractical.”

PETITION to declare R.A. 8806 unconstitutional.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Eduardo Victor J. Valdez for respondent Rep. Francis Joseph G. Escudero.

Jose P. Balbuena for COMELEC.


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Cawaling, Jr. vs, Commission on Elections

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

Before us are two (2) separate petitions challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8806
which created the City of Sorsogon and the validity of the plebiscite conducted pursuant thereto.

On August 16, 2000, former President Joseph E. Estrada signed into law R.A. No. 8806, an “Act
Creating The City Of Sorsogon By Merging The Municipalities Of Bacon And Sorsogon In The Province
Of Sorsogon, And Appropriating Funds Therefor."1

Pursuant to Section 10, Article X of the Constitution,2 the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), on
December 16, 2000, conducted a plebiscite in the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon and
submitted the matter for ratification.

On December 17, 2000, the Plebiscite City Board of Canvassers (PCBC) proclaimed3 the creation of
the City of Sorsogon as having been ratified and approved by the majority of the votes cast in the
plebiscite.4

Invoking his right as a resident and taxpayer of the former Municipality of Sorsorgon, Benjamin E.
Cawaling, Jr. filed on January 2, 2001 the present petition for certiorari (G.R. No. 146319) seeking the
annulment of the plebiscite on the following grounds:

A. The December 16, 2000 plebiscite was conducted beyond the required 120-day period from the
approval of R.A. 8806, in violation of Section 54 thereof; and

_______________

1 Annex “A” of Petition in G.R. No. 146342, Rollo, pp. 35–83.

2 Section 10, Article X of the Constitution provides: “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 approval by a majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.”

3 Annex “E” (Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation), ibid., p. 109.

4 Annex “D” (Statement of Votes) of Petition, ibid., p. 108.

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

B. Respondent COMELEC failed to observe the legal requirement of twenty (20) day extensive
information campaign in the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon before conducting the plebiscite.

Two days after filing the said action, or on January 4, 2001, petitioner instituted another petition (G.R.
No. 146342), this time for prohibition, seeking to enjoin the further implementation of R.A. No. 8806
for being unconstitutional, contending, in essence, that:

1. The creation of Sorsogon City by merging two municipalities violates Section 450(a) of the Local
Government Code of 1991 (in relation to Section 10, Article X of the Constitution) which requires that
only “a municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city”; and

2. R.A. No. 8806 contains two (2) subjects, namely, the (a) creation of the City of Sorsogon and the (b)
abolition of the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon, thereby violating the “one subject-one bill”
rule prescribed by Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution.

Hence, the present petitions which were later consolidated.5

Significantly, during the pendency of these cases, specifically during the May 14, 2001 elections, the
newly-created Sorsogon City had the first election of its officials. Since then, the City Government of
Sorsogon has been regularly discharging its corporate and political powers pursuant to its charter, R.A.
No. 8806.

We shall first delve on petitioner’s constitutional challenge against R.A. No. 8806 in G.R. No. 146342.
Every statute has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality.6 This presumption is rooted in the
doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins upon the three coordinate departments of the
Government a becoming courtesy for each other’s acts.7 The theory is that every law, being the joint
act of the Legislature and the

_______________

5 Resolution dated September 25, 2001.

6 Abbas y. Commission on Elections, 179 SCRA 287 (1989), citing Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387
(1925); Salas v. Jarencio, 46 SCRA 734 (1972); Morfe v. Mutuc, 22 SCRA 424 (1968); Peralta v.
COMELEC, 82 SCRA 30 (1978).

7 Garcia v. Executive Secretary, 204 SCRA 516 (1991).

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

Executive, has passed careful scrutiny to ensure that it is in accord with the fundamental law. This
Court, however, may declare a law, or portions thereof, unconstitutional, where a petitioner has
shown a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative
one.9 In other words, the grounds for nullity must be beyond reasonable doubt,10 for to doubt is to
sustain. 11

Petitioner initially rejects R.A. No. 8806 because it violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution
which provides, inter alia:

“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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political
units directly affected.” (Emphasis ours)
The criteria for the creation of a city is prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code of
1991 (the Code), thus:

“Section 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 (P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991
constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:

(i) a contiguous territory of at least one hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by the 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.

_______________

8 Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, 227 SCRA 703 (1993).

9 Lacson v. Executive Secretary, 301 SCRA 298 (1999).

10 Alvarez v. Guingona, Jr., 252 SCRA 695 (1996).

11 Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, supra, p. 706.

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

(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
specific funds, transfers, and nonrecurring income.” (Emphasis ours)

Petitioner is not concerned whether the creation of Sorsogon City through R.A. No. 8806 complied
with the criteria set by the Code as to income, population and land area. What he is assailing is its
mode of creation. He contends that under Section 450(a) of the Code, a component city may be
created only by converting “a municipality or a cluster of barangays,” not by merging two
municipalities, as what R.A. No. 8806 has done.

This contention is devoid of merit.

Petitioner’s constricted reading of Section 450(a) of the Code is erroneous. The phrase “A municipality
or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city” is not a criterion but simply one of
the modes by which a city may be created. Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, quoted earlier
and which petitioner cited in support of his posture, allows the merger of local government units to
create a province, city, municipality or barangay in accordance with the criteria established by the
Code. Thus, Section 8 of the Code distinctly provides:

“Section 8. Division and Merger.—Division and merger of existing local government units shall comply
with the same requirements herein prescribed for their creation: Provided, however, That such
division shall not reduce the income, population, or land area of the local government unit or units
concerned to less than the minimum requirements prescribed in this Code: Provided, further, That
the income classification of the original local government unit or units shall not fall below its current
income classification prior to such division, x x x.” (Emphasis ours)

Verily, the creation of an entirely new local government unit through a division or a merger of existing
local government units is

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

recognized under the Constitution, provided that such merger or division shall comply with the
requirements prescribed by the Code.

Petitioner further submits that, in any case, there is no “compelling” reason for merging the
Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon in order to create the City of Sorsogon considering that the
Municipality of Sorsogon alone already qualifies to be upgraded to a component city. This argument
goes into the wisdom of R.A. No. 8806, a matter which we are not competent to rule. In Angara v.
Electoral Commission,12 this Court, through Justice Jose P. Laurel, made it clear that “the judiciary
does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.” In the exercise of
judicial power, we are allowed only “to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable,”13 “may not annul an act of the political departments simply we feel it
is unwise or impractical.”14

Next, petitioner assails R.A. No. 8806 since it contravenes the “one subject-one bill” rule enunciated
in Section 26 (1), Article VI of the Constitution, to wit:

“Section 26 (1). Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be
expressed in the title thereof” (Emphasis ours)

Petitioner contends that R.A. No. 8806 actually embraces two principal subjects which are: (1) the
creation of the City of Sorsogon, and (2) the abolition of the Municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon.
While the title of the Act sufficiently informs the public about the creation of Sorsogon City, petitioner
claims that no such information has been provided on the abolition of the Municipalities of Bacon and
Sorsogon.

The argument is far from persuasive. Contrary to petitioner’s assertion, there is only one subject
embraced in the title of the law, that is, the creation of the City of Sorsogon. The abolition/cessation
of the corporate existence of the Municipalities of Bacon and Sor-

_________________

12 63 Phil. 139 (1936), cited in Garcia v. Executive Secretary, supra.

13 Section 1, Article VII of the Constitution.

14 Garcia v. Executive Secretary, supra, p. 523.

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

sogon due to their merger is not a subject separate and distinct from the creation of Sorsogon City.
Such abolition/cessation was but the logical, natural and inevitable consequence of the merger.
Otherwise put, it is the necessary means by which the City of Sorsogon was created. Hence, the title
of the law, “An Act Creating the City of Sorsogon by Merging the Municipalities of Bacon and
Sorsogon in the Province of Sorsogon, and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” cannot be said to exclude
the incidental effect of abolishing the two municipalities, nor can it be considered to have deprived
the public of fair information on this consequence.

It is well-settled that the “one title-one subject” rule does not require the Congress to employ in the
title of the enactment language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents
and the minute details therein.15 The rule is sufficiently complied with if the title is comprehensive
enough as to include the general object which the statute seeks to effect,16 and where, as here, the
persons interested are informed of the nature, scope and consequences of the proposed law and its
operation.17 Moreover, this Court has invariably adopted a liberal rather than technical construction
of the rule “so as not to cripple or impede legislation.”18

Consequently, we hold that petitioner has failed to present clear and convincing proof to defeat the
presumption of constitutionality of R.A. No. 8806.

We now turn to G.R. No. 146319 wherein petitioner assails the validity of the plebiscite conducted by
the COMELEC for the ratification of the creation of Sorsogon City.

Petitioner asserts that the plebiscite required by R.A. No. 8806 should be conducted within 120 days
from the “approval” of said Act per express provision of its Section 54, viz.:

________________

15 Tatad v. The Secretary of the Department of Energy, 281 SCRA 330 (1997).

16 Lim v. Pacquing, 240 SCRA 649 (1995).

17 Lidasan v. COMELEC, 21 SCRA 496 (1967).

18 Tobias v. Abalos, 239 SCRA 106 (1994) and Sumulong v. COMELEC, 73 Phil. 288 (1941).

461
VOL. 368, OCTOBER 26, 2001

461

Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

“Sec. 54. Plebiscite.—The City of Sorsogon shall acquire corporate existence upon the ratification of
its creation by a majority of the votes cast by the qualified voters in a plebiscite to be conducted in
the present municipalities of Bacon and Sorsogon within one hundred twenty (120) days from the
approval of this Act. x x x.” (Emphasis ours)

The Act was approved on August 16, 2000 by former President Joseph E. Estrada. Thus, petitioner
claims, the December 16, 2000 plebiscite was conducted one (1) day late from the expiration of the
120-day period after the approval of the Act. This 120-day period having expired without a plebiscite
being conducted, the Act itself expired and could no longer be ratified and approved in the plebiscite
held on December 16, 2000.

In its comment, the COMELEC asserts that it scheduled the plebiscite on December 16, 2000 based on
the date of the effectivity of the Act. Section 65 of the Act states:

“Sec. 65. Effectivity.—This Act shall take effect upon its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of
general and local circulation.”

The law was first published in the August 25, 2000 issue of TODAY, a newspaper of general circulation.
Then on September 01, 2000, it was published in a newspaper of local circulation in the Province of
Sorsogon. Thus, the publication of the law was completed on September 1, 2000, which date,
according to the COMELEC, should be the reckoning point in determining the 120-day period within
which to conduct the plebiscite, not from the date of its approval (August 16, 2000) when the law had
not yet been published. The COMELEC argues that since publication is indispensable for the effectivity
of a law, citing the landmark case of Tañada vs. Tuvera,19 it could only schedule the plebiscite after
the Act took effect. Thus, the COMELEC concludes, the December 16, 2000 plebiscite was well within
the 120-day period from the effectivity of the law on September 1, 2000.

The COMELEC is correct.

_____________

19 146 SCRA 446 (1986).


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In addition, Section 10 of the Code provides:

“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. Such
plebiscite shall be conducted by the Commission on Elections within one hundred twenty (120) days
from the date of the effectivity of the law or ordinance affecting such action, unless said law or
ordinance fixes another date.” (Emphasis ours)

Quite plainly, the last sentence of Section 10 mandates that the plebiscite shall be conducted within
120 days from the date of the effectivity of the law, not from its approval. While the same provision
allows a law or ordinance to fix “another date” for conducting a plebiscite, still such date must be
reckoned from the date of the effectivity of the law.

Consequently, the word “approval” in Section 54 of R.A. No. 8806, which should be read together
with Section 65 (effectivity of the Act) thereof, could only mean “effectivity” as used and
contemplated in Section 10 of the Code. This construction is in accord with the fundamental rule that
all provisions of the laws relating to the same subject should be read together and reconciled to avoid
inconsistency or repugnancy to established jurisprudence. As we stated in Tañada:

“Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the
Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after such
publication.

After a careful study of this provision and of the arguments of the parties, both on the original
petition and on the instant motion, we have come to the conclusion, and so hold, that the clause
‘unless it is otherwise provided’ refers to the date of effectivity and not to the requirement of
publication itself, which cannot in any event be omitted. This clause does not mean that the
legislature may make the law effective immediately upon approval, or on any other date, without its
previous publication.” (Emphasis supplied)
To give Section 54 a literal and strict interpretation would in effect make the Act effective even before
its publication, which scenario is precisely abhorred in Tañada.

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Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

Lastly, petitioner alleges that the COMELEC failed to conduct an extensive information campaign on
the proposed Sorsogon cityhood 20 days prior to the scheduled plebiscite as required by Article 11
(b.4.ii), Rule II of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Code. However, no proof whatsoever
was presented by petitioner to substantiate his allegation. Consequently, we sustain the
presumption20 that the COMELEC regularly performed or complied with its duty under the law in
conducting the plebiscite.

WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED. Cawaling, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections, 368 SCRA 453, G.R. No. 146319, G.R. No.
146342 October 26, 2001

G.R. No. 118577. March 7, 1995.*

JUANITO MARIANO, JR., et al., petitioners, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE MUNICIPALITY
OF MAKATI, HON. JEJOMAR BINAY, THE MUNICIPAL TREASURER, AND SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF
MAKATI, respondents.

G.R. No. 118627. March 7, 1995.*

JOHN R. OSMEÑA, petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE MUNICIPALITY OF MAKATI,
HON. JEJOMAR BINAY, MUNICIPAL TREASURER, AND SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF MAKATI,
respondents.

Constitutional Law; Local Government Code; The importance of drawing with precise strokes the
territorial boundaries of a local unit of government cannot be overemphasized.—The importance of
drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of government cannot be
overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of the territorial jurisdiction
of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of government only within the limits of
its territorial jurisdiction. Beyond these limits, its acts are ultra vires. Needless to state, any
uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly conflicts in the exercise of
governmen-

_______________

* EN BANC.

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tal powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare. This is the evil sought to be avoided
by the Local Government Code in requiring that the land area of a local government unit must be
spelled out in metes and bounds, with technical descriptions.

Same; Same; Petitioners have not demonstrated that the delineation of the land area of the proposed
City of Makati will cause confusion as to its boundaries.—Given the facts of the cases at bench, we
cannot perceive how this evil can be brought about by the description made in Section 2 of R.A. No.
7854. Petitioners have not demonstrated that the delineation of the land area of the proposed City of
Makati will cause confusion as to its boundaries. We note that said delineation did not change even
by an inch the land area previously covered by Makati as a municipality. Section 2 did not add,
subtract, divide, or multiply the established land area of Makati. In language that cannot be any
clearer, Section 2 stated that the city’s land area “shall comprise the present territory of the
municipality.”

Same; Same; Court takes judicial notice of the fact that Congress has also refrained from using the
metes and bounds description of land areas of other local government units with unsettled boundary
disputes.—The deliberations of Congress will reveal that there is a legitimate reason why the land
area of the proposed City of Makati was not defined by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions.
At the time of the consideration of R.A. No. 7854, the territorial dispute between the municipalities of
Makati and Taguig over Fort Bonifacio was under court litigation. Out of a becoming sense of respect
to a co-equal department of government, the legislators felt that the dispute should be left to the
courts to decide. They did not want to foreclose the dispute by making a legislative finding of fact
which could decide the issue. This would have ensued if they defined the land area of the proposed
city by its exact metes and bounds, with technical descriptions. We take judicial notice of the fact that
Congress has also refrained from using the metes and bounds description of land areas of other local
government units with unsettled boundary disputes.

Same; Same; Considering the peculiar circumstances, Court is not prepared to hold that Section 2 of
R.A. No. 7854 is unconstitutional.—We hold that the existence of a boundary dispute does not per se
present an insurmountable difficulty which will prevent Congress from defining with reasonable
certitude the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. In the cases at bench, Congress
maintained the existing boundaries of the proposed City of Makati but as an act of fairness, made
them subject to the ultimate resolution by the courts.

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Considering these peculiar circumstances, we are not prepared to hold that Section 2 of R.A. No. 7854
is unconstitutional.

Same; Statutes; Requirements before a litigant can challenge the constitutionality of a law are
well-delineated.—We cannot entertain this challenge to the constitutionality of Section 51. The
requirements before a litigant can challenge the constitutionality of a law are well-delineated. They
are: (1) there must be an actual case or controversy; (2) the question of constitutionality must be
raised by the proper party; (3) the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible
opportunity; and (4) the decision on the constitutional question must be necessary to the
determination of the case itself.

Same; Same; Reapportionment of legislative districts may be made through a special law, such as in
the charter of a new city.—These issues have been laid to rest in the recent case of Tobias v. Abalos.
In said case, we ruled that reapportionment of legislative districts may be made through a special law,
such as in the charter of a new city. The Constitution clearly provides that Congress shall be composed
of not more than two hundred fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law. As thus worded,
the Constitution did not preclude Congress from increasing its membership by passing a law, other
than a general reapportionment law. This is exactly what was done by Congress in enacting R.A. No.
7854 and providing for an increase in Makati’s legislative district. Moreover, to hold that
reapportionment can only be made through a general apportionment law, with a review of all the
legislative districts allotted to each local government unit nationwide, would create an inequitable
situation where a new city or province created by Congress will be denied legislative representation
for an indeterminate period of time. That intolerable situation will deprive the people of a new city or
province a particle of their sovereignty. Sovereignty cannot admit of any kind of subtraction. It is
indivisible. It must be forever whole or it is not sovereignty.

Same; Same; Court reiterated the policy favoring a liberal construction of the “one title—one subject”
rule so as not to impede legislation.—Finally, we do not find merit in petitioners’ contention that the
creation of an additional legislative district in Makati should have been expressly stated in the title of
the bill. In the same case of Tobias v. Abalos, op cit, we reiterated the policy of the Court favoring a
liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule so as not to impede legislation. To be sure, the
Constitution does not command that the title of a law should exactly mirror, fully index, or completely
catalogue all its details. Hence, we ruled that “it should be sufficient compliance

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if the title expresses the general subject and all the provisions are germane to such general subject.”

DAVIDE, JR., J., Concurring Opinion:

Constitutional Law; Statutes; Omission of RA No. 7854 to describe the territorial boundaries of the
city by metes and bounds does not make RA No. 7854 unconstitutional or illegal.—The omission of
R.A. No. 7854 (An Act Converting the Municipality of Makati Into a Highly Urbanized City to be Known
as the City of Makati) to describe the territorial boundaries of the city by metes and bounds does not
make R.A. No. 7854 unconstitutional or illegal. The Constitution does not provide for a description by
metes and bounds as a condition sine qua non for the creation of a local government unit or its
conversion from one level to another. The criteria provided for in Section 7 of R.A. No. 7854 are not
absolute, for, as a matter of fact, the section starts with the clause “as a general rule.” The petitioners’
reliance on Section 450 of R.A. No. 7160 is unavailing. Said section only applies to the conversion of a
municipality or a cluster of barangays into a COMPONENT CITY, not a highly urbanized city.

Same; Same; Increase in the number of legislative seats for the City of Makati provided for in RA No.
7854 is not an increase justified by the clause unless otherwise fixed by law in paragraph 1, Section 5,
Article VI of the Constitution.—Strictly speaking, the increase in the number of legislative seats for the
City of Makati provided for in R.A. No. 7854 is not an increase justified by the clause unless otherwise
fixed by law in paragraph 1, Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution. That clause contemplates of the
reapportionment mentioned in the succeeding paragraph (4) of the said Section which reads in full as
follows: “Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a
reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section.” In short, the
clause refers to a general reapportionment law.

PETITIONS to declare certain provisions of R.A. 7854 unconstitutional.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Acosta & Corvera Law Offices for petitioners in G.R. No. 118577.

Villamor, Legarda & Associates for petitioner in G.R. No. 118627.

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Balane, Tamase, Alampay Law Office for respondents.

PUNO, J.:

At bench are two (2) petitions assailing certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7854 as unconstitutional.
R.A. No. 7854 is entitled, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Makati Into a Highly Urbanized City
to be known as the City of Makati.”1

G.R. No. 118577 involves a petition for prohibition and declaratory relief. It was filed by petitioners
Juanito Mariano, Jr., Ligaya S. Bautista, Teresita Tibay, Camilo Santos, Frankie Cruz, Ricardo Pascual,
Teresita Abang, Valentina Pitalvero, Rufino Caldoza, Florante Alba, and Perfecto Alba. Of the
petitioners, only Mariano, Jr., is a resident of Makati. The others are residents of Ibayo Ususan, Taguig,
Metro Manila. Suing as taxpayers, they assail as unconstitutional Sections 2, 51 and 52 of R.A. No.
7854 on the following grounds:
“1. Section 2 of R.A. No. 7854 did not properly identify the land area or territorial jurisdiction of
Makati by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions, in violation of Section 10, Article X of the
Constitution, in relation to Sections 7 and 450 of the Local Government Code:

2. Section 51 of R.A. No. 7854 attempts to alter or restart the ‘three-consecutive term’ limit for local
elective officials, in violation of Section 8, Article X and Section 7, Article VI of the Constitution.

3. Section 52 of R.A. No. 7854 is unconstitutional for:

(a) it increased the legislative district of Makati only by special law (the Charter in violation of the
constitutional provision requiring a general reapportionment law to be passed by Congress within
three (3) years following the return of every census;

(b) the increase in legislative district was not expressed in the title of the bill; and

(c) the addition of another legislative district in Makati is not in accord with Section 5 (3), Article VI of
the Constitution for as of the latest survey (1990 census), the population of Makati

_______________

1 R.A. No. 7854 is a consolidation of House Bill No. 12240 sponsored by Congressman Joker Arroyo
and Senate Bill No. 1244 sponsored by Senator Vicente Sotto III.

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stands at only 450,000.”

G.R. No. 118627 was filed by petitioner John H. Osmeña as senator, taxpayer, and concerned citizen.
Petitioner assails Section 52 of R.A. No. 7854 as unconstitutional on the same grounds as aforestated.

We find no merit in the petitions.

Section 2, Article I of R.A. No. 7854 delineated the land area of the proposed city of Makati, thus:
“SEC. 2. The City of Makati.—The Municipality of Makati shall be converted into a highly urbanized
city to be known as the City of Makati, hereinafter referred to as the City, which shall comprise the
present territory of the Municipality of Makati in Metropolitan Manila Area over which it has
jurisdiction bounded on the northeast by Pasig River and beyond by the City of Mandaluyong and the
Municipality of Pasig; on the southeast by the municipalities of Pateros and Taguig; on the southwest
by the City of Pasay and the Municipality of Taguig; and, on the northwest, by the City of Manila.

The foregoing provision shall be without prejudice to the resolution by the appropriate agency or
forum of existing boundary disputes or cases involving questions of territorial jurisdiction between
the City of Makati and the adjoining local government units.” (Italics supplied)

In G.R. No. 118577, petitioners claim that this delineation violates Sections 7 and 450 of the Local
Government Code which require that the area of a local government unit should be made by metes
and bounds, with technical descriptions.2

_______________

2 “SECTION 7. Creation and Conversion.—As a general rule, the creation of a local government unit or
its conversion from one level to another level shall be based on verifiable indicators of viability and
projected capacity to provide services, to wit:

xxx

‘(c) Land Area.—It must be contiguous, unless it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by
a local government unit independent of the others; properly identified by metes and bounds with
technical descriptions and sufficient to provide

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

The importance of drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of
government cannot be overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of
the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of
government only within the limits of its territorial jurisdiction. Beyond these limits, its acts are ultra
vires. Needless to state, any uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly
conflicts in the exercise of governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare.
This is the evil sought to be avoided by the Local Government Code in requiring that the land area of a
local government unit must be spelled out in metes and bounds, with technical descriptions.

Given the facts of the cases at bench, we cannot perceive how this evil can be brought about by the
description made in Section 2 of R.A. No. 7854. Petitioners have not demonstrated that the
delineation of the land area of the proposed City of Makati will cause confusion as to its boundaries.
We note that said delineation did not change even by an inch the land area previously covered by
Makati as a municipality. Section 2 did not add, subtract, divide, or multiply the established land area
of Makati. In language that cannot be any clearer, Section 2 stated that the city’s land area “shall
comprise the present territory of the municipality.”

The deliberations of Congress will reveal that there is a legitimate reason why the land area of the
proposed City of Makati was not defined by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions. At the
time of the consideration of R.A. No. 7854,

______________

for such basic services and facilities to meet the requirements of its populace.

Compliance with the foregoing indicators shall be attested to by the Department of Finance (DOF),
the National Statistics Office (NSO), and the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).’

xxx

SECTION 450. Requisites for Creation.—x x x (b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall
be properly identified by metes and bounds. x x x”

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the territorial dispute between the municipalities of Makati and Taguig over Fort Bonifacio was under
court litigation. Out of a becoming sense of respect to a co-equal department of government, the
legislators felt that the dispute should be left to the courts to decide. They did not want to foreclose
the dispute by making a legislative finding of fact which could decide the issue. This would have
ensued if they defined the land area of the proposed city by its exact metes and bounds, with
technical descriptions.3 We take judicial notice of the fact that Congress has also refrained from using
the metes and bounds description of land areas of other local government units with unsettled
boundary disputes.4

We hold that the existence of a boundary dispute does not per se present an insurmountable
difficulty which will prevent Congress from defining with reasonable certitude the territorial
jurisdiction of a local government unit. In the cases at bench, Congress maintained the existing
boundaries of the proposed City of Makati but as an act of fairness, made them subject to the
ultimate resolution by the courts. Considering these peculiar circumstances, we are not prepared to
hold that Section 2 of R.A. No. 7854 is unconstitutional. We sustain the submission of the Solicitor
General in this regard, viz:

“Going now to Sections 7 and 450 of the Local Government Code, it is beyond cavil that the
requirement stated therein, viz: ‘the territorial jurisdiction of newly created or converted cities should
be described by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions’—was made in order to provide a
means by which the area of said cities may be reasonably ascertained. In other words, the
requirement on metes and bounds was meant merely as tool in the establishment of local
government units. It is not an end in itself. Ergo, so long as the territorial jurisdiction of a city may be
reasonably ascertained, i.e., by referring to common boundaries with neighboring municipalities, as in
this case, then, it may be concluded that the legislative intent behind the law has been sufficiently
served.

Certainly, Congress did not intend that laws creating new cities must contain therein detailed
technical descriptions similar to those

_______________

3 August 18, 1994, Senate Deliberations on H.B. No. 12240, pp. 23-28.

4 Ibid, citing as example the City of Mandaluyong.

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appearing in Torrens titles, as petitioners seem to imply. To require such description in the law as a
condition sine qua non for its validity would be to defeat the very purpose which the Local
Government Code seeks to serve. The manifest intent of the Code is to empower local government
units and to give them their rightful due. It seeks to make local governments more responsive to the
needs of their constituents while at the same time serving as a vital cog in national development. To
invalidate R.A. No. 7854 on the mere ground that no cadastral type of description was used in the law
would serve the letter but defeat the spirit of the Code. It then becomes a case of the master serving
the slave, instead of the other way around. This could not be the intendment of the law.

Too well settled is the rule that laws must be enforced when ascertained, although it may not be
consistent with the strict letter of the statute. Courts will not follow the letter of the statute when to
do so would depart from the true intent of the legislature or would otherwise yield conclusions
inconsistent with the general purpose of the act (Torres v. Limjap, 56 Phil. 141; Tañada v. Cuenco, 103
Phil. 1051; Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, 33 SCRA 1105). Legislation is an active instrument of government which,
for purposes of interpretation, means that laws have ends to achieve, and statutes should be so
construed as not to defeat but to carry out such ends and purposes (Bocobo v. Estanislao, 72 SCRA
520). The same rule must indubitably apply to the case at bar.”

II

Petitioners in G.R. No. 118577 also assail the constitutionality of Section 51, Article X of R.A. No. 7854.
Section 51 states:

“SEC. 51. Officials of the City of Makati.—The present elective officials of the Municipality of Makati
shall continue as the officials of the City of Makati and shall exercise their powers and functions until
such time that a new election is held and the duly elected officials shall have already qualified and
assume their offices: Provided, The new city will acquire a new corporate existence. The appointive
officials and employees of the City shall likewise continue exercising their functions and duties and
they shall be automatically absorbed by the city government of the City of Makati.”

They contend that this section collides with Section 8, Article X and Section 7, Article VI of the
Constitution which provide:

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

“SEC. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be
determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three
consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered
as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 7. The Members of the House of Representatives shall be elected for a term of three years which
shall begin, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their
election.

No Member of the House of Representatives shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.
Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption
in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.”

Petitioners stress that under these provisions, elective local officials, including Members of the House
of Representatives, have a term of three (3) years and are prohibited from serving for more than
three (3) consecutive terms. They argue that by providing that the new city shall acquire a new
corporate existence, Section 51 of R.A. No. 7854 restarts the term of the present municipal elective
officials of Makati and disregards the terms previously served by them. In particular, petitioners point
that Section 51 favors the incumbent Makati mayor, respondent Jejomar Binay, who has already
served for two (2) consecutive terms. They further argue that should Mayor Binay decide to run and
eventually win as city mayor in the coming elections, he can still run for the same position in 1998 and
seek another three-year consecutive term since his previous three-year consecutive term as municipal
mayor would not be counted. Thus, petitioners conclude that said Section 51 has been conveniently
crafted to suit the political ambitions of respondent Mayor Binay.

We cannot entertain this challenge to the constitutionality of Section 51. The requirements before a
litigant can challenge the constitutionality of a law are well-delineated. They are: (1) there must be an
actual case or controversy; (2) the question of constitutionality must be raised by the proper party; (3)
the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the decision on
the constitutional question must be

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

necessary to the determination of the case itself.5

Petitioners have far from complied with these requirements. The petition is premised on the
occurrence of many contingent events, i.e., that Mayor Binay will run again in this coming mayoralty
elections; that he would be re-elected in said elections; and that he would seek re-election for the
same post in the 1998 elections. Considering that these contingencies may or may not happen,
petitioners merely pose a hypothetical issue which has yet to ripen to an actual case or controversy.
Petitioners who are residents of Taguig (except Mariano) are not also the proper parties to raise this
abstract issue. Worse, they hoist this futuristic issue in a petition for declaratory relief over which this
Court has no jurisdiction.

III

Finally, petitioners in the two (2) cases at bench assail the constitutionality of Section 52, Article X of
R.A. No. 7854. Section 52 of the Charter provides:

“SEC. 52. Legislative Districts.—Upon its conversion into a highly-urbanized city, Makati shall
thereafter have at least two (2) legislative districts that shall initially correspond to the two (2)
existing districts created under Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 7166 as implemented by the
Commission on Elections to commence at the next national elections to be held after the effectivity of
this Act. Henceforth, barangays Magallanes, Dasmariñas, and Forbes shall be with the first district, in
lieu of Barangay Guadalupe-Viejo which shall form part of the second district.” (italics supplied)

They contend that the addition of another legislative district in Makati is unconstitutional for: (1)
reapportionment6 cannot be made by a special law; (2) the addition of a legislative district is

______________

5 Dumlao v. COMELEC, 95 SCRA 392 (1980); Cruz, Constitutional Law, 1991 ed., p. 24.

6 Section 5(4), Article VI of the Constitution provides:

“(4) Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a
reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section.”

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not expressed in the title of the bill;7 and (3) Makati’s population, as per the 1990 census, stands at
only four hundred fifty thousand (450,000).

These issues have been laid to rest in the recent case of Tobias v. Abalos.8 In said case, we ruled that
reapportionment of legislative districts may be made through a special law, such as in the charter of a
new city. The Constitution9 clearly provides that Congress shall be composed of not more than two
hundred fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law. As thus worded, the Constitution did not
preclude Congress from increasing its membership by passing a law, other than a general
reapportionment law. This is exactly what was done by Congress in enacting R.A. No. 7854 and
providing for an increase in Makati’s legislative district. Moreover, to hold that reapportionment can
only be made through a general apportionment law, with a review of all the legislative districts
allotted to each local government unit nationwide, would create an inequitable situation where a new
city or province created by Congress will be denied legislative representation for an indeterminate
period of time.10 That intolerable situation will deprive the people of a new city or province a particle
of their sovereignty.11 Sovereignty cannot admit of any kind of subtraction. It is indivisible. It must be
forever whole or it is not sovereignty.

Petitioners cannot insist that the addition of another legislative district in Makati is not in accord with
Section 5(3), Article VI12 of the Constitution for as of the latest survey (1990 census),

_______________

7 Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution provides:

“Sec. 26 (1) Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed
in the title thereof.”

8 G.R. No. 114783, December 8, 1994.

9 Section 5(1), Article VI.

10 In this connection, we take judicial notice of the fact that since 1986 up to this time, Congress has
yet to pass a general reapportionment law.
11 Section 1, Article II provides that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty
resides in the people and all government authority emanate from them.”

12 “SEC. 5. x x x

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

the population of Makati stands at only four hundred fifty thousand (450,000).13 Said section
provides, inter alia, that a city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall
have at least one representative. Even granting that the population of Makati as of the 1990 census
stood at four hundred fifty thousand (450,000), its legislative district may still be increased since it has
met the minimum population requirement of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000). In fact, Section 3
of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides that a city whose population has increased to
more than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall be entitled to at least one congressional
representative.14

Finally, we do not find merit in petitioners’ contention that the creation of an additional legislative
district in Makati should have been expressly stated in the title of the bill. In the same case of Tobias v.
Abalos, op cit, we reiterated the policy of the Court favoring a liberal construction of the “one
title-one subject” rule so as not to impede legislation. To be sure, the Constitution does not

______________

(3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent
territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall
have at least one representative.”

xxx

13 As per the certificate issued by Administrator Tomas Africa of the National Census and Statistics
Office, the population of Makati as of 1994 stood at 508,174; August 4, 1994, Senate Deliberations on
House Bill No. 12240 (converting Makati into a highly urbanized city), p. 15.
14 Sec. 3 provides: “Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may
hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately
following election to at least one Member or such number of Members as it may be entitled to on the
basis of the number of its inhabitants and according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3),
Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution. The number of Members apportioned to the province out
of which such new province was created or where the city, whose population has so increased, is
geographically located shall be correspondingly adjusted by the Commission on Elections but such
adjustment shall not be made within one hundred and twenty days before the election.”

224

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

command that the title of a law should exactly mirror, fully index, or completely catalogue all its
details. Hence, we ruled that “it should be sufficient compliance if the title expresses the general
subject and all the provisions are germane to such general subject.”

WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa (C.J.), Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Vitug, Kapunan,
Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.

Davide, Jr., J., Please see concurring opinion.

CONCURRING OPINION

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

I concur in the well-written opinion of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno. I wish, however, to add a few
observations.

I.
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution provides that “[n]o 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.” These criteria are
now set forth in Section 7 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160). One of these is that
the territorial jurisdiction of the local government unit to be created or converted should be properly
identified by metes and bounds with technical descriptions.

The omission of R.A. No. 7854 (An Act Converting the Municipality of Makati Into a Highly Urbanized
City to be Known as the City of Makati) to describe the territorial boundaries of the city by metes and
bounds does not make R.A. No. 7854 unconstitutional or illegal. The Constitution does not provide for
a descrip-

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

tion by metes and bounds as a condition sine qua non for the creation of a local government unit or
its conversion from one level to another. The criteria provided for in Section 7 of R.A. No. 7854 are
not absolute, for, as a matter of fact, the section starts with the clause “as a general rule.” The
petitioners’ reliance on Section 450 of R.A. No. 7160 is unavailing. Said section only applies to the
conversion of a municipality or a cluster of barangays into a COMPONENT CITY, not a highly urbanized
city. It pertinently reads as follows:

“SEC. 450. Requisite 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 requisites:

xxx

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly created city shall be properly identified by metes and bounds.
x x x”

The Constitution classifies cities as either highly urbanized or component. Section 12 of Article X
thereof provides:
“SEC. 12. Cities that are highly urbanized, as determined by law, and component cities whose charters
prohibit their voters from voting for provincial elective officials, shall be independent of the province.
The voters of component cities within a province, whose charters contain no such prohibition, shall
not be deprived of their right to vote for elective provincial officials.”

And Section 451 of R.A. No. 7160 provides:

“SEC. 451. Cities Classified.—A city may either be component or highly urbanized: Provided, however,
That the criteria established in this Code shall not affect the classification and corporate status of
existing cities.

Independent component cities are those component cities whose charters prohibit their voters from
voting for provincial elective officials. Independent component cities shall be independent of the
province.”

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Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections

II.

Strictly speaking, the increase in the number of legislative seats for the City of Makati provided for in
R.A. No. 7854 is not an increase justified by the clause unless otherwise fixed by law in paragraph 1,
Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution. That clause contemplates of the reapportionment mentioned
in the succeeding paragraph (4) of the said Section which reads in full as follows:

“Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment
of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section.”

In short, the clause refers to a general reapportionment law.

The increase under R.A. No. 7854 is a permissible increase under Sections 1 and 3 of the Ordinance
appended to the Constitution which reads:
“SEC. 1. For purposes of the election of Members of the House of Representatives of the First
Congress of the Philippines under the Constitution proposed by the 1986 Constitutional Commission
and subsequent elections, and until otherwise provided by law, the Members thereof shall be elected
from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila Area
as follows:

METROPOLITAN MANILA AREA

xxx

MAKATI, one (1)

xxx

SEC. 3. Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may hereafter
increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following
election to at least one Member or such number of Members as it may be entitled to on the basis of
the number of its inhabitants and according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3), Section 5 of
Article VI of the Constitution. The number of Members apportioned to the province out of which such
new province was created, or where the city, whose population has so increased, is geographically
located shall be correspondingly adjusted

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Padilla vs. Arabia

by the Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be made within one hundred and
twenty days before the election.” (Emphases supplied)

Petitions dismissed. Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections, 242 SCRA 211, G.R. No. 118577, G.R. No.
118627 March 7, 1995
G.R. No. 169435. February 27, 2008.*

MUNICIPALITY OF NUEVA ERA, ILOCOS NORTE, represented by its Municipal Mayor, CAROLINE
ARZADON-GARVIDA, petitioner, vs. MUNICIPALITY OF MARCOS, ILOCOS NORTE, represented by its
Municipal Mayor, SALVADOR PILLOS, and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Municipal Corporations; Boundary Disputes; Courts; Jurisdictions; It is not only the Regional Trial
Court that has appellate jurisdiction over judgment of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a boundary
dispute—B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, which is supplemented by Rule 42 of the Rules of Civil Procedure,
gives the CA the authority to entertain appeals of such judgments and final orders rendered by the
RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.—The CA erred in declaring that only the RTC has
appellate jurisdiction over the judgment of the SP. True, appeal is a purely statutory right and it
cannot be exercised unless it is expressly granted by law. Nevertheless, the CA can pass upon the
petition for review precisely because the law allows it. Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129 or the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by R.A. No. 7902, vests in the CA the appellate jurisdiction
over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions, orders or awards of Regional Trial Courts and
quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or commissions, among others. B.P. Blg. 129 has
been further supplemented by the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which provides for the
remedy of appeal via petition for review under Rule 42 to the CA in cases decided by the RTC in the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Thus, the CA need not treat the appeal via petition for review
filed by Marcos as a petition for certiorari to be able to pass upon the same. B.P. Blg. 129, as amended,
which is supplemented by Rule 42 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, gives the CA the authority to
entertain appeals of such judgments and final orders rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its
appellate jurisdiction.

Same; Local Government Code; Creation of Local Government Units; Plebiscite; Statutory
Construction; If at the time a local government unit was created a plebiscite was not required by law,
then

_______________

* EN BANC.

72

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte
such local government unit is validly created even without conducting a plebiscite; It is the basic norm
that provisions of the fundamental law should be given prospective application only, unless legislative
intent for its retroactive application is so provided.—We agree with Nueva Era’s contention that
Marcos’ claim over parts of its territory is not tenable. However, the reason is not the lack of the
required plebiscite under the 1987 and 1973 constitutions and the Local Government Code of 1991
but other reasons as will be discussed below. At the time Marcos was created, a plebiscite was not
required by law to create a local government unit. Hence, Marcos was validly created without
conducting a plebiscite. As a matter of fact, no plebiscite was conducted in Dingras, where it was
derived. Lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward, not backward. It is the basic norm that
provisions of the fundamental law should be given prospective application only, unless legislative
intent for its retroactive application is so provided.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Expressio Unius; Under the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the
mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another thing not mentioned—if a statute enumerates
the things upon which it is to operate, everything else must necessarily and by implication be
excluded from its operation and effect.—Since only the barangays of Dingras are enumerated as
Marcos’ source of territory, Nueva Era’s territory is, therefore, excluded. Under the maxim expressio
unius est exclusio alterius, the mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another thing not
mentioned. If a statute enumerates the things upon which it is to operate, everything else must
necessarily and by implication be excluded from its operation and effect. This rule, as a guide to
probable legislative intent, is based upon the rules of logic and natural workings of the human mind.
Had the legislature intended other barangays from Nueva Era to become part of Marcos, it could have
easily done so by clear and concise language. Where the terms are expressly limited to certain
matters, it may not by interpretation or construction be extended to other matters. The rule proceeds
from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumerations in a statute had
the intention been not to restrict its meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Cassus Omissus; Where the barangays of Nueva Era were not mentioned in
the enumeration of barangays out of which the territory of Marcos shall be set, their omission

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

must be held to have been done intentionally, a conclusion that finds support in the rule of casus
omissus pro omisso habendus est which states that a person, object or thing omitted from an
enumeration must be held to have been omitted intentionally.—Since the barangays of Nueva Era
were not mentioned in the enumeration of barangays out of which the territory of Marcos shall be set,
their omission must be held to have been done intentionally. This conclusion finds support in the rule
of casus omissus pro omisso habendus est, which states that a person, object or thing omitted from
an enumeration must be held to have been omitted intentionally.

Statutory Construction; Statutes; Explanatory Notes; Where there is ambiguity in a statute, courts
may resort to the explanatory note to clarify the ambiguity and ascertain the purpose and intent of
the statute.—This conclusion on the intention of the legislature is bolstered by the explanatory note
of the bill which paved the way for the creation of Marcos. Said explanatory note mentioned only
Dingras as the mother municipality of Marcos. Where there is ambiguity in a statute, as in this case,
courts may resort to the explanatory note to clarify the ambiguity and ascertain the purpose and
intent of the statute.

Same; Same; The law must be given a reasonable interpretation, to preclude absurdity in its
application.—Only Dingras is specifically named by law as source territory of Marcos. Hence, the said
description of boundaries of Marcos is descriptive only of the listed barangays of Dingras as a
compact and contiguous territory. Considering that the description of the eastern boundary of
Marcos under R.A. No. 3753 is ambiguous, the same must be interpreted in light of the legislative
intent. The law must be given a reasonable interpretation, to preclude absurdity in its application. We
thus uphold the legislative intent to create Marcos out of the territory of Dingras only.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Marlyn M. Damasen for petitioner.

Juan A. Respicio for respondent.

74

74

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

REYES, R.T., J.:


AS the law creating a municipality fixes its boundaries, settlement of boundary disputes between
municipalities is facilitated by carrying into effect the law that created them.

Any alteration of boundaries that is not in accordance with the law creating a municipality is not the
carrying into effect of that law but its amendment, which only the Congress can do.1

For Our review on certiorari is the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) reversing to a certain extent
that3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, in a case that originated
from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Ilocos Norte about the boundary dispute between the
Municipalities of Marcos and Nueva Era in Ilocos Norte.

The CA declared that Marcos is entitled to have its eastern boundary extended up “to the boundary
line between the province of Ilocos Norte and Kalinga-Apayao.”4 By this extension of Marcos’ eastern
boundary, the CA allocated to Marcos a portion of Nueva Era’s territory.

The Facts

The Municipality of Nueva Era was created from the settlements of Bugayong, Cabittaoran, Garnaden,
Padpadon, Padsan, Paorpatoc, Tibangran, and Uguis which were previ-

_______________

1 Municipality of Jimenez v. Baz, 333 Phil. 1, 18; 265 SCRA 182, 196 (1996).

2 Rollo, pp. 31-46. Dated June 6, 2005 in CA-G.R. SP No. 64147, entitled “Municipality of Marcos,
Ilocos Norte v. Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte.” Penned by Associate Justice Salvador J.
Valdez, Jr., with Associate Justices Mariano C. Del Castillo and Magdangal M. de Leon, concurring.

3 Id., at pp. 123-129; Records, pp. 437-443. Dated March 19, 2001 in Sp. Civil Action No. 12073.
Penned by Judge Perla B. Querubin.

4 Id., at pp. 45-46.

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75

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

ously organized as rancherias, each of which was under the independent control of a chief. Governor
General Francis Burton Harrison, acting on a resolution passed by the provincial government of Ilocos
Norte, united these rancherias and created the township of Nueva Era by virtue of Executive Order
(E.O.) No. 665 dated September 30, 1916.

