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1 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s .

C O M E L E C )
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951 November 18, 2008
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS 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.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM,petitioners-in-intervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
G.R. No. 177499 November 18, 2008
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS 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.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM,petitioners-in-intervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --x
G.R. No. 178056 November 18, 2008
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS 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; and MUNICIPALITY OF EL
SALVADOR, MISAMIS ORIENTAL, respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM,petitioners-in-intervention.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO, J .:
The Case
These are consolidated petitions for prohibition
1
with prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining
order filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines, City of Iloilo, City
of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treas
2
assailing the constitutionality of the
subject Cityhood Laws and enjoining the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) and respondent municipalities from conducting plebiscites
pursuant to the Cityhood Laws.
The Facts
During the 11
th
Congress,
3
Congress enacted into law 33 bills
converting 33 municipalities into cities. However, Congress did not act
on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities.
During the 12
th
Congress,
4
Congress enacted into law Republic Act No.
9