The Municipality of Marcos, on the other hand, was created on June 22, 1963 pursuant to Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 3753 entitled “An Act Creating the Municipality of Marcos in the Province of Ilocos
Norte.” Section 1 of R.A. No. 3753 provides:

“SECTION 1. The barrios of Capariaan, Biding, Escoda, Culao, Alabaan, Ragas and Agunit in the
Municipality of Dingras, Province of Ilocos Norte, are hereby separated from the said municipality and
constituted into a new and separate municipality to be known as the Municipality of Marcos, with the
following boundaries:

On the Northwest, by the barrios Biding-Rangay boundary going down to the barrios
Capariaan-Gabon boundary consisting of foot path and feeder road; on the Northeast, by the Burnay
River which is the common boundary of barrios Agunit and Naglayaan; on the East, by the Ilocos
Norte-Mt. Province boundary; on the South, by the Padsan River which is at the same time the
boundary between the municipalities of Banna and Dingras; on the West and Southwest, by the
boundary between the municipalities of Batac and Dingras.

The Municipality of Marcos shall have its seat of government in the barrio of Biding.”

_______________

5 E.O. No. 66 signed by Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison reads: Upon the recommendation
of the Honorable, Secretary of the Interior and the Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte, and pursuant to
the provisions of section twenty-three hundred and ninety-one of the Administrative Code, the
settlements of Bugayong, Cabittaoran, Garnaden, Padpadon, Padsan, Paor-patoc, Tibangran, and
Uguis in the Province of Ilocos Norte, are hereby consolidated and organized in to a township to be
known as the township of Nueva Era. The seat of the township government of the township of Nueva
Era shall be at the settlement of Bugayong.

76

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Based on the first paragraph of the said Section 1 of R.A. No. 3753, it is clear that Marcos shall be
derived from the listed barangays of Dingras, namely: Capariaan, Biding, Escoda, Culao, Alabaan,
Ragas and Agunit. The Municipality of Nueva Era or any of its barangays was not mentioned. Hence, if
based only on said paragraph, it is clear that Nueva Era may not be considered as a source of territory
of Marcos.

There is no issue insofar as the first paragraph is concerned which named only Dingras as the mother
municipality of Marcos. The problem, however, lies in the description of Marcos’ boundaries as stated
in the second paragraph, particularly in the phrase: “on the East, by the Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province
boundary.”

It must be noted that the term “Mt. Province” stated in the above phrase refers to the present
adjoining provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao, which were then a
single province.

Mt. Province was divided into the four provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and
Kalinga-Apayao by virtue of R.A. No. 4695 which was enacted on June 18, 1966. On February 14, 1995,
the province of Kalinga-Apayao, which comprises the sub-provinces of Kalinga and Apayao, was
further converted into the regular provinces of Kalinga and Apayao pursuant to R.A. No. 7878.

The part of then Mt. Province which was at the east of Marcos is now the province of Apayao. Hence,
the eastern boundary referred to by the second paragraph of Section 1 of R.A. No. 3753 is the present
Ilocos Norte-Apayao boundary.

On the basis of the said phrase, which described Marcos’ eastern boundary, Marcos claimed that the
middle portion of Nueva Era, which adjoins its eastern side, formed part of its territory. Its reasoning
was founded upon the fact that Nueva Era was between Marcos and the Ilocos Norte-Apayao
boundary such that if Marcos was to be bounded on the east by the

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Ilocos Norte-Apayao boundary, part of Nueva Era would consequently be obtained by it.6

Marcos did not claim any part of Nueva Era as its own territory until after almost 30 years,7 or only on
March 8, 1993, when its Sangguniang Bayan passed Resolution No. 93-015.8 Said resolution was
entitled: “Resolution Claiming an Area which is an Original Part of Nueva Era, But Now Separated Due
to the Creation of Marcos Town in the Province of Ilocos Norte.”

Marcos submitted its claim to the SP of Ilocos Norte for its consideration and approval. The SP, on the
other hand, required Marcos to submit its position paper.9

In its position paper, Marcos alleged that since its northeastern and eastern boundaries under R.A. No.
3753 were the Burnay River and the Ilocos Norte-Mountain Province boundary, respectively, its
eastern boundary should not be limited to the former Dingras-Nueva Era boundary, which was
coterminous and aligned with the eastern boundary of Dingras. According to Marcos, its eastern
boundary should extend further to the east or up to the Ilocos-Norte-Mt. Province boundary pursuant
to the description of its eastern boundary under R.A. No. 3753.10

In view of its claim over the middle portion of Nueva Era, Marcos posited that Nueva Era was cut into
two parts. And since the law required that the land area of a municipality must be compact and
contiguous, Nueva Era’s northern isolated portion could no longer be considered as its territory but
that of Marcos.’ Thus, Marcos claimed that it was entitled not only to the middle portion11 of Nueva
Era but also to Nueva

_______________

6 Rollo, pp. 256-258.

7 Id., at p. 32.

8 Id.; Records, pp. 2-3.

9 Id.

10 Id., at p. 33.
11 Id., at pp. 33-34.

78

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Era’s isolated northern portion. These areas claimed by Marcos were within Barangay Sto. Niño,
Nueva Era.

Nueva Era reacted to the claim of Marcos through its Resolution No. 1, Series of 1993. It alleged that
since time immemorial, its entire land area was an ancestral domain of the “tinguians,” an indigenous
cultural community. It argued to the effect that since the land being claimed by Marcos must be
protected for the tinguians, it must be preserved as part of Nueva Era.12

According to Nueva Era, Marcos was created out of the territory of Dingras only. And since R.A. No.
3753 specifically mentioned seven (7) barrios of Dingras to become Marcos, the area which should
comprise Marcos should not go beyond the territory of said barrios.13

From the time Marcos was created in 1963, its eastern boundary had been considered to be aligned
and coterminous with the eastern boundary of the adjacent municipality of Dingras. However, based
on a re-survey in 1992, supposedly done to conform to the second paragraph of Section 1 of R.A. No.
3753, an area of 15,400 hectares of Nueva Era was alleged to form part of Marcos.14 This was the
area of Barangay Sto. Niño, Nueva Era that Marcos claimed in its position paper.

On March 29, 2000, the SP of Ilocos Norte ruled in favor of Nueva Era. The fallo of its decision15
reads:

“WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this Body has no alternative but to dismiss, as it hereby
DISMISSES said petition for lack of merit. The disputed area consisting of 15,400 hectares, more or
less, is hereby declared as part and portion of the territorial jurisdiction of respondent Nueva Era.”16

_______________

12 Records, p. 13; id.


13 Id., at pp. 14-15.

14 Rollo, pp. 35-36.

15 Records, pp. 341-344.

16 Id., at p. 344.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

R.A. No. 3753 expressly named the barangays that would comprise Marcos, but none of Nueva Era’s
barangays were mentioned. The SP thus construed, applying the rule of expressio unius est exclusio
alterius, that no part of Nueva Era was included by R.A. No. 3753 in creating Marcos.17

The SP ratiocinated that if Marcos was to be bounded by Mt. Province, it would encroach upon a
portion, not only of Nueva Era but also of Abra. Thus:

“x x x Even granting, for the sake of argument, that the eastern boundary of Marcos is indeed
Mountain Province, Marcos will then be claiming a portion of Abra because the province, specifically
Barangay Sto. Niño, Nueva Era, is actually bounded on the East by the Province of Abra. Abra is
situated between and separates the Provinces of Ilocos Norte and Mountain Province.

This is precisely what this body would like to avoid. Statutes should be construed in the light of the
object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such
construction as will advance the object, suppress the mischief and secure the benefits intended.”18
(Citations omitted)

The SP further explained:

“Invariably, it is not the letter, but the spirit of the law and the intent of the legislature that is
important. When the interpretation of the statute according to the exact and literal import of its
words would lead to absurdity, it should be construed according to the spirit and reason, disregarding
if necessary the letters of the law. It is believed that congress did not intend to have this absurd
situation to be created when it created the Municipality of Marcos. This body, by the mandate given
to it by the RA 7160 otherwise known Local Government Code, so believes that respondent Nueva Era
or any portion thereof has been excluded from the ambit of RA 3753. Under the principle of
“espressio (sic) unios (sic) est exclusio alterius,” by expressly naming the barangays that will comprise
the town of Marcos, those not mentioned are deemed excluded. In Republic Act 4354,

_______________

17 Id., at pp. 342-344.

18 Id., at p. 343.

80

80

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

where Section 2 thereof enumerated the barrios comprising the City of Davao excluding the
petitioner Barrio Central as part of the said City, the court held that there arose a prima facie
conclusion that the said law abolished Barrio Central as part of Davao City.

Historically, the hinterlands of Nueva Era have been known to be the home of our brothers and sisters
belonging to peculiar groups of non-(C)hristian inhabitants with their own rich customs and traditions
and this body takes judicial notice that the inhabitants of Nueva Era have proudly claimed to be a part
of this rich culture. With this common ancestral heritage which unfortunately is absent with Marcos,
let it not be disturbed.”19 (Emphasis ours and citations omitted)

RTC Decision

On appeal by Marcos, the RTC affirmed the decision of the SP in its decision20 of March 19, 2001. The
dispositive part of the RTC decision reads:
“WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The questioned decision of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte is hereby AFFIRMED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.”21

The RTC reasoned out in this wise:

“The position of the Municipality of Marcos is that the provision of R.A. 3753 as regards its boundary
on the East which is the “Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province” should prevail.

On the other hand, the Municipality of Nueva Era posits the theory that only the barrios of the
Municipality of Dingras as stated in R.A. 3753 should be included in the territorial jurisdiction of the
Municipality of Marcos. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan agreed with the position of Nueva Era.

_______________

19 Id., at pp. 343-344.

20 Id., at pp. 437-443; rollo, pp. 123-129.

21 Id., at p. 443.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

xxxx
An examination of the Congressional Records during the deliberations of the R.A. 3753 (House Bill No.
3721) shows the Explanatory Note of Congressman Simeon M. Valdez, 2nd District, Ilocos Norte, to
wit:

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This bill seeks to create in the Province of Ilocos Norte a new municipality to be known as the
Municipality of Marcos, to be comprised by the present barrios of Capariaan, Biding Escoda, Culao,
Alabaan, Ragas and Agunit, all in the Municipality of Dingras of the same province. The seat of
government will be in the sitio of San Magro in the present barrio of Ragas.

xxxx

On the other hand, the Municipality of Dingras will not be adversely affected too much because its
finances will still be sound and stable. Its capacity to comply with its obligations, especially to its
employees and personnel, will not be diminished nor its operations paralyzed. On the contrary,
economic development in both the mother and the proposed municipalities will be accelerated.

In view of the foregoing, approval of this bill is earnestly requested.

(Sgd.) SIMEON M. VALDEZ

Congressman, 2nd District

Ilocos Norte22

Parenthetically, the legislative intent was for the creation of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte
from the barrios (barangays) of the Municipality of Dingras, Ilocos Norte only. Hence, the Municipality
of Marcos cannot add any area beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Dingras, Ilocos
Norte. This conclusion might have been different only if the area being claimed by the Municipality of
Marcos is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Dingras and not the Municipality of
Nueva Era. In such case, the two conflicting provisions may be harmonized by

_______________

22 Rollo, p. 128; id., at p. 442. Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates (1963), Vol. II, Part I, p.
1474.

82
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

including such area within the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Dingras as within the
territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Marcos.”23 (Emphasis ours)

CA Disposition

Still determined to have a more extensive eastern boundary, Marcos filed a petition for review24 of
the RTC decision before the CA. The issues raised by Marcos before the CA were:

“1. Whether or not the site of Hercules Minerals and Oil, Inc. which is within a Government Forest
Reservation in Barangay Sto. Niño, formerly of Nueva Era, is a part of the newly created Municipality
of Marcos, Ilocos Norte.

2. Whether or not the portion of Barangay Sto. Niño on the East which is separated from Nueva Era
as a result of the full implementation of the boundaries of the new Municipality of Marcos belongs
also to Marcos or to Nueva Era.”25

The twin issues involved two portions of Nueva Era, viz.: (1) middle portion, where Hercules Minerals
and Oil, Inc. is located; and (2) northern portion of Nueva Era, which, according to Marcos, was
isolated from Nueva Era in view of the integration to Marcos of said middle portion.

Marcos prayed before the CA that the above two portions of Nueva Era be declared as part of its own
territory. It alleged that it was entitled to the middle portion of Nueva Era in view of the description of
Marcos’ eastern boundary under R.A. No. 3753. Marcos likewise contended that it was entitled to the
northern portion of Nueva Era which was allegedly isolated from Nueva Era when Marcos was created.
It posited that such isolation of territory was contrary to law because

_______________

23 Id., at pp. 127-129.


24 CA Rollo, pp. 2-12.

25 Id., at pp. 5-6.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

the law required that a municipality must have a compact and contiguous territory.26

In a Decision27 dated June 6, 2005, the CA partly reversed the RTC decision with the following
disposition:

“WHEREFORE, we partially GRANT the petition treated as one for certiorari. The Decisions of both the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Regional Trial Court of Ilocos Norte are REVERSED and SET ASIDE
insofar as they made the eastern boundary of the municipality of Marcos co-terminous with the
eastern boundary of Dingras town, and another is rendered extending the said boundary of Marcos to
the boundary line between the province of Ilocos Norte and Kalinga-Apayao, but the same Decisions
are AFFIRMED with respect to the denial of the claim of Marcos to the detached northern portion of
barangay Sto. Niño which should, as it is hereby ordered to, remain with the municipality of Nueva
Era. No costs.

SO ORDERED.”28

In concluding that the eastern boundary of Marcos was the boundary line between Ilocos Norte and
Kalinga-Apayao, the CA gave the following explanation:

“Clearly then, both the SP and the RTC erred when they ruled that the eastern boundary of Marcos is
only coterminous with the eastern boundary of the adjacent municipality of Dingras and refused to
extend it up to the boundary line between the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Mountain Province
(Kalinga-Apayao). R.A. No. 3753, the law creating Marcos, is very explicit and leaves no room for
equivocation that the boundaries of Marcos town are:
“On the Northwest by the barrios Biding-Rangay boundary going down to the barrios
Capariaan-Gabon boundary consisting of foot path and feeder road; on the Northeast, by the Burnay
River which is the common boundary of barrios Agunit and Naglayaan; on the East, by the Ilocos
Norte-Mt. Prov-

_______________

26 Id., at p. 9.

27 Rollo, pp. 31-46.

28 Id., at pp. 45-46.

84

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

ince boundary; on the South by the Padsan River, which is at the same time the boundary between
the municipalities of Banna and Dingras; on the West and Southwest by the boundary between the
municipalities of Batac and Dingras.”

To stop short at the eastern boundary of Dingras as the eastern boundary also of Marcos and refusing
to go farther to the boundary line between Ilocos Norte and Mountain Province (Kalinga-Apayao) is
tantamount to amending the law which Congress alone can do. Both the SP and RTC have no
competence to undo a valid act of Congress.

It is not correct to say that Congress did not intend to take away any part of Nueva Era and merge it
with Marcos for it is chargeable with conclusive knowledge that when it provided that the eastern
boundary of Marcos is the boundary line between Ilocos Norte and Mountain Province, (by the time
of both the SB and RTC Decision was already Kalinga-Apayao), it would be cutting through a portion of
Nueva Era. As the law is written so must it be applied. Dura lex sed lex!29
The CA likewise held that the province Abra was not located between Marcos and Kalinga-Apayao;
and that Marcos would not encroach upon a portion of Abra for it to be bounded by Kalinga-Apayao,
to wit:

“Nueva Era’s contention that to lay out the eastern jurisdiction of Marcos to the boundary line
between Ilocos Norte and Mountain Province (Kalinga-Apayao) would mean annexing part of the
municipality of Itnig, province of Abra to Marcos as Abra is between Ilocos Norte and Mountain
Province is geographically erroneous. From Nueva Era’s own map of Region 1, which also depicts the
locations of Kalinga-Apayao, Abra, Mountain Province, Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya after the partition
of the old Mountain Province into the provinces of Kalinga-Apayao, Ifugao, Mountain Province and
Benguet, the province of Abra is situated far to the south of Kalinga Apayao and is between the latter
and the present Mountain Province, which is farther south of Abra. Abra is part of the eastern
boundary of Ilocos Sur while Kalinga-Apayao is the eastern bound-

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29 Id., at pp. 41-42.

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ary of Ilocos Norte. Hence, in no way will the eastern boundary of the municipality of Marcos
encroach upon a portion of Abra.”30

However, Marcos’ claim over the alleged isolated northern portion of Nueva Era was denied. The CA
ruled:

“Going now to the other area involved, i.e., the portion of Sto. Niño that is separated from its mother
town Nueva Era and now lies east of the municipalities of Solsona and Dingras and north of Marcos, it
bears stressing that it is not included within the area of Marcos as defined by law. But since it is
already detached from Sto. Niño, Marcos is laying claim to it to be integrated into its territory by the
SP because it is contiguous to a portion of said municipality.

We hold that the SP has no jurisdiction or authority to act on the claim, for it will necessarily
substantially alter the north eastern and southern boundaries of Marcos from that defined by law and
unduly enlarge its area. Only Congress can do that. True, the SP may substantially alter the boundary
of a barangay within its jurisdiction. But this means the alteration of the boundary of a barangay in
relation to another barangay within the same municipality for as long as that will not result in any
change in the boundary of that municipality. The area in dispute therefore remains to be a part of Sto.
Niño, a barangay of Nueva Era although separated by the newly created Marcos town pursuant to
Section 7(c) of the 1991 Local Government Code which states:

SEC. 7. Creation and Conversion.—As a general rule, the creation of a local government unit or its
conversion from one level to another shall be based on verifiable indicators of viability and projected
capacity to provide services, to wit:

xxxx

(c) Land Area.—It must be contiguous, unless it comprises two or more islands or is separated by a
local government unit independent of the others; properly identified by metes and bounds with
technical descriptions; and sufficient to provide for such basic services and facilities to meet the
requirements of its populace.”31

_______________

30 Id., at pp. 42-43.

31 Id., at pp. 43-44.

86

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

The CA also expressed the view that Marcos adopted the wrong mode of appeal in bringing the case
to it. The case, according to the CA, was appealable only to the RTC. Nonetheless, despite its
pronouncement that the case was dismissible, the CA took cognizance of the same by treating it as
one for certiorari, to wit:

“A final word. At the outset, we agonized over the dilemma of choosing between dismissing outright
the petition at bar or entertaining it. This is for the simple reason that a petition for review is a mode
of appeal and is not appropriate as the Local Government Code provides for the remedy of appeal in
boundary disputes only to the Regional Trial Court but not any further appeal to this Court. Appeal is
a purely statutory right. It cannot be exercised unless it is expressly granted by law. This is too basic to
require the citation of supporting authority.

xxxx

By the same token, since the Local Government Code does not explicitly grant the right of further
appeal from decisions of the RTCs in boundary disputes between or among local government units,
Marcos town cannot exercise that right from the adverse decision of the RTC of Ilocos Norte.
Nonetheless, because of the transcendental legal and jurisdictional issues involved, we solved our
inceptive dilemma by treating the petition at bar as a special civil action for certiorari.”32

Nueva Era was not pleased with the decision of the CA. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari
under Rule 45.

Issues

Nueva Era now raises the following issues:

a) Whether or not, the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction on the Petition for Review on Appeal, since
Sec. 119 of the Local Government Code, which provides that “An appeal to the Decision of the

_______________

32 Id., at pp. 44-45.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Sangguniang Panlalawigan is exclusively vested to the Regional Trial Court, without further Appeal to
the Court of Appeals”;
b) Whether or not, the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion, in treating the Petition for
Review On Appeal, filed under Rule 45, Revised Rules of Court, as a Petition for Certiorari, under Rule
65 of the Revised Rules of Court;

c) Whether or not, the Court of Appeals erred in its appreciation of facts, in declaring that MARCOS
East is not coterminous with the Eastern boundary of its mother town-Dingras. That it has no factual
and legal basis to extend MARCOS territory beyond Brgys. Agunit (Ferdinand) and Culao (Elizabeth) of
Marcos, and to go further East, by traversing and disintegrating Brgy. Sto. Niño, and drawing parallel
lines from Sto. Niño, there lies Abra, not Mt. Province or Kalinga-Apayao.”33

Basically, there are two (2) issues to resolve here: (1) whether or not the mode of appeal adopted by
Marcos in bringing the case to the CA is proper; and (2) whether or not the eastern boundary of
Marcos extends over and covers a portion of Nueva Era.

Our Ruling

Marcos correctly appealed the RTC

judgment via petition for review un-

der Rule 42.

Under Section 118(b) of the Local Government Code, “(b)oundary disputes involving two (2) or more
municipalities within the same province shall be referred for settlement to the sangguniang
panlalawigan concerned.” The dispute shall be formally tried by the said sanggunian in case the
disputing municipalities fail to effect an amicable settlement.34

The SP of Ilocos validly took cognizance of the dispute between the parties. The appeal of the SP
judgment to the RTC

_______________

33 Id., at p. 9.

34 Local Government Code (1991), Sec. 118(e).

88

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

was likewise properly filed by Marcos before the RTC. The problem, however, lies in whether the RTC
judgment may still be further appealed to the CA.

The CA pronounced that the RTC decision on the boundary dispute was not appealable to it. It ruled
that no further appeal of the RTC decision may be made pursuant to Section 119 of the Local
Government Code35 which provides:

“SECTION 119. Appeal.—Within the time and manner prescribed by the Rules of Court, any party
may elevate the decision of the sanggunian concerned to the proper Regional Trial Court having
jurisdiction over the area in dispute. The Regional Trial Court shall decide the appeal within one (1)
year from the filing thereof. Pending final resolution of the disputed area prior to the dispute shall be
maintained and continued for all legal purposes.”

The CA concluded that since only the RTC was mentioned as appellate court, the case may no longer
be further appealed to it. The CA stated that “(a)ppeal is a purely statutory right. It cannot be
exercised unless it is expressly granted by law. This is too basic to require the citation of supporting
authority.”36

The CA, however, justified its taking cognizance of the case by declaring that: “because of the
transcendental legal and jurisdictional issues involved, we solved our inceptive dilemma by treating
the petition at bar as a special civil action for certiorari.”37

The CA erred in declaring that only the RTC has appellate jurisdiction over the judgment of the SP.

True, appeal is a purely statutory right and it cannot be exercised unless it is expressly granted by law.
Nevertheless, the CA can pass upon the petition for review precisely because the law allows it.

_______________

35 Republic Act No. 7160 (1991).


36 Rollo, p. 44.

37 Id., at p. 45.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129 or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by R.A. No.
7902,38 vests in the CA the appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions,
orders or awards of Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or
commissions, among others.39 B.P. Blg. 129 has been further supplemented by the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended, which provides for the remedy of appeal via petition for review under Rule
42 to the CA in cases decided by the RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

Thus, the CA need not treat the appeal via petition for review filed by Marcos as a petition for
certiorari to be able to pass upon the same. B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, which is supplemented by Rule
42 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, gives the CA the authority to entertain appeals of such judgments
and final orders rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

At the time of creation of Marcos, ap-

proval in a plebiscite of the creation of

a local government unit is not required.

Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides that:

“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 gov-

_______________

38 Effective March 18, 1995, entitled “An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals,
Amending for the Purpose Section Nine of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, As Amended, Known As the
Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.”
39 Keswani v. Republic, G.R. No. 153986, June 8, 2007, 524 SCRA 145, 150.

90

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

ernment code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political
units directly affected.”40

The purpose of the above constitutional provision was acknowledged by the Court through Justice
Reynato S. Puno in Miranda v. Aguirre,41 where it was held that:

“The 1987 Constitution, more than any of our previous Constitutions, gave more reality to the
sovereignty of our people for it was borne out of the people power in the 1986 EDSA revolution. Its
Section 10, Article X addressed the undesirable practice in the past whereby local government units
were created, abolished, merged or divided on the basis of the vagaries of politics and not of the
welfare of the people. Thus, the consent of the people of the local government unit directly affected
was required to serve as a checking mechanism to any exercise of legislative power creating, dividing,
abolishing, merging or altering the boundaries of local government units. It is one instance where the
people in their sovereign capacity decide on a matter that affects them—direct democracy of the
people as opposed to democracy thru people’s representatives. This plebiscite requirement is also in
accord with the philosophy of the Constitution granting more autonomy to local government
units.”42

Nueva Era contends that the constitutional and statutory43 plebiscite requirement for the creation of
a local government

_______________

40 A similar provision is likewise provided in Section 3, Article XI of the 1973 Constitution, thus:

SECTION 3. No province, city, municipality, or barrio 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 unit
or units affected.
41 373 Phil. 386; 314 SCRA 603 (1999).

42 Miranda v. Aguirre, id., at p. 400; p. 610.

43 The constitutional requirement of a plebiscite is incorporated in the Local Government Code of


1991, particularly in Section 10, Chapter II, Title I of its Book I, to wit:

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

unit is applicable to this case. It posits that the claim of Marcos to its territory should be denied due to
lack of the required plebiscite.

We agree with Nueva Era’s contention that Marcos’ claim over parts of its territory is not tenable.
However, the reason is not the lack of the required plebiscite under the 1987 and 1973 constitutions
and the Local Government Code of 1991 but other reasons as will be discussed below.

At the time Marcos was created, a plebiscite was not required by law to create a local government
unit. Hence, Marcos was validly created without conducting a plebiscite. As a matter of fact, no
plebiscite was conducted in Dingras, where it was derived.

Lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward, not backward.44 It is the basic norm that provisions
of the fundamental law should be given prospective application only, unless legislative intent for its
retroactive application is so provided.45

In the comparable case of Ceniza v. Commission on Elections46 involving the City of Mandaue, the
Court has this to say:

_______________

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.

44 Grego v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 125955, June 19, 1997, 274 SCRA 481, 493.

45 Union Carbide Labor Union v. Union Carbide Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. L-41314, November 13,
1992, 215 SCRA 554, 558.

46 G.R. No. L-52304, January 28, 1980, 95 SCRA 763.

92

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

“Petitioners assail the charter of the City of Mandaue as unconstitutional for not having been ratified
by the residents of the city in a plebiscite. This contention is untenable. The Constitutional
requirement that the creation, division, merger, abolition, or alteration of the boundary of a province,
city, municipality, or barrio should be subject to the approval by the majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite in the governmental unit or units affected is a new requirement that came into being only
with the 1973 Constitution. It is prospective in character and therefore cannot affect the creation of
the City of Mandaue which came into existence on June 21, 1969.”47 (Citations omitted and italics
supplied).

Moreover, by deciding this case, We are not creating Marcos but merely interpreting the law that
created it. Its creation was already a fait accompli. Therefore, there is no reason for Us to further
require a plebiscite.

As pointed out by Justice Isagani Cruz, to wit:

“Finally, it should be observed that the provisions of the Constitution should be given only a
prospective application unless the contrary is clearly intended. Were the rule otherwise, rights
already acquired or vested might be unduly disturbed or withdrawn even in the absence of an
unmistakable intention to place them within the scope of the Constitution.”48
No part of Nueva Era’s territory

was taken for the creation of Mar-

cos under R.A. No. 3753.

Only the barrios (now barangays) of Dingras from which Marcos obtained its territory are named in
R.A. No. 3753. To wit:

“SECTION 1. The barrios of Capariaan, Biding, Escoda, Culao, Alabaan, Ragas and Agunit in the
Municipality of Dingras, Province of Ilocos Norte, are hereby separated from the said municipality and
constituted into a new and separate munici-

_______________

47 Ceniza v. Commission on Elections, id., at p. 774.

48 Cruz, I.A., Constitutional Law, 1998 ed., p. 10.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

pality to be known as the Municipality of Marcos, with the following boundaries:

Since only the barangays of Dingras are enumerated as Marcos’ source of territory, Nueva Era’s
territory is, therefore, excluded.

Under the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the mention of one thing implies the exclusion
of another thing not mentioned. If a statute enumerates the things upon which it is to operate,
everything else must necessarily and by implication be excluded from its operation and effect.49 This
rule, as a guide to probable legislative intent, is based upon the rules of logic and natural workings of
the human mind.50
Had the legislature intended other barangays from Nueva Era to become part of Marcos, it could have
easily done so by clear and concise language. Where the terms are expressly limited to certain
matters, it may not by interpretation or construction be extended to other matters.51 The rule
proceeds from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumerations in a
statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly
mentioned.52

_______________

49 Tolentino v. Paqueo, G.R. No. 150606, June 7, 2007, 523 SCRA 377, 387; Commissioner of Internal
Revenue v. The Philippine American Accident Insurance Company, Inc., G.R. No. 141658, March 18,
2005, 453 SCRA 668, 688; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Michel J. Lhuillier Pawnshop, Inc., G.R.
No. 150947, July 15, 2003, 406 SCRA 178, 186, citing Vera v. Fernandez, G.R. No. L-31364, March 30,
1979, 89 SCRA 199, 203.

50 Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Michel J. Lhuillier Pawnshop, Inc., supra, citing Republic v.
Estenzo, G.R. No. L-35376, September 11, 1980, 99 SCRA 651, 656.

51 Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, 392 Phil. 618, 642; 338 SCRA 81, 109 (2000), citing
Sarmiento III v. Mison, G.R. No. L-79974, December 17, 1987, 156 SCRA 549.

52 Romualdez v. Marcelo, G.R. Nos. 165510-33, July 28, 2006, 497 SCRA 89, 108; Canet v. Decena, 465
Phil. 325, 333; 420 SCRA

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

Moreover, since the barangays of Nueva Era were not mentioned in the enumeration of barangays
out of which the territory of Marcos shall be set, their omission must be held to have been done
intentionally. This conclusion finds support in the rule of casus omissus pro omisso habendus est,
which states that a person, object or thing omitted from an enumeration must be held to have been
omitted intentionally.53
Furthermore, this conclusion on the intention of the legislature is bolstered by the explanatory note
of the bill which paved the way for the creation of Marcos. Said explanatory note mentioned only
Dingras as the mother municipality of Marcos.

Where there is ambiguity in a statute, as in this case, courts may resort to the explanatory note to
clarify the ambiguity and ascertain the purpose and intent of the statute.54

Despite the omission of Nueva Era as a mother territory in the law creating Marcos, the latter still
contends that said law included Nueva Era. It alleges that based on the description of its boundaries, a
portion of Nueva Era is within its territory.

The boundaries of Marcos under R.A. No. 3753 read:

“On the Northwest, by the barrios Biding-Rangay boundary going down to the barrios
Capariaan-Gabon boundary consisting of foot path and feeder road; on the Northeast, by the Burnay
River which is the common boundary of barrios Agunit and Naglayaan; on the

_______________

388, 393 (2004); Centeno v. Villalon-Pornillos, G.R. No. 113092, September 1, 1994, 236 SCRA 197,
203; Commissioner of Customs v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. Nos. 48886-88, July 21, 1993, 224 SCRA
665, 670, citing Agpalo, Statutory Construction, 2nd ed., 1990, pp. 160-161.

53 La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos, 465 Phil. 860, 932; 421 SCRA 148, 218 (2004);
Chua v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 88979, February 7, 1992, 206 SCRA 65, 76, citing People v.
Manantan, 115 Phil. 657, 664; 5 SCRA 684, 691 (1962).

54 Agpalo, Statutory Construction, 3rd ed., 1995, p. 73.

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte
East, by the Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province boundary; on the South, by the Padsan River which is at the
same time the boundary between the municipalities of Banna and Dingras; on the West and
Southwest, by the boundary between the municipalities of Batac and Dingras.”

Marcos contends that since it is “bounded on the East, by the Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province boundary,” a
portion of Nueva Era formed part of its territory because, according to it, Nueva Era is between the
Marcos and Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province boundary. Marcos posits that in order for its eastern side to
reach the Ilocos Norte-Mt. Province boundary, it will necessarily traverse the middle portion of Nueva
Era.

Marcos further claims that it is entitled not only to the middle portion of Nueva Era but also to its
northern portion which, as a consequence, was isolated from the major part of Nueva Era.

We cannot accept the contentions of Marcos.

Only Dingras is specifically named by law as source territory of Marcos. Hence, the said description of
boundaries of Marcos is descriptive only of the listed barangays of Dingras as a compact and
contiguous territory.

Considering that the description of the eastern boundary of Marcos under R.A. No. 3753 is ambiguous,
the same must be interpreted in light of the legislative intent.

The law must be given a reasonable interpretation, to preclude absurdity in its application.55 We thus
uphold the legislative intent to create Marcos out of the territory of Dingras only.

Courts must give effect to the general legislative intent that can be discovered from or is unraveled by
the four corners of the statute, and in order to discover said intent, the whole statute, and not only a
particular provision thereof,

_______________

55 Brent School, Inc. v. Zamora, G.R. No. 48494, February 5, 1990, 181 SCRA 702, 715.

96

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Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte

should be considered.56 Every section, provision or clause of the statute must be expounded by
reference to each other in order to arrive at the effect contemplated by the legislature. The intention
of the legislator must be ascertained from the whole text of the law, and every part of the act is to be
taken into view.57

It is axiomatic that laws should be given a reasonable interpretation, not one which defeats the very
purpose for which they were passed. This Court has in many cases involving the construction of
statutes always cautioned against narrowly interpreting a statute as to defeat the purpose of the
legislature and stressed that it is of the essence of judicial duty to construe statutes so as to avoid
such a deplorable result (of injustice or absurdity) and that therefore “a literal interpretation is to be
rejected if it would be unjust or lead to absurd results.”58

Statutes are to be construed in the light of the purposes to be achieved and the evils sought to be
remedied. Thus, in construing a statute, the reason for its enactment should be kept in mind and the
statute should be construed with reference to the intended scope and purpose. The court may
consider the spirit and reason of the statute, where a literal meaning would lead to absurdity,
contradiction, injustice, or would defeat the clear purpose of the lawmakers.59

_______________

56 Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue,


G.R. Nos. 141104 & 148763, June 8, 2007, 524 SCRA 73, 93, citing Commissioner of Internal Revenue v.
TMX Sales, Inc., G.R. No. 83736, January 15, 1992, 205 SCRA 184, 188.

57 Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. TMX Sales, Inc., supra.

58 Soriano v. Offshore Shipping and Manning Corporation, G.R. No. 78409, September 14, 1989, 177
SCRA 513, 519, citing Bello v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-38161, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 509.

59 In re: Request of Justice Bernardo P. Pardo for Adjustment of His Longevity Pay, A.M. No.
02-1-12-SC, March 14, 2007, 518 SCRA 263, 267; Ursua v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112170, April 10,
1996, 256 SCRA 147, 152.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is partly REVERSED. The
Decision of the Regional Trial Court in Ilocos Norte is Reinstated.

SO ORDERED. Municipality of Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte vs. Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte, 547
SCRA 71, G.R. No. 169435 February 27, 2008
G.R. No. 133064. September 16, 1999.*

JOSE C. MIRANDA, ALFREDO S. DIRIGE, MANUEL H. AFIADO, MARIANO V. BABARAN and ANDRES R.
CABUYADAO, petitioners, vs. HON. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, In his capacity as Executive Secretary; HON.
EPIMACO VELASCO, in his capacity as Secretary of Local Government, HON. SALVADOR ENRIQUEZ, in
his capacity as Secretary of Budget, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
HON. BENJAMIN G. DY, in his capacity as Governor of Isabela, THE HONORABLE SANGGUNIANG
PANLALAWIGAN OF ISABELA, ATTY. BALTAZAR PICIO, in his capacity as Provincial Administrator, and
MR. ANTONIO CHUA, in his capacity as Provincial Treasurer, respondents, GIORGIDI B. AGGABAO,
intervenor.

Constitutional Law; Statutes; It is now an ancient rule that the constitutionality of law can be
challenged by one who will sustain a direct injury as a result of its enforcement.—The challenge to the
locus standi of petitioners cannot succeed. It is now an ancient rule that the constitutionality of law
can be challenged by one who will sustain a direct injury as a result of its enforcement. Petitioner
Miranda was the mayor of Santiago City when he filed the present petition in his own right as mayor
and not on behalf of the city, hence, he did not need the consent of the city council of Santiago City. It
is also indubitable that the change of status of the city of Santiago from independent component city
to a mere component city will affect his powers as mayor, as will be shown hereafter. The injury that
he would sustain from the enforcement of R.A. No. 8528 is direct and immediate and not a mere
generalized grievance shared with the people of Santiago City. Similarly, the standing of the other
petitioners rests on a firm foundation. They are residents and voters in the city of Santiago. They have
the right to be heard in the conversion of their city thru a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC.
The denial of this right in R.A. No. 8528 gives them proper standing to strike the law as
unconstitutional.

_______________

* EN BANC.

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Same; Same; Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
any branch or instrumentality of the government.—The plea that this court back off from assuming
jurisdiction over the petition at bar on the ground that it involves a political question has to be
brushed aside. This plea has long lost its appeal especially in light of Section 1 of Article VIII of the
1987 Constitution which defines judicial power as including “the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.” To be sure, the cut between a
political and justiciable issue has been made by this Court in many cases and need no longer mystify
us.

Same; Same; The petition at bar presents a justiciable issue.—Clearly, the petition at bar presents a
justiciable issue. Petitioners claim that under Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution they have
a right to approve or disapprove R.A. No. 8528 in a plebiscite before it can be enforced. It ought to be
self-evident that whether or not petitioners have the said right is a legal not a political question. For
whether or not laws passed by Congress comply with the requirements of the Constitution pose
questions that this Court alone can decide. The proposition that this Court is the ultimate arbiter of
the meaning and nuances of the Constitution need not be the subject of a prolix explanation.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Nelia P. Natividad for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

Aggabao & Sto. Domingo for intervenor.

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PUNO, J.:

This is a petition for a writ of prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction assailing the
constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8528 converting the city of Santiago, Isabela from an
independent component city to a component city.

On May 5, 1994, Republic Act No. 7720 which converted the municipality of Santiago, Isabela into an
independent component city was signed into law. On July 4, 1994, the people of Santiago ratified R.A.
No. 7720 in a plebiscite.1

On February 14, 1998, Republic Act No. 8528 was enacted. It amended R.A. No. 7720. Among others,
it changed the status of Santiago from an independent component city to a component city, viz.:

“AN ACT AMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED 7720—AN ACT CONVERTING
THE MUNICIPALITY OF SANTIAGO INTO AN INDEPENDENT COMPONENT CITY TO BE KNOWN AS THE
CITY OF SANTIAGO.

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

“SECTION 1. Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby amended by deleting the words “an
independent”thereon so that said Section will read as follows:

‘SEC. 2. The City of Santiago.—The Municipality of Santiago shall be converted into a component city
to be known as the City of Santiago, hereinafter referred to as the City, which shall comprise of the
present territory of the Municipality of Santiago, Isabela. The territorial jurisdiction of the City shall be
within the present metes and bounds of the Municipality of Santiago.’

“Sec. 2. Section 51 of Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby amended deleting the entire section and in its
stead substitute the following:

‘SEC. 51. Election of Provincial Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, and
any Elective

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1 See Section 4 of R.A. No. 7720.

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Provincial Position for the Province of Isabela.—The voters of the City of Santiago shall be qualified to
vote in the elections of the Provincial Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members
and other elective provincial positions of the Province of Isabela, and any such qualified voter can be
a candidate for such provincial positions and any elective provincial office.’

“Sec. 3. Repealing Clause.—All existing laws or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this
Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

“Sec. 4. Effectivity.—This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

“Approved.”

Petitioners assail the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8528.2 They alleged as ground the lack of provision
in R.A. No. 8528 submitting the law for ratification by the people of Santiago City in a proper
plebiscite. Petitioner Miranda was the mayor of Santiago at the time of the filing of the petition at bar.
Petitioner Afiado is the President of the Liga ng mga Barangay ng Santiago City. Petitioners Dirige,
Cabuyadao and Babaran are residents of Santiago City.

In their Comment, respondent provincial officials of Isabela defended the constitutionality of R.A. No.
8528. They assailed the standing of petitioners to file the petition at bar. They also contend that the
petition raises a political question over which this Court lacks jurisdiction.

Another Comment was filed by the Solicitor General for the respondent public officials. The Solicitor
General also contends that petitioners are not real parties in interest. More importantly, it is
contended that R.A. No. 8528 merely reclassified Santiago City from an independent component city
to a component city. It allegedly did not involve any “creation, division, merger, abolition, or
substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units,” hence, a plebiscite of the people of
Santiago is unnecessary.

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2 See Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution.


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A third Comment similar in tone was submitted by intervenor Giorgidi B. Aggabao,3 a member of the
provincial board of Isabela.4 He contended that both the Constitution and the Local Government
Code of 1991 do not require a plebiscite “to approve a law that merely allowed qualified voters of a
city to vote in provincial elections. The rules implementing the Local Government Code cannot require
a plebiscite. He also urged that petitioners lacked locus standi.

Petitioners filed a Reply to meet the arguments of the respondents and the intervenor. They
defended their standing. They also stressed the changes that would visit the city of Santiago as a
result of its reclassification.

We find merit in the petition.

First. The challenge to the locus standi of petitioners cannot succeed. It is now an ancient rule that the
constitutionality of law can be challenged by one who will sustain a direct injury as a result of its
enforcement.5 Petitioner Miranda was the mayor of Santiago City when he filed the present petition
in his own right as mayor and not on behalf of the city, hence, he did not need the consent of the city
council of Santiago City. It is also indubitable that the change of status of the city of Santiago from
independent component city to a mere component city will affect his powers as mayor, as will be
shown hereafter. The injury that he would sustain from the enforcement of R.A. No. 8528 is direct
and immediate and not a mere generalized grievance shared with the people of Santiago City.
Similarly, the standing of the other petitioners rests on a firm foundation. They are residents and
voters in the city of Santiago. They have the right to be heard in the conversion of their city thru a
plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC.

_______________

3 The intervention was granted on June 30, 1998.

4 After R.A. No. 8528 was enacted, COMELEC reallocated the seats for the provincial board in Isabela.
It added one (1) seat to the 4th district where Santiago City belongs. The intervenor won the
additional seat in the May 11, 1998 elections.
5 Sanidad vs. COMELEC, 73 SCRA 333 (1976).

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The denial of this right in R.A. No. 8528 gives them proper standing to strike the law as
unconstitutional.

Second. The plea that this court back off from assuming jurisdiction over the petition at bar on the
ground that it involves a political question has to be brushed aside. This plea has long lost its appeal
especially in light of Section 1 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution which defines judicial power as
including “the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality
of the government.” To be sure, the cut between a political and justiciable issue has been made by
this Court in many cases and need no longer mystify us. In Tañada v. Cuenco,6 we held:

“x x x

“The term ‘political question’ connotes what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of
policy. It refers ‘to those questions which under the Constitution are to be decided by the people in
their sovereign capacity; or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the
legislative or executive branch of the government.’ It is concerned with issues dependent upon the
wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.”

In Casibang v. Aquino,7 we defined a justiciable issue as follows:

“A purely justiciable issue implies a given right, legally demandable and enforceable, an act or
omission violative of such right, and a remedy granted and sanctioned by law, for said breach of
right.”

Clearly, the petition at bar presents a justiciable issue. Petitioners claim that under Section 10, Article
X of the 1987 Constitution they have a right to approve or disapprove R.A.
_______________

6 100 Phil. 1101 (1957).

7 92 SCRA 642 (1979).

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No. 8528 in a plebiscite before it can be enforced. It ought to be self-evident that whether or not
petitioners have the said right is a legal not a political question. For whether or not laws passed by
Congress comply with the requirements of the Constitution pose questions that this Court alone can
decide. The proposition that this Court is the ultimate arbiter of the meaning and nuances of the
Constitution need not be the subject of a prolix explanation.

Third. The threshold issue is whether R.A. No. 8528 is unconstitutional for its failure to provide that
the conversion of the city of Santiago from an independent component city to a component city
should be submitted to its people in a proper plebiscite. We hold that the Constitution requires a
plebiscite. Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:

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

This constitutional requirement is reiterated in Section 10, Chapter 2 of the Local Government Code
(R.A. No. 7160), thus:

“Sec. 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political
units directly affected.”
The power to create, divide, merge, abolish or substantially alter boundaries of local government
units belongs to Congress.8 This power is part of the larger power to enact laws which the
Constitution vested in Congress.9 The exercise of the power must be in accord with the mandate of
the Consti-

_______________

8 Mendenilla v. Onandia, 115 Phil. 534 (1962).

9 Section 1, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

tution. In the case at bar, the issue is whether the downgrading of Santiago City from an independent
component city to a mere component city requires the approval of the people of Santiago City in a
plebiscite. The resolution of the issue depends on whether or not the downgrading falls within the
meaning of creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of
municipalities per Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. A close analysis of the said constitutional
provision will reveal that the creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of
boundaries of local government units involve a common denominator—material change in the
political and economic rights of the local government units directly affected as well as the people
therein. It is precisely for this reason that the Constitution requires the approval of the people “in the
political units directly affected.” It is not difficult to appreciate the rationale of this constitutional
requirement. The 1987 Constitution, more than any of our previous Constitutions, gave more reality
to the sovereignty of our people for it was borne out of the people power in the 1986 EDSA revolution.
Its Section 10, Article X addressed the undesirable practice in the past whereby local government
units were created, abolished, merged or divided on the basis of the vagaries of politics and not of the
welfare of the people. Thus, the consent of the people of the local government unit directly affected
was required to serve as a checking mechanism to any exercise of legislative power creating, dividing,
abolishing, merging or altering the boundaries of local government units. It is one instance where the
people in their sovereign capacity decide on a matter that affects them—direct democracy of the
people as opposed to democracy thru people’s representatives. This plebiscite requirement is also in
accord with the philosophy of the Constitution granting more autonomy to local government units.
The changes that will result from the downgrading of the city of Santiago from an independent
component city to a component city are many and cannot be characterized as insubstantial. For one,
the independence of the city as a political unit will be diminished. The city mayor will be placed

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under the administrative supervision of the provincial governor. The resolutions and ordinances of
the city council of San-tiago will have to be reviewed by the Provincial Board of Isabela. Taxes that will
be collected by the city will now have to be shared with the province. Petitioners pointed out these
far reaching changes on the life of the people of the city of Santiago, viz.:10

“Although RESPONDENTS would like to make it appear that R.A. No. 8528 had “merely re-classified”
Santiago City from an independent component city into a component city, the effect when challenged
(sic) the Act were operational would be, actually, that of conversion. Consequently, there would be
substantial changes in the political culture and administrative responsibilities of Santiago City, and the
Province of Isabela. Santiago City from an independent component city will revert to the Province of
Isabela, geographically, politically and administratively. Thus, the territorial land area of Santiago City
will be added to the land area comprising the province of Isabela. This will be to the benefit or
advantage of the Provincial Government of Isabela on account of the subsequent increase of its share
from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the National Government (Section 285, R.A. No. 7160
or the Local Government Code of 1991). The IRA is based on land area and population of local
government units, provinces included.

“The nature or kinds, and magnitude of the taxes collected by the City Government, and which taxes
shall accrue solely to the City Government, will be redefined (Section 151, R.A. No. 7160), and may be
shared with the province such as taxes on sand, gravel and other quarry resources (Section 138, R.A.
No. 7160), professional taxes (Section 139, R.A. No. 7160), or amusement taxes (Section 140, R.A. No.
7160). The Provincial Government will allocate operating funds for the City. Inarguably, there would
be a (sic) diminished funds for the local operations of the City Government because of reduced shares
of the IRA in accordance with the schedule set forth by Section 285 of the R.A. No. 7160. The City
Government’s share in the proceeds in the development and utilization of national wealth shall be
diluted since certain portions shall accrue to the Provincial Government (Section 292, R.A. No. 7160).

_______________

10 Reply of Petitioners, pp. 7-9.


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“The registered voters of Santiago City will vote for and can be voted as provincial officials (Sections
451 and 452 [c], R.A. No. 7160).

“The City Mayor will now be under the administrative supervision of the Provincial Governor who is
tasked by law to ensure that every component city and municipality within the territorial jurisdiction
of the province acts within the scope of its prescribed powers and functions (Section 29 and 465 [b] [2]
[i], R.A. No. 7160), and to review (Section 30, R.A. No. 7160) all executive orders submitted by the
former (Section 455 [b] [1] [xii], R.A. No. 7160) and (R)eportorial requirements with respect to the
local governance and state of affairs of the city (Section 455 [b] [1] [xx], R.A. No. 7160). Elective city
officials will also be effectively under the control of the Provincial Governor (Section 63, R.A. No.
7160). Such will be the great change in the state of the political autonomy of what is now Santiago
City where by virtue of R.A. No. 7720, it is the Office of the President which has supervisory authority
over it as an independent component city (Section 25, R.A. No. 7160; Section 4 [ARTICLE X], 1987
Constitution).

“The resolutions and ordinances adopted and approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod will be
subject to the review of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Sections 56, 468 [a] [1] [i], 468 [a] [2] [vii], and
469 [c] [4], R.A. No. 7160). Likewise, the decisions in administrative cases by the former could be
appealed and acted upon by the latter (Section 67, R.A. No. 7160).”

It is markworthy that when R.A. No. 7720 upgraded the status of Santiago City from a municipality to
an independent component city, it required the approval of its people thru a plebiscite called for the
purpose. There is neither rhyme nor reason why this plebiscite should not be called to determine the
will of the people of Santiago City when R.A. No. 8528 downgrades the status of their city. Indeed,
there is more reason to consult the people when a law substantially diminishes their right. Rule II,
Article 6, paragraph (f) (1) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code
is in accord with the Constitution when it provides that:

“(f) Plebiscite—(1) no creation, conversion, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of


boundaries of LGUS shall take effect unless approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite

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called for the purpose in the LGU or LGUs affected. The plebiscite shall be conducted by the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within one hundred twenty (120) days from the effectivity of the
law or ordinance prescribing such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another date.

“x x x.”

The rules cover all conversions, whether upward or downward in character, so long as they result in a
material change in the local government unit directly affected, especially a change in the political and
economic rights of its people.

A word on the dissenting opinions of our esteemed brethren. Mr. Justice Buena justifies R.A. No. 8528
on the ground that Congress has the power to amend the charter of Santiago City. This power of
amendment, however, is limited by Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. Quite clearly, when an
amendment of a law involves the creation, merger, division, abolition or substantial alteration of
boundaries of local government units, a plebiscite in the political units directly affected is mandatory.
He also contends that the amendment merely caused a transition in the status of Santiago as a city.
Allegedly, it is a transition because no new city was created nor was a former city dissolved by R.A. No.
8528. As discussed above, the spirit of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution calls for the people of
the local government unit directly affected to vote in a plebiscite whenever there is a material change
in their rights and responsibilities. They may call the downgrading of Santiago to a component city as
a mere transition but they cannot blink away from the fact that the transition will radically change its
physical and political configuration as well as the rights and responsibilities of its people.

On the other hand, our esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Mendoza, posits the theory that “only if the
classification involves changes in income, population, and land area of the local government unit is
there a need for such changes to be approved by the people x x x.”

With due respect, such an interpretation runs against the letter and spirit of Section 10, Article X of
the 1987 Constitution which, to repeat, states: “No province, city, municipality,

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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 approval by a
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.” It is clear that the
Constitution imposes two conditions—first, the creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial
alteration of boundary of a local government unit must meet the criteria fixed by the Local
Government Code on income, population and land area and second, the law must be approved by the
people “by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.”

In accord with the Constitution, Sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Local Government Code fixed the said
criteria and they involve requirements on income, population and land area. These requirements,
however, are imposed to help assure the economic viability of the local government unit concerned.
They were not imposed to determine the necessity for a plebiscite of the people. Indeed, the Local
Government Code does not state that there will be no more plebiscite after its requirements on
income, population and land area have been satisfied. On the contrary, Section 10, Chapter 2 of the
Code provides: “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 casts in a
plebiscite called for the purpose in the political unit or units directly affected. Said plebiscite shall be
conducted by the COMELEC within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the effectivity of
the law or ordinance effecting such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another date.”11
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, the principal author of the Local Government Code of 1991, opines that
the plebiscite is absolute and mandatory.12

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11 See also Rule II, Article 6, par. F(1) of the Implementing Rules of the Local Government Code.

12 Pimentel, The Local Government Code of 1991, The Key to National Development, p. 36.

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It cannot be overstressed that the said two requirements of the Constitution have different purposes.
The criteria fixed by the Local Government Code on income, population and land area are designed to
achieve an economic purpose. They are to be based on verified indicators, hence, Section 7, Chapter 2
of the Local Government Code requires that these “indicators shall be attested by the Department of
Finance, the National Statistics Office, and the Lands Management Bureau of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources.” In contrast, the people’s plebiscite is required to achieve a
political purpose—to use the people’s voice as a check against the pernicious political practice of
gerrymandering. There is no better check against this excess committed by the political
representatives of the people themselves than the exercise of direct people power. As well-observed
by one commentator, as the creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of
boundaries are “x x x basic to local government, it is also imperative that these acts be done not only
by Congress but also be approved by the inhabitants of the locality concerned. x x x By giving the
inhabitants a hand in their approval, the provision will also eliminate the old practice of
gerrymandering and minimize legislative action designed for the benefit of a few politicians. Hence, it
promotes the autonomy of local government units.”13

The records show that the downgrading of Santiago City was opposed by certain segments of its
people. In the debates in Congress, it was noted that at the time R.A. No. 8528 was proposed,
Santiago City has been converted to an independent component city barely two and a half (2 1/2)
years ago and the conversion was approved by a majority of 14,000 votes. Some legislators expressed
surprise for the sudden move to downgrade the status of Santiago City as there had been no
significant change in its socio-economic-political status. The only reason given for the downgrading is
to enable the people of the city to aspire for the leadership of the province. To say the

_______________

13 Hector S. de Leon, Philippine Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, 1991 ed., p. 509.

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least, the alleged reason is unconvincing for it is the essence of an independent component city that
its people can no longer participate or be voted for in the election of officials of the province. The
people of Santiago City were aware that they gave up that privilege when they voted to be
independent from the province of Isabela. There was an attempt on the part of the Committee on
Local Government to submit the downgrading of Santiago City to its people via a plebiscite. The
amendment to this effect was about to be voted upon when a recess was called. After the recess, the
chairman of the Committee announced the withdrawal of the amendment “after a very enlightening
conversation with the elders of the Body.” We quote the debates, viz.:14

“BILL ON SECOND READING

H.B. No. 8729—City of Santiago

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move that we consider House Bill No. 8729 as reported out under
Committee Report No. 971.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] there being none, the motion is approved.

“Consideration of House Bill No. 8729 is now in order. With the permission of the Body, the Secretary
will read only the title of the bill without prejudice to inserting in the Record the whole text thereof.

“The Acting Secretary [Atty. Raval]. House Bill No. 8729, entitled

AN ACT AMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF R.A. NO. 7720 ENTITLED “AN ACT CONVERTING THE
MUNICIPALITY OF SANTIAGO INTO AN INDEPENDENT COMPONENT CITY TO BE KNOWN AS THE CITY
OF SANTIAGO

Be it enacted by the Congress of the Philippines in session assembled:

_______________

14 Journal of the Senate, 10th Congress, 3rd Regular Session, Session No. 55, February 3, 1998, pp.
92-100.

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SECTION 1. Section 2 of R.A. 7720 is hereby amended by deleting the words “an independent”
thereon so that said Section 2 will read as follows:

SECTION 2. The City of Santiago.—The Municipality of Santiago shall be converted into [an
independent] a component city to be known as the City of Santi-ago, hereinafter referred to as the
City, which shall comprise of the present territory of the Municipality of Santiago, Isabela. The
territorial jurisdiction of the City shall be within the present metes and bounds of the Municipality of
Santiago.

SECTION 2. SECTION 51 of R.A. 7720 is hereby amended by deleting the entire section and in its stead
substitute the following:

SECTION 51. Election of Provincial Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members,


and any elective provincial position for the Province of Isabela.—The voters of the City of Santiago
shall be qualified to vote in the elections of the Provincial Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang
Panlalawigan members and other elective provincial positions of the Province of Isabela, and any such
qualified voter can be a candidate for such provincial positions and any elective provincial office.

SECTION 3. Repealing clause.—all existing laws or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of
this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SECTION 4. Effectivity.—This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved.

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President, for the sponsorship, I ask that the distinguished Chairman of the
Committee on Local Government be recognized.

“The President. Senator Sotto is recognized.

SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SENATOR SOTTO

“Mr. President. House Bill No. 8729, which was introduced in the House by Congressman Antonio M.
Abaya as its principal

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author, is a simple measure which merely seeks to convert the City of Santiago into a component city
of the Province of Isabela.

“The City of Santiago is geographically located within, and is physically an integral part of the Province
of Isabela. As an independent component city, however, it is completely detached and separate from
the said province as a local political unit. To use the language of the Explanatory Note of the proposed
bill, the City of Santiago is an ‘island in the provincial milieu.’

“The residents of the city no longer participate in the elections, nor are they qualified to run for any
elective positions in the Province of Isabela.

“The Province of Isabela, on the other hand, is no longer vested with the power and authority of
general supervision over the city and its officials, which power and authority are now exercised by the
Office of the President, which is very far away from Santiago City.

Being geographically located within the Province of Isabela, the City of Santiago is affected, one way
or the other by the happenings in the said province, and is benefited by its progress and development.
Hence, the proposed bill to convert the City of Santiago into a component city of Isabela.

“Mr. President, it is my pleasure, therefore, to present for consideration of this august Body
Committee Report No. 971 of the Committee on Local Government, recommending approval, with
our proposed committee amendment, of House Bill No. 8729.

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“The President. The Majority Leader is recognized.

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I moved (sic) that we close the period of interpellations.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the period of interpellations is
closed.
“Senator Tatad. I move that we now consider the committee amendments.

“Senator Roco. Mr. President.

“The President. What is the pleasure of Senator Roco?

“Senator Roco. Mr. President, may I ask for a reconsideration of the ruling on the motion to close the
period of interpellations just to be able to ask a few questions?

“Senator Tatad. May I move for a reconsideration of my motion, Mr. President.

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“The President. Is there any objection to the reconsideration of the closing of the period of
interpellations? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.

“Senator Roco is recognized.

“Senator Roco. Will the distinguished gentleman yield for some questions?

“Senator Sotto. Willingly, Mr. President.

“Senator Roco. Mr. President, together with the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government,
we were with the sponsors when we approved this bill to make Santiago a City. That was about two
and a half years ago. At that time, I remember it was the cry of the city that it be ‘independent.’ Now
we are deleting that word ‘independent.’

“Mr. President, only because I was a co-author and a cosponsor, for the Record, I want some
explanation on what happened between then and now that has made us decide that the City of
Santiago should cease to be independent and should now become a component city.
“Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the officials of the province said during the public hearing that they are
no longer vested with the power and authority of general supervision over the city. The power and
authority is now being exercised by the Office of the President and it is quite far from the City of
Santiago.

“In the public hearing, we also gathered that there is a clamor from some sectors that they want to
participate in the provincial elections.

“Senator Roco. Mr. President, I did not mean to delay this. I did want it on record, however. I think
there was a majority of 14,000 who approved the charter, and maybe we owe it to those who voted
for that charter some degree of respect. But if there has been a change of political will, there has
been a change of political will, then so be it.

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“Senator Sotto. Mr. President, to be very frank about it, that was a very important point raised by
Senator Roco, and I will have to place it on the Record of the Senate that the reason why we are
proposing a committee amendment is that, originally, there was an objection on the part of the local
officials and those who oppose it by incorporating a plebiscite in this bill. That was the solution.
Because

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there were some sectors in the City of Santiago who were opposing the reclassification or
reconversion of the city into a component city.

“Senator Roco. All I wanted to say, Mr. President—because the two of us had special pictures (sic) in
the city—is that I thought it should be put on record that we have supported originally the proposal to
make it an independent city. But now if it is their request, then, on the manifestation of the Chairman,
let it be so.

“Thank you.
“Senator Drilon. Mr. President.

“Senator Drilon. Will the gentleman yield for a few questions, Mr. President?

“Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.

“Senator Drilon. Mr. President, further to the interpellation of our good friend, the Senator from Bicol,
on the matter of the opinion of the citizens of Santiago City, there is a resolution passed by the
Sanggunian on January 30, 1997 opposing the conversion of Santiago from an independent city.

“This opposition was placed on records during the committee hearings. And that is the reason why, as
mentioned by the good sponsor, one of the amendments is that a plebiscite be conducted before the
law takes effect.

“The question I would like to raise—and I would like to recall the statement of our Minority
Leader—is that, at this time we should not be passing it for a particular politician.

“In this particular case, it is obvious that this bill is being passed in order that the additional territory
be added to the election of the provincial officials of the province of Isabela.

“Now, is this for the benefit of any particular politician, Mr. President.

“Senator Sotto. If it is, I am not aware of it, Mr. President.

“Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.

“The President. With the permission of the two gentlemen on the Floor, Senator Alvarez is
recognized.

“Senator Alvarez. As a born inbred citizen of this city, Mr. President, may I share some information.

“Mr. President, if we open up the election of the city to the provincial leadership, it will not be to the
benefit of the provincial leadership, because the provincial leadership will then campaign in a bigger
territory.
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“As a matter of fact, the ones who will benefit from this are the citizens of Santiago who will now be
enfranchised in the provincial electoral process, and whose children will have the opportunity to grow
into provincial leadership. This is one of the prime reasons why this amendment is being put forward.

“While it is true that there may have been a resolution by the city council, those who signed the
resolution were not the whole of the council. This bill was sponsored by the congressman of that
district who represents a constituency, the voice of the district.

“I think, Mr. President, in considering which interest is paramount, whose voice must be heard, and if
we have to fathom the interest of the people, the law which has been crafted here in accordance with
the rules should be given account, as we do give account to many of the legislations coming from the
House on local issues.

“Senator Drilon. Mr. President, the reason why I am raising this question is that, as Senator Roco said,
just two-and-a-half years ago we passed a bill which indeed disenfranchised—if we want to use that
phrase—the citizens of the City of Santiago in the matter of the provincial election. Two-and-a-half
years after, we are changing the rule.

“In the original charter, the citizens of the City of Santiago participated in a plebiscite in order to
approve the conversion of the city into an independent city. I believe that the only way to resolve this
issue raised by Senator Roco is again to subject this issue to another plebiscite as part of the provision
of this proposed bill and as will be proposed by the Committee Chairman as an amendment.

“Thank you very much, Mr. President.

“Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, the Constitution does not require that the change from an
independent to a component city be subjected to a plebiscite.

“Sections 10, 11, 12 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides as follows:


‘Sec. 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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political
units directly affected.’

“This change from an independent city into a component city is none of those enumerated. So the
proposal coming from the House is

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

in adherence to this constitutional mandate which does not require a plebiscite.

“Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the key word here is ‘conversion.’ The word ‘conversion’ appears in
that provision wherein we must call a plebiscite. During the public hearing, the representative of
Congressman Abaya was insisting that this is not a conversion; this is merely a reclassification. But it is
clear in the bill.

“We are amending a bill that converts, and we are converting it into a component city. That is how
the members of the committee felt. That is why we have proposed an amendment to this, and this is
to incorporate a plebiscite in as much as there is no provision on incorporating a plebiscite. Because
we would like not only to give the other people of Santiago a chance or be enfranchised as far as the
leadership of the province is concerned, but also we will give a chance to those who are opposing it.
To them, this is the best compromise. Let the people decide, instead of the political leaders of Isabela
deciding for them.

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President.

“The President. The Majority Leader is recognized.

“Senator Tatad. At this point, Mr. President, I think we can move to close the period of interpellations.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.
“Senator Tatad. I move that we now consider the committee amendments, Mr. President.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.

“Senator Sotto. On page 2, after line 13, insert a new Section 3, as follows:

“SEC. 3. SECTION 49 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7720 IS HEREBY AMENDED BY DELETING THE ENTIRE
SECTION AND IN ITS STEAD SUBSTITUTE THE FOLLOWING:

“SEC. 49. PLEBISCITE.—THE CONVERSION OF THE CITY OF SANTIAGO INTO A COMPONENT CITY OF
THE PROVINCE OF ISABELA SHALL TAKE EFFECT UPON THE RATIFICATION OF THIS ACT BY A MAJORITY
OF THE PEOPLE OF SAID CITY IN A PLEBISCITE WHICH SHALL BE HELD FOR THE PURPOSE WITHIN SIXTY
(60) DAYS FROM THE APPROVAL OF THIS ACT. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS SHALL CONDUCT
AND SUPERVISE SUCH PLEBISCITE.

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“The President. Is there any objection?

“Senator Enrile. Mr. President.

“The President. Senator Enrile is recognized.

“Senator Enrile. I object to this committee amendment, Mr. President.

“SUSPENSION OF SESSION

“Senator Tatad: May I ask for a one-minute suspension of the session.


“The President. The session is suspended for a few minutes if there is no objection. [There was none]

“It was 7:54 p.m.

“RESUMPTION OF SESSION

“At 7:57 p.m., the session was resumed.

“The President. The session is resumed.

“Senator Sotto is recognized.

“Senator Sotto. Mr. President, after a very enlightening conversation with the elders of the Body, I
withdraw my amendment.

“The President. The amendment is withdrawn.

“Senator Maceda. Mr. President.

“The President. Senator Maceda is recognized.

“Senator Maceda. We wish to thank the sponsor for the withdrawal of the amendment.

“Mr. President, with due respect to the Senator from Isabela—I am no great fan of the Senator from
Isabela—but it so happens that this is a local bill affecting not only his province but his own city where
he is a resident and registered voter.

“So, unless the issue is really, a matter of life and death and of national importance, senatorial
courtesy demands that we, as much as possible, accommodate the request of the Senator from
Isabela as we have done on matters affecting the district of other senators. I need not remind them.

“Thank you anyway, Mr. President.

“Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.


“The President. Senator Alvarez is recognized.

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

“Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, may I express my deepest appreciation for the statement of the
gentleman from Ilocos and Laguna. Whatever he may have said, the feeling is not mutual. At least for
now, I have suddenly become his great fan for the evening.

“May I put on record, Mr. President, that I campaigned against the cityhood of Santiago not because I
do not want it to be a city but because it had disenfranchised the young men of my city from aspiring
for the leadership of the province. The town is the gem of the province. How could we extricate the
town from the province?

“But I would like to thank the gentleman, Mr. President, and also the Chairman of the Committee.

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President.

“The President. The Majority Leader is recognized.

“Senator Tatad. There being no committee amendments, I move that the period of committee
amendments be closed.

“The President. Shall we amend the title of this bill by removing the word ‘independent’ preceding
‘component city’?

“Senator Sotto. No, Mr. President. We are merely citing the title. The main title of this House Bill No.
8729 is ‘An Act Amending Certain Sections of Republic Act 7720.’ The title is the title of Republic Act
7720. So, I do not think that we should amend that anymore.
“The President. What is the pending motion? Will the gentleman kindly state the motion?

“Senator Tatad. I move that we close the period of committee amendments.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the motion is approved.

“Senator Tatad. Unless there are any individual amendments, I move that we close the period of
individual amendments.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the period of individual
amendments is closed.

“APPROVAL OF H.B. NO. 8729 ON SECOND READING

“Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move that we vote on Second Reading on House Bill No. 8729.

“The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, we shall now vote on Second
Reading on House Bill No. 8729.

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“As many as are in favor of the bill, say aye.

“Several Members. Aye

“As many as are against the bill, say nay. [Silence]

“House Bill No. 8729 is approved on Second Reading.”


The debates cannot but raise some quizzical eyebrows on the real purpose for the downgrading of the
city of Santiago. There is all the reason to listen to the voice of the people of the city via a plebiscite.

In the case of Tan, et al. vs. COMELEC,15 BP 885 was enacted partitioning the province of Negros
Occidental without consulting its people in a plebiscite. In his concurring opinion striking down the
law as unconstitutional, Chief Justice Teehankee cited the illicit political purpose behind its enactment,
viz.:

“The scenario, as petitioners urgently asserted, was ‘to have the creation of the new Province a fait
accompli by the time elections are held on February 7, 1986. The transparent purpose is unmistakably
so that the new Governor and other officials shall by then have been installed in office, ready to
function for purposes of the election for President and Vice-President.’ Thus, the petitioners reported
after the event: ‘With indecent haste, the plebiscite was held; Negros del Norte was set up and
proclaimed by President Marcos as in existence; a new set of government officials headed by
Governor Armando Gustilo was appointed; and, by the time the elections were held on February 7,
1986, the political machinery was in place to deliver the ‘solid North’ to ex-President Marcos. The rest
is history. What happened in Negros del Norte during the elections—the unashamed use of naked
power and resources—contributed in no small way to arousing ‘people’s power’ and steel the
ordinary citizen to perform deeds of courage and patriotism that makes one proud to be a Filipino
today.

“The challenged Act is manifestly void and unconstitutional. Consequently, all the implementing acts
complained of, viz. the plebiscite, the proclamation of a new province of Negros del Norte and the
appointment of its officials are equally void. The limited

_______________

15 142 SCRA 727, 753-754 (1986).

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

holding of the plebiscite only in the areas of the proposed new province (as provided by Section 4 of
the Act) to the exclusion of the voters of the remaining areas of the integral province of Negros
Occidental (namely, the three cities of Bacolod, Bago and La Carlota and the Municipalities of Las
Castellana, Isabela, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Himamaylan, Kabankalan, Murcia,
Valladolid, San Enrique, Ilog, Cauayan, Hinoba-an and Sipalay and Candoni), grossly contravenes and
disregards the mandate of Article XI, section 3 of the then prevailing 1973 Constitution that no
province may be created or divided or its boundary substantially altered without ‘the approval of a
majority of the votes in a plebiscite in the unit or units affected.’ It is plain that all the cities and
municipalities of the province of Negros Occidental, not merely those of the proposed new province,
comprise the units affected. It follows that the voters of the whole and entire province of Negros
Occidental have to participate and give their approval in the plebiscite, because the whole province is
affected by its proposed division and substantial alteration of its boundary. To limit the plebiscite to
only the voters of the areas to be partitioned and seceded from the province is as absurd and illogical
as allowing only the secessionists to vote for the secession that they demanded against the wishes of
the majority and to nullify the basic principle of majority rule.”

Mr. Justice Mendoza and Mr. Justice Buena also cite two instances when allegedly independent
component cities were downgraded into component cities without need of a plebiscite. They cite the
City of Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental,16 and the City of San Carlos, Pangasinan17 whose charters
were amended to allow their people to vote and be voted upon in the election of officials of the
province to which their city belongs without submitting the amendment to a plebiscite. With due
respect, the cities of Oroquieta and San Carlos are not similarly situated as the city of Santiago. The
said two cities then were not independent component cities unlike the city of Santiago. The two cities
were chartered but were not independent component cities for both were not highly urbanized cities
which alone were considered independent cities at that

_______________

16 See R.A. No. 6720 which amended R.A. No. 5518.

17 See R.A. No. 6843 which amended R.A. No. 4487.

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time. Thus, when the case of San Carlos City was under consideration by the Senate, Senator Pimentel
explained:18
“x x x Senator Pimentel. The bill under consideration, Mr. President, merely empowers the voters of
San Carlos to vote in the elections of provincial officials. There is no intention whatsoever to
downgrade the status of the City of San Carlos and there is no showing whatsoever that the
enactment of this bill will, in any way, diminish the powers and prerogatives already enjoyed by the
City of San Carlos. In fact, the City of San Carlos as of now, is a component city. It is not a highly
urbanized city. Therefore, this bill merely, as we said earlier, grants the voters of the city, the power
to vote in provincial elections, without in any way changing the character of its being a component
city. It is for this reason that I vote in favor of this bill.”

It was Senator Pimentel who also sponsored the bill19 allowing qualified voters of the city of
Oroquieta to vote in provincial elections of the province of Misamis Occidental. In his sponsorship
speech, he explained that the right to vote being given to the people of Oroquieta City was consistent
with its status as a component city.20 Indeed, during the debates, former Senator Neptali Gonzales
pointed out the need to remedy the anomalous situation then obtaining “x x x where voters of one
component city can vote in the provincial election while the voters of another component city cannot
vote simply because their charters so provide.”21 Thus, Congress amended other charters of
component cities prohibiting their people from voting in provincial elections.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is granted. Republic Act No. 8528 is declared unconstitutional and the
writ of prohibi-

_______________

18 Record of the Senate, October 20, 1989, p. 795.

19 House Bill No. 1881; Committee Report Nos. 73 and 76 in the Senate.

20 Record of the Senate, November 25, 1988, p. 763.

21 Ibid., p. 764. See Record of the Senate, October 6, 1989, p. 506 where the cases of the cities of
Naga and Ormoc were cited as examples.

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

tion is hereby issued commanding the respondents to desist from implementing said law.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr. (C.J.), Bellosillo, Melo, Kapunan, Panganiban, Pardo, Gonzaga-Reyes and
Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

Vitug, J., Please see separate opinion.

Mendoza, J., Please see dissent.

Quisumbing and Purisima, JJ., Join Justice Mendoza in his dissent.

Buena, J., Please see dissent.

SEPARATE OPINION

VITUG, J.:

I share the opinion of the majority of my colleagues that, for the reasons expressed in the ponencia, a
plebiscite is essential in order to render effective the conversion of the City of Santiago, Isabela, from
an independent to a component city. I would not go to the extent, however, of declaring Republic Act
No. 7720 unconstitutional; instead, with due respect, I take the view that a plebiscite can be held
conformably with the provisions of the Local Government Code. I do not see, in this instance, a
serious incompatibility in having Republic Act No. 7720 stand along with the Local Government Code.

SEPARATE OPINION

MENDOZA, J., dissenting:

The issue in this case is whether the conversion of the City of Santiago in Isabela province from an
independent component city to a component city constitutes the creation, division, merger, abolition,
or substantial alteration of the boundary of a city within the contemplation of Art. X, §10 of the
Constitution so as to require the approval of the people in a plebiscite. The Court, in declaring R.A. No.
8528 unconstitu-
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tional for lack of provision for a plebiscite, does not say that the reclassification of Santiago City as an
ordinary component city constitutes creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of
boundary. Nonetheless, the Court today holds that because the reclassification of the city would
result in a “material change in the political and economic rights of the local government units directly
affected as well as the people therein,” the approval of the law in a plebiscite is required.

With all due respect I submit that not every change—however “material” and far-reaching—in the
classification of a local government unit requires popular approval. Only if the reclassification involves
changes in income, population, and land area of the local government unit is there a need for such
changes to be approved by the people, for then there would be a creation, division, merger, abolition,
or substantial alteration of the boundary of a local government unit, as the case may be, within the
meaning of Art. X, §10 of the Constitution. Thus, the Local Government Code (R.A. No. 7160), in
implementing the constitutional provision in question, states:

SEC. 7. Creation and Conversion.—As a general rule, the creation of a local government unit or its
conversion from one level to another level shall be based on verifiable indicators or viability and
projected capacity to provide services, to wit:

(a) Income.—It must be sufficient, based on acceptable standards, to provide for all essential
government facilities and services and special functions commensurate with the size of its population,
as expected of the local government unit concerned;

(b) Population.—It shall be determined as the total number of inhabitants within the territorial
jurisdiction of the local government unit concerned; and

(c) Land Area.—It must be contiguous, unless it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a
local government unit independent of the others; properly identified by metes and bounds with
technical descriptions; and sufficient to provide for such basic services and facilities to meet the
requirements of its populace.

Compliance with the foregoing indicators shall be attested to by the Department of Finance (DOF),
the National Statistics Office

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

(NSO), and the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR).

SEC. 8. Division and Merger.—Division and merger of existing local government units shall comply
with the same requirements herein prescribed for their creation: Provided, however, That such
division shall not reduce the income, population, or land area of the local government unit or units
concerned to less than the minimum requirements prescribed in this Code: Provided, further, That
the income classification of the original local government unit or units shall not fall below its current
income classification prior to such division.

The income classification of local government units shall be updated within six (6) months from the
effectivity of this Code to reflect the changes in their financial position resulting from the increased
revenues as provided herein.

SEC. 9. Abolition of Local Government Units.—A local government unit may be abolished when its
income, population, or land area has been irreversibly reduced to less than the minimum standards
prescribed for its creation under Book III of this Code, as certified by the national agencies mentioned
in Section 7 hereof to Congress or to the sanggunian concerned, as the case may be.

The law or ordinance abolishing a local government unit shall specify the province, city, municipality,
or barangay with which the local government unit sought to be abolished will be incorporated or
merged.

The conversion from an independent component city to a component city involves no such changes in
income, population, or land area. There may be changes in the voting rights of the residents of the
city, the supervision of the city’s administration, and the city’s share in the local taxes, as petitioners
point out, but such changes do not amount to the creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial
alteration of the boundary of a local government unit so as to require a plebiscite for their approval.
An independent component city and an ordinary component city are both component cities, as
distinguished from highly urbanized cities.1 The only differ-

_______________

1 See LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, §451.


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ence between them is that the charters of the independent component cities prohibit their voters
from voting for provincial elective officials and such cities are independent of the provinces in which
they are located.2 Thus, the Local Government Code provides:

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 requisites:

(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 nonrecurring income.

SEC. 451. Cities, Classified.—A city may either be component or highly urbanized: Provided, however,
That the criteria established in this Code shall not affect the classification and corporate status of
existing cities.
Independent component cities are those component cities whose charters prohibit their voters from
voting for provincial elective officials. Independent component cities shall be independent of the
province.

SEC. 452. Highly Urbanized Cities.—(a) Cities with a minimum population of two hundred thousand
(200,000.00) inhabitants,

_______________

2 CONST., Art. X, §12; LGC, §451.

632

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miranda vs. Aguirre

as certified by the National Statistics Office, and with the latest annual income of at least Fifty Million
Pesos (P50,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer, shall be
classified as highly urbanized cities.

(b) Cities which do not meet the above requirements shall be considered component cities of the
province in which they are geographically located. If a component city is located within the
boundaries of two (2) or more provinces, such city shall be considered a component of the province
of which it used to be a municipality.

(c) Qualified voters of highly urbanized cities shall remain excluded from voting for elective provincial
officials.

Unless otherwise provided in the Constitution or this Code, qualified voters of independent
component cities shall be governed by their respective charters, as amended, on the participation of
voters in provincial elections.
Qualified voters of cities who acquired the right to vote for elective provincial officials prior to the
classification of said cities as highly urbanized after the ratification of the Constitution and before the
effectivity of this Code, shall continue to exercise such right.

The Court says that the changes resulting from the reclassification of Santiago City as an ordinary
component city “cannot be considered insubstantial.” For one, it is said, its independence will be
diminished because the city mayor will be placed under the administrative supervision of the
provincial governor. For another, the resolutions and ordinances of the city council will have to be
approved by the provincial board of Isabela.

The fact is that whether the City of Santiago is an independent component city or an ordinary
component city, it is subject to administrative supervision, with the only difference that, as an
independent component city, it is under the direct supervision of the President of the Philippines,
whereas, as an ordinary component city, it will be subject to the supervision of the President through
the province.3 That is hardly a distinction. For the fact is that under the Constitution, the

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3 LGC, §25.

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Miranda vs. Aguirre

President of the Philippines exercises general supervision over all local governments.4

Nor does it matter that ordinances passed by the city councils of component cities are subject to
review (not approval as the Court says) by the provincial boards for the purpose of determining
whether the ordinances are within the powers of the city councils to enact.5 For that matter,
ordinances passed by the city councils of independent component cities are likewise subject to review,
although by the Office of the President.6 The reason for this is to be found in Art. X, §4 of the
Constitution which provides:

The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision over local governments. Provinces
with respect to component cities and municipalities, and cities and municipalities with respect to
component barangays shall ensure that the acts of their component units are within the scope of
their prescribed powers and functions.

In any case, these are not important differences which determine whether the law effecting them
should be approved in a plebiscite. The defining characteristics of a local government unit are its
income, population, and local area, as §§450 and 452 of the LGC provide. These are referred to in §7
of the LGC and its Implementing Rules as the “verifiable indicators of viability and projected capacity
to provide services.” Tested by these standards, there is no change in the City of Santiago requiring
the approval of the people in a plebiscite.

The majority states: “It is markworthy that when R.A. No. 7720 upgraded the status of Santiago City
from a municipality to an independent component city, it required the approval of its people thru a
plebiscite called for the purpose. There is neither rhyme nor reason why this plebiscite should not be
called to determine the will of the people of Santiago City when R.A. No. 8528 downgrades the status
of their city.” The

_______________

4 ART. X, §4.

5 LGC, §468(a)(1)(i).

6 Id., §25(a).

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miranda vs. Aguirre

conversion of the then Municipality of Santiago in Isabela Province by R.A. No. 7720 was an act of
creation. It was based on the municipality’s satisfying the requisites for the creation of a city as
provided in the LGC, to wit:

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 a
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 requisites:

(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 nonrecurring income.

As thus indicated these requisites are based on the “verifiable indicators” of income, population, and
land area and, therefore, the conversion of what was once a municipality into a city needed approval
in a plebiscite. But the conversion of Santiago City from an independent component city into a
component city involves no more than a change in the right of the people (i.e., the registered voters
of the city) to vote for provincial elective officials.

If an analogy is needed, it is to the reversion of a component city—whether independent or


ordinary—to the status of a municipality. For then the city is actually abolished and

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Miranda vs. Aguirre


abolition, as stated in Art. X, §10 of the Constitution, must be approved by the majority of the votes
cast in a plebiscite. Stated otherwise, when a municipality is converted into a city, a city is created,
and when the city is reverted into a municipality, the city is abolished. Both acts of creation and
abolition require the approval of the people in a plebiscite called for the purpose. But when an
independent component city is converted into a component city, it is not created into another form, it
is not divided, it is not merged with another unit of local government, it is not abolished, much less is
its boundary substantially altered.

Indeed, this is not the first time that an independent component city is converted into a component
city without a plebiscite. The City of Oroquieta, created as an independent component city in 1969 by
R.A. No. 5518, was converted into a component city in 1989 by R.A. No. 6726, while the City of San
Carlos, created as an independent component city in 1965 by R.A. No. 4487, was converted into a
component city by R.A. No. 6843 in 1990. In both cases, the conversion was made without submitting
the matter to a plebiscite.

There is, therefore, no reason for requiring that the reclassification of Santiago City as a component
city must be approved by the majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite and for holding that, because
R.A. No. 8528 contains no provision for such plebiscite, it is unconstitutional.

It is easy to sympathize with calls for plebiscites as an exercise of direct democracy by the people. But,
although the Constitution declares that “Sovereignty resides in the people and all government
authority emanates from them,” it also provides that we are a “republican State.”7 It is thus a
representative form of government that we have. With few exceptions, we have vested the legislative
power in the Congress of the Philippines.8 This means that when an act of the people’s
representatives assembled in Congress is duly passed and approved by the President in the manner
prescribed in the

_______________

7 ART. II, §1.

8 ART. VI, §1.

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Miranda vs. Aguirre


Constitution, the act becomes a law9 without the need of approval or ratification by the people in
order to be effective.10

This is the theory of representative government. Such a government is no less democratic because it
is indirect. In some ways it is better than direct government given the complexity of modern society,
let alone the volatility of voters and their susceptibility to manipulation. In this age of mass
communication there is less reason to distrust the judgment of the people’s representatives in
Congress on matters such as this and, therefore, no reason to require the people to manifest their
sovereign will, except where this is expressly required by the Constitution.

For the foregoing reasons, I vote to dismiss the petition in this case.

DISSENTING OPINION

BUENA, J.:

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno, whose well-written
ponencia expresses his opinion with clarity, I regret that I am unable to agree that

_______________

9 Id., §§26-27.

10 In the following cases, the Constitution requires a plebiscite or a referendum to approve or ratify
an act of Congress or of the President: (1) the creation, division, merger, abolition, or substantial
alteration of the boundary of a local government unit [Art. X, §10]; (2) the creation of a special
metropolitan political subdivision [Id., §11]; (3) the creation of an autonomous region [Id., §18]; (4)
the adoption of a new name, national anthem, or national seal for the country [Art. XVI, §2]; (5)
referral to the people of the question whether to call a constitutional convention [Art. XVII, §3]; (6)
ratification of constitutional amendments [Art. XVII, §4]; and (7) the adoption of a treaty allowing
foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the Philippines if Congress decides to refer the matter to
the people [Art. XVIII, §25].

Direct lawmaking by the people is provided through initiative and referendum [Art. VI, §32; R.A. No.
6735] and ratification of constitutional amendments through a plebiscite [Art. XVII, §4].

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Republic Act No. 8528 should be declared as unconstitutional for the following reasons:

1. Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides that—

“Section 10, Article X.—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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in
the political units directly affected.”

Section 10, Chapter 2 of the Local Government Code (R.A. No. 7160) provides:

“Section 10, Chapter 2.—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.”

In short, conversion does not appear in the 1987 Constitution nor in the Section 10, Chapter 2 of the
Local Government Code. Surprisingly, Rule II, Article 6, paragraph (f) (1) of the Implementing Rules of
the Local Government Code included conversion in the enumeration of the modes of changing the
status of local government units, thus:

“(f) Plebiscite.—(1) No creation, conversion, division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of


boundaries of LGUs shall take effect unless approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite
called for the purpose in the LGU or LGUs affected. The plebiscite shall be conducted by the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within one hundred twenty (120) days from the effectivity of the
law or ordinance prescribing such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another date.

xxx xxx x x x.” (emphasis supplied)

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miranda vs. Aguirre

Other than that, the Local Government Code uses the term “conversion” only in the following
instances: (1) Section 7, which provides that “[a]s a general rule, the creation of a local government
unit or its conversion from one level to another shall be based on verifiable indicators of viability and
projected capacity to provide services, to wit: x x x x x x”; (2) Section 450, which provides for the
requisites for the “conversion” of a municipality or a cluster of barangays into a component city; and
(3) Section 462, which involves the “conversion” of existing sub-provinces into regular provinces.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. defines1 “conversion,” as “the elevation of an LGU from one level to
another, like converting a municipality to a city or a component city to a highly urbanized one or the
raising of the classification of one municipality, city or province from a fourth class category to third,
second or first.” It is my humble opinion therefore that the requirement of a plebiscite does not apply
to the case at bar which does not involve the upgrading or elevation of Santiago City but a
downgrading thereof.

2. I am not convinced that a mere Rule and Regulation intended to implement the Local Government
Code can expand the terms and provisions clearly expressed in the basic law to be implemented. As
aptly contended by the Solicitor General in his Comment on the petition viz.:

“It is a settled jurisprudence that the power of administrative agencies to promulgate rules and
regulations must be in strict compliance with the legislative enactment. Thus, in Tayug Rural Bank vs.
Central Bank of the Philippines (146 SCRA 129-30), this Honorable Court ruled that in the case of
discrepancy between the basic law and a rule or regulation to implement said law, the basic law
prevails as said rule or regulation can not go beyond the terms and provisions of the basic law.
Neither can such rules and regulations extend or expand the letter and spirit of the law they seek to
implement. (Iglesia ni Kristo vs. Court of Appeals, 259 SCRA 529)”2

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1 In The Local Government Code of 1991, The Key to National Development, 1993 ed., p. 34.

2 Rollo, p. 110.

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As a matter of fact, Mr. Justice Puno, in his ponencia in the above cited case of Iglesia ni Kristo, opined
that “(T)his rule is void for it runs smack against the hoary doctrine that administrative rules and
regulations cannot expand the letter and spirit of the law they seek to enforce.3

3. The proceedings in the Senate show that the Committee on Local Government, to which H.B. No.
8729 was referred, reported back to the Senate with the recommendation that it be approved with
the following amendment:

“SECTION 3. Section 49 of Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby amended by deleting the entire section
and in its stead substitute the following:

“SEC. 49. PLEBISCITE.—THE CONVERSION OF THE CITY OF SANTIAGO INTO A COMPONENT CITY OF
THE PROVINCE OF ISABELA SHALL TAKE EFFECT UPON THE RATIFICATION OF THIS ACT BY A MAJORITY
OF THE PEOPLE OF SAID CITY IN A PLEBISCITE WHICH SHALL BE HELD FOR THE PURPOSE WITHIN (60)
DAYS FROM THE APPROVAL OF THIS ACT. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS SHALL CONDUCT AND
SUPERVISE SUCH PLEBISCITE.”

However, after the deliberations in the Senate, the Committee on Local Government decided to
withdraw the foregoing proposed amendment. Hence, on February 6, 1998, the Republic Act No.
8528, the constitutionality of which is challenged by the petitioners, was approved.

Be that as it may, may this Court properly require a plebiscite for the validity of said law when
Congress itself, which had been given the opportunity to include such a requirement, decided against
it? Are we not supplanting our judgment over that of Congress, a co-equal branch of government
entrusted by the Constitution to enact laws? I respectfully submit that we may not do so without
disturbing the balance of power as apportioned and delineated by the Constitution.

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3 Iglesia ni Kristo vs. Court of Appeals, 259 SCRA 529, pp. 547-548.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Miranda vs. Aguirre

4. I likewise submit that we must consider the ramifications of a declaration of unconstitutionality of


Republic Act No. 8528 on Republic Act No. 6726 (1989) and Republic Act No. 6843 (1990), respectively
allowing the voters of the City of Oroquieta (Misamis Oriental) and San Carlos City (Pangasinan) to
vote and be voted for any of the respective provincial offices, in effect downgrading them from
independent component cities to component cities. The resulting confusion on the political structures
of the local government units involved would surely be disastrous to the order and stability of these
cities.

5. Finally, in a situation where the supposed breach of the constitution is doubtful, equivocal and, at
best, based on argumentative implications, I believe that, as we have ruled in a plethora of cases,4
every law has in its favor, the presumption of constitutionality and in case of doubt, the Court must
exert every effort to prevent the invalidation of the law and the nullification of the will of the
legislature that enacted it and the executive that approved it.

I therefore vote to dismiss the petition.

Petition granted; Republic Act No. 8528 declared unconstitutional and writ of prohibition issued
commanding respondents to desist from implementing said law. Miranda vs. Aguirre, 314 SCRA 603,
G.R. No. 133064 September 16, 1999

G.R. No. 105746. December 2,1996.*

MUNICIPALITY OF JIMENEZ, through its MAYOR ELEUTERIO A. QUIMBO, VICE-MAYOR ROBINSON B.


LOMO, COUNCILORS TEOFILO GALORIO, CASIANO ADORABLE, MARIO APAO, ANTONIO BIENES, VEDE
SULLANO, MARIETO TAN, SR., HERMINIO SERINO, BENJAMIN DANO, and CRISPULO MUNAR, and
ELEUTERIO A. QUIMBO, ROBINSON B. LOMO, TEOFILO GALORIO, CASIANO ADORABLE, MARIO APAO,
ANTONIO BIENES, VEDE SULLANO, MARIETO TAN, SR., HERMINIO SERINO, BENJAMIN DANO, and
CRISPULO MUNAR, in their private capacities as taxpayer in the Province of Misamis Occidental and in
the Municipality of Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, and BENJAMIN C. GALINDO and BENHUR B.
BAUTISTA, in their private capacities as taxpayers in the Province of Misamis Occidental and the
Municipality of Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, petitioners, vs. HON. VICENTE T. BAZ, JR., Presiding
Judge, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 14, 10th JUDICIAL REGION, OROQUIETA CITY, and
MUNICIPALITY OF SINACABAN through its MAYOR EUFRACIO D. LOOD, VICE-MAYOR BASILIO M.
BANAAG, COUNCILORS CONCEPCION E. LAGA-AC, MIGUEL F. ABCEDE, JUANITO B. TIU, CLAUDIO T.
REGIL, ANICETO S. MEJARES, NAZIANCINO PAYE, JOSE P. BANQUE, NUMERIANO B. MARIQUIT, and
FEDERICO QUINIMON, and THE PROVINCE OF MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL through the PROVINCIAL BOARD
OF MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL and

________________

* EN BANC.

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

its members, VICE-GOVERNOR FLORENCIO L. GARCIA, BOARD MEMBERS MARIVIC S. CHIONG, PACITA
M. YAP, ALEGRIA V. CARINO, JULIO L. TIU, LEONARDO R. REGALADO II, CONSTANCIO C. BALAIS, and
ERNESTO P. IRA, and THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, through its Chairman, HON. EUFEMIO DOMINGO,
and THE DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT through its Secretary, HON. LUIS SANTOS (now HON.
CESAR SARINO), and THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, through its Secretary, HON.
GUILERMO CARAGUE (now HON. SALVADOR ENRIQUEZ), and The Hon. CATALINO MACARAIG (now
HON. FRANKLIN DRILON), EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, respondents.

Constitutional Law; Municipal Corporations; Separation of Powers; Where a municipality created as


such by executive order is later impliedly recognized and its acts are accorded legal validity, its
creation can no longer be questioned.—The principal basis for the view that Sinacaban was not validly
created as a municipal corporation is the ruling in Pelaez v. Auditor General that the creation of
municipal corporations is essentially a legislative matter and therefore the President was without
power to create by executive order the Municipality of Sinacaban. The ruling in this case has been
reiterated in a number of cases later decided. However, we have since held that where a municipality
created as such by executive order is later impliedly recognized and its acts are accorded legal validity,
its creation can no longer be questioned.

Same; Same; De Facto Municipal Corporations; Quo Warranto; A municipality has been conferred the
status of at least a de facto municipal corporation where its legal existence has been recognized and
acquiesced publicly and officially; A quo warranto suit against a corporation for forfeiture of its
charter must be commenced within five (5) years from the act complained of was done or
committed.—Here, the same factors are present so as to confer on Sinacaban the status of at least a
de facto municipal corporation in the sense that its legal existence has been recognized and
acquiesced publicly and officially. Sinacaban had been in existence for sixteen years when Pelaez v.
Auditor General was decided on December 24, 1965. Yet the validity of E.O. No. 258 creating it had
never been questioned. Created in 1949, it was only 40 years later that its existence was

184
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

questioned and only because it had laid claim to an area that apparently is desired far its revenue.
This fact must be underscored because under Rule 66, §16 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto suit
against a corporation for forfeiture of its charter must be commenced within five (5) years from the
time the act complained of was done or committed. On the contrary, the State and even the
Municipality of Jimenez itself have recognized Sinacaban's corporate existence. Under Administrative
Order No. 33 dated June 13, 1978 of this Court, as reiterated by §31 of the Judiciary Reorganization
Act of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129), Sinacaban is constituted part of a municipal circuit for purposes of the
establishment of Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the country. For its part, Jimenez had earlier
recognized Sinacaban in 1950 by entering into an agreement with it regarding their common
boundary. The agreement was embodied in Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board of Misamis
Occidental.

Same; Same; De Jure Municipal Corporations; The Municipality of Sinacaban attained de jure status
by virtue of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution.—Indeed Sinacaban has attained de
jure status by virtue of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution, apportioning legislative
districts throughout the country, which considered Sinacaban part of the Second District of Misamis
Occidental. Moreover, following the ruling in Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon v. Mendez, Sr.,
§442(d) of the Local Government Code of 1991 must be deemed to have cured any defect in the
creation of Sinacaban. This provision states: Municipalities existing as of the date of the 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 the Code shall henceforth be considered as
regular municipalities.

Same; Same; Plebiscites; The plebiscite requirement for the creation of municipalities applies only to
new municipalities created for the first time under the Constitution—it cannot be applied to
municipal corporations created before.—As previously explained, Sinacaban had attained de facto
status at the time the 1987 Constitution took effect on February 2, 1987, it is not subject to the
plebiscite requirement. This requirement applies only to new municipalities created for the first time
under the Constitution. Actually, the requirement of plebiscite was originally contained in Art. XI, §3
of

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

the previous Constitution which took effect on January 17, 1973. It cannot, therefore, be applied to
municipal corporations created before, such as the Municipality of Sinacaban in the case at bar.

Same; Same; The technical description, containing the metes and bounds of a municipality's territory,
is controlling.—Finally, Jimenez argues that the RTC erred in ordering a relocation survey of the
boundary of Sinacaban because the barangays which Sinacaban are claiming are not enumerated in
E.O. No. 258 and that in any event in 1950 the parties entered into an agreement whereby the
barangays in question were considered part of the territory of Jimenez. E.O. No. 258 does not say that
Sinacaban comprises only the barrios (now called barangays) therein mentioned. What it says is that
"Sinacaban contains" those barrios, without saying they are the only ones comprising it. The reason
for this is that the technical description, containing the metes and bounds of its territory, is
controlling. The trial court correctly ordered a relocation survey as the only means of determining the
boundaries of the municipality and consequently the question to which municipality the barangays in
question belong.

Same; Same; Delegation of Power; Any alteration of boundaries that is not in accordance with the law
creating a municipality is not the carrying into effect of the law but its amendment—and a resolution
of a Provincial Board declaring certain barrios part of one or another municipality that is contrary to
the technical description of the territory of a municipality is not binding.—As held in Pelaez v. Auditor
General, the power of provincial boards to settle boundary disputes is "of an administrative nature 7.
involving, as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the law creating said
municipalities." It is a power “to fix common boundary, in order to avoid or settle conflicts of
jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities." It is thus limited to implementing the law creating a
municipality. It is obvious that any alteration of boundaries that is not in accordance with the law
creating a municipality is not the carrying into effect of that law but its amendment. If, therefore,
Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board of Misamis Occidental is contrary to the technical
description of the territory of Sinacaban, it cannot be used by Jimenez as basis for opposing the claim
of Sinacaban.

Courts; Jurisdiction; In case no settlement of boundary disputes between municipalities is made, the
dispute should be elevated to the RTC of the province.—Jimenez properly brought to the RTC for re-

186

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

view the decision of October 11, 1989 and Resolution No. 13-90 of the Provincial Board. Its action is in
accordance with the Local Government Code of 1983, §79 of which provides that in case no
settlement of boundary disputes is made the dispute should be elevated to the RTC of the province.
In 1989, when the action was brought by Jimenez, this Code was the governing law. The governing
law is now the The Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), §§118-119.

Same; Same; Failure of a court to decide within the period prescribed by law does not divest it of its
jurisdiction to decide the case but only makes the judge thereof liable for possible administrative
sanction.—Jimenez's contention that the RTC failed to decide the case "within one year from the start
of proceedings" as required by §79 of the Local Government Code of 1983 and the 90-day period
provided for in Article VIII, §15 of the Constitution does not affect the validity of the decision
rendered. For even granting that the court failed to decide within the period prescribed by law, its
failure did not divest it of its jurisdiction to decide the case but only makes the judge thereof liable for
possible administrative sanction.

PETITION for review of a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Oroquieta City, Br. 14.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Valmores, Paquinto, Aldaba Law Offices for petitioners.

Alaric Acosta for respondent Municipality of Sinacaban.

Vicente Sarigumba for the Provincial Board of Misamis Occidental.

James V. Go for Commission on Audit.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review of the decision dated March 4, 1992 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14
of Oroquieta City,1 affirming the legal existence of the Municipality of Sinacaban in Misamis
Occidental and ordering the relocation of
________________

1 Per Judge Vicente T. Baz, Jr.

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

its boundary for the purpose of determining whether certain areas claimed by it belong to it.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

The Municipality of Sinacaban was created by Executive Order No. 258 of then President Elpidio
Quirino, pursuant to §68 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917. The full text of the Order reads:

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 258

CREATING THE MUNICIPALITY OF SINACABAN, IN THE

PROVINCE OF MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL

Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior, and pursuant to the provisions of Section
68 of the Revised Administrative Code, there is hereby created, in the Province of Misamis Occidental,
a municipality to be known as the municipality of Sinacaban, which shall consist of the southern
portion of the municipality of Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, more particularly described and bounded
as follows:

On the north by a line starting from point 1, the center of the lighthouse on the Tabo-o point S. 84°
30'W., 7,250 meters to point 2 which is on the bank of Palilan River branch; thence following Palilan
River branch 2,400 meters southwesterly to point 3, thence a straight line S. 87° 00'W,22,550 meters
to point 4, where this intersects the Misamis Occidental-Zamboanga boundary; on the west, by the
present Misamis Occidental-Zamboanga boundary; and on the south by the present Jimenez-Tudela
boundary; and on the east, by the limits of the municipal waters which the municipality of Sinacaban
shall have pursuant to Section 2321 of the Revised Administrative Code (Description based on data
shown in Enlarged Map of Poblacion of Jimenez, Scale 1:8:000).

The municipality of Sinacaban contains the barrios of Sinacaban, which shall be the seat of the
municipal government, Sinonoc, Libertad, the southern portion of the barrio of Macabayao, and the
sitios of Tipan, Katipunan, Estrella, Flores, Senior, Adorable, San Isidro, Cagayanon, Kamanse, Kulupan
and Libertad Alto.

The municipality of Jimenez shall have its present territory, minus the portion thereof included in the
municipality of Sinacaban.

The municipality of Sinacaban shall begin to exist upon the appointment and qualification of the
mayor, vice-mayor, and a ma

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

jority of the councilors thereof. The new municipality shall, however, assume payment of a
proportionate share of the loan of the municipality of Jimenez with the Rehabilitation Finance
Corporation as may be outstanding on the date of its organization, the proportion of such payment to
be determined by the Department of Finance.

Done in the City of Manila, this 30th day of August, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and
forty-nine, and of the Independence of the Philippines, the fourth.

(SGD.) ELPIDIO QUIRINO

President of the Philippines

By the President:

(SGD.) TEODORO EVANGELISTA

Executive Secretary
By virtue of Municipal Council Resolution No. 171,2 dated November 22, 1988, Sinacaban laid claim to
a portion of Barrio Tabo-o and to Barrios Macabayao, Adorable, Sinara Baja, and Sinara Alto,3 based
on the technical description in E.O. No. 258. The claim was filed with the Provincial Board of Misamis
Occidental against the Municipality of Jimenez.

In its answer, the Municipality of Jimenez, while conceding that under E.O. No. 258 the disputed area
is part of Sinacaban, nonetheless asserted jurisdiction on the basis of an agreement it had with the
Municipality of Sinacaban. This agreement was approved by the Provincial Board of Misamis
Occidental, in its Resolution No. 77, dated February 18, 1950, which fixed the common boundary of
Sinacaban and Jimenez as follows:4

From a point at Cagayanon Beach follow Macabayao Road until it intersects Tabangag Creek at the
back of the Macabayao Ele

________________

2 Petition, Annex Z; Rollo, pp. 183-184.

3 These barrios are currently under Jimenez's jurisdiction. Jimenez claims that Sinacaban filed its
territorial claim because it desired the revenues from the oil mill in Tabo-o.

4 Petition, Annex GG; Rollo, p. 220.

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mentary School. Follow the Tabangag Creek until it intersects the Macabayao River at upper Adorable.
Follow the Macabayao River such that the barrio of Macabayao, Sitio Adorable and site will be a part
of Jimenez down and the sitios of San Vicente, Donan, Estrella, Mapula will be a part of Sinacaban.
(Emphasis added)
In its decision dated October 11, 1989,5 the Provincial Board declared the disputed area to be part of
Sinacaban. It held that the previous resolution approving the agreement between the municipalities
was void because the Board had no power to alter the boundaries of Sinacaban as fixed in E.O. No.
258, that power being vested in Congress pursuant to the Constitution and the Local Government
Code of 1983 (B.P. Blg. 337), §134.6 The Provincial Board denied in its Resolution No. 13-90 dated
January 30, 1990 the motion of Jimenez seeking reconsideration.7

On March 20, 1990, Jimenez filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus in the Regional
Trial Court of Oroquieta City, Branch 14. The suit was filed against Sinacaban, the Province of Misamis
Occidental and its Provincial Board, the Commission on Audit, the Departments of Local Government,
Budget and Management, and the Executive Secretary. Jimenez alleged that, in accordance with the
decision in Pelaez v. Auditor General,8 the power to create municipalities is essentially legislative and
consequently Sinacaban, which was created by an executive order, had no legal person-

________________

5 Id., Annex BB; Id., pp. 186-188.

6 B.P. Blg. 337, §134 provides:

§ 134. Manner of Creation.—A municipality may be created, named and its boundaries defined,
altered or modified only by an Act of the Batasang Pambansa, subject to the approval by a majority of
the votes cast in a plebiscite to be held in the unit or units affected. Except as may otherwise be
provided in said Act, the plebiscite shall be conducted by the Commission on Elections within one
hundred twenty days from the date of its effectivity.

7 Petition, Annex EE; Rollo, p. 194.

8 122 Phil. 965 (1965).

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Municipality of Jimenez vs, Baz, Jr.


ality and no right to assert a territorial claim vis-a-vis Jimenez, of which it remains part Jimenez prayed
that Sinacaban be enjoined from assuming control and supervision over the disputed barrios; that the
Provincial Board be enjoined from assuming jurisdiction over the claim of Sinacaban; that E.O. No. 258
be declared null and void; that the decision dated October 11, 1989 and Resolution No. 13-90 of the
Provincial Board be set aside for having been rendered without jurisdiction; that the Commission on
Audit be enjoined from passing in audit any expenditure of public funds by Sinacaban; that the
Department of Budget and Management be enjoined from allotting public funds to Sinacaban; and
that the Executive Secretary be enjoined from exercising control and supervision over said
municipality.

During pre-trial, the parties agreed to limit the issues to the following:

A. Whether the Municipality of Sinacaban is a legal juridical entity, duly created in accordance with
law;

B. If not, whether it is a de facto juridical entity;

C. Whether the validity of the existence of the Municipality can be properly questioned in this action
on certiorari;

D. Whether the Municipality of Jimenez which had recognized the existence of the municipality for
more than 40 years is estopped to question its existence;

E. Whether the existence of the municipality has been recognized by the laws of the land; and

F. Whether the decision of the Provincial Board had acquired finality.

On February 10, 1992, the RTC rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the finding of this Court that the petition must be denied and
judgment is hereby rendered declaring a STATUS QUO, that is, the municipality of Sinacaban shall
continue to exist and operate as a regular municipality; declaring the decision dated October 11, 1989
rendered by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan fixing the boundaries between Sinacaban and

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

Jimenez, Misamis Occi. as null and void, the same not being in accordance with the boundaries
provided for in Executive Order No. 258 creating the municipality of Sinacaban; dismissing the
petition for lack of merit, without pronouncement as to costs and damages. With respect to the
counterclaim, the same is hereby ordered dismissed.

The Commissioners are hereby ordered to conduct the relocation survey of the boundary of
Sinacaban within 60 days from the time the decision shall have become final and executory and
another 60 days within which to submit their report from the completion of the said relocation
survey.

SO ORDERED.

The RTC, inter alia, held that Sinacaban is a de facto corporation since it had completely organized
itself even prior to the Pelaez case and exercised corporate powers for forty years before its existence
was questioned; that Jimenez did not have the legal standing to question the existence of Sinacaban,
the same being reserved to the State as represented by the Office of the Solicitor General in a quo
warranto proceeding; that Jimenez was estopped from questioning the legal existence of Sinacaban
by entering into an agreement with it concerning their common boundary; and that any question as
to the legal existence of Sinacaban had been rendered moot by §442(d) of the Local Government
Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), which provides:

Municipalities existing as of the date of the 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 offi-cials holding office at the time of the
effectivity of this Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities.

On March 17, 1990, petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the decision but its motion was denied
by the RTC. Hence this petition raising the following issues: (1) whether Sinacaban has legal
personality to file a claim, and (2) if it has, whether it is the boundary provided for in E.O. No. 258 or
in Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board of Misamis Occiden-

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

tal which should be used as the basis for adjudicating Sinacaban's territorial claim.
First. The preliminary issue concerns the legal existence of Sinacaban. If Sinacaban legally exists, then
it has standing to bring a claim in the Provincial Board. Otherwise, it cannot.

The principal basis for the view that Sinacaban was not validly created as a municipal corporation is
the ruling in Pelaez v. Auditor General that the creation of municipal corporations is essentially a
legislative matter and therefore the President was without power to create by executive order the
Municipality of Sinacaban. The ruling in this case has been reiterated in a number of cases9 later
decided. However, we have since held that where a municipality created as such by executive order is
later impliedly recognized and its acts are accorded legal validity, its creation can no longer be ques-t
ioned. In Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon v. Mendez, Sr.,10 this Court considered the following
factors as having validated the creation of a municipal corporation, which, like the Municipality of
Sinacaban, was created by executive order of the President before the ruling in Pelaez v. Auditor
General: (1) the fact that for nearly 30 years the validity of the creation of the municipality had never
been challenged; (2) the fact that following the ruling in Pelaez no quo warranto suit was filed to
question the validity of the executive order creating such municipality; and (3) the fact that the
municipality was later classified as a fifth class municipality, organized as part of a municipal circuit
court and considered part of a legislative district in the Constitution apportioning the seats in the
House of Representatives. Above all, it was held that whatever doubt there might be as to the de jure
character of the municipality must be deemed to have been put to rest by the Local Government
Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), §442(d)

________________

9 Municipality of San Joaquin v. Siva, 19 SCRA 599 (1967); Municipality of Malabang, Lanao del Sur v.
Benito, 27 SCRA 533 (1969); Municipality of Kapalong v. Moya, 166 SCRA 70 (1985).

10 239 SCRA 11 (1994). Accord, Municipality of Candijay v. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 530 (1995).

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of which provides that "municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive
orders and which have their respective sets of elective officials holding office at the time of the
effectivity of this Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities."
Here, the same factors are present so as to confer on Sinacaban the status of at least a de facto
municipal corporation in the sense that its legal existence has been recognized and acquiesced
publicly and officially. Sinacaban had been in existence for sixteen years when Pelaez v. Auditor
General was decided on December 24, 1965, Yet the validity of E.O. No. 258 creating it had never
been questioned. Created in 1949, it was only 40 years later that its existence was questioned and
only because it had laid claim to an area that apparently is desired for its revenue. This fact must be
underscored because under Rule 66, §16 of the Rules of Court, a quo warranto suit against a
corporation for forfeiture of its charter must be commenced within five (5) years from the time the
act com-plained of was done or committed. On the contrary, the State and even the Municipality of
Jimenez itself have recognized Sinacaban's corporate existence. Under Administrative Order No. 33
dated June 13, 1978 of this Court, as reiterated by §31 of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (B.P.
Blg. 129), Sinacaban is constituted part of a municipal circuit for purposes of the establishment of
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the country. For its part, Jimenez had earlier recognized Sinacaban in
1950 by entering into an agreement with it regarding their common boundary. The agreement was
embodied in Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board of Misamis Occidental

Indeed Sinacaban has attained de jure status by virtue of the Ordinance appended to the 1987
Constitution, apportioning legislative districts throughout the country, which considered Sinacaban
part of the Second District of Misamis Occidental. Moreover, following the ruling in Municipality of
San Narciso, Quezon v. Mendez, Sr., §442(d) of the Local Government Code of 1991 must be deemed
to have cured any defect in the creation of Sinacaban. This provision states:

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

Municipalities existing as of the date of the 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 the Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities.

Second. Jimenez claims, however, that R.A. No. 7160, §442(d) is invalid, since it does not conform to
the constitutional and statutory requirements for the holding of plebiscites in the creation of new
municipalities.11

This contention will not bear analysis. Since, as previously explained, Sinacaban had attained de facto
status at the time the 1987 Constitution took effect on February 2, 1987, it is not subject to the
plebiscite requirement. This requirement ap-
________________

11 Petitioner cites the following:

CONST., Art. X, §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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in
the political units directly affected.

R.A. No. 7160, §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.

Id., §441. Manner of Creation.—A municipality may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its
boundary substantially altered only by an Act of Congress and subject to the approval by a majority of
the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the Comelec in the local government unit or units
directly affected. Except as may otherwise be provided in the said Act, the plebiscite shall be held
within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its effectivity.

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

plies only to new municipalities created for the first time under the Constitution. Actually, the
requirement of plebiscite was originally contained in Art. XI, §3 of the previous Constitution which
took effect on January 17, 1973. It cannot, therefore, be applied to municipal corporations created
before, such as the Municipality of Sinacaban in the case at bar.

Third. Finally, Jimenez argues that the RTC erred in ordering a relocation survey of the boundary of
Sinacaban because the barangays which Sinacaban are claiming are not enumerated in E.O. No. 258
and that in any event in 1950 the parties entered into an agreement whereby the barangays in
question were considered part of the territory of Jimenez.
E.O. No. 258 does not say that Sinacaban comprises only the barrios (now called barangays) therein
mentioned. What it says is that "Sinacaban contains" those barrios, without saying they are the only
ones comprising it. The reason for this is that the technical description, containing the metes and
bounds of its territory, is controlling. The trial court correctly ordered a relocation survey as the only
means of determining the boundaries of the municipality and consequently the question to which
municipality the barangays in question belong.

Now, as already stated, in 1950 the two municipalities agreed that certain barrios belonged to
Jimenez, while certain other ones belonged to Sinacaban. This agreement was subsequently approved
by the Provincial Board of Misamis Occidental. Whether this agreement conforms to E.O. No. 258 will
be determined by the result of the survey. Jimenez contends, however, that regardless of its
conformity to E.O. No. 258, the agreement as embodied in Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board,
is binding on Sinacaban. This raises the question whether the Provincial Board had authority to
approve the agreement or, to put it in another way, whether it had the power to declare certain
barrios part of one or the other municipality. We hold it did not if the effect would be to amend the
area as described in E.O. No. 258 creating the Municipality of Sinacaban.

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

At the time the Provincial Board passed Resolution No. 77 on February 18, 1950, the applicable law
was §2167 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 which provided:

SEC. 2167. Municipal boundary disputes.—How settled.—Disputes as to jurisdiction of municipal


governments over places or barrios shall be decided by the provincial boards of the provinces in
which such municipalities are situated, after an investigation at which the municipalities concerned
shall be duly heard. From the decision of the provincial board appeal may be taken by the
municipality aggrieved to the Secretary of the Interior [now the Office of the Executive Secretary],
whose decision shall be final. Where the places or barrios in dispute are claimed by municipalities
situated in different provinces, the provincial boards of the provinces concerned shall come to an
agreement if possible, but, in the event of their failing to agree, an appeal shall be had to the
Secretary of Interior [Executive Secretary], whose decision shall be final.

As held in Pelaez v. Auditor General,12 the power of provincial boards to settle boundary disputes is
"of an administrative nature 7. involving, as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into
effect the law creating said municipalities." It is a power "to fix common boundary, in order to avoid
or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities." It is thus limited to implementing
the law creating a municipality. It is obvious that any alteration of boundaries that is not in
accordance with the law creating a municipality is not the carrying into effect of that law but its
amendment.13 If, therefore, Resolution No. 77 of the Provincial Board of Misamis Occidental is
contrary to the technical description of the territory of Sinacaban, it cannot be used by Jimenez as
basis for opposing the claim of Sinacaban.

Jimenez properly brought to the RTC for review the decision of October 11, 1989 and Resolution No.
13-90 of the Provincial Board. Its action is in accordance with the Local Government Code of 1983,
§79 of which provides that in case no

________________

12 122 Phil. at 973.

13 Which only Congress can do. See Municipality of Sogod v. Rosal, 201 SCRA 232 (1991).

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Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr.

settlement of boundary disputes is made the dispute should be elevated to the RTC of the province.
In 1989, when the action was brought by Jimenez, this Code was the governing law. The governing
law is now the The Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), §§118-119.

Jimenez's contention that the RTC failed to decide the case "within one year from the start of
proceedings" as required by §79 of the Local Government Code of 1983 and the 90-day period
provided for in Article VIII, §15 of the Constitution does not affect the validity of the decision
rendered. For even granting that the court failed to decide within the period prescribed by law, its
failure did not divest it of its jurisdiction to decide the case but only makes the judge thereof liable for
possible administrative sanction.14

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Oroquieta City,
Branch 14 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Narvasa (C.J.), Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Petition denied, judgment affirmed. Municipality of Jimenez vs. Baz, Jr., 265 SCRA 182, G.R. No.
105746 December 2, 1996

G.R. No. 93054. December 4, 1990.*

Cordillera Regional Assembly Member ALEXANDER P. ORDILLO, (Banaue), Ifugao Provincial Board
Member CORAZON MONTINIG, (Mayoyao), Former Vice-Mayor MARTIN UDAN (Banaue), Municipal
Councilors MARTIN GANO, (Lagawe), and TEODORO HEWE, (Hingyon), Barangay Councilman PEDRO
W. DULAG (Lamut); Aguinaldo residents SANDY B. CHANGIWAN, and DONATO TIMAGO; Lamut
resident REY ANTONIO; Kiangan residents ORLANDO PUGUON, and REYNAND DULDULAO; Lagawe
residents TOMAS KIMAYONG, GREGORIO DANGO, GEORGE B. BAYWONG, and VICENTE LUNAG;
Hingyon residents PABLO M. DULNUAN and CONSTANCIO GANO; Mayoyao residents PEDRO M.
BAOANG, LEONARDO IGADNA, and MAXIMO IGADNA; and Banaue residents PUMA-A CULHI,
LATAYON BUTTIG, MIGUEL PUMELBAN, ANDRES ORDILLO, FEDERICO MARIANO, SANDY BINOMNGA,
GABRIEL LIMMANG, ROMEO TONGALI, RUBEN BAHATAN, MHOMDY GABRIEL, and NADRES
GHAMANG, petitioners, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; The Honorable FRANKLIN M. DRILON,
Secretary of Justice; Hon. CATALINO MACARAIG, Executive Secretary; The Cabinet Officer for Regional
Development; Hon. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, Secretary of Budget and Management; and Hon.
ROSALINA S. CAJUCOM, OIC, National Treasurer, respondents.

Constitutional Law; Autonomous Regions; Article X, Sec. 15, 1987 Constitution; The
keywords—provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas connote that "region" is to be
made up of more than one constituent unit.—The sole province of Ifugao cannot validly constitute
the Cordillera Autonomous Region. It is explicit in Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution that:
"Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera
consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive
historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics
within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as

_______________

* EN BANC.

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Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections

territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." (Italics Supplied) The keywords—provinces,
cities, municipalities and geographical areas connote that "region" is to be made up of more than one
constituent unit. The term "region" used in its ordinary sense means two or more provinces. This is
supported by the fact that the thirteen (13) regions into which the Philippines is divided for
administrative purposes are groupings of contiguous provinces. (Integrated Reorganization Plan
(1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by P.D. No. 1; P.D. No. 742) Ifugao is a province
by itself. To become part of a region, it must join other provinces, cities, municipalities, and
geographical areas. It joins other units because of their common and distinctive historical and cultural
heritage, economic and social structures and other relevant characteristics. The Constitutional
requirements are not present in this case.

Same; Same; Republic Act No. 6766 infused with provisions which rule against the sole province of
lfugao constituting the Region; Article III, Secs. 1 and 2.—Aside from the 1987 Constitution, a reading
of the provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 strengthens the petitioner's position that the Region
cannot be constituted from only one province. Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Statute provide that
the Cordillera Autonomous Region is to be administered by the Cordillera government consisting of
the Regional Government and local government units. It further provides that: "SECTION 2. The
Regional Government shall exercise powers and functions necessary for the proper governance and
development of all provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangay or ili within the Autonomous Region
x x x." From these sections, it can be gleaned that Congress never intended that a single province may
constitute the autonomous region. Otherwise, we would be faced with the absurd situation of having
two sets of officials, a set of provincial officials and another set of regional officials exercising their
executive and legislative powers over exactly the same small area.

Same; Same; Same; Article V, Secs. 1 and 4.—Article V, Sections 1 and 4 of Republic Act 6766 vest the
legislative power in the Cordillera Assembly whose members shall be elected from regional assembly
districts apportioned among provinces and the cities composing the Autonomous Region. If we follow
the respondent's position, the members of such Cordillera Assembly shall then be elected only from
the province of Ifugao creating an awkward predicament of having two legislative bodies—the
Cordillera Assembly and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan—exercising their legislative powers over the
province of Ifugao. And since Ifugao is one of the smallest provinces in the

102
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections

Philippines, population-wise, it would have too many government officials for so few people.

Same; Same; Same; Article XII, Sec. 10.—Article XII, Section 10 of the law creates a Regional Planning
and Development Board composed of the Cordillera Governor, all the provincial governors and city
mayors or their representatives, two members of the Cordillera Assembly, and members representing
the private sector. The Board has a counterpart in the provincial level called the Provincial Planning
and Development Coordinator. The Board's functions (Article XII, Section 10, par. 2, Republic Act No.
6766) are almost similar to those of the Provincial Coordinator's (Title Four, Chapter 3, Article 10,
Section 220 (4), Batas Pambansa Blg. 337—Local Government Code). If it takes only one person in the
provincial level to perform such functions while on the other hand it takes an entire Board to perform
almost the same tasks in the regional level, it could only mean that a larger area must be covered at
the regional level. The respondent's theory of the Autonomous Region being made up of a single
province must, therefore, fail.

Same; Same; Same; Article XXI, Sec. 13 (B) (c).—Article XXI, Section 13 (B) (c) alloting the huge amount
of Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00) to the Regional Government for its initial organizational
requirements can not be construed as funding only a lone and small province.

Same; Same; Same; Other provisions which are either violated or which cannot be complied
with.—There are other provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 which are either violated or which cannot
be complied with. Section 16 of Article V calls for a Regional Commission on Appointments with the
Speaker as Chairman and six (6) members coming from different provinces and cities in the Region.
Under the respondents' view, the Commission would have a Chairman and only one member. It
would never have a quorum. Section 3 of Article VI calls for cabinet members, as far as practicable, to
come from various provinces and cities of the Region. Section 1 of Article VII creates a system of tribal
courts for the various indigenous cultural communities of the Region. Section 9 of Article XV requires
the development of a common regional language based upon the various languages and dialects in
the region which regional language in turn is expected to enrich the national language.

Same; Same; Decision in Abbas case not applicable in the case at bar.—Our decision in Abbas, et al. v.
COMELEC, (G.R. No. 89651,

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Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections

November 10,1989), is not applicable in the case at bar contrary to the view of the Secretary of
Justice. The Abbas case laid down the rule on the meaning of majority in the phrase "by majority of
the votes cast by the constituent units called for the purpose" found in the Constitution, Article X,
Section 18. It stated: xxx xxx xxx "xxx [I]t is thus clear that what is required by the Constitution is
simple majority of votes approving the Organic Act in individual constituent units and not a double
majority of the votes in all constituent units put together, as well as in the individual constituent
units." The Abbas case established the rule to follow on which provinces and cities shall comprise the
autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao which is, consequently, the same rule to follow with regard
to the autonomous region in the Cordillera. However, there is nothing in the Abbas decision which
deals with the issue on whether an autonomous region, in eitherMuslim Mindanao or Cordillera could
exist despite the fact that only one province or one city is to constitute it. Stated in another way, the
issue in this case is whether the sole province of Ifugao can validly and legally constitute the Cordillera
Autonomous Region. The issue is not whether the province of Ifugao is to be included in the Cordillera
Autonomous Region. It is the first issue which the Court answers in the instant case.

Statutory Construction; Constitution; Words used to be given their ordinary meaning.—The


well-established rule in statutory construction that the language of the Constitution, as much as
possible should be understood in the sense it has in common use and that the words used in
constitutional provisions are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are
employed, must then, be applied in this case. (See Baranda v. Gustilo, 165 SCRA 757, 770, [1988]; J.M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413, 422-423 [1970]).

PETITION to review the resolution of the Commission on Elections.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Ledesma, Saludo & Associates for petitioners.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

The question raised in this petition is whether or not the province of Ifugao, being the only province
which voted favorably for the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region can, alone, legally and
validly constitute such Region.
104

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Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections

The antecedent facts that gave rise to this petition are as follows:

On January 30, 1990, the people of the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra and
Kalinga-Apayao and the city of Baguio cast their votes in a plebiscite held pursuant to Republic Act No.
6766 entitled "An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region."

The official Commission on Elections (COMELEC) results of the plebiscite showed that the creation of
the Region was approved by a majority of 5,889 votes in only the Ifugao Province and was
overwhelmingly rejected by 148,676 votes in the rest of the provinces and city above-mentioned.

Consequently, the COMELEC, on February 14,1990, issued Resolution No. 2259 stating that the
Organic Act for the Region has been approved and/or ratified by majority of the votes cast only in the
province of Ifugao. On the same date, the Secretary of Justice issued a memorandum for the
President reiterating the COMELEC resolution and provided:

"x x x [A]nd considering the proviso in Sec. 13(A) that only the provinces and city voting favorably shall
be included in the CAR, the province of Ifugao being the only province which voted favorably—then,
alone, legally and validly constitutes the CAR." (Rollo, p. 7)

As a result of this, on March 8, 1990, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6861 setting the elections in
the Cordillera Autonomous Region of Ifugao on the first Monday of March 1991.

Even before the issuance of the COMELEC resolution, the Executive Secretary on February 5, 1990
issued a Memorandum granting authority to wind up the affairs of the Cordillera Executive Board and
the Cordillera Regional Assembly created under Executive Order No. 220.

On March 9,1990, the petitioner filed a petition with COMELEC to declare the non-ratification of the
Organic Act for the Region. The COMELEC merely noted said petition.
On March 30, 1990, the President issued Administrative Order No. 160 declaring among others that
the Cordillera Executive Board and Cordillera Regional Assembly and all the offices created under
Executive Order No. 220 were abolished

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in view of the ratification of the Organic Act.

The petitioners maintain that there can be no valid Cordillera Autonomous Region in only one
province as the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 require that the said Region be composed of
more than one constituent unit.

The petitioners, then, pray that the Court: (1) declare null and void COMELEC resolution No. 2259, the
memorandum of the Secretary of Justice, the memorandum of the Executive Secretary,
Administrative Order No. 160, and Republic Act No. 6861 and prohibit and restrain the respondents
from implementing the same and spending public funds for the purpose and (2) declare Executive
Order No. 220 constituting the Cordillera Executive Board and the Cordillera Regional Assembly and
other offices to be still in force and effect until another organic law for the Autonomous Region shall
have been enacted by Congress and the same is duly ratified by the voters in the constituent units.
We treat the Comments of the respondents as an answer and decide the case. This petition is
meritorious.

The sole province of Ifugao cannot validly constitute the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

It is explicit in Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution that:

"Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera
consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive
historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics
within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity
of the Republic of the Philippines." (Italics Supplied)
The keywords—provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas connote that "region" is to be
made up of more than one constituent unit. The term "region" used in its ordinary sense means two
or more provinces. This is supported by the fact that the thirteen (13) regions into which the
Philippines is divided for administrative purposes are\ groupings of contiguous provinces. (Integrated
Reorganization Plan (1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by P.D. No. 1; P.D. No. 742)
Ifugao is a province by itself. To become part of a region, it

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Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections

must join other provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas. It joins other units because of
their common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures and
other relevant characteristics. The Constitutional requirements are not present in this case.

The well-established rule in statutory construction that the language of the Constitution, as much as
possible should be understood in the sense it has in common use and that the words used in
constitutional provisions are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are
employed, must then, be applied in this case. (See Baranda v. Gustilo, 165 SCRA 757, 770, [1988]; J.M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413, 422-423 [1970]).

Aside from the 1987 Constitution, a reading of the provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 strengthens
the petitioner's position that the Region cannot be constituted from only one province.

Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Statute provide that the Cordillera Autonomous Region is to be
administered by the Cordillera government consisting of the Regional Government and local
government units. It further provides that:

"SECTION 2. The Regional Government shall exercise powers and functions necessary for the proper
governance and development of all provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangay or ili within the
Autonomous Region x x x."

From these sections, it can be gleaned that Congress never intended that a single province may
constitute the autonomous region. Otherwise, we would be faced with the absurd situation of having
two sets of officials, a set of provincial officials and another set of regional officials exercising their
executive and legislative powers over exactly the same small area.
Article V, Sections 1 and 4 of Republic Act 6766 vest the legislative power in the Cordillera Assembly
whose members shall be elected from regional assembly districts apportioned among provinces and
the cities composing the Autonomous Region.

If we follow the respondent's position, the members of such Cordillera Assembly shall then be elected
only from the province of Ifugao creating an awkward predicament of having two

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legislative bodies—the Cordillera Assembly and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan—exercising their


legislative powers over the province of Ifugao. And since Ifugao is one of the smallest provinces in the
Philippines, population-wise, it would have too many government officials for so few people.

Article XII, Section 10 of the law creates a Regional Planning and Development Board composed of the
Cordillera Governor, all the provincial governors and city mayors or their representatives, two
members of the Cordillera Assembly, and members representing the private sector. The Board has a
counterpart in the provincial level called the Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator. The
Board's functions (Article XII, Section 10, par, 2, Republic Act No. 6766) are almost similar to those of
the Provincial Coordinator's (Title Four, Chapter 3, Article 10, Section 220 (4), Batas Pambansa Blg.
337—Local Government Code). If it takes only one person in the provincial level to perform such
functions while on the other hand it takes an entire Board to perform almost the same tasks in the
regional level, it could only mean that a larger area must be covered at the regional level. The
respondent's theory of the Autonomous Region being made up of a single province must, therefore,
fail. Article XXI, Section 13 (B) (c) alloting the huge amount of Ten Million Pesos (P1 0,000,000.00) to
the Regional Government for its initial organizational requirements can not be construed as funding
only a lone and small province.

These sections of Republic Act No. 6766 show that a one province Cordillera Autonomous Region was
never contemplated by the law creating it.

The province of Ifugao makes up only 11% of the total population of the areas enumerated in Article I,
Section 2 (b) of Republic Act No. 6766 which include Benguet, Mountain Province, Abra,
Kalinga-Apayao and Baguio City. It has the second smallest number of inhabitants from among the
provinces and city above mentioned. The Cordillera population is distributed in round figures as
follows: Abra, 185,000; Benguet, 486,000; Ifugao, 149,000; Kalinga-Apayao, 214,000; Mountain
Province, 116,000; and Baguio City, 183,000; Total population of these five provinces and one city;
1,332,000 according to the 1990 Census (Manila Standard, September 30, 1990, p. 14)

There are other provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 which are

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either violated or which cannot be complied with. Section 16 of Article V calls for a Regional
Commission on Appointments with the Speaker as Chairman and six (6) members coming from
different provinces and cities in the Region. Under the respondents' view, the Commission would
have a Chairman and only one member. It would never have a quorum. Section 3 of Article VI calls for
cabinet members, as far as practicable, to come from various provinces and cities of the Region.
Section 1 of Article VII creates a system of tribal courts for the various indigenous cultural
communities of the Region. Section 9 of Article XV requires the development of a common regional
language based upon the various languages and dialects in the region which regional language in turn
is expected to enrich the national language.

The entirety of Republic Act No. 6766 creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region is infused with
provisions which rule against the sole province of Ifugao constituting the Region. To contemplate the
situation envisioned by the respondent would not only violate the letter and intent of the
Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 but would also be impractical and illogical.

Our decision in Abbas, et al. v. COMELEC, (G.R. No. 89651, November 10, 1989), is not applicable in
the case at bar contrary to the view of the Secretary of Justice. The Abbas case laid down the rule on
the meaning of majority in the phrase "by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units called for
the purpose" found in the Constitution, Article X, Section 18. It stated:

xxx xxx xxx

"xxx [I]t is thus clear that what is required by the Constitution is simple majority of votes approving
the Organic Act in individual constituent units and not a double majority of the votes in all constituent
units put together, as well as in the individual constituent units."
This was the pronouncement applied by the Secretary of Justice in arriving at his conclusion stated in
his Memorandum for the President that:

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xxx xxx xxx

"xxx [i]t is believed that the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) as mandated by R.A.
No. 6766 became effective upon its approval by the majority of the votes cast in the province of
Ifugao. And considering the proviso in Section 13 (a) that only the provinces and city voting favorably
shall be included in the CAR, the province of Ifugao being the only province which voted
favorably—can, alone, legally and validly constitute the CAR." (Rollo. p. 40)

The plebiscites mandated by the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 for the Cordillera and
Republic Act No. 6734 for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao determine—(1) whether
there shall be an autonomous region in the Cordillera and in Muslim Mindanao and (2) which
provinces and cities, among those enumerated in the two Republic Acts, shall comprise said
Autonomous Regions. (See III, Record of the Constitutional Commission, 487-492 [1986]).

The Abbas case established the rule to follow on which provinces and cities shall comprise the
autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao which is, consequently, the same rule to follow with regard
to the autonomous region in the Cordillera. However, there is nothing in the Abbas decision which
deals with the issue on whether an autonomous region, in either Muslim Mindanao or Cordillera
could exist despite the fact that only one province or one city is to constitute it.

Stated in another way, the issue in this case is whether the sole province of Ifugao can validly and
legally constitute the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The issue is not whether the province of Ifugao
is to be included in the Cordillera Autonomous Region. It is the first issue which the Court answers in
the instant case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Resolution No. 2259 of the Commission on Elections,
insofar as it upholds the creation of an autonomous region, the February 14, 1990 memorandum of
the Secretary of Justice, the February 5, 1990 memorandum of the Executive Secretary,
Administrative Order No. 160, and Republic Act No. 6861 are declared null and void while Executive
Order No. 220 is declared to be still in force and effect until properly repealed or amended.

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Rojas vs. Maglana

SO ORDERED.

Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento,
Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Feliciano, J., On leave.

Petition granted. Resolution null and void. Ordillo vs. Commission on Elections, 192 SCRA 100, G.R. No.
93054 December 4, 1990

G.R. No. 176951. February 15, 2011.*

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treñas;
CITY OF CALBAYOG, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and JERRY P. TREÑAS, in his
personal capacity as Taxpayer, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF
BAYBAY, PROVINCE OF LEYTE; MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO, PROVINCE OF CEBU; MUNICIPALITY OF
CATBALOGAN, PROVINCE OF WESTERN SAMAR; MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG, PROVINCE OF SURIGAO
DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN, PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR; AND MUNICIPALITY OF
TAYABAS, PROVINCE OF QUEZON, respondents.

G.R. No. 177499. February 15, 2011.*


LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treñas;
CITY OF CALBAYOG, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and JERRY P. TREÑAS, in his
personal capacity as Taxpayer, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF
LAMITAN, PROVINCE OF BASILAN; MUNICIPALITY OF TABUK, PROVINCE OF KALINGA; MUNICIPALITY
OF BAYUGAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BATAC, PROVINCE OF ILOCOS
NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF MATI, PROVINCE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL; AND MUNICIPALITY OF
GUIHULNGAN, PROVINCE OF NEGROS ORIENTAL, respondents.

G.R. No. 178056. February 15, 2011.*

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treñas;
CITY OF

_______________

* EN BANC.

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League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) vs. Commission on Elections

CALBAYOG, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and JERRY P. TREÑAS, in his personal
capacity as Taxpayer, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF CABADBARAN,
PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; MUNICIPALITY
OF EL SALVADOR, PROVINCE OF MISAMIS ORIENTAL; MUNICIPALITY OF NAGA, CEBU; AND
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, respondents.

Municipal Corporations; Local Government Code (LGC); Local Government Units; Congress intended
that those with pending cityhood bills during the 11th Congress would not be covered by the new and
higher income requirement of P100 million imposed by Republic Act No. 9009.—Based on the above
exchange, Congress intended that those with pending cityhood bills during the 11th Congress would
not be covered by the new and higher income requirement of P100 million imposed by R.A. No. 9009.
When the LGC was amended by R.A. No. 9009, the amendment carried with it both the letter and the
intent of the law, and such were incorporated in the LGC by which the compliance of the Cityhood
Laws was gauged. Notwithstanding that both the 11th and 12th Congress failed to act upon the
pending cityhood bills, both the letter and intent of Section 450 of the LGC, as amended by R.A. No.
9009, were carried on until the 13th Congress, when the Cityhood Laws were enacted. The exemption
clauses found in the individual Cityhood Laws are the express articulation of that intent to exempt
respondent municipalities from the coverage of R.A. No. 9009.
Same; Same; Same; Statutes; The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its
legislative power, which power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter
and repeal them.—The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its legislative
power. Legislative power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and
repeal them. The Constitution, as the expression of the will of the people in their original, sovereign,
and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines. The grant of
legislative power to Congress is broad, general, and comprehensive. The legislative body possesses
plenary powers for all purposes of

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civil government. Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed
by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere. In fine, except as limited by the
Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all subjects, and extends to
matters of general concern or common interest.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Without doubt, the Local Government Code (LGC) is a creation of Congress
through its law-making powers—Congress has the power to alter or modify it as it did when it
enacted Republic Act No. 9009, and such power of amendment of laws was again exercised when
Congress enacted the Cityhood Laws; Undeniably, Republic Act No. 9009 amended the Local
Government Code (LGC), but it is also true that, in effect, the Cityhood Laws amended Republic Act
No. 9009 through the exemption clauses found therein.—Without doubt, the LGC is a creation of
Congress through its law-making powers. Congress has the power to alter or modify it as it did when
it enacted R.A. No. 9009. Such power of amendment of laws was again exercised when Congress
enacted the Cityhood Laws. When Congress enacted the LGC in 1991, it provided for quantifiable
indicators of economic viability for the creation of local government units—income, population, and
land area. Congress deemed it fit to modify the income requirement with respect to the conversion of
municipalities into component cities when it enacted R.A. No. 9009, imposing an amount of P100
million, computed only from locally-generated sources. However, Congress deemed it wiser to
exempt respondent municipalities from such a belatedly imposed modified income requirement in
order to uphold its higher calling of putting flesh and blood to the very intent and thrust of the LGC,
which is countryside development and autonomy, especially accounting for these municipalities as
engines for economic growth in their respective provinces. Undeniably, R.A. No. 9009 amended the
LGC. But it is also true that, in effect, the Cityhood Laws amended R.A. No. 9009 through the
exemption clauses found therein. Since the Cityhood Laws explicitly exempted the concerned
municipalities from the amendatory R.A. No. 9009, such Cityhood Laws are, therefore, also
amendments to the LGC itself. For this reason, we reverse the November 18, 2008 Decision and the
August 24, 2010 Resolution on their strained and stringent view that the Cityhood Laws, particularly
their exemption clauses, are not found in the LGC.
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Same; Same; Same; It should be pointed out that the imposition of the P100 million average annual
income requirement for the creation of component cities was arbitrarily made—there was no
evidence or empirical data, such as inflation rates, to support the choice of this amount; The
imposition of a very high income requirement of P100 million, increased from P20 million, was simply
to make it extremely difficult for municipalities to become component cities.—It should be recalled
from the above quoted portions of the interpellation by Senate President Drilon of Senator Pimentel
that the purpose of the enactment of R.A. No 9009 was merely to stop the “mad rush of
municipalities wanting to be converted into cities” and the apprehension that before long the country
will be a country of cities and without municipalities. It should be pointed out that the imposition of
the P100 million average annual income requirement for the creation of component cities was
arbitrarily made. To be sure, there was no evidence or empirical data, such as inflation rates, to
support the choice of this amount. The imposition of a very high income requirement of P100 million,
increased from P20 million, was simply to make it extremely difficult for municipalities to become
component cities. And to highlight such arbitrariness and the absurdity of the situation created
thereby, R.A. No. 9009 has, in effect, placed component cities at a higher standing than highly
urbanized cities under Section 452 of the LGC.

Same; Same; Same; Equal Protection Clause; The existence of substantial distinction with respect to
respondent municipalities covered by the Cityhood Laws is measured by the purpose of the law, not
by Republic Act No. 9009, but by the very purpose of the Local Government Code (LGC)—Congress, by
enacting the Cityhood Laws, recognized the capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to
become the State’s partners in accelerating economic growth and development in the provincial
regions, which is the very thrust of the LGC, manifested by the pendency of their cityhood bills during
the 11th Congress and their relentless pursuit for cityhood up to the present.—The determination of
the existence of substantial distinction with respect to respondent municipalities does not simply lie
on the mere pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th Congress. This Court sees the bigger
picture. The existence of substantial distinction with respect to respondent municipalities covered by
the Cityhood Laws is measured by the purpose of the law, not by R.A. No. 9009, but by the very
purpose of the LGC, as provided in its Section

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2 (a), thus—SECTION 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. Indeed, substantial distinction lies in the capacity and
viability of respondent municipalities to become component cities of their respective provinces.
Congress, by enacting the Cityhood Laws, recognized this capacity and viability of respondent
municipalities to become the State’s partners in accelerating economic growth and development in
the provincial regions, which is the very thrust of the LGC, manifested by the pendency of their
cityhood bills during the 11th Congress and their relentless pursuit for cityhood up to the present.
Truly, the urgent need to become a component city arose way back in the 11th Congress, and such
condition continues to exist.

Same; Same; Same; Same; In the enactment of the Cityhood Laws, Congress merely took the 16
municipalities covered thereby from the disadvantaged position brought about by the abrupt increase
in the income requirement of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9009, acknowledging the “privilege” that they
have already given to those newly-converted component cities, which prior to the enactment of R.A.
No. 9009, were undeniably in the same footing or “class” as the respondent municipalities.—The
justness in the act of Congress in enacting the Cityhood Laws becomes obvious, especially considering
that 33 municipalities were converted into component cities almost immediately prior to the
enactment of R.A. No. 9009. In the enactment of the Cityhood Laws, Congress merely took the 16
municipalities covered thereby from the disadvantaged position brought about by the abrupt increase
in the income requirement of R.A. No. 9009, acknowledging the “privilege” that they have already
given to those newly-converted component cities, which prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 9009,
were undeniably in the same footing or “class” as the respondent municipalities. Congress merely
recognized the capacity

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and readiness of respondent municipalities to become component cities of their respective provinces.
Courts; Judgments; 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.—We 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, as the following pronouncement of this
Court instructs: The right and power of judicial tribunals to declare whether enactments of the
legislature exceed the constitutional limitations and are invalid has always been considered a grave
responsibility, as well as a solemn duty. The courts invariably give the most careful consideration to
questions involving the interpretation and application of the Constitution, and approach
constitutional questions with great deliberation, exercising their power in this respect with the
greatest possible caution and even reluctance; and they should never declare a statute void, unless its
invalidity is, in their judgment, beyond reasonable doubt. To justify a court in pronouncing a
legislative act unconstitutional, or a provision of a state constitution to be in contravention of the
Constitution x x x, the case must be so clear to be free from doubt, and the conflict of the statute with
the constitution must be irreconcilable, because it is but a decent respect to the wisdom, the integrity,
and the patriotism of the legislative body by which any law is passed to presume in favor of its validity
until the contrary is shown beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, in no doubtful case will the judiciary
pronounce a legislative act to be contrary to the constitution. To doubt the constitutionality of a law
is to resolve the doubt in favor of its validity.

ABAD, J., Concurring Opinion:

Courts; Judgments; Court “Flip-Flopping”; The Court’s shifting views are understandable because of
the nearly even soundness of the opposing advocacies of the two groups of cities over the validity of
the sixteen cityhood laws—a healthy sign of democracy at work, the members of the Court being
blind to the need to conform.—The Court has received flak on this case for supposed “flip-flopping.”
But its

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shifting views are understandable because of the nearly even soundness of the opposing advocacies
of the two groups of cities over the validity of the sixteen cityhood laws. It also does not help that the
membership of the Court has been altered by retirements and replacements at various stages from
when it first decided to annul the laws, to when it reconsidered and upheld their validity, and to when
it reverted to the original position and declared the laws involved unconstitutional. This to me is a
healthy sign of democracy at work, the members being blind to the need to conform.
Municipal Corporations; Local Government Units; Equal Protection Clause; Since the majority of the
present cities in our midst do not meet the P100 million minimum income requirement of the Local
Government Code, it boggles the mind how these deficient cities can complain of denial of equal
protection of the law.—Petitioner League of Cities failed to show that the creation of the sixteen new
cities discriminated against other cities. As the respondent cities point out, the majority of the present
cities in our midst do not meet the P100 million minimum income requirement of the Local
Government Code. It boggles the mind how these deficient cities can complain of denial of equal
protection of the law.

Same; Same; Same; Petitioner League of Cities can not invoke the equal protection clause since it has
failed to show that it will suffer deprivation of life, liberty, or property by reason of such
classification—that their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) will be diminished does not amount to
deprivation of property since the IRA is not their property until it has been automatically released;
Mere expectancy in the receipt of Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) can not be regarded as the
“property” envisioned in the Bill of Rights.—Assuming an improper classification in the case of the
sixteen cities, petitioner League of Cities can not invoke the equal protection clause since it has failed
to show that it will suffer deprivation of life, liberty, or property by reason of such classification.
Actually, the existing cities would not cease to exist nor would their liberties suffer by reason of the
enactment of the sixteen cityhood laws. That their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) will be
diminished does not amount to deprivation of property since the IRA is not their property until it has
been automatically released. Mere expectancy in the receipt of IRA can not be regarded as the
“property” envisioned in the Bill of Rights.

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CARPIO, J., Dissenting Opinion:

Municipal Corporations; Local Government Units; The creation of local government units must follow
the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law.—The Constitution is
clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local
Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code. The
Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for
the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write
such criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws. RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local
Government Code to increase the income requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the
creation of a city. This took effect on 30 June 2001. Hence, from that moment the Local Government
Code required that any municipality desiring to become a city must satisfy the P100 million income
requirement. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not contain
any exemption from this income requirement.

Same; Same; Equal Protection Clause; The classification criterion—mere pendency of a cityhood bill in
the 11th Congress—is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally
non-viable municipalities from converting into cities.—As I have previously stressed, there is no
substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and
municipalities that did not have pending bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th
Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of
the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress does not affect or
determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th
Congress might even have lower annual income than municipalities that did not have pending
cityhood bills. In short, the classification criterion—mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th
Congress—is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable
municipalities from converting into cities.

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MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION of the Resolution dated August 24, 2010; and OPPOSITION to said
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION.

The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.

Joseph J. Marigomen, Reginald A. Tayag and Janella Marie R. Panlilio for petitioners.

Ricardo Bering for Cities of Carcar and El Salvador.

Benjamin Paradela Uy for the Municipality of Tandag.

Lionel A. Titong, Manuel P. Casino, Gilbert A. Escoto and Ruel CA. Amboy for respondent City of
Borongan.
Noel T. Tiampong for respondents Municipalities of Catbalogan, Samar and Lamitan, Basilan.

Rodolfo R. Zabella, Jr. for Municipality of Tayabas.

Jaime V. Agtang for Municipality of Batac.

Estelito P. Mendoza for the Cities of Baybay, Bogo (Cebu), et al.

Immanuel M. Garde for Himamaylan City.

Vincent V. Dangazo for Gingoog City.

Cicero V. Malate for petitioner-intervenor.

Marlo C. Bancoro for the City Government of Pagadian.

Kara Aimee M. Quevenco for petitioner-intervenor City of Silay.

Francisco C. Geronilla for respondent Mayor of Mati.

Francisco V. Mijares, Jr. and Socorro D’Marie T. Inting for Municipality of Guihulngan.

Randy B. Bulwayan for respondent Municipality of Tabuk.

Jose Augusto J. Salvacion for City of Tayabas.

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Carlos H. Lozada for Bayugan.

The City Legal Officer for petitioner-intervenor City of Tagum.

Alan M. Asio for intervenor Association of Cabadbaran City Employees.

Ramsey L. Ocampo for petitioner-intervenor.

Ruby Milagros A. Cortes Damian for Santiago City.

Lucieden G. Raz for petitioner-intervenor City Government of Tagaytay.

Raoul C. Creencia and Edwin M. Carillo for the Cities of Mati, Davao and Carcar, Cebu.

Norberto B. Patriarca for petitioner-intervenor City Government of Zamboanga.

Reggie C. Placido for petitioner-intervenor City of Cadiz.

Silicito B. Amahit ex-officio Legal Counsel of Bais City.

Manuel M. Lepardo, Jr. for petitioners in intervention Ludivina T. Mas, et al.

Fernando H. Ebarle for intervenor Association of Bayugan City Employees.

RESOLUTION

BERSAMIN, J.:

For consideration of this Court are the following pleadings:

1. Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010 dated and filed on
September 14, 2010 by respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al.; and
2. Opposition [To the “Motion for Reconsideration of the ‘Resolution’ dated August 24, 2010”].

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Meanwhile, respondents also filed on September 20, 2010 a Motion to Set “Motion for
Reconsideration of the ‘Resolution’ dated August 24, 2010” for Hearing. This motion was, however,
already denied by the Court En Banc.

A brief background—

These cases were initiated by the consolidated petitions for prohibition filed by the League of Cities of
the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treñas, assailing the constitutionality
of the sixteen (16) laws,1 each converting the municipality covered thereby into a component city
(Cityhood Laws), and seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting
plebiscites pursuant to the subject laws.

In the Decision dated November 18, 2008, the Court En Banc, by a 6-5 vote,2 granted the petitions
and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional for violating Sections 10 and 6, Article X, and
the equal protection clause.

In the Resolution dated March 31, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a 7-5 vote,3 denied the first motion for
reconsideration.

_______________

1 Republic Acts 9389 [Baybay City, Leyte], 9390 [Bogo City, Cebu], 9391 [Catbalogan City, Samar],
9392 [Tandag City, Surigao del Sur], 9393 [Lamitan City, Basilan], 9394 [Borongan City, Samar], 9398
[Tayabas City, Quezon], 9404 [Tabuk City, Kalinga], 9405 [Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur], 9407 [Batac
City, Ilocos Norte], 9408 [Mati City, Davao Oriental], 9409 [Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental], 9434
[Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte], 9435 [El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental], 9436 [Carcar City,
Cebu], and 9491 [Naga City, Cebu].
2 Penned by J. Carpio, with JJ. Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Velasco, Jr., and Brion,
concurring; dissenting, J. Reyes, joined by JJ. Corona, Azcuna, Chico-Nazario, and Leonardo-De Castro;
C.J. Puno, and JJ. Nachura and Tinga took no part; J. Ynares-Santiago was on leave.

3 Justice Velasco, Jr. wrote a Dissenting Opinion, joined by Justices Ynares-Santiago, Corona,
Chico-Nazario, and Leonardo-De Castro. Chief Justice Puno and Justice Nachura took no part.

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On April 28, 2009, the Court En Banc issued a Resolution, with a vote of 6-6,4 which denied the
second motion for reconsideration for being a prohibited pleading.

In its June 2, 2009 Resolution, the Court En Banc clarified its April 28, 2009 Resolution in this wise—

“As a rule, a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading pursuant to Section 2, Rule 52
of the Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that: “No second motion for reconsideration of a
judgment or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.” Thus, a decision becomes final
and executory after 15 days from receipt of the denial of the first motion for reconsideration.

However, when a motion for leave to file and admit a second motion for reconsideration is granted by
the Court, the Court therefore allows the filing of the second motion for reconsideration. In such a
case, the second motion for reconsideration is no longer a prohibited pleading.

In the present case, the Court voted on the second motion for reconsideration filed by respondent
cities. In effect, the Court allowed the filing of the second motion for reconsideration. Thus, the
second motion for reconsideration was no longer a prohibited pleading. However, for lack of the
required number of votes to overturn the 18 November 2008 Decision and 31 March 2009 Resolution,
the Court denied the second motion for reconsideration in its 28 April 2009 Resolution.”5

Then, in another Decision dated December 21, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a vote of 6-4,6 declared
the Cityhood Laws as constitutional.
_______________

4 Justice Velasco, Jr. wrote a Dissenting Opinion, joined by Justices Ynares-Santiago, Corona,
Chico-Nazario, Leonardo-De Castro, and Bersamin. Chief Justice Puno and Justice Nachura took no
part. Justice Quisumbing was on leave.

5 Citations omitted.

6 Penned by J. Velasco, Jr., with JJ. Corona, Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, Abad, and Villarama
concurring; dissenting, J. Carpio, joined by JJ. Carpio-Morales, Brion, and Peralta; C.J. Puno and JJ.
Nachura and Del Castillo took no part.

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On August 24, 2010, the Court En Banc, through a Resolution, by a vote of 7-6,7 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-inter-vention Batangas City, Santiago City, Legazpi City, Iriga City, Cadiz City, and
Oroquieta City, reinstating the November 18, 2008 Decision. Hence, the aforementioned pleadings.

Considering these circumstances where the Court En Banc has twice changed its position on the
constitutionality of the 16 Cityhood Laws, and especially taking note of the novelty of the issues
involved in these cases, the Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010
deserves favorable action by this Court on the basis of the following cogent points:

1.

The 16 Cityhood Bills do not violate Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution.

Article X, Section 10 provides—


“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 approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the
political units directly affected.”

The tenor of the ponencias of the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution is
that the exemption clauses in the 16 Cityhood Laws are unconstitutional because they are not written
in the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC), particularly Section 450 thereof, as amended by

_______________

7 Penned by J. Carpio, with JJ. Carpio-Morales, Brion, Peralta, Villarama, Mendoza, and Sereno,
concurring; dissenting,, J. Velasco, Jr., joined by C.J. Corona, and JJ. Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin,
Abad, and Perez; JJ. Nachura and Del Castillo took no part.

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Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9009, which took effect on June 30, 2001, viz.—

“Section 450. Requisites for Creation.—a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be


converted into a component city if it has a locally generated annual income, as certified by the
Department of Finance, of at least One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) for at least two (2)
consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:

xxxx

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

Prior to the amendment, Section 450 of the LGC required only an average annual income, as certified
by the Department of Finance, of at least P20,000,000.00 for the last two (2) consecutive years, based
on 1991 constant prices.
Before Senate Bill No. 2157, now R.A. No. 9009, was introduced by Senator Aquilino Pimentel, there
were 57 bills filed for conversion of 57 municipalities into component cities. During the 11th Congress
(June 1998-June 2001), 33 of these bills were enacted into law, while 24 remained as pending bills.
Among these 24 were the 16 municipalities that were converted into component cities through the
Cityhood Laws.

The rationale for the enactment of R.A. No. 9009 can be gleaned from the sponsorship speech of
Senator Pimentel on Senate Bill No. 2157, to wit—

“Senator Pimentel. Mr. President, I would have wanted this bill to be included in the whole set of
proposed amendments that we have introduced to precisely amend the Local Government Code.
However, it is a fact that there is a mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities.
Whereas in 1991, when the Local Government was approved, there were only 60 cities, today the
number has increased to 85 cities, with 41 more municipalities applying for conversion to the same
status. At the rate we are going,

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I am apprehensive that before long this nation will be a nation of all cities and no municipalities.

It is for that reason, Mr. President, that we are proposing among other things, that the financial
requirement, which, under the Local Government Code, is fixed at P20 million, be raised to P100
million to enable a municipality to have the right to be converted into a city, and the P100 million
should be sourced from locally generated funds.

What has been happening, Mr. President, is, the municipalities aspiring to become cities say that they
qualify in terms of financial requirements by incorporating the Internal Revenue share of the taxes of
the nation on to their regularly generated revenue. Under that requirement, it looks clear to me that
practically all municipalities in this country would qualify to become cities.

It is precisely for that reason, therefore, that we are seeking the approval of this Chamber to amend,
particularly Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, the requisite for the average annual income of a
municipality to be converted into a city or cluster of barangays which seek to be converted into a city,
raising that revenue requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the last two consecutive years
based on 2000 constant prices.”8

While R.A. No. 9009 was being deliberated upon, Congress was well aware of the pendency of
conversion bills of several municipalities, including those covered by the Cityhood Laws, desiring to
become component cities which qualified under the P20 million income requirement of the old
Section 450 of the LGC. The interpellation of Senate President Franklin Drilon of Senator Pimentel is
revealing, thus—

THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would like to ask for some clarificatory point.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. This is just on the point of the pending bills in the Senate which propose the
conversion of a

_______________

8 II Record, Senate, 13th Congress, p. 164 (October 5, 2000); Rollo (G.R. No. 176951), Vol. 5, p. 3765.

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number of municipalities into cities and which qualify under the present standard.

We would like to know the view of the sponsor: Assuming that this bill becomes a law, will the
Chamber apply the standard as proposed in this bill to those bills which are pending for
consideration?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill, on the assumption that it is
approved, retroact to the bills that are pending in the Senate conversion from municipalities to cities.
THE PRESIDENT. Will there be an appropriate language crafted to reflect that view? Or does it not
become a policy of the Chamber, assuming that this bill becomes a law tomorrow, that it will apply to
those bills which are already approved by the House under the old version of the Local Government
Code and are now pending in the Senate? The Chair does not know if we can craft a language which
will limit the application to those which are not yet in the Senate. Or is that a policy that the Chamber
will adopt?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, personally, I do not think it is necessary to put that provision
because what we are saying here will form part of the interpretation of this bill. Besides, if there is no
retroactivity clause, I do not think that the bill would have any retroactive effect.

THE PRESIDENT. So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber
will not be affected.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. These will not be affected, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you Mr. Chairman.9

Clearly, based on the above exchange, Congress intended that those with pending cityhood bills
during the 11th Congress would not be covered by the new and higher income

_______________

9 Id., at pp. 167-168; id., at pp. 3768-3769.

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requirement of P100 million imposed by R.A. No. 9009. When the LGC was amended by R.A. No. 9009,
the amendment carried with it both the letter and the intent of the law, and such were incorporated
in the LGC by which the compliance of the Cityhood Laws was gauged.
Notwithstanding that both the 11th and 12th Congress failed to act upon the pending cityhood bills,
both the letter and intent of Section 450 of the LGC, as amended by R.A. No. 9009, were carried on
until the 13th Congress, when the Cityhood Laws were enacted. The exemption clauses found in the
individual Cityhood Laws are the express articulation of that intent to exempt respondent
municipalities from the coverage of R.A. No. 9009.

Even if we were to ignore the above quoted exchange between then Senate President Drilon and
Senator Pimentel, it cannot be denied that Congress saw the wisdom of exempting respondent
municipalities from complying with the higher income requirement imposed by the amendatory R.A.
No. 9009. Indeed, these municipalities have proven themselves viable and capable to become
component cities of their respective provinces. It is also acknowledged that they were centers of
trade and commerce, points of convergence of transportation, rich havens of agricultural, mineral,
and other natural resources, and flourishing tourism spots. In this regard, it is worthy to mention the
distinctive traits of each respondent municipality, viz.—

Batac, Ilocos Norte—It is the biggest municipality of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, 2nd largest and
most progressive town in the province of Ilocos Norte and the natural convergence point for the
neighboring towns to transact their commercial ventures and other daily activities. A growing
metropolis, Batac is equipped with amenities of modern living like banking institutions, satellite cable
systems, telecommunications systems. Adequate roads, markets, hospitals, public transport systems,
sports, and entertainment facilities. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5941, introduced by Rep.
Imee R. Marcos.]

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El Salvador, Misamis Oriental—It is located at the center of the Cagayan-Iligan Industrial Corridor and
home to a number of industrial companies and corporations. Investment and financial affluence of El
Salvador is aptly credited to its industrious and preserving people. Thus, it has become the growing
investment choice even besting nearby cities and municipalities. It is home to Asia Brewery as
distribution port of their product in Mindanao. The Gokongwei Group of Companies is also doing
business in the area. So, the conversion is primarily envisioned to spur economic and financial
prosperity to this coastal place in North-Western Misamis Oriental. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No.
6003, introduced by Rep. Augusto H. Bacullo.]

Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte—It is the largest of the eleven (11) municipalities in the province of
Agusan del Norte. It plays strategic importance to the administrative and socio-economic life and
development of Agusan del Norte. It is the foremost in terms of trade, commerce, and industry.
Hence, the municipality was declared as the new seat and capital of the provincial government of
Agusan del Norte pursuant to Republic Act No. 8811 enacted into law on August 16, 2000. Its
conversion will certainly promote, invigorate, and reinforce the economic potential of the province in
establishing itself as an agro-industrial center in the Caraga region and accelerate the development of
the area. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3094, introduced by Rep. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M.
Amante.]

Borongan, Eastern Samar—It is the capital town of Eastern Samar and the development of Eastern
Samar will depend to a certain degree of its urbanization. It will serve as a catalyst for the
modernization and progress of adjacent towns considering the frequent interactions between the
populace. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 2640, introduced by Rep. Marcelino C. Libanan.]

Lamitan, Basilan—Before Basilan City was converted into a separate province, Lamitan was the most
progressive part of the city. It has been for centuries the center of commerce and the seat of the
Sultanate of the Yakan people of Basilan. The source of its income is agro-industrial and others
notably copra, rubber, coffee and host of income generating ventures. As the most progressive town
in Basilan, Lamitan continues to

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be the center of commerce catering to the municipalities of Tuburan, Tipo-Tipo and Sumisip.
[Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5786, introduced by Rep. Gerry A. Salapuddin.]

Catbalogan, Samar—It has always been the socio-economic-political capital of the Island of Samar
even during the Spanish era. It is the seat of government of the two congressional districts of Samar.
Ideally located at the crossroad between Northern and Eastern Samar, Catbalogan also hosts trade
and commerce activates among the more prosperous cities of the Visayas like Tacloban City, Cebu
City and the cities of Bicol region. The numerous banks and telecommunication facilities showcases
the healthy economic environment of the municipality. The preeminent and sustainable economic
situation of Catbalogan has further boosted the call of residents for a more vigorous involvement of
governance of the municipal government that is inherent in a city government. [Explanatory Note of
House Bill No. 2088, introduced by Rep. Catalino V. Figueroa.]

Bogo, Cebu—Bogo is very qualified for a city in terms of income, population and area among others. It
has been elevated to the Hall of Fame being a five-time winner nationwide in the clean and green
program. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3042, introduced by Rep. Clavel A. Martinez.]
Tandag, Surigao del Sur—This over 350 year old capital town the province has long sought its
conversion into a city that will pave the way not only for its own growth and advancement but also
help in the development of its neighboring municipalities and the province as a whole. Furthermore,
it can enhance its role as the province’s trade, financial and government center. [Explanatory Note of
House Bill No. 5940, introduced by Rep. Prospero A. Pichay, Jr.]

Bayugan, Agusan del Sur—It is a first class municipality and the biggest in terms of population in the
entire province. It has the most progressive and thickly populated area among the 14 municipalities
that comprise the province. Thus, it has become the center for trade and commerce in Agusan del Sur.
It has a more developed infrastructure and facilities than other municipalities in the province.
[Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 1899, introduced by Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” G. Plaza.]

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Carcar, Cebu—Through the years, Carcar metamorphosed from rural to urban and now boast of its
manufacturing industry, agricultural farming, fishing and prawn industry and its thousands of large
and small commercial establishments contributing to the bulk of economic activities in the
municipality. Based on consultation with multi-sectoral groups, political and non-government
agencies, residents and common folk in Carcar, they expressed their desire for the conversion of the
municipality into a component city. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3990, introduced by Rep.
Eduardo R. Gullas.]

Guihulngan, Negros Oriental—Its population is second highest in the province, next only to the
provincial capital and higher than Canlaon City and Bais City. Agriculture contributes heavily to its
economy. There are very good prospects in agricultural production brought about by its favorable
climate. It has also the Tanon Strait that provides a good fishing ground for its numerous fishermen.
Its potential to grow commercially is certain. Its strategic location brought about by its existing linkage
networks and the major transportation corridors traversing the municipality has established
Guihulngan as the center of commerce and trade in this part of Negros Oriental with the first
congressional district as its immediate area of influence. Moreover, it has beautiful tourist spots that
are being availed of by local and foreign tourists. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3628, introduced
by Rep. Jacinto V. Paras.]

Tayabas, Quezon—It flourished and expanded into an important politico-cultural center in [the]
Tagalog region. For 131 years (1179-1910), it served as the cabecera of the province which originally
carried the cabecera’s own name, Tayabas. The locality is rich in culture, heritage and trade. It was at
the outset one of the more active centers of coordination and delivery of basic, regular and diverse
goods and services within the first district of Quezon Province. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No.
3348, introduced by Rep. Rafael P. Nantes.]

Tabuk, Kalinga—It not only serves as the main hub of commerce and trade, but also the cultural
center of the rich customs and traditions of the different municipalities in the province. For the past
several years, the income of Tabuk has been steadily increasing, which is an indication that its
economy is

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likewise progressively growing. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3068, introduced by Rep. Laurence
P. Wacnang.]

Available information on Baybay, Leyte; Mati, Davao Oriental; and Naga, Cebu shows their economic
viability, thus:

Covering an area of 46,050 hectares, Baybay [Leyte] is composed of 92 barangays, 23 of which are in
the poblacion. The remaining 69 are rural barangays. Baybay City is classified as a first class city. It is
situated on the western coast of the province of Leyte. It has a Type 4 climate, which is generally wet.
Its topography is generally mountainous in the eastern portion as it slopes down west towards the
shore line. Generally an agricultural city, the common means of livelihood are farming and fishing.
Some are engaged in hunting and in forestall activities. The most common crops grown are rice, corn,
root crops, fruits, and vegetables. Industries operating include the Specialty Products Manufacturing,
Inc. and the Visayan Oil Mill. Various cottage industries can also be found in the city such as bamboo
and rattan craft, ceramics, dress-making, fiber craft, food preservation, mat weaving, metal craft, fine
Philippine furniture manufacturing and other related activities. Baybay has great potential as a tourist
destination, especially for tennis players. It is not only rich in biodiversity and history, but it also
houses the campus of the Visayas State University (formerly the Leyte State University/Visayas State
College of Agriculture/Visayas Agricultural College/Baybay National Agricultural School/Baybay
Agricultural High School and the Jungle Valley Park.) Likewise, it has river systems fit for river cruising,
numerous caves for spelunking, forests, beaches, and marine treasures. This richness, coupled with
the friendly Baybayanos, will be an element of a successful tourism program. Considering the role of
tourism in development, Baybay City intends to harness its tourism potential. (<http://en.

wikipedia.org/wiki/Baybay City> visited September 19, 2008)


Mati [Davao Oriental] is located on the eastern part of the island of Mindanao. It is one hundred
sixty-five (165) kilometers away from Davao City, a one and a half-hour drive from Tagum City.
Visitors can travel from Davao City through the Madaum diversion road, which is shorter than taking
the Davao-Tagum highway. Travels by air and sea are possible, with the existence of an airport and
seaport. Mati boasts of being

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the coconut capital of Mindanao if not the whole country. A large portion of its fertile land is planted
to coconuts, and a significant number of its population is largely dependent on it. Other agricultural
crops such as mango, banana, corn, coffee and cacao are also being cultivated, as well as the famous
Menzi pomelo and Valencia oranges. Mati has a long stretch of shoreline and one can find beaches of
pure, powder-like white sand. A number of resorts have been developed and are now open to serve
both local and international tourists. Some of these resorts are situated along the coast of Pujada Bay
and the Pacific Ocean. Along the western coast of the bay lies Mt. Hamiguitan, the home of the
pygmy forest, where bonsai plants and trees grow, some of which are believed to be a hundred years
old or more. On its peak is a lake, called “Tinagong Dagat,” or hidden sea, so covered by dense
vegetation a climber has to hike trails for hours to reach it. The mountain is also host to rare species
of flora and fauna, thus becoming a wildlife sanctuary for these life forms.
(<http://mati.wetpain.com/

?t=anon> accessed on September 19, 2008.)

Mati is abundant with nickel, chromite, and copper. Louie Rabat, Chamber President of the Davao
Oriental Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the big potential of the mining
industry in the province of Davao Oriental. As such, he strongly recommends Mati as the mining hub
in the Region.

(<http://www.pia.gov.ph/default.asp?m=12&sec=reader&rp=1&fi=p080115.htm&no.=9&date,
accessed on September 19, 2008)

Naga [Cebu]: Historical Background—In the early times, the place now known as Naga was full of
huge trees locally called as “Narra.” The first settlers referred to this place as Narra, derived from the
huge trees, which later simply became Naga. Considered as one of the oldest settlements in the
Province of Cebu, Naga became a municipality on June 12, 1829. The municipality has gone through a
series of classifications as its economic development has undergone changes and growth. The tranquil
farming and fishing villages of the natives were agitated as the Spaniards came and discovered coal in
the uplands. Coal was the first export of the municipality, as the Spaniards mined and sent it to Spain.
The mining industry triggered the industrial development of Naga. As the years

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progressed, manufacturing and other industries followed, making Naga one of the industrialized
municipalities in the Province of Cebu.

Class of Municipality 1st class

Province Cebu

Distance from Cebu City 22 kms.

Number of Barangays 28

No. of Registered Voters 44,643 as of May 14, 2007

Total No. of Precincts 237 (as of May 14, 2007)

Ann. Income (as of Dec. 31, 2006)

Php112,219,718.35

Agricultural, Industrial,

Agro-Industrial, Mining

Product

(<http://www.nagacebu.com/index.php?option=com.content&view=article
id=53:naga-facts-and-figures&catid=51:naga-facts-and-figures&Itemid=75> visited September 19,
2008)

The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its legislative power. Legislative
power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them.10 The
Constitution, as the expression of the will of the people in their original, sovereign, and unlimited
capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines. The grant of legislative power to
Congress is broad, general, and comprehensive. The legislative body possesses plenary powers for all
purposes of civil government. Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is
necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere. In fine, except as
limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all

_______________

10 Review Center Association of the Philippines v. Ermita, G.R. No. 180046, April 2, 2009, 583 SCRA
428, 450, citing Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Director-General, National Economic Development Authority,
G.R. No. 167798, April 19, 2006, 487 SCRA 623.

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subjects, and extends to matters of general concern or common interest.11

Without doubt, the LGC is a creation of Congress through its law-making powers. Congress has the
power to alter or modify it as it did when it enacted R.A. No. 9009. Such power of amendment of laws
was again exercised when Congress enacted the Cityhood Laws. When Congress enacted the LGC in
1991, it provided for quantifiable indicators of economic viability for the creation of local government
units—income, population, and land area. Congress deemed it fit to modify the income requirement
with respect to the conversion of municipalities into component cities when it enacted R.A. No. 9009,
imposing an amount of P100 million, computed only from locally-generated sources. However,
Congress deemed it wiser to exempt respondent municipalities from such a belatedly imposed
modified income requirement in order to uphold its higher calling of putting flesh and blood to the
very intent and thrust of the LGC, which is countryside development and autonomy, especially
accounting for these municipalities as engines for economic growth in their respective provinces.

Undeniably, R.A. No. 9009 amended the LGC. But it is also true that, in effect, the Cityhood Laws
amended R.A. No. 9009 through the exemption clauses found therein. Since the Cityhood Laws
explicitly exempted the concerned municipalities from the amendatory R.A. No. 9009, such Cityhood
Laws are, therefore, also amendments to the LGC itself. For this reason, we reverse the November 18,
2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution on their strained and stringent view that the
Cityhood Laws, particularly their exemption clauses, are not found in the LGC.

_______________
11 Id., citing Ople v. Torres, 354 Phil. 948; 293 SCRA 141 (1998).

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2.

The Cityhood Laws do not violate Section 6, Article X and the equal protection clause of the
Constitution.

Both the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution impress that the Cityhood
Laws violate the equal protection clause enshrined in the Constitution. Further, it was also ruled that
Section 6, Article X was violated because the Cityhood Laws infringed on the “just share” that
petitioner and petitioners-in-intervention shall receive from the national taxes (IRA) to be
automatically released to them.

Upon more profound reflection and deliberation, we declare that there was valid classification, and
the Cityhood Laws do not violate the equal protection clause.

As this Court has ruled, the equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid
classification, provided that it: (1) rests on substantial distinctions; (2) is germane to the purpose of
the law; (3) is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) applies equally to all members of the
same class.12

The petitioners argue that there is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending
cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills, such that the
mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one
municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. This contention misses the
point.

It should be recalled from the above quoted portions of the interpellation by Senate President Drilon
of Senator Pimentel that the purpose of the enactment of R.A. No 9009 was merely to stop the “mad
rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities” and the apprehension that before long the
_______________

12 De Guzman, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 391 Phil. 70, 79; 336 SCRA 188, 196 (2000); Tiu v. Court
of Tax Appeals, 361 Phil. 229, 242; 301 SCRA 278, 289 (1999).

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country will be a country of cities and without municipalities. It should be pointed out that the
imposition of the P100 million average annual income requirement for the creation of component
cities was arbitrarily made. To be sure, there was no evidence or empirical data, such as inflation rates,
to support the choice of this amount. The imposition of a very high income requirement of P100
million, increased from P20 million, was simply to make it extremely difficult for municipalities to
become component cities. And to highlight such arbitrariness and the absurdity of the situation
created thereby, R.A. No. 9009 has, in effect, placed component cities at a higher standing than highly
urbanized cities under Section 452 of the LGC, to wit—

“Section 452. Highly Urbanized Cities.—(a) Cities with a minimum population of two hundred
thousand (200,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office, and with the latest
annual income of at least Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices, as
certified by the city treasurer, shall be classified as highly urbanized cities.

(b) Cities which do not meet above requirements shall be considered component cities of the
province in which they are geographically located.” (Emphasis supplied)

The P100 million income requirement imposed by R.A. No. 9009, being an arbitrary amount, cannot
be conclusively said to be the only amount “sufficient, based on acceptable standards, to provide for
all essential government facilities and services and special functions commensurate with the size of its
population,” per Section 713 of the LGC. It was imposed

_______________
13 SECTION 7. Creation and Conversion.—As a general rule, the creation of a local government unit
or its conversion from one level to another level shall be based on verifiable indicators of viability and
projected capacity to provide services, to wit:

(a) Income.—It must be sufficient, based on acceptable standards, to provide for all essen-

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merely because it is difficult to comply with. While it could be argued that P100 million, being more
than P20 million, could, of course, provide the essential government facilities, services, and special
functions vis-à-vis the population of a municipality wanting to become a component city, it cannot be
said that the minimum amount of P20 million would be insufficient. This is evident from the existing
cities whose income, up to now, do not comply with the P100 million income requirement, some of
which have lower than the P20 million average annual income. Consider the list14 below—

_______________

tial government facilities and services and special functions commensurate with the size of its
population, as expected of the local government unit concerned;

(b) Population.—It shall be determined as the total number of inhabitants within the territorial
jurisdiction of the local government unit concerned; and

(c) Land Area.—It must be contiguous, unless it comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by
a local government unit independent of the others; properly identified by metes and bound with
technical descriptions; and sufficient to provide for such basic services and facilities to meet the
requirements of its populace.

Compliance with the foregoing indicators shall be attested to by the Department of Finance (DOF),
the National Statistics Office (NSO), and the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). (Emphasis supplied.)
14 The figures reflect the actual income of the cities for 2006. If R.A. No. 9009 is to be applied such
that the figures are expressed in 2000 constant prices, the income of the cities will even be lower.
(Certification from the Bureau of Local Government Finance dated December 5, 2008; Rollo [G.R. No.
176951], Vol. 5, pp. 3731-3734.)

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CITY AVERAGE ANNUAL INCOME

1. Marawi City 5,291,522.10

2. Palayan City 6,714,651.77

3. Sipalay City 9,713,120.00

4. Canlaon City 13,552,493.79

5. Himamaylan City 15,808,530.00

6. Isabela City 16,811,246.79

7. Munoz City 19,693,358.61

8. Dapitan City 20,529,181.08

9. Tangub City 20,943,810.04

10. Bayawan City 22,943,810.04

11.Island Garden City of Samal 23,034,731.83

12. Tanjay City 23,723,612.44

13. Tabaco City 24,152,853.71

14. Oroquieta City 24,279,966.51

15. Ligao City 28,326,745.86

16. Sorsogon City 30,403,324.59

17. Maasin City 30,572,113.65

18. Escalante City 32,113,970.00

19. Iriga City 32,757,871.44

20. Gapan City 34,254,986.47


21. Candon City 36,327,705.86

22. Gingoog City 37,327,705.86

23. Masbate City 39,454,508.28

24. Passi City 40,314,620.00

25. Calbayog City 40,943,128.73

26. Calapan City 41,870,239.21

27. Cadiz City 43,827,060.00

28. Alaminos City 44,352,501.00

29. Bais City 44, 646,826.48

30. San Carlos City 46,306,129.13

31. Silay City 47,351,730.00

32. Bislig City 47,360,716.24

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33. Tacurong City 49,026,281.56

34. Talisay City (Negros Occidental) 52,609,790.00

35. Kabankalan City 53,560,580.00

36. Malaybalay City 54,423,408.55

37. La Carlota City 54,760,290.00

38. Vigan City 56,831,797.19

39. Balanga City 61,556,700.49

40. Sagay City 64,266,350.00

41. Cavite City 64,566,079.05

42. Koronadal City 66,231,717.19

43. Cotabato City 66,302,114.52


44. Toledo City 70,157,331.12

45. San Jose City 70,309,233.43

46. Danao City 72,621,955.30

47. Bago City 74,305,000.00

48. Valencia City 74,557,298.92

49. Victorias City 75,757,298.92

50. Cauayan City 82,949,135.46

51. Santiago City 83,816,025.89

52. Roxas City 85,397,830.00

53. Dipolog City 85,503,262.85

54. Trece Martires City 87,413,786.64

55. Talisay City (Cebu) 87,964,972.97

56. Ozamis city 89,054,056.12

57. Surigao City 89,960,971.33

58. Panabo City 91,425,301.39

59. Digos City 92,647,699.13

The undeniable fact that these cities remain viable as component cities of their respective provinces
emphasizes the arbitrariness of the amount of P100 million as the new income requirement for the
conversion of municipalities into component cities. This arbitrariness can also be clearly gleaned from
the respective distinctive traits and level of economic devel-

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opment of the individual respondent municipalities as above submitted.

Verily, the determination of the existence of substantial distinction with respect to respondent
municipalities does not simply lie on the mere pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th
Congress. This Court sees the bigger picture. The existence of substantial distinction with respect to
respondent municipalities covered by the Cityhood Laws is measured by the purpose of the law, not
by R.A. No. 9009, but by the very purpose of the LGC, as provided in its Section 2 (a), thus—
“SECTION 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.”

Indeed, substantial distinction lies in the capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to
become component cities of their respective provinces. Congress, by enacting the Cityhood Laws,
recognized this capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to become the State’s partners in
accelerating economic growth and development in the provincial regions, which is the very thrust of
the LGC, manifested by the pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th Congress and their
relentless pursuit for cityhood up to the present. Truly, the urgent need to become a component city
arose way back in the 11th Congress, and such condition continues to exist.

Petitioners in these cases complain about the purported reduction of their “just share” in the IRA. To
be sure, petitioners are entitled to a “just share,” not a specific amount. But the

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feared reduction proved to be false when, after the implementation of the Cityhood Laws, their
respective shares increased, not decreased. Consider the table15 below—

CITY

CY 2006 IRA

(Before Implemen-

tation of Sixteen [16] Cityhood Laws)


CY 2008 IRA

(Actual Release After Implementation of

Sixteen [16] Cityhood Laws)

Bais 219,338,056.00 242,193,156.00

Batangas 334,371,984.00 388,871,770.00

Bayawan 353,150,158.00 388,840,062.00

Cadiz 329,491,285.00 361,019,211.00

Calapan 227,772,199.00 252,587,779.00

Calbayog 438,603,378.00 485,653,769.00

Cauayan 250,477,157.00 277,120,828.00

Gen. Santos 518,388,557.00 631,864,977.00

Gingoog 314,425,637.00 347,207,725.00

Himamaylan 248,154,381.00 277,532,458.00

Iloilo 358,394,268.00 412,506,278.00

Iriga 183,132,036.00 203,072,932.00

Legaspi 235,314,016.00 266,537,785.00

Ligao 215,608,112.00 239,696,441.00

Oroquieta 191,803,213.00 211,449,720.00

Pagadian 292,788,255.00 327,401,672.00

San Carlos239,524,249.00 260,515,711.00

San Fernando 182,320,356.00 204,140,940.00

Santiago 508,326,072.00 563,679,572.00

Silay 216,372,314.00 241,363,845.00

Surigao 233,968,119.00 260,708,071.00

Tacurong 179,795,271.00 197,880,665.00

_______________
15 Based on the letter dated December 9, 2008 of the Department of Budget and Management; Rollo
(G.R. No. 176951), Vol. 5, pp. 3978-3986.

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Tagaytay 130,159,136.00 152,445,295.00

Tarlac 348,186,756.00 405,611,581.00

Tangub 162,248,610.00 180,640,621.00

Urdaneta 187,721,031.00 207,129,386.00

Victorias 176,367,959.00 194,162,687.00

Zamboanga 918,013,016.00 1,009,972,704.00

What these petitioner cities were stating as a reduction of their respective IRA shares was based on a
computation of what they would receive if respondent municipalities were not to become component
cities at all. Of course, that would mean a bigger amount to which they have staked their claim. After
considering these, it all boils down to money and how much more they would receive if respondent
municipalities remain as municipalities and not share in the 23% fixed IRA from the national
government for cities.

Moreover, the debates in the Senate on R.A. No. 9009, should prove enlightening:

SENATOR SOTTO. Mr. President, we just want to be enlightened again on the previous qualification
and the present one being proposed. Before there were three…

SENATOR PIMENTEL. There are three requisites for a municipality to become a city. Let us start with
the finance.

SENATOR SOTTO. Will the distinguished sponsor please refresh us? I used to be the chairman of the
Committee on Local Government, but the new job that was given to me by the Senate has erased
completely my memory as far as the Local Government Code is concerned.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes, Mr. President, with pleasure. There are three requirements. One is
financial.

SENATOR SOTTO. All right. It used to be P20 million.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. It is P20 million. Now we are raising it to P100 million of locally generated
funds.

SENATOR SOTTO. In other words, the P20 million before includes the IRA.

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SENATOR PIMENTEL. No, Mr. President.

SENATOR SOTTO. It should not have been included?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. The internal revenue share should never have been included. That was not the
intention when we first crafted the Local Government Code. The financial capacity was supposed to
be demonstrated by the municipality wishing to become a city by its own effort, meaning to say, it
should not rely on the internal revenue share that comes from the government. Unfortunately, I think
what happened in past conversions of municipalities into cities was, the Department of Budget and
Management, along with the Department of Finance, had included the internal revenue share as a
part of the municipality, demonstration that they are now financially capable and can measure up to
the requirement of the Local Government Code of having a revenue of at least P20 million.

SENATOR SOTTO. I am glad that the sponsor, Mr. President, has spread that into the Record because
otherwise, if he did not mention the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget and
Management, then I would have been blamed for the misinterpretation. But anyway, the gentleman
is correct. That was the interpretation given to us during the hearings.

So now, from P20 million, we make it P100 million from locally generated income as far as population
is concerned.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. As far as population is concerned, there will be no change, Mr. President. Still
150,000.

SENATOR SOTTO. Still 150,000?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes.

SENATOR SOTTO. And then the land area?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. As to the land area, there is no change; it is still 100 square kilometers.

SENATOR SOTTO. But before it was “either/or”?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. That is correct. As long as it has one of the three requirements, basically, as
long as it meets the fi-

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nancial requirement, then it may meet the territorial requirement or the population requirement.

SENATOR SOTTO. So, it remains “or”?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. We are now changing it into AND.

SENATOR SOTTO. AND?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes.


SENATOR SOTTO. I see.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. That is the proposal, Mr. President. In other words…

SENATOR SOTTO. Does the gentleman not think there will no longer be any municipality that will
qualify, Mr. President?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. There may still be municipalities which can qualify, but it will take a little time.
They will have to produce more babies. I do not know—expand their territories, whatever, by
reclamation or otherwise. But the whole proposal is geared towards making it difficult for
municipalities to convert into cities.

On the other hand, I would like to advert to the fact that in the amendments that we are proposing
for the entire Local Government Code, we are also raising the internal revenue share of the
municipalities.

SENATOR SOTTO. I see.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. So that, more or less, hindi naman sila dehado in this particular instance.

SENATOR SOTTO. Well, then, because of that information, Mr. President, I throw my full support
behind the measure.

Thank you, Mr. President.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Emphasis supplied)16

_______________

16 Committee Amendments re S. No. 2157, Records of the Senate, Vol. II, No. 24, October 5, 2000, pp.
165-166; id., at pp. 3766-3767.

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From the foregoing, the justness in the act of Congress in enacting the Cityhood Laws becomes
obvious, especially considering that 33 municipalities were converted into component cities almost
immediately prior to the enactment of R.A. No. 9009. In the enactment of the Cityhood Laws,
Congress merely took the 16 municipalities covered thereby from the disadvantaged position brought
about by the abrupt increase in the income requirement of R.A. No. 9009, acknowledging the
“privilege” that they have already given to those newly-converted component cities, which prior to
the enactment of R.A. No. 9009, were undeniably in the same footing or “class” as the respondent
municipalities. Congress merely recognized the capacity and readiness of respondent municipalities to
become component cities of their respective provinces.

Petitioners complain of the projects that they would not be able to pursue and the expenditures that
they would not be able to meet, but totally ignored the respondent municipalities’ obligations arising
from the contracts they have already entered into, the employees that they have already hired, and
the projects that they have already initiated and completed as component cities. Petitioners have
completely overlooked the need of respondent municipalities to become effective vehicles intending
to accelerate economic growth in the countryside. It is like the elder siblings wanting to kill the
newly-borns so that their inheritance would not be diminished.

Apropos is the following parable:

There was a landowner who went out at dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard. After reaching an
agreement with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them out to his vineyard. He came out about
midmorning and saw other men standing around the marketplace without work, so he said to them,
“You too go along to my vineyard and I will pay you whatever is fair.” They went. He came out again
around noon and mid-afternoon and did the same. Finally, going out in late afternoon he found still
others standing around. To these he said, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “No one

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has hired us,” they told him. He said, “You go to the vineyard too.” When evening came, the owner of
the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workmen and give them their pay, but begin with the last
group and end with the first.” When those hired late in the afternoon came up they received a full
day’s pay, and when the first group appeared they thought they would get more, yet they received
the same daily wage. Thereupon they complained to the owner, “This last group did only an hour’s
work, but you have paid them on the same basis as us who have worked a full day in the scorching
heat.” “My friend,” he said to one in reply, “I do you no injustice. You agreed on the usual wage, did
you not? Take your pay and go home. I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay as
you. I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am
generous?”17

Congress, who holds the power of the purse, in enacting the Cityhood Laws, only sought the
well-being of respondent municipalities, having seen their respective capacities to become
component cities of their provinces, temporarily stunted by the enactment of R.A. No. 9009. By
allowing respondent municipalities to convert into component cities, Congress desired only to uphold
the very purpose of the LGC, i.e., to make the local government units “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,” which is the very mandate of
the Constitution.

Finally, we 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, as the following pronouncement of this Court
instructs:

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17 Mat. 20: 1-15.

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“The right and power of judicial tribunals to declare whether enactments of the legislature exceed the
constitutional limitations and are invalid has always been considered a grave responsibility, as well as
a solemn duty. The courts invariably give the most careful consideration to questions involving the
interpretation and application of the Constitution, and approach constitutional questions with great
deliberation, exercising their power in this respect with the greatest possible caution and even
reluctance; and they should never declare a statute void, unless its invalidity is, in their judgment,
beyond reasonable doubt. To justify a court in pronouncing a legislative act unconstitutional, or a
provision of a state constitution to be in contravention of the Constitution x x x, the case must be so
clear to be free from doubt, and the conflict of the statute with the constitution must be
irreconcilable, because it is but a decent respect to the wisdom, the integrity, and the patriotism of
the legislative body by which any law is passed to presume in favor of its validity until the contrary is
shown beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, in no doubtful case will the judiciary pronounce a
legislative act to be contrary to the constitution. To doubt the constitutionality of a law is to resolve
the doubt in favor of its validity.”18

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration of the “Resolution” dated August 24, 2010, dated and
filed on September 14, 2010 by respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al. is GRANTED. The
Resolution dated August 24, 2010 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Cityhood Laws—Republic Acts Nos.
9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and
9491—are declared CONSTITUTIONAL.

SO ORDERED.

Corona (C.J.), Velasco, Jr., Perez and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Carpio, J., See Dissenting Opinion.

Carpio-Morales, J., I maintain my vote in the original ponencia. Hence, I concur with the dissent of J.
Carpio.

_______________

18 Churchill v. Rafferty, 32 Phil. 580, 584 (1915).

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Nachura, J., No Part.

Leonardo-De Castro, J., I certify that J. De Castro left her vote concurring with J. Bersamin.

Brion and Sereno, JJ., We join the dissent of J. Carpio.

Peralta and Villarama, JJ., We join the Dissenting Opinion of J. Carpio.

Del Castillo, J., No Part.

Abad, J., See Concurring Opinion.

CONCURRING OPINION

ABAD, J.:

The Court has received flak on this case for supposed “flip-flopping.” But its shifting views are
understandable because of the nearly even soundness of the opposing advocacies of the two groups
of cities over the validity of the sixteen cityhood laws.1 It also does not help that the membership of
the Court has been altered by retirements and replacements at various stages from when it first
decided to annul the laws, to when it reconsidered and upheld their validity, and to when it reverted
to the original position and declared the laws involved unconstitutional. This to me is a healthy sign of
democracy at work, the members being blind to the need to conform.

In its Resolution of August 24, 2010, the Court reversed its December 21, 2009 Decision and denied
the quest for cityhood of sixteen municipalities on the ground that the laws creating them violated
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution2

_______________

1 Republic Acts 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9394, 9398, 9393, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9436,
9435 and 9491.

2 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

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and the equal protection clause.3 By that resolution, the majority also held that the Court erred in
setting aside its November 18, 2008 decision since this latter had attained finality after the Court’s
denial of the second motion for reconsideration of the respondent cities, albeit the 6-6 deadlock vote
and the corresponding entry of judgment.

The Issues Presented

The motion for reconsideration of respondent cities presents the following issues:

1. Whether or not the sixteen cityhood laws violate Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution;

2. Whether or not such laws violate the equal protection clause; and

3. Whether or not the Court could still modify its decision dated November 18, 2008.

Discussions

One. In ruling that the sixteen cityhood laws violated Section 10 of Article X, the majority in the
Court held that the creation of local government units must conform to the criterion prescribed in
Section 450 of the Local Government Code.4 Since those laws, which were passed after the
enactment of Republic Act (R.A.) 9009,5 covered municipalities that did not

_______________

local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the
political units directly affected.

3 Section 1, Article III: No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of
law nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. (Emphasis Supplied)
4 Republic Act 7160, as amended.

5 An Act Amending Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, Otherwise Known as The Local Government
Code of 1991, by Increasing the Average Annual Income Requirement for a Municipality or Cluster of
Barangay to be Converted into a Component City.

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comply with the amended income requirement set by the Local Government Code, their conversion
into cities were constitutionally infirm. The majority held that R.A. 9009 did not provide exemptions
from its application. Although the provisions in the sixteen cityhood laws established exemptions
from such requirement for the subject municipalities, the same can not be considered without
violating Section 10, Article X, taking into account the legislature’s primary intent in passing R.A.
9009.6

I take exception on how the majority of the Court selectively chose to focus on the sponsorship
speech of Senator Aquilino Pimentel to come up with a “primary intent” theory for R.A. 9009. Surely,
the intent of R.A. 9009 can not be based solely on that speech. The Court should not ignore the
legislative history of R.A. 9009, including the pertinent exchanges during the interpellation of Senator
Pimentel and Senate President Franklin Drilon, thus:

THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would like to ask for some clarificatory point. x x x

THE PRESIDENT. This is just on the point of the pending bills in the Senate which propose the
conversion of a number of municipalities into cities and which qualify under the present standard.

We would like to know the view of the sponsor: Assuming that this bill becomes a law, will the
Chamber apply the standard as proposed in this bill to those bills which are pending for
consideration?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill x x x [if] approved, retroact
to the bills that are pending in the Senate for conversion from municipalities to cities.
_______________

6 To restrain “the mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities”. Sponsorship speech
of Senator Aquilino Pimintel, October 5, 2000.

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THE PRESIDENT. Will there be an appropriate language crafted to reflect that view? Or does it not
become a policy of the Chamber, assuming that this bill becomes a law x x x that it will apply to those
bills which are already approved by the House under the old version of the [LGC] and are now
pending in the Senate? The Chair does not know if we can craft a language which will limit the
application to those which are not yet in the Senate. Or is that a policy that the Chamber will adopt?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, personally, I do not think it is necessary to put that provision
because what we are saying here will form part of the interpretation of this bill. Besides, if there is no
retroactivity clause, I do not think that the bill would have any retroactive effect.

THE PRESIDENT. So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber
will not be affected.

SENATOR PIMENTEL. These will not be affected Mr. President.7 (Emphasis supplied)

Two things are clear from the above exchanges. First, the legislature intended to exempt from the
amended income requirement of R.A. 9009 the municipalities that had pending cityhood bills during
the 11th Congress. As a matter of fact, such legislative intent was carried over to the 12th and the
13th Congress when the House of Representatives adopted Joint Resolutions8 that sought the
exemption of twenty-four municipalities, including the sixteen, from the application of R.A. 9009. The
continuing intent of Congress culminated in the

_______________
7 See Justice Ruben T. Reyes’ Dissent promulgated on November 18, 2008; citing II Record, Senate,
13th Congress, pp. 167-168.

8 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” and Joint
Resolution No. 1, readopting Joint Resolution No. 29.

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inclusion of the exemption clause in the cityhood bills and their subsequent passage.

Second, it is also clear from the above exchanges between Senators Pimentel and Drilon that
Congress did not anymore insert an exemption clause from the income requirement of R.A. 9009
since such exchanges, when read by the Court, would already reveal the lawmakers’ intent regarding
such matter.

Besides, the exemption clause found in each of the cityhood laws serves as an affirmation of Congress’
intent to exempt them from the increased income requirement of R.A. 9009. These new cities have
not altogether been exempted from the operation of the Local Government Code covering income
requirement. They have been expressly made subject to the lower income requirement of the old
code. There remains, therefore, substantial compliance with the provision of Section 10, Article X of
the Constitution which provides that no city may be created “except in accordance with the criteria
established in the local government code.”

The above interpretation accommodates the “primary” intention of Congress in preventing the mad
rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities and the other intention of Congress to
exempt the municipalities which have pending cityhood bills before the enactment of R.A. 9009.

This is not to say that the views of the majority in the Court are absolutely illogical or wrong. They are
admittedly plausible. But, given the unstable footing of such views as evidenced by its shifting
positions on the issue, the Court should have adopted an attitude of becoming humility, upholding
the constitutionality of the acts of a co-equal branch of government regarding a matter that properly
fell within its powers.
Two. The equal protection clause of the Constitution seeks to protect persons from being deprived
of life, liberty, or property by the uneven application of statutes. In invoking

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this protection, it is incumbent on petitioner League of Cities to show, not only that the exemption
granted to the sixteen cities amounted to arbitrary classification but, that the League or their
members have been deprived of life, liberty or property, by reason of the exemption. The League of
Cities has failed to discharge this burden.

The Court explained in Ichong v. Hernandez9 the limits of the equal protection clause, thus:

“The equal protection of the law clause is against undue favor and individual or class privilege, as well
as hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality. It is not intended to prohibit legislation,
which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by territory within which is to operate. It
does not demand absolute equality among residents; it merely requires that all persons shall be
treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities
enforced. The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to those
persons falling within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and
reasonable grounds exists (sic) for making a distinction between those who fall within such class and
those who do not.” (Emphasis supplied)

Far from baselessly favoring the sixteen municipalities, Congress gave them exemptions from the
application of R.A. 9009 based on its sense of justice and fairness. Senator Alfredo Lim explained this
in his sponsorship speech on House Joint Resolution No. 1, thus:

“x x x The imposition of a much higher income requirement for the creation of a city virtually
delivered a lethal blow to the aspirations of the 24 municipalities to attain economic growth and
progress. To them, it was unfair; like any sport—changing the rules in the middle of the game.

_______________

9 G.R. No. L-7995, 101 Phil. 1155 (1952), citing 2 Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, 824-825.
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xxxx

I, for one, share their view that fairness dictates that they should be given a legal remedy by which
they could be allowed to prove that they have all the necessary qualifications for city status using the
criteria set forth under the Local Government Code prior to its amendment by R.A. 9009.

xxxx

In essence, the Cityhood bills now under consideration will have the same effect as that of House
Joint Resolution No. 1 because each of the 12 bills seeks exemption from the higher income
requirement of R.A. 9009. The proponents are invoking the exemption on the basis of justice and
fairness. x x x”10 (Emphasis supplied)

What makes the injustice quite bitter is the fact that the sixteen cities did not merely have pending
cityhood bills during the 11th Congress. They also met at that time the income criteria set under
Section 450 of the then Local Government Code. The Court owes to these cities the considerations
that justice and fair play demands. It can not be denied that substantial distinction sets them apart
from the other cities.

Further, petitioner League of Cities failed to show that the creation of the sixteen new cities
discriminated against other cities. As the respondent cities point out, the majority of the present cities
in our midst do not meet the P100 million minimum income requirement of the Local Government
Code.11 It boggles the mind how these deficient cities can complain of denial of equal protection of
the law.

Besides, assuming an improper classification in the case of the sixteen cities, petitioner League of
Cities can not invoke the equal protection clause since it has failed to show that it

_______________
10 Journal, Senate 13th Congress, 59th Session, 1238 -1240 cited in Justice Ruben T. Reyes’ Dissent
promulgated on November 18, 2008.

11 Motion for Reconsideration of respondent cities, p. 49.

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will suffer deprivation of life, liberty, or property by reason of such classification.

Actually, the existing cities would not cease to exist nor would their liberties suffer by reason of the
enactment of the sixteen cityhood laws. That their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) will be
diminished does not amount to deprivation of property since the IRA is not their property until it has
been automatically released.12 Mere expectancy in the receipt of IRA can not be regarded as the
“property” envisioned in the Bill of Rights.

Three. The majority maintain that the Court did not properly set aside its original decision dated
November 18, 2008, which earlier invalidated the Cityhood laws since, procedurally, the Court had
previously declared such decision already final.13 But a question had been raised regarding the
propriety of such declaration of finality, given a pending question respecting the consequence of a 6-6
vote on the constitutionality of the cityhood laws. At any rate, the Court has under extraordinary
circumstances14 reconsidered its ruling despite an entry of judgment. It will not allow the technical
rules to hinder it from rendering just and equitable relief.15

The issues presented in this case do not only involve rights and obligations of some parties but the
constitutionality of the exercise by Congress of its power to make laws. There is no reason to uphold
the November 18, 2008 decision since the petitioner League of Cities has failed to overcome the
strong presumption in favor of the cityhood laws’ constitutionality.

_______________

12 Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre, G.R. No. 132988, July 19, 2000, 336 SCRA 201.
13 The Entry of Judgment of the Decision dated November 18, 2008 was made on May 21, 2009 as
per Resolution of the Court dated June 2, 2009.

14 See Manotok IV v. Heirs of Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, December 18, 2008, 574 SCRA 468.

15 Javier v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. L-68379-81, September 22, 1986.

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I vote to GRANT the motion for reconsideration of the respondent cities, REVERSE AND SET ASIDE the
Resolution of the Court dated August 24, 2010, REINSTATE the Decision of the Court dated December
21, 2009, and DISMISS the Consolidated petitions of the League of Cities.

DISSENTING OPINION

CARPIO, J.:

I dissent.

In their motion for reconsideration, respondents argue that: (1) the petitions on their face do not call
for the exercise of judicial power considering that the share of local government units in the Internal
Revenue Allotments does not constitute rights which are legally demandable and enforceable; (2) the
16 Cityhood Laws are not unconstitutional; and (3) there was no violation of the equal protection
clause.

The crux of the controversy is whether the 16 Cityhood Laws are constitutional.1
As I have consistently opined, which opinion is concurred in by the majority members of this Court in
the reinstated Decision of 18 November 2008 and in the assailed Resolution of 24 August 2010, the 16
Cityhood Laws are unconstitutional.

First, the 16 Cityhood Laws violate Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. This provision reads:

_______________

1 In paragraph 93 of the motion for reconsideration, respondents state:

93. Thus, in this motion for reconsideration of the “Resolution” of August 24, 2010, what is in issue
is the correctness of the ruling of the Majority on [the] merits of the case, particularly the
constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws.

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

The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established
in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code.2
The Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria
necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress
cannot write such criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws.

RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code to increase the income requirement
from P20 million to P100 million for the creation of a city. This took effect on 30 June 2001. Hence,
from that moment the Local Government Code required that any municipality desiring to become a
city must satisfy the P100 million income requirement. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as
amended by RA 9009, does not contain any exemption from this income requirement.
In enacting RA 9009, Congress did not grant any exemption to respondent municipalities, even though
their cityhood bills were pending in Congress when Congress passed RA 9009. The Cityhood Laws, all
enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the
increased income requirement in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.
Such exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently
unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local

_______________

2 Republic Act No. 7160, as amended.

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Government Code and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.

Second, the 16 Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“The equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid classification under the
following conditions:

1. The classification must rest on substantial distinctions;

2. The classification must be germane to the purpose of the law;

3. The classification must not be limited to existing conditions only; and

4. The classification must apply equally to all members of the same class.”3

As I have previously stressed, there is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending
cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills. The mere
pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one
municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood
bill in the 11th Congress does not affect or determine the level of income of a municipality.
Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress might even have lower annual income
than municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills. In short, the classification
criterion—mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress—is not rationally related to the
purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting into cities.

_______________

3 De Guzman, Jr. v. Commission on Elections, 391 Phil. 70, 79; 336 SCRA 188, 196 (2000); Tiu v. Court
of Tax Appeals, 361 Phil. 229, 242; 301 SCRA 278, 289 (1999).

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Moreover, the fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress limits the exemption to a
specific condition existing at the time of passage of RA 9009. That specific condition will never happen
again. This violates the requirement that a valid classification must not be limited to existing
conditions only.

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

In addition, limiting the exemption only to the 16 municipalities violates the requirement that the
classification must apply to all similarly situated. Municipalities with the same income as the 16
respondent municipalities cannot convert into cities, while the 16 respondent municipalities can.
Clearly, as worded, the exemption provision found in the Cityhood Laws, even if it were written in
Section 450 of the Local Government Code, would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal
protection clause.

I repeat, Section 10, Article X of the Constitution expressly provides that “no x x x city shall be created
x x x except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code.” This provision
can only be interpreted in one way, that is, all the criteria for the creation of cities must be embodied
exclusively in the Local Government Code. In this case, the Cityhood Laws, which are unmistakably
laws other than the Local Government Code, provided an exemption from the increased income
requirement for the creation of cities under Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended
by RA 9009. Clearly, the Cityhood Laws contravene the letter and intent of Section 10, Article X of the
Constitution.

Accordingly, I vote to DENY the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated 24 August 2010.

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Motion for Reconsideration granted, resolution reversed and set aside.

Notes.—As may be gleaned from the Local Government Code, the creation or conversion of a local
government unit is done mainly to help assure its economic viability. (Latasa vs. Commission on
Elections, 417 SCRA 601 [2003])

Court is not precluded from re-examining its own ruling and rectifying errors of judgment if blind and
stubborn adherence to res judicata would involve the sacrifice of justice to technicality. (De Leon vs.
Court of Appeals, 371 SCRA 413 [2001]) League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) vs. Commission on
Elections, 643 SCRA 150, G.R. No. 176951 February 15, 2011

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

G.R. No. 103702. December 6, 1994.*

MUNICIPALITY OF SAN NARCISO, QUEZON; MAYOR JUAN K. UY; COUNCILORS: DEOGRACIAS R.


ARGOSINO III, BENITO T. CAPIO, EMMANUEL R. CORTEZ, NORMANDO MONTILLA, LEONARDO C. UY,
FIDEL C. AURELLANA, PEDRO C. CARABIT, LEONARDO D. AURELLANA, FABIAN M. MEDENILLA,
TRINIDAD F. CORTEZ, SALVADOR M. MEDENILLA, CERELITO B. AUREADA and FRANCISCA A. BAMBA,
petitioners, vs. HON. ANTONIO V. MENDEZ, SR., Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 62, 4th
Judicial Region, Gumaca, Quezon; MUNICIPALITY OF SAN ANDRES, QUEZON; MAYOR FRANCISCO DE
LEON; COUNCILORS: FE LUPINAC, TOMAS AVERIA, MANUEL O. OSAS, WILFREDO O. FONTANIL,
ENRICO U. NADRES, RODELITO LUZOIR, LENAC, JOSE L. CARABOT, DOMING AUSA, VIDAL BANQUELES
and CORAZON M. MAXIMO, respondents.

Appeals; Certiorari; Practice and Procedure; Where the petitioners raise in a petition for review on
certiorari under Rules 42 and 45 the issue of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in
excess of jurisdiction, they intend to submit their case under Rule 65.—Petitioners consider the
instant petition to be one for “review on certiorari” under Rules 42 and 45 of the Rules of Court; at
the same time, however, they question the orders of the lower court for having been issued with
“grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction, and that there is no other
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to petitioners to correct
said Orders, to protect their rights and to secure a final and definitive interpretation of the legal issues
involved.” Evidently, then, the petitioners intend to submit their case in this instance under Rule 65.
We shall disregard the procedural incongruence.

Actions; Quo Warranto; Municipal Corporations; Parties; When the inquiry is focused on the legal
existence of a body politic, the action is reserved to the State in a proceeding for quo warranto or any
other direct proceeding.—The special civil action of quo warranto is a “prerogative writ by which the
Government can call upon any person to show by what warrant he holds a public office or exercises a
public franchise.”

_______________

* EN BANC.

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When the inquiry is focused on the legal existence of a body politic, the action is reserved to the State
in a proceeding for quo warranto or any other direct proceeding. It must be brought “in the name of
the Republic of the Philippines” and commenced by the Solicitor General or the fiscal “when directed
by the President of the Philippines x x x.” Such officers may, under certain circumstances, bring such
an action “at the request and upon the relation of another person” with the permission of the court.
The Rules of Court also allows an individual to commence an action for quo warranto in his own name
but this initiative can be done when he claims to be “entitled to a public office or position usurped or
unlawfully held or exercised by another.” While the quo warranto proceedings filed below by
petitioner municipality has so named only the officials of the Municipality of San Andres as
respondents, it is virtually, however, a denunciation of the authority of the Municipality or Municipal
District of San Andres to exist and to act in that capacity.

Same; Same; Same; A quo warranto proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political subdivision
must be timely raised.—Executive Order No. 353 creating the municipal district of San Andres was
issued on 20 August 1959 but it was only after almost thirty (30) years, or on 05 June 1989, that the
municipality of San Narciso finally decided to challenge the legality of the executive order. In the
meantime, the Municipal District, and later the Municipality of San Andres, began and continued to
exercise the powers and authority of a duly created local government unit. In the same manner that
the failure of a public officer to question his ouster or the right of another to hold a position within a
one-year period can abrogate an action belatedly filed, so also, if not indeed with greatest
imperativeness, must a quo warranto proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political
subdivision be timely raised. Public interest demands it.

Same; Same; Same; Delegation of Powers; Even if Executive Order No. 353 creating the Municipality
of San Andres is a complete nullity for being the result of an unconstitutional delegation of legislative
power, the peculiar circumstances obtaining in the case hardly could offer a choice other than to
consider the Municipality to have at least attained a status uniquely of its own closely approximating,
if not in fact attaining, that of a de facto municipal corporation.—Granting that Executive Order No.
353 was a complete nullity for being the result of an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power,
the peculiar circumstances obtaining in this case hardly could offer a choice other than to consider
the Municipality of San Andres to have at least attained a status uniquely of its own closely
approximating, if not in fact attaining, that of a de facto municipal corporation. Conventional wisdom
cannot allow it to be otherwise. Created in 1959 by virtue of Executive Order

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Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

No. 353, the Municipality of San Andres had been in existence for more than six years when, on 24
December 1965, Pelaez v. Auditor General was promulgated. The ruling could have sounded the call
for a similar declaration of the unconstitutionality of Executive Order No. 353 but it was not to be the
case. On the contrary, certain governmental acts all pointed to the State’s recognition of the
continued existence of the Municipality of San Andres. Thus, after more than five years as a municipal
district, Executive Order No. 174 classified the Municipality of San Andres as a fifth class municipality
after having surpassed the income requirement laid out in Republic Act No. 1515. Section 31 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, constituted as
municipal circuits, in the establishment of Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the country, certain
municipalities that comprised the municipal circuits organized under Administrative Order No. 33,
dated 13 June 1978, issued by this Court pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 537. Under this
administrative order, the Municipality of San Andres had been covered by the 10th Municipal Circuit
Court of San Francisco-San Andres for the province of Quezon.

Same; Same; Same; Local Government Code; The power to create political subdivisions is a function of
the legislature; Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code converted municipal districts organized
pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders into regular municipalities.—At the present
time, all doubts on the de jure standing of the municipality must be dispelled. Under the Ordinance
(adopted on 15 October 1986) apportioning the seats of the House of Repre-sentatives, appended to
the 1987 Constitution, the Municipality of San Andres has been considered to be one of the twelve
(12) municipalities composing the Third District of the province of Quezon. Equally significant is
Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code to the effect that municipal districts “organized
pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective sets of elective
municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of (the) Code shall henceforth be
considered as regular municipalities.” No pretension of unconstitutionality per se of Section 442(d) of
the Local Government Code is proffered. It is doubtful whether such a pretext, even if made, would
succeed. The power to create political subdivisions is a function of the legislature. Congress did just
that when it has incorporated Section 442(d) in the Code.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Curative statutes are validly accepted in this
jurisdiction, subject to the usual qualification against impairment of vested rights.—Curative laws,
which

14

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in essence are retrospective, and aimed at giving “validity to acts done that would have been invalid
under existing laws, as if existing laws have been complied with,” are validly accepted in this
jurisdiction, subject to the usual qualification against impairment of vested rights.
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Gumaca, Quezon, Br. 62.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Manuel Laserna, Jr. for petitioners.

Florante Pamfilo for private respondents.

VITUG, J.:

On 20 August 1959, President Carlos P. Garcia, issued, pursuant to the then Sections 68 and 2630 of
the Revised Administrative Code, as amended, Executive Order No. 353 creating the municipal district
of San Andres, Quezon, by segregating from the municipality of San Narciso of the same province, the
barrios of San Andres, Mangero, Alibijaban, Pansoy, Camflora and Tala along with their respective
sitios.

Executive Order No. 353 was issued upon the request, addressed to the President and coursed
through the Provincial Board of Quezon, of the municipal council of San Narciso, Quezon, in its
Resolution No. 8 of 24 May 1959.1

_______________

1 Present at the meeting when the municipal council of San Narciso, Quezon adopted Resolution No.
8 were Municipal Mayor Godofredo M. Tan, Vice-Mayor Jesus R. Cortez, and Councilors Maximino F.
Rivadulla, Eleuterio Aurellana, Juanito Conjares, Dominador Nadres and Felix Aurellana. Councilor
Eduardo L. Ausa was absent. The reasons for the adoption of Resolution No. 8 are stated in the
following clauses:

“WHEREAS, this body has been informed that the chance for the approval of the bill creating the
barrios of San Andres, Mangero, Alibijaban, Pansoy, Camflora and Tala, into a regular Municipality is
very slim;

WHEREAS, the reason behind such disapproval is the patent inability of the proposed Municipality to
pay its would-to-be (sic) employees at the rate required in the Minimum Wage Law;

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Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

By virtue of Executive Order No. 174, dated 05 October 1965, issued by President Diosdado
Macapagal, the municipal district of San Andres was later officially recognized to have gained the
status of a fifth class municipality beginning 01 July 1963 by operation of Section 2 of Republic Act No.
1515.2 The executive order added that “(t)he conversion of this municipal district into (a) municipality
as proposed in House Bill No. 4864 was approved by the House of Representatives.”

On 05 June 1989, the Municipality of San Narciso filed a petition for quo warranto with the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 62, in Gumaca, Quezon, against the officials of the Municipality of San Andres.
Docketed Special Civil Action No. 2014-G, the petition sought the declaration of nullity of Executive
Order No. 353 and prayed that the respondent local officials of the Municipality of San Andres be
permanently ordered to refrain from performing the duties and functions of their respective offices.3
Invoking the ruling of this Court in Pelaez v. Auditor General,4 the petitioning municipality contended
that Executive Order No. 353, a presidential act, was a clear usurpation of the

_______________

WHEREAS, this body in particular, and the great majority of the people of San Andres in general,
notwithstanding the provision of the Minimum Wage Law, agitate for the separation or segregation of
the abovementioned barrios so as to have a corporate personality in the eyes of the Provincial Board,
in the eyes of Congress and in the eyes of the President;

WHEREAS, once said barrios acquire a corporate personality in the eyes of the Provincial Board, of
Congress and of the President, the development of said barrios and practically the whole southern tip
of the Bondoc Peninsula will be hastened. (Rollo, p. 162.)

2 This act has provided for a more autonomous government for municipal districts, amending for the
purpose Art. VI, Chapter 64 of the Administrative Code. Sec. 2 thereof states that “any first class
municipal district the annual receipts of which shall average more than four thousand pesos for four
consecutive fiscal years shall ipso facto be classified as a fifth class municipality and shall thereafter be
governed by the provisions of Articles one to five, Chapter 64 of the same Code.”

3 Rollo, pp. 77-80.

4 15 SCRA 569, holding that the authority to create municipalities is essentially legislative in nature.
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inherent powers of the legislature and in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of
powers. Hence, petitioner municipality argued, the officials of the Municipality or Municipal District of
San Andres had no right to exercise the duties and functions of their respective offices that rightfully
belonged to the corresponding officials of the Municipality of San Narciso.

In their answer, respondents asked for the dismissal of the petition, averring, by way of affirmative
and special defenses, that since it was at the instance of petitioner municipality that the Municipality
of San Andres was given life with the issuance of Executive Order No. 353, it (petitioner municipality)
should be deemed estopped from questioning the creation of the new municipality;5 that because
the Municipality of San Andres had been in existence since 1959, its corporate personality could no
longer be assailed; and that, considering the petition to be one for quo warranto, petitioner
municipality was not the proper party to bring the action, that prerogative being reserved to the State
acting through the Solicitor General.6

On 18 July 1991, after the parties had submitted their respective pre-trial briefs, the trial court
resolved to defer action on the motion to dismiss and to deny a judgment on the pleadings.

On 27 November 1991, the Municipality of San Andres filed anew a motion to dismiss alleging that
the case had become moot and academic with the enactment of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise
known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which took effect on 01 January 1991. The movant
municipality cited Section 442(d) of the law, reading thusly:

Sec. 442. Requisites for Creation.—x x x.

“(d) Municipalities existing as of the date of the 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 as regular municipalities.”

______________
5 Invoked was the Court’s ruling in Municipality of Malabang v. Benito, 27 SCRA 533.

6 Rollo, pp. 81-83.

17

VOL. 239, DECEMBER 6, 1994

17

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

The motion was opposed by petitioner municipality, contending that the above provision of law was
inapplicable to the Municipality of San Andres since the enactment referred to legally existing
municipalities and not to those whose mode of creation had been void ab initio.7

In its Order of 02 December 1991, the lower court8 finally dismissed the petition9 for lack of cause of
action on what it felt was a matter that belonged to the State, adding that “whatever defects (were)
present in the creation of municipal districts by the President pursuant to presidential issuances and
executive orders, (were) cured by the enactment of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as Local Government
Code of 1991.” In an order, dated 17 January 1992, the same court denied petitioner municipality’s
motion for reconsideration.

Hence, this petition “for review on certiorari.” Petitioners10 argue that in issuing the orders of 02
December 1991 and 17 January 1992, the lower court has “acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction.” Petitioners assert that the existence of a
municipality created by a null and void presidential order may be attacked either directly or even
collaterally by anyone whose interests or rights are affected, and that an unconstitutional act is not a
law, creates no office and is inoperative such as though it has never been passed.11

Petitioners consider the instant petition to be one for “review on certiorari” under Rules 42 and 45 of
the Rules of Court; at the same time, however, they question the orders of the lower court for having
been issued with “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction, and that
there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to
petitioners to correct said Orders, to protect their rights and to secure a final and definitive
interpretation of the

______________
7 Rollo, p. 102.

8 Presided by Judge Antonio V. Mendez, Sr.

9 Rollo, pp. 71-74.

10 Named co-petitioners of the Municipality of San Narciso before this Court are its municipal mayor
and thirteen (13) councilors.

11 Rollo, pp. 183-185.

18

18

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

legal issues involved.”12 Evidently, then, the petitioners intend to submit their case in this instance
under Rule 65. We shall disregard the procedural incongruence.

The special civil action of quo warranto is a “prerogative writ by which the Government can call upon
any person to show by what warrant he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise.”13 When
the inquiry is focused on the legal existence of a body politic, the action is reserved to the State in a
proceeding for quo warranto or any other direct proceeding.14 It must be brought “in the name of
the Republic of the Philippines”15 and commenced by the Solicitor General or the fiscal “when
directed by the President of the Philippines x x x.”16 Such officers may, under certain circumstances,
bring such an action “at the request and upon the relation of another person” with the permission of
the court.17 The Rules of Court also allows an individual to commence an action for quo warranto in
his own name but this initiative can be done when he claims to be “entitled to a public office or
position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another.”18 While the quo warranto proceedings
filed below by petitioner municipality has so named only the officials of the Municipality of San
Andres as respondents, it is virtually, however, a denunciation of the authority of the Municipality or
Municipal District of San Andres to exist and to act in that capacity.

At any rate, in the interest of resolving any further doubt on the legal status of the Municipality of San
Andres, the Court shall delve into the merits of the petition.
While petitioners would grant that the enactment of Republic Act No. 7160 may have converted the
Municipality of San Andres

_______________

12 Ibid., pp. 2 & 21; Ibid., p. 50.

13 Moran, COMMENTS ON THE RULES OF COURT, Vol. 3, 1970 ed., p. 208 citing Newman v. U.S., 238
U.S. 537, 545, 56 L.Ed. 513.

14 Only in few exceptions may a private person exercise this function of government, an example of
which is when the state law allows a private person to question the regularity of the incorporation of
an entity; see E. McQuillin, THE LAW OF MUNICIPAL CORPO-RATIONS, sec. 3.49, p. 592 (3rd ed. 1949).

15 Sec. 1 (c), Rule 66, Rules of Court.

16 Sec. 3, ibid.

17 Sec. 4, ibid.

18 Sec. 6, ibid.

19

VOL. 239, DECEMBER 6, 1994

19

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

into a de facto municipality, they, however, contend that since the petition for quo warranto had
been filed prior to the passage of said law, petitioner municipality had acquired a vested right to seek
the nullification of Executive Order No. 353, and any attempt to apply Section 442 of Republic Act
7160 to the petition would perforce be violative of due process and the equal protection clause of the
Constitution.
Petitioners’ theory might perhaps be a point to consider had the case been seasonably brought.
Executive Order No. 353 creating the municipal district of San Andres was issued on 20 August 1959
but it was only after almost thirty (30) years, or on 05 June 1989, that the municipality of San Narciso
finally decided to challenge the legality of the executive order. In the meantime, the Municipal District,
and later the Municipality, of San Andres, began and continued to exercise the powers and authority
of a duly created local government unit. In the same manner that the failure of a public officer to
question his ouster or the right of another to hold a position within a one-year period can abrogate an
action belatedly filed,19 so also, if not indeed with greatest imperativeness, must a quo warranto
proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political subdivision be timely raised.20 Public interest
demands it.

Granting that Executive Order No. 353 was a complete nullity for being the result of an
unconstitutional delegation of legislative power, the peculiar circumstances obtaining in this case
hardly could offer a choice other than to consider the Municipality of

______________

19 Tumulak v. Egay, 82 Phil. 828; Tavora v. Ofiana, 83 Phil. 672; Unabia v. City Mayor (99 Phil. 253). In
Castro v. Del Rosario (19 SCRA 196), the Court stated that the one-year limitation for filing a quo
warranto proceedings is “an expression of policy on the part of the State that persons claiming a right
to an office of which they are illegally dispossessed should immediately take steps to recover said
office and that if they do not do so within a period of one year, they shall be considered as having lost
their right thereto by abandonment.”

20 Noteworthy is Section 16, Rule 66, of the Rules of Court which sets a five-year limitation for filing a
quo warranto action if its purpose is to bring about the “forfeiture of charter” of a corporation, that
period to be counted from the time “the act complained of was done or committed.”

20

20

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

San Andres to have at least attained a status uniquely of its own closely approximating, if not in fact
attaining, that of a de facto municipal corporation. Conventional wisdom cannot allow it to be
otherwise. Created in 1959 by virtue of Executive Order No. 353, the Municipality of San Andres had
been in existence for more than six years when, on 24 December 1965, Pelaez v. Auditor General was
promulgated. The ruling could have sounded the call for a similar declaration of the
unconstitutionality of Executive Order No. 353 but it was not to be the case. On the contrary, certain
governmental acts all pointed to the State’s recognition of the continued existence of the
Municipality of San Andres. Thus, after more than five years as a municipal district, Executive Order
No. 174 classified the Municipality of San Andres as a fifth class municipality after having surpassed
the income requirement laid out in Republic Act No. 1515. Section 31 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,
otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, constituted as municipal circuits, in the
establishment of Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the country, certain municipalities that comprised
the municipal circuits organized under Administrative Order No. 33, dated 13 June 1978, issued by
this Court pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 537. Under this administrative order, the Municipality
of San Andres had been covered by the 10th Municipal Circuit Court of San Francisco-San Andres for
the province of Quezon.

At the present time, all doubts on the de jure standing of the municipality must be dispelled. Under
the Ordinance (adopted on 15 October 1986) apportioning the seats of the House of Representatives,
appended to the 1987 Constitution, the Muni-cipality of San Andres has been considered to be one of
the twelve (12) municipalities composing the Third District of the province of Quezon. Equally
significant is Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code to the effect that municipal districts
“organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective
sets of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of (the) Code shall
henceforth be considered as regular municipalities.” No pretension of unconstitutionality per se of
Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code is proffered. It is doubtful whether such a pretext, even
if made, would succeed. The power to create political subdivisions is a function of the legislature.
Congress did just that when it has

21

VOL. 239, DECEMBER 6, 1994

21

Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr.

incorporated Section 442(d) in the Code. Curative laws, which in essence are retrospective,21 and
aimed at giving “validity to acts done that would have been invalid under existing laws, as if existing
laws have been complied with,” are validly accepted in this jurisdiction, subject to the usual
qualification against impairment of vested rights.22

All considered, the de jure status of the Municipality of San Andres in the province of Quezon must
now be conceded.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
Narvasa (C.J.), Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno,
Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Feliciano, J., On leave. Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr., 239 SCRA 11, G.R. No.
103702 December 6, 1994

G.R. No. 116702. December 28, 1995.*

THE MUNICIPALITY OF CANDIJAY, BOHOL, acting through its Sangguniang Bayan and Mayor,
petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and THE MUNICIPALITY OF ALICIA, BOHOL, respondents.

Evidence; Courts; Appeals; The determination of equiponderance of evidence by the lower court
involves the appreciation of evidence, which will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court unless shown
to be whimsical or capricious.—With respect to the first and third grounds, we find that the issues of
fact in this case had been adequately passed upon by respondent Court in its Decision, which is
well-supported by the evidence on record. The determination of equiponderance of evidence by the
respondent Court involves the appreciation of evidence by the latter tribunal, which will not be
reviewed by this Court unless shown to be whimsical or capricious; here, there has been no such
showing.

Same; Same; Where neither party is able to make out a case, where neither side could establish its
cause of action and prevail with evidence it has, they are thus no better off than before they
proceeded to litigate and the courts can only leave them as they are—in such cases, courts have no
choice but to dismiss the complaints or petitions.—In connection with the foregoing, that the assailed
Decision, in dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 2402, may leave the parties where they are or
may not resolve their problem one way or the other, is of no moment. The fact remains that, as
correctly evaluated by the respondent Court,

_______________

* THIRD DIVISION.

531
VOL. 251, DECEMBER 28, 1995

531

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

neither party was able to make out a case; neither side could establish its cause of action and prevail
with the evidence it had. They are thus no better off than before they proceeded to litigate, and, as a
consequence thereof, the courts can only leave them as they are. In such cases, courts have no choice
but to dismiss the complaints/petitions.

Municipal Corporations; Local Governments; Inasmuch as respondent municipality of Alicia is similarly


situated as the municipality of San Andres in the case of Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon v.
Mendez, Sr. (239 SCRA 11 [1994]), it should likewise benefit from the effects of Section 442 (d) of the
Local Government Code, and should henceforth be considered as a regular, de jure
municipality.—Respondent municipality’s situation in the instant case is strikingly similar to that of
the municipality of San Andres. Respondent municipality of Alicia was created by virtue of Executive
Order No. 265 in 1949, or ten years ahead of the municipality of San Andres, and therefore had been
in existence for all of sixteen years when Pelaez vs. Auditor General was promulgated. And various
governmental acts throughout the years all indicate the State’s recognition and acknowledgment of
the existence thereof. For instance, under Administrative Order No. 33 above-mentioned, the
Municipality of Alicia was covered by the 7th Municipal Circuit Court of Alicia-Mabini for the province
of Bohol. Likewise, under the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution, the Municipality of Alicia
is one of twenty municipalities comprising the Third District of Bohol. Inasmuch as respondent
municipality of Alicia is similarly situated as the municipality of San Andres, it should likewise benefit
from the effects of Section 442 (d) of the Local Government Code, and should henceforth be
considered as a regular, de jure municipality.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.

Cristeto O. Cimagala for petitioner.

Urbano H. Lagunay for private respondent.

RESOLUTION

PANGANIBAN, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision of the

532

532

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals1 promulgated on June 28, 1994, reversing the judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court
(Branch 1) of the City of Tagbilaran, Bohol.

The lower court’s decision, among other things, declared “barrio/barangay Pagahat as within the
territorial jurisdiction of the plaintiff municipality of Candijay, Bohol, therefore, said barrio forms part
and parcel of its territory, therefore, belonging to said plaintiff municipality,” and further permanently
enjoined defendant municipality of Alicia “to respect plaintiff’s control, possession and political
supervision of barangay Pagahat and never to molest, disturb, harass its possession and ownership
over the same barrio” (RTC decision, p. 4; Rollo, p. 86).

On appeal, the respondent Court stated that “(S)crutiny of the conflicting claims and the respective
evidence of the parties lead to the conclusion that the trial court committed an error in declaring that
Barrio Pagahat is within the territorial jurisdiction of plaintiff-appellee (municipality of Candijay).” Said
Court rejected the boundary line being claimed by petitioner based on certain exhibits, since it would
in effect place “practically all of Barrio Pagahat x x x, part of Barrio Cagongcagong and portions of
Barrio Putlongcam and La Hacienda and all of Barrio Mahayag and Barrio del Monte within the
territorial jurisdiction of plaintiff-appellee Candijay.” Added the respondent Court, “As aptly pointed
out by defendant-appellant in its appeal brief, ‘the plaintiff municipality will not only engulf the entire
barrio of Pagahat, but also of the barrios of Putlongcam, Mahayag, Del Monte, Cagongcagong, and a
part of the Municipality of Mabini. Candijay will eat up a big chunk of territories far exceeding her
territorial jurisdiction under the law creating her. Her claim opens the floodgate of controversies over
boundaries, including with Mabini.’ ” (Decision, p. 4; rollo, p. 35.) The respondent Court concluded
that “the trial court erred in relying on Exh. X-Commissioner [exhibit for petitioner], because, in effect,
it in-

______________

1 Thirteenth Division, composed of Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, ponente, and JJ. Alfredo M.
Marigomen and Ruben T. Reyes.
2 In Civil Case No. 2402, for settlement of boundary dispute and quieting of title over Barrio Pagahat.

533

VOL. 251, DECEMBER 28, 1995

533

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

cluded portions of Barrios Putlongcam and La Hacienda within the jurisdiction of appellee Candijay
when said barrios are undisputedly part of appellant’s (Alicia) territory under Executive Order No. 265
creating the latter” (Decision, p. 6; rollo, p. 37).

The respondent Court also found, after an examination of the respective survey plans of petitioner
and respondent submitted as exhibits, that “both plans are inadequate insofar as identifying the
monuments of the boundary line between [petitioner] and the Municipality of Mabini (which is not a
party to this case) as declared by the Provincial Board of Bohol. Neither plan shows where
Looc-Tabasan, Lomislis Island, Tagtang Canlirong, mentioned in the aforequoted boundary line
declared by the Provincial Board of Bohol, are actually located.” (Decision, p. 4; rollo, p. 35.) The
respondent Court, after weighing and considering the import of certain official acts, including
Executive Order No. 265 dated September 16, 1949 (which created the municipality of Alicia from out
of certain barrios of the municipality of Mabini), and Act No. 968 of the Philippine Commission dated
October 31, 1903 (which set forth the respective component territories of the municipalities of
Mabini and Candijay), concluded that “Barrio Bulawan from where barrio Pagahat originated is not
mentioned as one of the barrios constituted as part of defendant-appellant Municipality of Alicia.
Neither do they show that Barrio Pagahat forms part of plaintiff-appellant Municipality of Candijay.”

On that basis, the respondent Court held that:

“Clearly, from the foregoing, there is equiponderance of evidence. The Supreme Court has ruled:

‘Equiponderance of evidence rule states:

‘When the scale shall stand upon an equipoise and there is nothing in the evidence which shall incline
it to one side or the other, the court will find for the defendant.
‘Under said principle, the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his evidence and not on the weakness
of defendant’s claim. Even if the evidence of the plaintiff may be stronger than that of the defendant,
there is no preponderance of evidence on his side if such evidence is insufficient in itself to establish
his cause of action.

534

534

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

(Sapu-an, et al. v. Court of Appeals, Oct. 19, 1992, 214 SCRA 701, 705-706.)’

“WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is reversed and set aside. Another judgment is hereby entered
dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 2402. No costs.” (Decision, p. 6, rollo, p. 37.)

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration having been rejected by the respondent Court, petitioner
came to this Court, alleging (i) improper application by the respondent Court of Appeals of the
so-called principle of “equiponderance of evidence,” for having based its ruling against petitioner on
documentary evidence which, petitioner claims, are void, (ii) the respondent municipality’s purported
lack of juridical personality, as a result of having been created under a void executive order, and (iii)
that the challenged Decision “does not solve the problem of both towns but throws them back again
to their controversy.” (Petition, p. 6, rollo, p. 21.)

After deliberating on the petition, comment and reply, this Court is not persuaded to grant due
course to the petition.

With respect to the first and third grounds, we find that the issues of fact in this case had been
adequately passed upon by respondent Court in its Decision, which is well-supported by the evidence
on record. The determination of equiponderance of evidence by the respondent Court involves the
appreciation of evidence by the latter tribunal, which will not be reviewed by this Court unless shown
to be whimsical or capricious; here, there has been no such showing.

In connection with the foregoing, that the assailed Decision, in dismissing the complaint in Civil Case
No. 2402, may leave the parties where they are or may not resolve their problem one way or the
other, is of no moment. The fact remains that, as correctly evaluated by the respondent Court,
neither party was able to make out a case; neither side could establish its cause of action and prevail
with the evidence it had. They are thus no better off than before they proceeded to litigate, and, as a
consequence thereof, the courts can only leave them as they are. In such cases, courts have no choice
but to dismiss the complaints/petitions.

On the second issue, we noted that petitioner commenced its collateral attack on the juridical
personality of respondent mu-

535

VOL. 251, DECEMBER 28, 1995

535

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

nicipality on 19 January 1984 (or some thirty five years after respondent municipality first came into
existence in 1949) during the proceedings in the court a quo. It appears that, after presentation of its
evidence, herein petitioner asked the trial court to bar respondent municipality from presenting its
evidence on the ground that it had no juridical personality. Petitioner contended that Exec. Order No.
265 issued by President Quirino on September 16, 1949 creating respondent municipality is null and
void ab initio, inasmuch as Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code, on which said Executive
Order was based, constituted an undue delegation of legislative powers to the President of the
Philippines, and was therefore declared unconstitutional, per this Court’s ruling in Pelaez vs. Auditor
General.3

_______________

3 G.R. No. L-23825, December 24, 1965, 15 SCRA 569. In said case, this Court ruled:

“(W)hereas the power to fix (a) common boundary, in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction
between adjoining municipalities, may partake of an administrative nature—involving, as it does, the
adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the law creating said municipalities—the authority to
create municipal corporations is essentially legislative in nature.

xxx xxx xxx

“Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code [insofar as it grants to the President the power to
create municipalities] does not meet (the) well-settled requirements for a valid delegation of the
power to fix the details in the enforcement of a law. It does not enunciate any policy to be carried out
or implemented by the President.
xxx xxx xxx

“In short, even if it did entail an undue delegation of legislative powers, as it certainly does, said
Section 68, as part of the Revised Administrative Code, approved on March 10, 1917, must be
deemed repealed by the subsequent adoption of the Constitution in 1935, which is utterly
incompatible and inconsistent with said statutory enactment.”

In another case, Municipality of San Joaquin vs. Nicanor Siva, et al., G.R. No. L-19870, March 18, 1967,
19 SCRA 599, this Court held that Executive Order No. 436 of the President of the Philippines,

536

536

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

In this regard, we call to mind the ruling of this Court in Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs.
Mendez, Sr.,4 which will be found very instructive in the case at bench. Therein we stated:

“While petitioners would grant that the enactment of Republic Act No. 7160 [Local Government Code
of 1991] may have converted the Municipality of San Andres into a de facto municipality, they,
however, contend that since the petition for quo warranto had been filed prior to the passage of said
law, petitioner municipality had acquired a vested right to seek the nullification of Executive Order No.
353, and any attempt to apply Section 442 of Republic Act 7160 to the petition would perforce be
violative of due process and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“Petitioner’s theory might perhaps be a point to consider had the case been seasonably brought.
Executive Order No. 353 creating the municipal district of San Andres was issued on 20 August 1959
but it was only after almost thirty (30) years, or on 05 June 1989, that the municipality of San Narciso
finally decided to challenge the legality of the executive order. In the meantime, the Municipal district,
and later the Municipality of San Andres, began and continued to exercise the powers and authority
of a duly created local government unit. In the same manner that the failure of a public officer to
question his ouster or the right of another to hold a position within a one-year period can abrogate an
action belatedly filed, so also, if not indeed with greatest imperativeness, must a quo warranto
proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political subdivision be timely raised. Public interest
demands it.
“Granting that Executive Order No. 353 was a complete nullity for being the result of an
unconstitutional delegation of legislative power, the peculiar circumstances obtaining in this case
hardly could offer a choice other than to consider the Municipality of San Andres to

____________

creating the municipality of Lawigan out of twenty-one (21) barrios theretofore forming parts of the
municipality of San Joaquin, is void ab initio on the ground that Section 68 of the Revised
Administrative Code, on which said Executive Order was based, constitutes an undue delegation of
legislative powers to the President of the Philippines, hence, unconstitutional.

4 G.R. No. 103702, December 6, 1994, 239 SCRA 11, 18-21; J. Jose C. Vitug, ponente.

537

VOL. 251, DECEMBER 28, 1995

537

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

have at least attained a status uniquely of its own closely approximating, if not in fact attaining, that
of a de facto municipal corporation. Conventional wisdom cannot allow it to be otherwise. Created in
1959 by virtue of Executive Order No. 353, the Municipality of San Andres had been in existence for
more than six years when, on 24 December 1965, Pelaez vs. Auditor General was promulgated. The
ruling could have sounded the call for a similar declaration of the unconstitutionally of Executive
Order No. 353 but it was not to be the case. On the contrary, certain governmental acts all pointed to
the State’s recognition of the continued existence of the Municipality of San Andres. Thus, after more
than five years as a municipal district, Executive Order No. 174 classified the Municipality of San
Andres as a fifth class municipality after having surpassed the income requirement laid out in Republic
Act No. 1515. Section 31 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980, constituted as municipal circuits, in the establishment of Municipal Circuit
Trial Courts in the country, certain municipalities that comprised the municipal circuits organized
under Administrative Order No. 33, dated 13 June 1978, issued by this court pursuant to Presidential
Decree No. 537. Under this administrative order, the Municipality of San Andres had been covered by
the 10th Municipal Circuit Court of San Francisco-San Andres for the province of Quezon.

“At the present time, all doubts on the de jure standing of the municipality must be dispelled. Under
the Ordinance (adopted on 15 October 1986) apportioning the seats of the House of Representatives,
appended to the 1987 Constitution, the Municipality of San Andres has been considered to be one of
the twelve (12) municipalities composing the Third District of the province of Quezon. Equally
significant is Section 442 (d) of the Local Government Code to the effect that municipal districts
“organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective
sets of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of (the) Code shall
henceforth be considered as regular municipalities.” No pretension of unconstitutionally per se of
Section 442 (d) of the Local Government Code is proffered. It is doubtful whether such a pretext, even
if made, would succeed. The power to create political subdivisions is a function of the legislature.
Congress did just that when it has incorporated Section 442 (d) in the Code. Curative laws, which in
essence are retrospective, and aimed at giving “validity to acts done that would have been invalid
under existing laws, as if existing laws have been complied with,” are validly accepted in this
jurisdiction, subject to the usual qualification against impairment of vested rights.

“All considered, the de jure status of the Municipality of San Andres in the province of Quezon must
now be conceded.”

538

538

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Candijay, Bohol vs. Court of Appeals

Respondent municipality’s situation in the instant case is strikingly similar to that of the municipality
of San Andres. Respondent municipality of Alicia was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 265 in
1949, or ten years ahead of the municipality of San Andres, and therefore had been in existence for
all of sixteen years when Pelaez vs. Auditor General was promulgated. And various governmental acts
throughout the years all indicate the State’s recognition and acknowledgment of the existence
thereof. For instance, under Administrative Order No. 33 above-mentioned, the Municipality of Alicia
was covered by the 7th Municipal Circuit Court of Alicia-Mabini for the province of Bohol. Likewise,
under the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution, the Municipality of Alicia is one of twenty
municipalities comprising the Third District of Bohol.

Inasmuch as respondent municipality of Alicia is similarly situated as the municipality of San Andres, it
should likewise benefit from the effects of Section 442 (d) of the Local Government Code, and should
henceforth be considered as a regular, de jure municipality.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED, with costs against
petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
Romero (Acting Chairman), Melo and Vitug, JJ., concur.

Petition denied.

Notes.—A quo warranto proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political subdivision must be
timely raised. (Municipality of San Narciso, Quezon vs. Mendez, Sr., 239 SCRA 11 [1994])

Administrative regions are mere groupings of contiguous provinces for administrative purposes, not
for political representation. (Chiongbian vs. Orbos, 245 SCRA 253 [1995]) Municipality of Candijay,
Bohol vs. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 530, G.R. No. 116702 December 28, 1995

Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

G.R. No. 80796. November 8, 1989.*

PROVINCE OF CAMARINES NORTE, Represented by HONORABLE ROY PADILLA, as Acting Provincial


Governor, petitioner, vs. PROVINCE OF QUEZON, Represented by HONORABLE HJALMAR QUINTANA,
as Acting Provincial Governor, respondent.

Administrative Law; Boundaries; Section 42 of the Revised Administrative Code, does not describe or
define the entirety of that line in such manner as to permit the whole boundary line to be located on
the ground by a surveyor.—Turning to the first issue, we note that Section 42 does set out a definition
or description of the boundary line between Ambos Camarines and Quezon Province. We note,
however, that Section 42 does not describe or define the entirety of that line in such a

________________

* EN BANC.
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

manner as to permit the whole boundary line to be located on the ground by a surveyor. Close
examination of Section 42 will show that it is not the whole boundary line that is disputed but only a
segment thereof. The boundary line from the peak of Mt. Cadig eastward to the peak of Mt. Labo and
from there to a stone monument at the headwaters of the Pasay River and thence along the course of
that river to the Gulf of Ragay, is described in terms which are sufficiently precise to permit a surveyor
to locate that boundary line on the surface of the earth. It is the western portion of the boundary
line—from the peak of Mt. Cadig westward to a point on the eastern shore of Basiad Bay—which is
the subject of the boundary dispute.

Same; Same; Same; The Chief Executive Bureau in rendering its decision did not, as he could not,
purport to act with unlimited discretion; Requirements of Sec. 42 which the portion of the Ambos
Camarines-Tayabas boundary must satisfy; Case at bar.—We consider next the second issue relating
to the authority of the Chief of the Executive Bureau to render his decision. It is important to stress
that the Chief of the Executive Bureau, in rendering that decision, did not, as he could not, purport to
act with unlimited discretion. For Section 42 itself established certain requirements which the
disputed portion of the Ambos Camarines—Tayabas boundary line must satisfy: 1. the (western)
terminus point must be on the eastern shore line of Basiad Bay; and 2. the line to be projected from
that terminus point must proceed (eastward) to the peak of Mt. Cadig in such a manner as to bring
the territory of the barrio of Basiad entirely within the municipality of Capalonga in Ambos Camarines,
and to exclude the same from the territory of the municipality of Calauag in Tayabas. It is not disputed
by respondent Quezon Province that the line delineated by the Chief of the Executive Bureau in his
decision in fact complied with both the above general directions or descriptions prescribed in Section
42. The Chief of the Executive Bureau did not, therefore, “alter” or “redefine” or “amend an existing
provincial boundary,” the boundary line between Ambos Camarines and Tayabas. All that the Chief of
the Executive Bureau did was to implement, upon the authority of the Secretary of Interior, Section
42 of Act No. 2711.

PETITION for mandamus and prohibition with preliminary injunction to review the decision of the
Chief of the Executive Bureau.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

FELICIANO, J.:

The instant Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order
brought by petitioner Province of Camarines Norte against respondent Province of Quezon, formerly
known as Province of Tayabas, involves a land boundary dispute, which has raged between these two
(2) provinces since the second decade of this century.

Historical records disclose that the Camarines region in the Island of Luzon had been divided originally
into the two (2) separate provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, which division was
maintained until 19 May 1893, when the two (2) provinces were consolidated by the Spanish colonial
administration to constitute a single entity, the Province of Ambos Camarines. Adjacent to Camarines
Norte in the northeast (i.e., the northern portion of Ambos Camarines), upon the other hand, lay the
Province of Tayabas. At the time of arrival of the United States flag in the Philippines, there was thus
existing the Province of Ambos Camarines.

The boundary between Ambos Camarines and Tayabas was defined and written into law in 1916, by
Section 47 of Act No. 2657 (the Administrative Code). Although Act No. 2657 was repealed the
following year by Act No. 2711 (the Revised Administrative Code),1 the provisions pertaining to said
boundary remained unaltered. In this respect, Act No. 2711 provided:

“Chapter 3.—BOUNDARIES DEFINED

Article I.—Undefined boundaries

Sec. 41. Undefined boundaries recognized.—Boundaries which are not defined in the next succeeding
article of this chapter shall, until expressly changed by law or executive order, be taken to be as
heretofore determined by decree, statute, executive order, or other resolution having the force of
law, and in the absence of such, by custom recognized by the administrative authorities.

Article II.—Defined boundaries


Sec. 42. Ambos Camarines and Tayabas boundary.—The bound-

________________

1 Act No. 2711 was enacted on 10 March 1917 and took effect on 1 October 1917.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

ary separating the Province of Ambos Camarines from the Province of Tayabas begins at a point on
the eastern shore of Basiad Bay and extends to a peak known as Mount Cadig in such manner as to
bring the territory of the barrio of Basiad entirely within the municipality of Capalonga, in Ambos
Camarines, and to exclude the same from the territory of Calauag, in Tayabas. From Mount Cadig it
extends along the crest of a mountain range, a distance of 50 kilometers, more or less, to a peak
known as Mount Labo; thence in a southwesterly direction, a distance of 25 kilometers, more or less,
to a prominent stone monument at the source or headwaters of the Pasay River, thence along the
meandering course of said river in a southerly direction, a distance of 1-1/2 kilometers, more or less,
to the Gulf of Ragay.” (Italics supplied)

Section 68 of the same Act also authorized the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, among
others, “to define the boundary, or boundaries, of any province, sub-province, municipality, township
or other political subdivision, and increase or diminish the territory comprised therein,” subject to
what “the public welfare may require.” As amended by Act No. 2929, which took effect on 30 March
1920, Section 68 provided, in full:

“Sec. 68. General authority of Governor-General to fix boundaries and make new subdivisions.—The
Governor-General may by executive order define the boundary, or boundaries, of any province,
subprovince, municipality, township, or other political subdivision, and increase or diminish the
territory comprised therein, may divide any province into one or more subprovinces, separate any
political division other than a province, into such portions as may be required, merge any of such
subdivisions or portions with another, name any new subdivision so created, and may change the seat
of Government within any subdivision to such place therein as the public welfare may require:
Provided, That the authorization of the Philippine Legislature shall first be obtained whenever the
boundary of any province or subprovince is to be defined or any province is to be divided into one or
more subprovinces. When any action by the Governor-General in accordance herewith makes
necessary a change of the territory under the jurisdiction of any administrative officer or any judicial
officer, the Governor-General, with the recommendation and advice of the head of the Department
having executive control of such officer, shall redistrict the territory of the several officers affected
and assign such officers to the new districts so formed.

Upon the changing of the limits of political divisions in pursuance

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

of the foregoing authority, an equitable distribution of the funds and obligations of the divisions
thereby affected shall be made in such manner as may be recommended by the Insular Auditor and
approved by the Governor-General.” (Italics supplied)

In the meantime, on 3 March 1919, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 2809, which
authorized once again the partition of Ambos Camarines into two (2) separate provinces: the Province
of Camarines Norte and the Province of Camarines Sur. The pertinent provisions of Act No. 2809 read:

“Section 1. The Governor-General is hereby authorized whenever the public interest may require it,
and subject to such conditions as he may desire to impose, to re-establish as an independent province
the former Province of Camarines Norte, consolidated with the Province of Camarines Sur.”

Sec. 2. The Province of Camarines Norte so re-established shall have the same territory as before its
consolidation with Camarines Sur for the organization of the present Province of Ambos Camarines,
and its capital shall be the municipality of Daet, on the Island of Luzon. The provisions of the
Administrative Code in so far as they are applicable to a regularly organized province shall apply to
the government and operation of said province and to the election and appointment of the officers
thereof. The remaining territory of the Province of Ambos Camarines shall be denominated the
Province of Camarines Sur.” (Italics supplied)

On 30 March 1920, Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison issued Executive Order No. 22,
implementing Act No. 2809 and formally re-establishing Camarines Norte as a province separate and
distinct from Camarines Sur, effective 15 April 1920.2

It is not clear from the records before the Court exactly how and when the present boundary
dispute—involving a land area of approximately 8,762 hectares—between Camarines Norte and
Tayabas first emerged. The dispute probably evolved when Section 47 of the Administrative Code of
1916 and later Section 42 of the Revised Administrative Code of (1917) were enacted.

In any event, the then Chief of the Executive Bureau, acting upon the authority of the Secretary of the
Interior, rendered on 16 June 1922 a decision (First Indorsement) delineating that

________________

2 18 Gaceta oficial 869 (1920).

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

portion of the boundary between the provinces of Camarines Norte and Tayabas which is here
involved.3 That part of the boundary line was described in the following terms:

“Starting from the peak of Mt. Labo as a common corner between the provinces of Tayabas,
Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte; thence a straight line is drawn to the peak of Mt. Cadig; thence a
straight line is drawn to the point of intersection of the inter-provincial road between Camarines
Norte and Tayabas with the Tabugon River; thence, following the course of the river to its mouth at
the Basiad Bay.”4

To date, however, the aforementioned decision of 16 June 1922 has remained unimplemented and
unenforced, despite

________________

3 The Executive Bureau was the instrumentality through which the Secretary of the Interior exercised
administrative supervision and control over provinces, municipalities, chartered cities, and other local
political divisions outside the territory under the supervision of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes.
See Section 820, Revised Administrative Code.
4 The foregoing quotation of the delineation set out by the Chief of Executive Bureau is taken from a
letter dated 5 May 1960 to the Provincial Boards of Camarines Norte and of Quezon, signed “by
authority of the President” by Enrique C. Quema, then Assistant Executive Secretary, Office of the
President of the Philippines. This letter of Assistant Executive Secretary Quema quoted another letter
dated 7 January 1930 written by the Director of Lands to the Chief, Executive Bureau. According to
Assistant Executive Secretary Quema, the Director of Lands stated in his letter that:

“the said boundary coincides with the lines fixed in the aforementioned First Indorsement dated June
16, 1922 of the Chief, Executive Bureau, that on January 11, 1936, the Secretary of Interior x x x
reiterated his decision on June 16, 1922 with the request that the necessary amount be appropriated
to defray the expenses of monumenting the boundary lines x x x.” (Annex “B” to the Petition, Rollo, p.
10)

The records before the Court do not contain a copy of the 16 June 1922 First Indorsement of the Chief
of Executive Bureau; however, neither the respondent ‘Province of Quezon nor the Solicitor General
has controverted the existence of the 16 June 1922 First Indorsement, nor the accuracy of the
quotation from that First Indorsement incorporated by Secretary Quema in his 5 May 1960 letter.

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

several official directives from the then Secretary of the Interior and repeated efforts on the part of
petitioner Camarines Norte, over the years, to enforce the same. All efforts at amicable resolution of
the boundary dispute (the last such effort having been made sometime in 1987) have failed.
Respondent Province of Quezon (then Tayabas), now as in the past, has simply refused to recognize as
valid, and has frustrated all attempts to locate on the ground, survey and monument the segment of
the Ambos Camarines [later Camarines Norte]—Tayabas boundary line delineated in the 1922
decision.

In the instant Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition, petitioner Camarines Norte Province asks the
Court, firstly, to order respondent Quezon Province “to respect and abide [by] the decision of the
Chief of [the] Executive Bureau dated June 16, 1922 and immediately comply therewith by yielding
the whole territory described and defined therein to the petitioner;” secondly, to prohibit respondent
Quezon Province “from exercising power and authority over the area [so] embraced in the territory of
petitioner; “and thirdly, to restrain respondent Province “from collecting all kinds of taxes from the
inhabitants of [the territory of petitioner].”
The Court gave due course to the Petition on 30 June 1988 and required the filing of memoranda by
the parties.5 Petitioner filed its Memorandum6 on 2 September 1988. For its part, respondent
Quezon Province moved that the Solicitor General’s Comment7 on and Rejoinder8 to the Petition and
Reply, respectively, be considered as its Memorandum. We granted the respondent’s request.9

The opposition of respondent Quezon Province to the boundary line claimed and sought to be
enforced here by petitioner Camarines Norte Province is, in the main, anchored on two (2) arguments.
First, it is contended by Quezon Province that the boundary separating the old Province of Ambos
Camarines from Quezon Province had already been established and defined in Section 42 of the
Revised Administrative Code. Second,

________________

5 Rollo, p. 110.

6 Id., pp. 117-158.

7 Id., pp. 49-58.

8 Id., pp. 98-108.

9 Id., p. 159.

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

Quezon Province argues that the Chief of the Executive Bureau had no authority to alter or re-define
that statutorily-defined boundary through his decision of 16 June 1922.

Two (2) issues are thus posed for consideration and resolution by the Court. The first issue relates to
the character of the boundary between Ambos Camarines and Quezon Province as set out in Section
42 of the Revised Administrative Code. Was that boundary already “defined” and, therefore, in no
need of further definition? The second issue relates to the action of the Chief of the Executive Bureau:
Was there legal authority for the 16 June 1922 decision of the Chief of the Executive Bureau? The two
(2) issues are, of course, related one to the other. Should the entirety of the boundary line between
Ambos Camarines and Quezon Province be regarded as already “defined” by Section 42, then any
“alteration” or “re-definition” by the Executive Department would, under Section 68 of the Revised
Administrative Code, require the prior authorization of the then Philippine Legislature and a third
issue would arise: Was such prior legislative authorization given?

1. Turning to the first issue, we note that Section 42 does set out a definition or description of the
boundary line between Ambos Camarines and Quezon Province. We note, however, that Section 42
does not describe or define the entirety of that line in such a manner as to permit the whole
boundary line to be located on the ground by a surveyor. Close examination of Section 42 will show
that it is not the whole boundary line that is disputed but only a segment thereof. The boundary line
from the peak of Mt. Cadig eastward to the peak of Mt. Labo and from there to a stone monument at
the head-waters of the Pasay River and thence along the course of that river to the Gulf of Ragay, is
described in terms which are sufficiently precise to permit a surveyor to locate that boundary line on
the surface of the earth. It is the western portion of the boundary line—from the peak of Mt. Cadig
westward to a point on the eastern shore of Basiad Bay—which is the subject of the boundary
dispute.

It is pointed out by petitioner Camarines Norte, firstly, that the particular point on Basiad Bay that is
the terminus of the boundary line is not specifically identified in Section 42, considering that the
eastern shore of Basiad Bay is 25 kilometers in

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

length, more or less, such that that terminal point could in theory be located anywhere along the
25-kilometer shore line. Secondly, the specific direction or directions and the varying lengths (the
“metes and bounds”) of the various segments of the boundary line to be projected from the terminus
point on Basiad Bay onto Mt. Cadig’s peak, are similarly not specified in Section 42, Thus, again, a
surveyor on the ground would be unable to locate and monument the boundary line from Basiad Bay
to Mt. Cadig if all he had was the languange found in Section 42 of the Revised Administrative Code.

We agree with petitioner Camarines Norte’s argument. We consider that to that limited extent, the
Ambos CamarinesQuezon boundary line was “undefined” and that there was thus necessity for the 16
June 1922 decision of the Chief of the Executive Bureau to provide more specific guidance that would
permit actual identification or location of the Basiad Bay—Mt. Cadig portion of the boundary line
between Ambos Camarines and Quezon Province:

“[from the peak of Mt. Cadig] thence a straight line is drawn to the point of intersection of the
interprovincial road between Camarines Norte and Tayabas with the Tabugon River, thence following
the course of the river to its mouth at the Basiad Bay.” (Italics supplied)10

2. We consider next the second issue relating to the authority of the Chief of the Executive Bureau to
render his decision. It is important to stress that the Chief of the Executive Bureau, in rendering that
decision, did not, as he could not, purport to act with unlimited discretion. For Section 42 itself
established certain requirements which the disputed portion of the Ambos Camarines—Tayabas
boundary line must satisfy;

1. the (western) terminus point must be on the eastern shore line of Basiad Bay; and

2. the line to be projected from that terminus point must proceed (eastward) to the peak of Mt. Cadig
in such a manner as to bring the territory of the barrio of Basiad entirely within the municipality of
Capalonga in Ambos Camarines, and to exclude the same from the territory of the Municipality of
Calauag in Tayabas.

________________

10 See attached sketch map, being an enlargement of an Annex to petitioner’s Reply dated 5 May
1988; Rollo, p. 76.

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

It is not disputed by respondent Quezon Province that the line delineated by the Chief of the
Executive Bureau in his decision in fact complied with both the above general directions or
descriptions prescribed in Section 42. The Chief of the Executive Bureau did not, therefore, “alter” or
“re-define” or “amend an existing provincial boundary,” the boundary line between Ambos Camarines
and Tayabas. All that the Chief of the Executive Bureau did was to implement, upon the authority of
the Secretary of Interior, Section 42 of Act No. 2711.
He was, in addition, acting in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 2809, enacted on 3 March
1919, Section 2 of which (quoted supra) provided that petitioner Camarines Norte, upon its
re-establishment as a distinct and separate province, “shall have the same territory as before its
consolidation with Camarines Sur for the organization of the present Ambos Camarines.” In a letter
dated 5 May 1960 to the Provincial Boards of Camarines Norte and Quezon Province, 11 former
Assistant Executive Secretary Enrique C. Quema stated, among other things, that the Basiad Bay—Mt.
Cadig segment of the Cama-rines Norte—Quezon boundary line so spelled out under the 1922
decision of the Chief of the Executive Bureau, “according to the Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey,
was the same boundary enforced between Camarines Norte and Tayabas when the former province
was consolidated with Camarines Sur on May 19, 1893.”12 The Court notes that respondent Quezon
Province has not controverted the correctness of this statement of Assistant Executive Secretary
Quema. The Court notes also that, so far as the records before us show, respondent Quezon Province
has not attempted to indicate any other “survey-able” line between Basiad Bay and Mt. Cadig which,
like that marked out in the 16 June 1922 decision, complies with both the requirements established in
Section 42 of Act No. 2711 and the requirement prescribed in Section 2 of Act No. 2809.

Should it be assumed, finally, that prior legislative authority was nonetheless necessary for the legal
effectivity and enforceability of the 16 June 1922 decision of the Chief of the

________________

11 See footnote No. 4.

12 Rollo, p. 10; Annex “B” of Petition; See also Annex “D” of Memorandum for Petitioner.

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Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon

Executive Bureau, we believe and so hold that that prior legislative authority was supplied by Act No.
2809. The spelling out of a “survey-able” and “monumentable” Basiad Bay—Mt. Cadig segment of the
Ambos Camarines—Tayabas boundary line, was necessary and incidental to the authority of the
Governor-General to re-establish as an independent province the former Province of Camarines Norte
and to ensure that it would have the same territory which it had prior to its consolidation into the
then Province of Ambos Camarines.
In sum, we hold that the decision of the Chief of the Executive Bureau dated 16 June 1922 was
lawfully issued and is binding upon the parties. We hold further that prohibition and mandamus will
lie for the enforcement of that decision, an enforcement unjustifiably resisted and delayed for
sixty-seven (67) years.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition is hereby GRANTED. Respondent Quezon
Province is hereby ORDERED immediately to cease and desist, and perpetually to refrain, from
exercising or performing any and all acts of jurisdiction or political authority over all or any part of the
area here held to be part of the territory of the Province of Camarines Norte and forthwith to
relinquish the same to petitioner Province of Camarines Norte.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished to the Secretary of Local Governments and the Office of the
President with the request that surveyors from the Bureau of Lands or other appropriate government
agency be forthwith designated to survey and locate, by latitude and longtitude and by metes and
bounds, and to monument the Basiad Bay—Mt. Cadig line described in the 16 June 1922 decision of
the Chief of the Executive Bureau. Costs against respondent.

SO ORDERED. Province of Camarines Norte vs. Province of Quezon, 179 SCRA 233, G.R. No. 80796
November 8, 1989

No. L-28113. March 28, 1969.

THE MUNICIPALITY OF MALABANG, LANAO DEL SUR, and AMER MACAORAO BALINDONG, petitioners,
vs. PANGANDAPUN BENITO, HADJI NORODIN MACAPUNUNG, HADJI HASAN MACARAMPAD,
FREDERICK V. DUJERTE, MONDACO ONTAL, MARONSONG ANDOY, MACALABA INDAR LAO,
respondents.

Constitutional law; Municipal corporation; Inquiry into the legal existence of a municipality reserved
to the State; Rule not applicable where municipal corporation a nullity.—An inquiry into the legal
existence of a municipality is reserved to the State in a proceeding f or quo warranto or other direct
proceeding, and that only in a f ew exceptions may a private person exercise this function of
government. But the rule disallowing collateral attacks applies only where the municipal corporation
is at least a de facto corporation. For where it is neither a corporation de jure nor de facto, but a
nullity, the rule is that its existence

534

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

may be questioned collaterally or directly in any action or proceeding by any one whose rights or
interests are affected thereby, including the citizens of the territory incorporated unless they are
estopped by their conduct from doing so.

Same; Same; Where municipal corporation cannot be considered a de facto corporation.—In the
cases where a de facto municipal corporation was recognized as such despite the fact that the statute
creating it was later invalidated, the decisions could fairly be made to rest on the consideration that
there was some other valid law giving corporate vitality to the organization. Hence, in the case ac bar,
the mere fact that Balabagan was organized at a time when the statute had not been invalidated
cannot conceivably make it a de facto corporation, as, independently of the Administrative Code
provision in question, there is no other valid statute to give color of authority to its creation.

Same; Unconstitutional act not a law.—An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no right; it
imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no off ice; it is, in legal contemplation, as
inoperative as though it had never been passed.

FERNANDO, J., concurring:

Constitutional law; Statute; Municipal corporation; Power to create municipalities is legislative in


nature.—Altho Congress may delegate to another branch of the government the power to fill in the
details in the execution, ‘enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to forestall a violation
of the principle of separation of powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself—it must set forth
therein the policy to be ‘executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate—and (b) fix a
standard—the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable—to which the delegate
must conform in ,the performance of his functions. Indeed, without a statutory declaration of policy,
the delegate would, in effect, make or formulate such policy, which is the essence of every law; and
without the aforementioned standard, there would be no means to determine, with reasonable
certainty, whether the delegate has acted within or beyond the scope of his authority. Hence, he
could thereby arrogate upon himself the power, not only to make the law, but also—and this is
worse—to unmake it, by adopting measures inconsistent with the end sought to be attained by the
Act of Congress, thus nullifying the principle of separation of powers and the system of checks and
balances, and, consequently, undermining the very foundation of our Republican system. (Pelaez vs.
Auditor General, L-23825, Dec. 24, 1965)

Same; Same; Judicial review necessary to test legality of executive or legislative acts.—Judicial review
exists precisely to

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Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

test the validity of executive or legislative acts in an appropriate legal proceedings; there is always the
possibility of their being declared inoperative and void. Realism compels the acceptance of the
thought that there would be a time-lag between the initiation of such Presidential or congressional
exercise of power and the final declaration of nullity. In the meanwhile, it would be productive of
confusion, perhaps at times even of chaos, if the parties affected were left free to speculate as to its
fate being one of doom, thus leaving them free to disobey it in the meanwhile. Since, however, the
orderly processes of government, not to mention common sense, requires that the presumption of
validity be accorded an act of Congress or an order of the President, it would be less than fair, and it
may be productive of injustice, if no notice of its existence as a fact be paid to it, even if thereafter, it
is stricken down as contrary, in the case of Presidential act, either to the Constitution or a controlling
statute.

ORIGINAL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Prohibition.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

L. Amores and R. Gonzales for petitioners.

Jose W. Diokno for respondents.

CASTRO, J.:

The petitioner Amer Macaorao Balindong is the mayor of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, while the
respondent Pangandapun Benito is the mayor, and the rest of the respondents are the councilors, of
the municipality of Balabagan of the same province. Balabagan was formerly a part of the
municipality of Malabang, having been created on March 15, 1960, by Executive Order 386 of the
then President Carlos P. Garcia, out of barrios and sitios1 of the latter municipality.

The petitioners brought this action for prohibition to nullify Executive Order 386 and to restrain the
respondent municipal officials from performing the functions of their respective offices, relying on the
ruling of this Court in Pelaez v. Auditor General2 and Municipality of San Joaquin v. Siva.3
________________

1 The barrios and sitios are Barorao, Baguiangan, Kalilangan, Balabagan, Itil, Banago, Budas, Igabay,
Magolalong, Dagoan, Matimus, Bongabon and Lusain.

2 64 O.G. 4781 (1965).

3 L-19870, March 18, 1967, 19 SCRA 599.

536

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

In Pelaez this Court, through Mr. Justice (now Chief Justice) Concepcion, ruled: (1) that section 23 of
Republic Act 2370 [Barrio Charter Act, approved January 1, 1960], by vesting the power to create
barrios in the provincial board, is a “statutory denial of the presidential authority to create a new
barrio [and] implies a negation of the bigger power to create municipalities,” and (2) that section 68
of the Administrative Code, insof ar as it gives the President the power to create municipalities, is
unconstitutional (a) because it constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power and (b) because it
offends against section 10(1) of article VII of the Constitution, which limits the President’s power over
local governments to mere supervision. As this Court summed up its discussion: “In short, even if it
did not entail an undue delegation of legislative powers, as it certainly does, said section 68, as part of
the Revised Administrative Code, approved on March 10, 1917, must be deemed repealed by the
subsequent adoption of the Constitution, in 1935, which is utterly incompatible and inconsistent with
said statutory enactment.”

On the other hand, the respondents, while admitting the facts alleged in the petition, nevertheless
argue that the rule announced in Pelaez can have no application in this case because unlike the
municipalities involved in Pelaez, the municipality of Balabagan is at least a de facto corporation,
having been organized under color of a statute before this was declared unconstitutional, its officers
having been either elected or appointed, and the municipality itself having discharged its corporate
functions for the past five years preceding the institution of this action. It is contended that as a de
facto corporation, its existence cannot be collaterally attacked, although it may be inquired into
directly in an action for quo warranto at the instance of the State and not of an individual like the
petitioner Balindong.
It is indeed true that, generally, an inquiry into the legal existence of a municipality is reserved to the
State in a proceeding for quo warranto or other direct proceeding, and that only in a few exceptions
may a private person

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Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

exercise this function of government.4 But the rule disallowing collateral attacks applies only where
the municipal corporation is at least a de facto corporation.5 For where it is neither a corporation de
jure nor de facto, but a nullity, the rule is that its existence may be questioned collaterally or directly
in any action or proceeding by any one whose rights or interests are affected thereby, including the
citizens of the territory incorporated unless they are estopped by their conduct from doing so.6

And so the threshold question is whether the municipality of Balabagan is a de facto corporation. As
earlier stated, the claim that it is rests on the fact that it was organized before the promulgation of
this Court’s decision in Pelaez.7

Accordingly, we address ourselves to the question whether a statute can lend color of validity to an
attempted organization of a municipality despite the fact that such statute is subsequently declared
unconstitutional.

This has been a litigiously prolific question, sharply dividing courts in the United States. Thus, some
hold that a de facto corporation cannot exist where the statute or charter creating it is
unconstitutional because there can be no de facto corporation where there can be no de jure one,8
while others hold otherwise on the theory that a statute is binding until it is condemned as
unconstitutional.9

________________

4 E.g., 1 E. McQuillin, The Law of Municipal Corporations, sec. 3.49, p. 592 (3rd ed. 1949).

5 Hunt v. Atkinson, (Tex. Com. App.), 12 S.W. 2d 142, 145 (1929), rev’g 300 S.W. 656 (1927).
6 1 E. McQuillin, p. cit. supra, note 4, at sec. 3.50, p. 595–96.

7 Supra, note 2.

8 E.g., Brandenstein v. Hoke, 101 Cal. 131, 35 P. 562 (1894) (levee district organized under statute
earlier declared to be unconstitutional); Atchison T. & S.F.R.R. v. Board of Comm’rs, 58 Kan. 19, 48 P.
583 (1897) (county organized under statute void on its face).

9 See e.g., Lang v. City of Bayonne, 74 N.J.L. 455, 68 A. 90 (1907) ; St. Louis v. Shields, 62 Mo. 247
(1876); School District No. 25, v. State, 29 Kan. 57 (1882).

538

538

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

An early article in the Yale Law Journal offers the following analysis:

“It appears that the true basis for denying to the corporation a de facto status lay in the absence of
any legislative act to give vitality to its creation. An examination of the cases holding, some of them
unreservedly, ,that a de facto office or municipal corporation can exist under color of an
unconstitutional statute will reveal that in no instance did the invalid act give life to the corporation,
but that either in other valid acts or in the constitution itself the office or the corporation was
potentially created. x x x

“The principle that color of title under an unconstitutional statute can exist only where there is some
other valid law under which the organization may be effected, or at least an authority in potentia by
the state constitution, has its counterpart in the negative propositions that there can be no color of
authority in an unconstitutional statute that plainly so appears on its face or that attempts to
authorize the ousting of a de jure or de facto municipal corporation upon the same territory; in the
one case .the fact would imply the imputation of bad faith, in the other the new organization must be
regarded as a mere usurper. x x x

“As a result of this analysis of the cases the following principles may be deduced which seem to
reconcile the apparently conflicting decisions:
“I. The color of authority requisite to the organization of a de facto municipal corporation may be:

“1. A valid law ‘enacted by the legislature.

“2. An unconstitutional law, valid on its face, which has either (a) been upheld for a time by the courts
or (b) not yet been declared void; provided that a warrant for its creation can be found in some other
valid law or in .the recognition of its potential existence by the general laws or constitution of the
state.

“II. There can be no de facto municipal corporation unless either directly or potentially, such a de jure
corporation is authorized by some legislative fiat.

“III. There can be no color of authority in an unconstitutional statute alone, the invalidity of which is
apparent on its face.

“IV. There can be no de facto corporation created to take the place of an existing de jure corporation,
as such organization would clearly be a usurper."10

_______________

10 Tooke, De Facto Municipal Corporations under Unconstitutional Statutes, 37 Yale L.J. 935, 951–53
(1928).

539

VOL. 27, MARCH 28, 1969

539

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

In the cases where a de facto municipal corporation was recognized as such despite the fact that the
statute creating it was later invalidated, the decisions could fairly be made to rest on the
consideration that there was some other valid law giving corporate vitality to the organization. Hence,
in the case at bar, the mere fact that Balabagan was organized at a time when the statute had not
been invalidated cannot conceivably make it a de facto corporation, as, independently of the
Administrative Code provision in question, there is no other valid statute to give color of authority to
its creation. Indeed, in Municipality of San Joaquin v. Siva,11 this Court granted a similar petition for
prohibition and nullified an executive order creating the municipality of Lawigan in Iloilo on the basis
of the Pelaez ruling, despite the fact that the municipality was created in 1961, before section 68 of
the Administrative Code, under which the President had acted, was invalidated. ‘Of course the issue
of de facto municipal corporation did not arise in that case.
In Norton v. Shelby Count,12 Mr. Justice Field said: “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no
rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation,
as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” Accordingly, he held that bonds issued by a board
of commissioners created under an invalid statute were unenforceable. Executive Order 386 “created
no office.” This is not to say, however, that the acts done by the municipality of Balabagan in the
exercise of its corporate powers are a nullity because the executive order “is, in legal contemplation,
as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” For the existence of Executive Order 386 is “an
operative fact which cannot justly be ignored.” As Chief Justice Hughes explained in Chicot County
Drainage District v. Baxter State Bank:13

_______________

11 Supra, note 3.

12 118 U.S. 425, 442 (1886) (italics added).

13 308 U.S. 371, 374 (1940); accord: Rutter v. Esteban, 93 Phil. 68 (1953); Manila Motor Co., Inc. v.
Flores 99 Phil. 739 (1956); Fernandez v. Cuerva & Co., L-21114, Nov. 28, 1967, 21 SCRA 1102.

540

540

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

“The courts below have proceeded on the theory ,that the Act of Congress, having been found to be
unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no duties,
and hence affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442;
Chicago, I. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such broad
statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications.
The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination, is an operative fact and may have
consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial
declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various
aspects—with respect to particular relations, individual and corporate, and particular conduct, private
and official. Questions of rights claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations
deemed to have finality and acted upon accordingly, of public policy in .the light of the nature both of
the statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions are among the
most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal, and it is
manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute
retroactive invalidity cannot be justified.”
There is then no basis for the respondents’ apprehension that the invalidation of the executive order
creating Balabagan would have the effect of unsettling many an act done in reliance upon the validity
of the creation of that municipality.14

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is granted, Executive Order 386 is declared void, and the respondents are
hereby permanently restrained from performing the duties and functions of their respective offices.
No pronouncement as to costs.

Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Capistrano, JJ., concur.

Concepcion, C.J., concurs as clarified in the concurring opinion of Justice Fernando.

________________

14 Compare the technique of prospective overruling in Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618 (1965),
refusing to give retrospective effect to Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961) (exclusionary rule), with
that in Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719 (1966) holding that the rule concerning counsel as
announced in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) was to be applied retrospectively.

541

VOL. 27, MARCH 28, 1969

541

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

Fernando, J., concurs fully and in addition, submits a separate opinion.

Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., did not take part.

FERNANDO, J., concurring:


I concur fully with the well-written opinion of Justice Castro. It breaks new ground; it strikes out new
paths. It is precisely because of its impact on the power of judicial review of executive acts that I
deem a few additional words would not be amiss.

1. Insofar as the effect of a declaration of unconstitionality is concerned, the latter and more realistic
trend reflected in Chicot County Drainage District v. Baxter State Bank1 had previously elicited our
approval. Thus: “‘Rutter vs. Esteban (93 Phil. 68) may be construed to mean that at the time of the
decision the Moratorium law could no longer be validly applied because of the prevailing
circumstances. At any rate, although the general rule is that an unconstitutional statute—‘conf ers no
right. creates no office, affords no protection and justifies no acts performed under it/ x x x there are
several instances wherein courts, out of equity, have relaxed its operation x x x or qualified its effects
‘since the actual existence of a statute prior to such declaration is an operative fact, and may have
consequences which cannot justly be ignored’ x x x and a realistic approach is eroding the general
doctrine x x x.’ “2 Also: “We have taken note of the fact that on June 30, 1961, Section 25 of
Reorganization Plan No. 20-A had been declared unconstitutional by this Court in the case of
Corominas, et al. v. The Labor Standards Commission, et al., x x x. It appears, however, that the
plaintiff had filed his claim before Regional Office No. 4 of the Department of Labor on July 26, 1960,
or about one year before said Section 25 had been declared unconstitutional. The circumstance that
Section 25 of Reorganization Plan No. 20-A had been declared unconstitutional should not be counted
against the defendant in the pre-

_______________

1 308 US 371 (1940).

2 Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores, 99 Phil. 738, 739 (1956).

542

542

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

sent case. In the case of Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores, x x x, this Court upheld the right of a party
under the Moratorium Law which had accrued in his favor before said law was declared
unconstitutional by this Court in the case of Rutter v. Esteban, 93 Phil. 68."3
2. Nothing can be clearer therefore in the light of the two above cases than that a previous
declaration of invalidity of legislative acts would not be bereft of legal results. Would that view hold
true of nullification of executive acts? There might have been doubts as to the correct.answer before.
There is none now.

A judicial decision annulling a presidential exercise of authority4 is not without its effect either. That
much is evident from the holding now reached. The act stricken down, whether proceeding from the
legislature or the Executive, could in the language of the Chicot County case, be considered, prior to
the declaration of invalidity, as “an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be
ignored.”

Thus the frontiers of the law have been extended, a doctrine which to some may come into play when
a statute is voided is now considered equally applicable to a Presidential act that has met a similar
fate. Such a result should not occasion surprise. That is to be expected.

There would be an unjustified deviation from the doctrine of separation of powers if a consequence
attached to the annulment of a statue is considered as not operative where an executive order is
involved. The doctrine of coequal or coordinate departments would be meaningless if a
discrimination of the above sort were considered permissible. The cognizance taken of the prior
existence of an enactment subsequently declared unconstitutional applies as well as to a Presidential
act thereafter successfully assailed. There was a time when it too did exist and, as such, a fact to be
reckoned with, though an infirm

_______________

3 Fernandez v. Cuerva & Co., 21 SCRA 1095, 1102 (1967).

4 Pelaez v. Auditor General, L-23825, Dec. 24, 1965.

543

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543

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

source of a legal right, if, as subsequently held, considered violative of a constitutional command.
3. Precisionists may cavil at the above view; they may assert, and with some degree of plausibility,
that the holding in the Pelaez case goes no further than to locate a statutory infirmity in the
Presidential act there challenged, creating municipal corporations under what the then Executive
considered a grant of authority found in the Revised Administrative Code.5 Such a power having been
found not to exist, the decision, so it may be asserted, did not reach the constitutional issue of
non-delegation of legislative power. Tersely put, there was no finding of nullity based on a violation of
the Constitution.

To such a claim, it suffices to answer that while the challenged Administrative Code provision was in
fact held as not containing within itself the authority con-ferred on the President to create municipal
corporations, the opinion by the then Justice, now Chief Justice, Concepcion went further. As was
pointed out by him: “Although Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the
power to fill in the details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to
forestall a violation of the principle of separation of powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself—it
must set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate—and (b)
fix a standard—the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable—to which the
delegate must conform in the performance of his functions. Indeed, without a statutory declaration of
policy, the delegate would, in effect, make or formulate such policy, which is the essence of every law;
and without the aforementioned standard, there would be no means to determine, with reasonable
certainty, whether the delegate has acted within or beyond the scope of his authority. Hence, he
could thereby arrogate upon himself the power, not only to make the law, but also—and this is
worse—to unmake it, by adopting measures inconsistent with the end sought to be attained by the
Act of Congress, thus nullifying the principle of se-

_______________

5 Section 68.

544

544

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

paration of powers and the system of checks and balances, and, consequently, undermining the very
foundation of our Republican system."6

From which, it would follow, in the language of the opinion: “Section 68 of the Revised Administrative
Code does not meet these well-settled requirements for a valid delegation of the power- to fix the
details in the enforcement of a law. It does not enunciate any policy to be carried out or implemented
by the President. Neither does it give a standard sufficiently precise to avoid the evil effects above
referred to."7

It is thus clear that while it might not be strictly accurate to advance the view that there was a finding
of unconstitutionality of a challenged statutory norm, there could be no objection to the view that the
holding was one of unconstitutional application.

Nor is this all. If there be admission of the force of the assertion that the Pelaez opinion went no f
urther than to locate in the challenged Executive orders creating municipal corporations an act in
excess of statutory authority; then our decision in this case is all the more noteworthy for the more
hospitable scope accorded the Chicot doctrine. For as originally formulated, it would merely recognize
that during its existence, prior to its being declared violative of the constitute, the statute must be
deemed an operative fact. Today we decide that such a doctrine extends to a Presidential act held
void not only on the ground of unconstitutional infirmity but also because in excess of the statutory
power conferred. That to me is the more significant .aspect of this decision. To repeat, to that point of
view I yield full concurrence.

I do so because it appears to me a logical corollary to the principle of separation of powers. Once we


accept the basic doctrine that each department as a coordinate agency of government is entitled to
the respect of the other two, it would seem to follow that at the very least, there is a presumption of
the validity of the act performed

_______________

6 Pelaez v. Auditor General, L-23825, Dec. 24, 1965.

7 Ibid.

545

VOL. 27, MARCH 28, 1969

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Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito

by it, unless subsequently declared void in accordance with legally accepted principles. The rule of law
cannot be satisfied with anything less.
Since under our Constitution, judicial review exists precisely to test the validity of executive or
legislative acts in an appropriate legal proceeding, there is always the possibility of their being
declared inoperative and void. Realism compels the acceptance of the thought that there could be a
time-lag between the initiation of such Presidential or congressional exercise of power and the final
declaration of nullity. In the meanwhile, it would be productive of confusion, perhaps at times even of
chaos, if the parties affected were left free to speculate as to its fate being one of doom, thus leaving
them free to disobey it in the meanwhile. Since, however, the orderly processes of government, not
to mention common sense, requires that the presumption of validity be accorded an act of Congress
or an order of the President, it would be less than fair, and it may be productive of injustice, if no
notice of its existence as a fact be paid to it, even if thereafter, it is stricken down as contrary, in the
case of Presidential act, either to the Constitution or a controlling statute.

The far-reaching import in the above sense of the decision we now render calls, to my mind, for an
articulation of further reflection on its varied implications. We have here an illustration, to paraphrase
Dean Pound, of the law being stable and yet far from standing still. That is as it ought to be; that is
how law grows. It is in that sense that the judicial process is impressed with creativity, admittedly
within limits rather narrowly confined. That in itself is to hold fast to the appropriate role of the
judiciary, far from insignificant as our decision discloses. Hence, this separate concurring opinion,
which, I trust, will make manifest why my agreement with what Justice Castro ad so ably expressed in
the opinion of the Court is wholehearted and entire.

Petition granted. Municipality of Malabang vs. Benito, 27 SCRA 533, No. L-28113 March 28, 1969

G.R. No. 141375. April 30, 2003.*

MUNICIPALITY OF KANANGA, Represented by its Mayor, Hon. GIOVANNI M. NAPARI, petitioner, vs.
Hon. FORTUNITO L. MADRONA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Ormoc City (Branch 35); and
the CITY OF ORMOC, Represented by its Mayor, Hon. EUFROCINO M. CODILLA SR., respondents.

Courts; Jurisdiction; Local Government Units; Words and Phrases; Jurisdiction is the right to act on a
case or the power and the authority to hear and determine a cause.—Jurisdiction is the right to act on
a case or the power and the authority to hear and determine a cause. It is a question of law. As
consistently ruled by this Court, jurisdiction over the subject matter is vested by law. Because it is “a
matter of substantive law, the established rule is that the statute in force at the time of the
commencement of the action determines the jurisdiction of the court.”

_______________

* THIRD DIVISION.
331

VOL. 402, APRIL 30, 2003

331

Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

Same; Same; Same; Settlement of Boundary Disputes; Under Section 118 of the Local Government
Code (LCC), the settlement of a boundary dispute between a component city or a municipality on the
one hand and a highly urbanized city on the other—or between two or more highly urbanized
cities—shall be jointly referred for settlement to the respective sanggunians of the local government
units involved.—Both parties aver that the governing law at the time of the filing of the Complaint is
Section 118 of the 1991 Local Government Code (LGC), which provides: “Sec. 118. Jurisdictional
Responsibility for Settlement of Boundary Disputes.—Boundary disputes between and among local
government units shall, as much as possible, be settled amicably. To this end: “(a) Boundary disputes
involving two (2) or more barangays in the same city or municipality shall be referred for settlement
to the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned. “(b) Boundary disputes involving
two (2) or more municipalities within the same province shall be referred for settlement to the
sangguniang panlalawigan concerned. “(c) Boundary disputes involving municipalities or component
cities of different provinces shall be jointly referred for settlement to the sanggunians of the
provinces concerned. “(d) Boundary disputes involving a component city or municipality on the one
hand and a highly urbanized city on the other, or two (2) or more highly urbanized cities, shall be
jointly referred for settlement to the respective sanggunians of the parties. “(e) In the event the
sanggunian fails to effect an amicable settlement within sixty (60) days from the date the dispute was
referred thereto, it shall issue a certification to that effect. Thereafter, the dispute shall be formally
tried by the sanggunian concerned which shall decide the issue within sixty (60) days from the date of
the certification referred to above.” Under this provision, the settlement of a boundary dispute
between a component city or a municipality on the one hand and a highly urbanized city on the
other—or between two or more highly urbanized cities—shall be jointly referred for settlement to the
respective sanggunians of the local government units involved.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Under Section 451 of the LCC, a city may be either component or highly
urbanized.—Under Section 451 of the LGC, a city may be either component or highly urbanized.
Ormoc is deemed an independent component city, because its charter prohibits its voters from voting
for provincial elective officials. It is a city independent of the province. In fact, it is considered a
component, not a highly urbanized, city of Leyte in Region VIII by both Batas Pambansa Blg. 643,
which calls for a plebiscite; and the Omnibus Election Code, which apportions representatives to the
defunct Batasang Pambansa. There is neither a declaration by the President of the Philippines nor an
allegation by the parties that it is highly urbanized. On the contrary, petitioner asserted in its Motion
to Dismiss that Ormoc was an independent chartered city.

332
332

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

Same; Same; Same; Same; Section 118 of the LCC applies to a situation in which a component city or a
municipality seeks to settle a boundary dispute with a highly urbanized city, not with an independent
component city.—Section 118 of the LGC applies to a situation in which a component city or a
municipality seeks to settle a boundary dispute with a highly urbanized city, not with an independent
component city. While Kananga is a municipality, Ormoc is an independent component city. Clearly
then, the procedure referred to in Section 118 does not apply to them.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Since there is no legal provision specifically governing jurisdiction over
boundary disputes between a municipality and an independent component city of the same province,
it follows that regional trial courts have the power and the authority to hear and determine such
controversy.—Inasmuch as Section 118 of the LGC finds no application to the instant case, the general
rules governing jurisdiction should then be used. The applicable provision is found in Batas Pambansa
Blg. 129, otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by Republic Act
No. 7691. Section 19(6) of this law provides: “Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.—Regional Trial Courts
shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction: x x x x x x x x x “(6) In all cases not within the exclusive
jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions[.]”
Since there is no law providing for the exclusive jurisdiction of any court or agency over the
settlement of boundary disputes between a municipality and an independent component city of the
same province, respondent court committed no grave abuse of discretion in denying the Motion to
Dismiss. RTCs have general jurisdiction to adjudicate all controversies except those expressly withheld
from their plenary powers. They have the power not only to take judicial cognizance of a case
instituted for judicial action for the first time, but also to do so to the exclusion of all other courts at
that stage. Indeed, the power is not only original, but also exclusive.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

The Provincial Legal Officer for petitioner.

Ari Larrazabal for respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Since there is no legal provision specifically governing jurisdiction over boundary disputes between a
municipality and an independent component city, it follows that regional trial courts have the power
and the authority to hear and determine such controversy.

333

VOL. 402, APRIL 30, 2003

333

Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Certiorari1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to annul the
October 29, 1999 Order2 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Ormoc City (Branch 35) in Civil
Case No. 3722-O. The decretal portion of the assailed Order reads as follows:

“For the foregoing considerations, this Court is not inclined to approve and grant the motion to
dismiss[,] although the municipality has all the right to bring the matter or issue to the Supreme Court
by way of certiorari purely on question of law.”3

The Facts

A boundary dispute arose between the Municipality of Kananga and the City of Ormoc. By agreement,
the parties submitted the issue to amicable settlement by a joint session of the Sangguniang
Panlungsod of Ormoc City and the Sangguniang Bayan of Kananga on October 31, 1997.

No amicable settlement was reached. Instead, the members of the joint session issued Resolution No.
97-01, which in part reads:

“x x x IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED x x x to pass a resolution certifying that both the Sangguniang


Panlungsod of Ormoc City and the Sangguniang Bayan of Kananga, Leyte have failed to settle amicably
their boundary dispute and have agreed to elevate the same to the proper court for settlement by
any of the interested party (sic).”4

To settle the boundary dispute, the City of Ormoc filed before the RTC of Ormoc City (Branch 35) on
September 2, 1999, a Complaint docketed as Civil Case No. 3722-O.
On September 24, 1999, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the following grounds:

“(1) That the Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim;

“(2) That there is no cause of action; and

_______________

1 Rollo, pp. 4-13.

2 Penned by Judge Fortunito L. Madrona.

3 Assailed Order, p. 2; Rollo, p. 17.

4 Resolution No. 97-01, p. 2; id., at p. 30.

334

334

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

“(3) That a condition precedent for filing the complaint has not been complied with[.]”5

Ruling of the Trial Court

In denying the Municipality of Kananga’s Motion to Dismiss, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction over
the action under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129. It further ruled that Section 118 of the Local Government
Code had been substantially complied with, because both parties already had the occasion to meet
and thresh out their differences. In fact, both agreed to elevate the matter to the trial court via
Resolution No. 97-01. It also held that Section 118 governed venue; hence, the parties could waive
and agree upon it under Section 4(b) of Rule 4 of the Rules of Court.

Not satisfied with the denial of its Motion, the Municipality of Kananga filed this Petition.6

Issue
In their respective Memoranda, both parties raise the lone issue of whether respondent court may
exercise original jurisdiction over the settlement of a boundary dispute between a municipality and an
independent component city.

The Court’s Ruling

The Petition has no merit.

Sole Issue:

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the right to act on a case or the power and the authority to hear and determine a
cause.7 It is a question of law.8 As consistently ruled by this Court, jurisdiction over the subject

_______________

5 Motion to Dismiss, p. 1; id., at p. 18.

6 This case was deemed submitted for decision on June 28, 2001, upon receipt by this Court of
respondent city’s Memorandum signed by Atty. Cleto L. Evangelista, Jr. This Court received
petitioner’s Memorandum, signed by Atty. Imelda G. Nartea, on June 15, 2001.

7 Conchada v. Director of Prisons, 31 Phil. 94, 102, March 31, 1915; Herrera v. Barretto, 25 Phil. 245,
251, September 10, 1913.

8 Gala v. Cui, 25 Phil. 522, 527, October 10, 1913.

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Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

matter is vested by law.9 Because it is “a matter of substantive law, the established rule is that the
statute in force at the time of the commencement of the action determines the jurisdiction of the
court.”10
Both parties aver that the governing law at the time of the filing of the Complaint is Section 118 of the
1991 Local Government Code (LGC),11 which provides:

“Sec. 118. Jurisdictional Responsibility for Settlement of Boundary Disputes.—Boundary disputes


between and among local government units shall, as much as possible, be settled amicably. To this
end:

“(a) Boundary disputes involving two (2) or more barangays in the same city or municipality shall be
referred for settlement to the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned.

“(b) Boundary disputes involving two (2) or more municipalities within the same province shall be
referred for settlement to the sangguniang panlalawigan concerned.

“(c) Boundary disputes involving municipalities or component cities of different provinces shall be
jointly referred for settlement to the sanggunians of the provinces concerned.

“(d) Boundary disputes involving a component city or municipality on the one hand and a highly
urbanized city on the other, or two (2) or more highly urbanized cities, shall be jointly referred for
settlement to the respective sanggunians of the parties.

“(e) In the event the sanggunian fails to effect an amicable settlement within sixty (60) days from the
date the dispute was referred thereto, it shall issue a certification to that effect. Thereafter, the
dispute shall be formally tried by the sanggunian concerned which shall decide the

_______________

9 Dela Cruz v. Moya, 160 SCRA 838, 840, April 27, 1988; Lee v. Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court
of Legazpi City, Branch I, 229 Phil. 405, 413; 145 SCRA 408, November 10, 1986; Tolentino v. Social
Security Commission, 138 SCRA 428, 434, September 6, 1985; Bacalso v. Ramolete, 128 Phil. 559, 563;
21 SCRA 519, October 26, 1967; De Jesus v. Garcia, 125 Phil. 955, 959; 19 SCRA 554, February 28,
1967.

10 Cang v. CA, 357 Phil. 129; 296 SCRA 128, September 25, 1998, per Romero, J. See Republic v. Court
of Appeals, 205 SCRA 356, 362, January 24, 1992; Aquizap v. Basilio, 129 Phil. 712, 715; 21 SCRA 1434,
December 29, 1967; Rilloraza v. Arciaga, 128 Phil. 799, 803; 21 SCRA 717, October 31, 1967; People v.
Pegarum, 58 Phil. 715, 717, November 13, 1933.

11 Republic Act No. 7160, approved on October 10, 1991, took effect January 1, 1992.

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Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

issue within sixty (60) days from the date of the certification referred to above.”

Under this provision, the settlement of a boundary dispute between a component city or a
municipality on the one hand and a highly urbanized city on the other—or between two or more
highly urbanized cities—shall be jointly referred for settlement to the respective sanggunians of the
local government units involved.

There is no question that Kananga is a municipality constituted under Republic Act No. 542.12 By
virtue of Section 442(d) of the LGC, it continued to exist and operate as such.

However, Ormoc is not a highly urbanized, but an independent component, city created under
Republic Act No. 179.13 Section 89 thereof reads:

“Sec. 89. Election of provincial governor and members of the Provincial Board of the Province of
Leyte.—The qualified voters of Ormoc City shall not be qualified and entitled to vote in the election of
the provincial governor and the members of the provincial board of the Province of Leyte.”

Under Section 451 of the LGC, a city may be either component or highly urbanized. Ormoc is deemed
an independent component city, because its charter prohibits its voters from voting for provincial
elective officials. It is a city independent of the province. In fact, it is considered a component, not a
highly urbanized, city of Leyte in Region VIII by both Batas Pambansa Blg. 643,14 which calls for a
plebiscite; and the Omnibus Election Code,15 which apportions representatives to the defunct
Batasang Pambansa. There is neither a declaration by the President of the Philippines nor an
allegation by the parties that it is highly urbanized. On the contrary, petitioner asserted in its Motion
to Dismiss that Ormoc was an independent chartered city.16

_______________

12 Rollo, p. 23. Republic Act No. 542, effective June 17, 1950, has not been amended to date.

13 Ibid. Republic Act No. 179, as amended, took effect June 21, 1947.

14 Batas Pambansa Blg. 643 took effect December 21, 1983.


15 Also known as Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, this Code took effect December 3, 1985.

16 Rollo, p. 100.

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Section 118 of the LGC applies to a situation in which a component city or a municipality seeks to
settle a boundary dispute with a highly urbanized city, not with an independent component city.
While Kananga is a municipality, Ormoc is an independent component city. Clearly then, the
procedure referred to in Section 118 does not apply to them.

Nevertheless, a joint session was indeed held, but no amicable settlement was reached. A resolution
to that effect was issued, and the sanggunians of both local government units mutually agreed to
bring the dispute to the RTC for adjudication. The question now is: Does the regional trial court have
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim?

We rule in the affirmative.

As previously stated, “jurisdiction is vested by law and cannot be conferred or waived by the
parties.”17 It must exist as a matter of law and cannot be conferred by the consent of the parties or
by estoppel.18 It should not be confused with venue.

Inasmuch as Section 118 of the LGC finds no application to the instant case, the general rules
governing jurisdiction should then be used. The applicable provision is found in Batas Pambansa Blg.
129,19 otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by Republic Act No.
7691.20 Section 19(6) of this law provides:

“Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.—Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

xxx xxx xxx


“(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising
judicial or quasi-judicial functions[.]”

Since there is no law providing for the exclusive jurisdiction of any court or agency over the
settlement of boundary disputes between a municipality and an independent component city of the
same province, respondent court committed no grave abuse of dis-

_______________

17 Pangilinan v. Court of Appeals, 321 SCRA 51, December 17, 1999, per Kapunan, J.

18 People v. Casiano, 111 Phil. 73; 1 SCRA 478, February 16, 1961.

19 Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 took effect August 14, 1981.

20 Republic Act No. 7691, approved on March 25, 1994, had taken effect long before the present case
was filed in 1999.

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Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona

cretion in denying the Motion to Dismiss. RTCs have general jurisdiction to adjudicate all
controversies except those expressly withheld from their plenary powers.21 They have the power not
only to take judicial cognizance of a case instituted for judicial action for the first time, but also to do
so to the exclusion of all other courts at that stage. Indeed, the power is not only original, but also
exclusive.

In Mariano, Jr. v. Commission on Elections,22 we held that boundary disputes should be resolved with
fairness and certainty. We ruled as follows:

“The importance of drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of
government cannot be overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of
the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of
government only within the limits of its territorial jurisdiction. Beyond these limits, its acts are ultra
vires. Needless to state, any uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly
conflicts in the exercise of governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare.
x x x.”

Indeed, unresolved boundary disputes have sown costly conflicts in the exercise of governmental
powers and prejudiced the people’s welfare. Precisely because of these disputes, the Philippine
National Oil Company has withheld the share in the proceeds from the development and the
utilization of natural wealth, as provided for in Section 289 of the LGC.23

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the challenged Order AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.

Puno (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

Petition denied, challenged order affirmed.

_______________

21 Florenz D. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Vol. 1 (5th rev. ed., 1988), p. 3.

22 312 Phil. 259, 265-266; 242 SCRA 211, March 7, 1995, per Puno, J.

23 Rollo, p. 27.

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Lipat vs. Pacific Banking Corporation


Notes.—The power to tax is the most effective instrument to raise needed revenues to finance and
support myriad activities of local government units for the delivery of basic services essential to the
promotion of the general welfare and the enhancement of peace, progress, and prosperity of the
people. (Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority vs. Marcos, 261 SCRA 667 [1996])

In case no settlement of boundary disputes between municipalities is made, the dispute should be
elevated to the RTC of the province. (Municipality of Jimenez vs. Bas, Jr., 265 SCRA 182 [1996])
Municipality of Kananga vs. Madrona, 402 SCRA 330, G.R. No. 141375 April 30, 2003

BAI SANDRA S. A. SEMA, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DIDAGEN P. DILANGALEN,
respondents.

G.R. No. 178628. July 16, 2008.*

PERFECTO F. MARQUEZ, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

Constitutional Law; Writs of Prohibition; The writ of prohibition is appropriate to test the
constitutionality of election laws, rules and regulations.—The Writ of Prohibition is Appropriate to
Test the Constitutionality of Election Laws, Rules and Regulations. The purpose of the writ of
Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of discretion by “any tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial
or quasi-judicial functions.” On the other hand, the writ of Mandamus will issue to compel a tribunal,
corporation, board, officer, or person to perform an act “which the law specifically enjoins as a duty.”
True, the COMELEC did not issue Resolution No. 7902 in the exercise of its judicial or quasi-judicial
functions. Nor is there a law which specifically enjoins the COMELEC to exclude from canvassing the
votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of “Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City.”
These, however, do not justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 177597 because Sema
also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition and we have long recognized this writ as proper
for testing the constitutionality of election laws, rules, and regulations.

Same; Delegation of Powers; There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority
in the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create
local government units.—There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in
the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create
local government units. However, under its plenary legislative powers, Congress can delegate to local
legislative bodies the power to create local government units, subject to reasonable standards and

_______________

* EN BANC.
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provided no conflict arises with any provision of the Constitution. In fact, Congress has delegated to
provincial boards, and city and municipal councils, the power to create barangays within their
jurisdiction, subject to compliance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code, and
the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. However, under the Local
Government Code, “only x x x an Act of Congress” can create provinces, cities or municipalities.

Same; Election Laws; Each City with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each
province, shall have at least have one representative in the House of Representatives.—There is no
provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to regional legislative bodies of the
power to create municipalities and barangays, provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is
followed. However, the creation of provinces and cities is another matter. Section 5 (3), Article VI of
the Constitution provides, “Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each
province, shall have at least one representative” in the House of Representatives. Similarly, Section 3
of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides, “Any province that may hereafter be created,
or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall
be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member x x x.”

Same; A province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will violate Section 5(3),
Article VI of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution.—A
province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI
of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. For the same
reason, a city with a population of 250,000 or more cannot also be created without a legislative
district. Thus, the power to create a province, or a city with a population of 250,000 or more, requires
also the power to create a legislative district. Even the creation of a city with a population of less than
250,000 involves the power to create a legislative district because once the city’s population reaches
250,000, the city automatically becomes entitled to one representative under Section 5 (3), Article VI
of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, the power to
create a province or city inherently involves the power to create a legislative district.

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Sema vs. Commission on Elections

Same; Congress; Delegation of Powers; The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily
includes the power to create legislative districts out of existing ones.—Section 5(1), Article VI of the
Constitution vests in Congress the power to increase, through a law, the allowable membership in the
House of Representatives. Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion legislative districts. The
power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the power to create legislative districts
out of existing ones. Congress exercises these powers through a law that Congress itself enacts, and
not through a law that regional or local legislative bodies enact. The allowable membership of the
House of Representatives can be increased, and new legislative districts of Congress can be created,
only through a national law passed by Congress. In Montejo v. COMELEC, 242 SCRA 415 (1995), we
held that the “power of redistricting x x x is traditionally regarded as part of the power (of Congress)
to make laws,” and thus is vested exclusively in Congress.

Same; Same; An inferior legislative body, created by a superior legislative body, cannot change the
membership of the superior legislative body.—This textual commitment to Congress of the exclusive
power to create or reapportion legislative districts is logical. Congress is a national legislature and any
increase in its allowable membership or in its incumbent membership through the creation of
legislative districts must be embodied in a national law. Only Congress can enact such a law. It would
be anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies to create or reapportion legislative districts for a
national legislature like Congress. An inferior legislative body, created by a superior legislative body,
cannot change the membership of the superior legislative body.

Same; Same; Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes autonomous regions,
expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion legislative districts for Congress.—Nothing in Section
20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes autonomous regions, expressly or impliedly, to create or
reapportion legislative districts for Congress. On the other hand, Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054
amending the ARMM Organic Act, provides, “The Regional Assembly may exercise legislative power x
x x except on the following matters: x x x (k) National elections. x x x.” Since the ARMM Regional
Assembly has no legislative power to enact laws relating to national elections, it cannot create a
legislative district whose representative is elected in national elections. Whenever Congress enacts a
law creat-

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Sema vs. Commission on Elections

ing a legislative district, the first representative is always elected in the “next national elections” from
the effectivity of the law.
Same; Same; The power to create or reapportion legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress
but must be exercised by Congress itself.—Neither the framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting
the provisions in Article X on regional autonomy, nor Congress in enacting RA 9054, envisioned or
intended these disastrous consequences that certainly would wreck the tri-branch system of
government under our Constitution. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion legislative districts
cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by Congress itself. Even the ARMM Regional
Assembly recognizes this.

Same; Local Autonomy; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); It is axiomatic that
organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the constitution.—It is axiomatic that organic
acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the Constitution. Section 20, Article X of the
Constitution expressly provides that the legislative powers of regional assemblies are limited “[w]ithin
its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national laws, x x x.”
The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054) itself states that the ARMM Government is
established “within the framework of the Constitution.” This follows Section 15, Article X of the
Constitution which mandates that the ARMM “shall be created x x x within the framework of this
Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the
Philippines.”

Same; Same; The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Assembly cannot create
a province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every province shall
have a legislative district.—We rule that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, insofar as it grants to the
ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, is void for being contrary to
Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 3 of the
Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Only Congress can create provinces and cities because the
creation of provinces and cities necessarily includes the creation of legislative districts, a power only
Congress can exercise under Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance
appended to the Constitution. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a

704

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Sema vs. Commission on Elections

province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every province shall
have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional Assembly cannot enact a law creating a
national office like the office of a district representative of Congress because the legislative powers of
the ARMM Regional Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as provided in Section 20,
Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA Act 201, enacted by the ARMM Regional
Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void.
Same; Republic Act No. 9054; Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054 declared unconstitutional
insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the
power to create provinces and cities.—Wherefore, we declare Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act
No. 9054 UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities. Thus, we declare VOID Muslim
Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, we rule
that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is VALID.

TINGA, J., Dissenting and Concurring Opinion:

Courts; Appeals; It is cardinal that the Court’s power of judicial review may be exercised in
constitutional cases only if all the following requisites are complied with: 1) the existence of an actual
and appropriate case or controversy; 2) a personal and substantial interest of the party raising the
constitutional question; 3) the exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and 4)
the constitutional question is the lis mota of the case.—It is clear that both petitioners rely on
constitutional issues in support of their petitions as they posit that under the Constitution Shariff
Kabunsuan is entitled to its own separate legislative district. It is cardinal that the Court’s power of
judicial review may be exercised in constitutional cases only if all the following requisites are
complied with, namely: (1) the existence of an actual and appropriate case or controversy; (2) a
personal and substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) the exercise of
judicial review is pleaded at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the constitutional question is the lis
mota of the case.

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Sema vs. Commission on Elections

Election Laws; Sema’s prior avowal that she was running for the Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City
legislative district, and her campaign for election to that district, belie the existence of injury on her
part caused by the COMELEC resolution that affirmed that very legislative district.—It would indeed
be difficult to assess injury for purposes of locus standi on the part of Sema by reason of the assailed
COMELEC Resolution, which after all, reaffirms the very legislative district whose seat in Congress she
had sought to be elected to. Her standing to raise the present petition is materially affected by her
express consent and active campaign for election from the legislative district which she now seeks to
invalidate. A party challenging the constitutionality of a law, act or statute must show “not only that
the law is invalid, but also that he or she has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of
sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement,” that party has been or is about to be,
denied some right or privilege to which he or she is lawfully entitled. Sema’s prior avowal that she
was running for the Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City legislative district, and her campaign for
election to that district, belie the existence of injury on her part caused by the COMELEC resolution
that affirmed that very legislative district.

Same; Commission on Elections (COMELEC); The COMELEC does not have the requisite power to call
elections, as the same is part of the plenary legislative power.—Marquez does not have a valid cause
of action before this Court. His prayer is to compel the COMELEC to provide for new congressional
elections for Cotabato City.The relief sought does not lie simply because Rep. Dilangalen, by virtue of
his electoral victory, lawfully represents the City in addition to the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
From another perspective, the COMELEC does not have the requisite power to call elections, as the
same is part of the plenary legislative power. Only Congress, which was not impleaded as a party to
Marquez’s petition, has the power to set congressional elections only for Cotabato City, if ever. Even
assuming that Congress was impleaded, it would be improper for this Court to compel Congress by
judicial fiat to pass a law or resolution for the holding of such elections.

Constitutional Law; Delegation of Powers; A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is
the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non
delegare potest (what has been delegated cannot be delegated).—The

706

706

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Sema vs. Commission on Elections

Constitution expressly vests legislative power in the Congress of the Philippines, consisting of a Senate
and a House of Representatives. Traditionally, the delegation of Congress of its legislative powers had
been frowned upon. “A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of
non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegare potest
(what has been delegated cannot be delegated). This is based on the ethical principle that such
delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the
instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another.”

Same; Same; The strict application of the non-delegation doctrine has in recent times, been relaxed, if
not minimized altogether, particularly in the context of regulatory jurisdiction of administrative
agencies.—The strict application of the non-delegation doctrine has, in recent times, been relaxed, if
not minimized altogether, particularly in the context of regulatory jurisdiction of administrative
agencies. In every industrialized nation, administrative agencies, which are generally part of the
executive branch, have been granted considerable lawmaking power. “Given the volume and variety
of interactions in today’s society, it is doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal
adequately with and respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life. Hence, the need to delegate
to administrative bodies—the principal agencies tasked to execute laws in their specialized
fields—the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given statute and effectuate
its policies.” In the context of delegation of legislative powers to local governments, a noted authority
on the subject has this to say: The state legislative power—that is, the exercise of the policy-making
judgment and discretion on state matters that state constitutions vest and recognize in the
legislature—cannot be delegated to some other person or body but must rest with the legislature
itself. Thus, the legislature cannot delegate to a commission the power to determine the form of
government, powers and functions of proposed municipalities since these matters require legislative
judgment. But the details of organization of its own government can be left to a municipality, limited
only by general state law; and such basic state powers as the police power, taxing power, and power
of eminent domain can be, and almost always are, delegated to local governments for their use for
local purposes. The rule against delegation of state legislative authority is no barrier

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to the delegation of powers of local self government to local units. x x x

Same; Same; Nothwithstanding the exceptions that have been carved to the rule of non-delegation, it
bears notice that while our Constitution broadly endows legislative powers to Congress it also
specifically conditions the emergence of certain rights, duties and obligations upon the enactment of
a law oriented towards such constitutional predicate.—Notwithstanding the exceptions that have
been carved to the rule of non-delegation, it bears notice that while our Constitution broadly endows
legislative powers to Congress it also specifically conditions the emergence of certain rights, duties
and obligations upon the enactment of a law oriented towards such constitutional predicate. These
include the prohibition of political dynasties as may be defined by law, the reasonable conditions
prescribed by law relating to full public disclosure of all the State’s transactions involving public
interest; the manner by which Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired; the date of regular
elections for members of Congress; the manner of conduct of special elections to fill in congressional
vacancies; the authorization of the President to exercise emergency powers; the system for initiative
and referendum; the salaries of the President and Vice-President; the creation and allocation of
jurisdiction of lower courts; and on many other matters of grave import.

Same; Same; As to those powers which would normally fall within the plenary legislative power, the
Constitution has decided to doubly emphasize that it is the Congress which is so empowered to
perform such tasks.—May these specified functions be delegated by Congress to another body?
These specific functions are non-delegable, for they are textually committed by the Constitution to
Congress. Perhaps it is possible to segregate these particular functions to those which would, even
absent constitutional definition, anyway fall within the plenary legislative power, and those which are
not plenary in nature but were especially designated to Congress by the Constitution. Still, in either
case, only Congress, and no other body, can carry out that function. As to those powers which would
normally fall within the plenary legislative power, the Constitution has decided to doubly emphasize
that it is the Congress which is so empowered to perform such tasks. With respect to the non-plenary
functions assigned to Congress, it is clear that the assignment im-

708

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Sema vs. Commission on Elections

plies the delegation by the Constitution to Congress of specific, wholly original functions.

Same; Same; Local Autonomy; The guarantee of local autonomy is actualized through a local
government code that delineates the structure and powers of local governments, and through
constitutional measures that entitle local government units to generate their own revenue stream
and assure the same to their fair share in the national internal revenue.—Section 2, Article X
guarantees that the territorial and political subdivisions in the Philippines shall enjoy local autonomy.
The guarantee of local autonomy is actualized through a local government code that delineates the
structure and powers of local governments, and through constitutional measures that entitle local
government units to generate their own revenue stream and assure the same to their fair share in the
national internal revenue. Local government rule, in constitutional contemplation, is a live being that
exists to counterbalance the rule of the national government, and is not a mere palliative established
in the Constitution to soothe the people with the illusion of having a more direct say in their
governance.

Same; Local Autonomy; The idea behind the constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to
allow the separate development of peoples with distinctive cultures and traditions.—In Disomangcop
v. Datumanong, 444 SCRA 203 (2004), the Court explained at length the vital constitutional purposes
of local autonomy: x x x According to Commissioner Jose Nolledo, Chairman of the Committee which
drafted the provisions, it “is an indictment against the status quo of a unitary system that, to my mind,
has ineluctably tied the hands of progress in our country . . . our varying regional characteristics are
factors to capitalize on to attain national strength through decentralization.” The idea behind the
Constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to allow the separate development of peoples
with distinctive cultures and traditions. These cultures, as a matter of right, must be allowed to
flourish.

Same; Same; On the other hand, the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987 Constitution, contemplates the grant of political autonomy
and not just administrative autonomy to these regions.—On the other hand, the creation of
autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987
Constitution, contem-

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plates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative autonomy to these regions. Thus,
the provision in the Constitution for an autonomous regional government with a basic structure
consisting of an executive department and a legislative assembly and special courts with personal,
family and property law jurisdiction in each of the autonomous regions [Art. X, sec. 18].

Same; Same; It should be emphasized that local autonomy cannot be in denigration of the
Constitution.—Unfortunately, the majority gives short shrift to the considerations of local autonomy,
even as such paradigm partakes of a constitutional mandate. If anything, these provisions should
dissuade against a reflexive dismissal of the provisions of the Organic Acts. It should be emphasized
that local autonomy cannot be in denigration of the Constitution. It is repeatedly emphasized within
Article X that the grant of local autonomy and the subsequent exercise of powers by the autonomous
government must remain within the confines of the Constitution. At the same time, if there is no
constitutional bar against the exercise of the powers of government by the autonomous government
in Muslim Mindanao, particularly by the Regional Assembly, then there is no basis to thwart the
constitutional design by denying such powers to that body.

Same; Same; Delegations of Powers; Considering the constitutional mandate of local autonomy for
Muslim Mindanao, it can be said that such delegation is in furtherance of the constitutional
design.—May such power be delegated by Congress to a local legislative body such as the Regional
Assembly? Certainly, nothing in the Constitution bars Congress from doing so. In fact, considering the
constitutional mandate of local autonomy for Muslim Mindanao, it can be said that such delegation is
in furtherance of the constitutional design.

Same; Same; Same; Republic Act 9054; Attuned with enhanced local government rule, Congress had,
through Rep. Act No. 9054, taken the bold step of delegating to a local legislative assembly the power
to create provinces, albeit prudently withholding any ability to create legislative districts as well.—It
bears reemphasizing that the Constitution also actualizes a preference for local government rule, and
thusly provides: 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

710

710

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Sema vs. Commission on Elections

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. Attuned with
enhanced local government rule, Congress had, through Rep. Act No. 9054, taken the bold step of
delegating to a local legislative assembly the power to create provinces, albeit prudently withholding
any ability to create legislative districts as well.

Same; Same; Republic Act No. 9054; The subsequent passage of Rep. Act No. 9054 granted to the
Regional Assembly the power, function and responsibility to create provinces and other local
government units which had been exercised by the National Government.—Section 17, Article X
states that “[a]ll powers, functions, and responsibilities not granted by this Constitution or by law to
the autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government.” The original Organic Act for
Muslim Mindanao did not grant to the regional government the power to create provinces, thus at
that point, such power was properly exercised by the National Government. But the subsequent
passage of Rep. Act No. 9054 granted to the Regional Assembly the power, function and responsibility
to create provinces and other local government units which had been exercised by the National
Government.

Same; Republic Act No. 9054; It bears noting that there is no contention presented thus far that the
creation of Shariff Kabunsuan was not in accordance with the criteria established in the Local
Government Code (LGC), thus this aspect of unconstitutionality of Rep. Act No. 9054 may not be
material to the petitions at bar.—It bears noting that there is no contention presented thus far that
the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan was not in accordance with the criteria established in the LGC, thus
this aspect of unconstitutionality of Rep. Act No. 9054 may not be material to the petitions at bar.

Same; Congress; Congress does not have any express or plenary legislative power to create legislative
districts, except by reapportionment.—How exactly does a legislative district come into being? In
theory, Congress does not have any express or plenary legislative power to create legislative districts,
except by reapportionment. Under the Constitution, such reapportionment occurs within three

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VOL. 558, JULY 16, 2008

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Sema vs. Commission on Elections


years following the return of the census, but this Court has likewise recognized that reapportionment
can also be made through a special law, such as in the charter of a new city. Still, even in exercising
this limited power through the constitutionally mandated reapportionment, Congress cannot
substitute its own discretion for the standards set forth in Section 5, Article VI. And should general
reapportionment made by Congress violate the parameters set forth by the Constitution, such act
may be invalidated by the Court, as it did in Macias v. COMELEC, 3 SCRA 1 (1961).

Same; Same; The Constitution clearly provided that the House of Representatives shall be composed
of not more than 250 members unless otherwise provided by law.—The Court has previously
recognized that such law increasing the membership of the House of Representatives need not be
one specifically devoted for that purpose alone, but it may be one that creates a province or charters
a city with a population of more than 250,000. In Tobias v. Abalos, 239 SCRA 106 (1994), the Court
pronounced that the law converting Mandaluyong into a city could likewise serve the purpose of
increasing the composition of the House of Representatives: As to the contention that the assailed
law violates the present limit on the number of representatives as set forth in the Constitution, a
reading of the applicable provision, Article VI, Section 5 (1), as aforequoted, shows that the present
limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that the House of
Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members, “unless otherwise provided by
law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is that the present composition of Congress may be
increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative enactment. Therefore, the increase in
congressional representation mandated by R.A. No. 7675 is not unconstitutional.

Same; Same; Delegation of Powers; The power to increase the composition of the House of
Representatives is restricted by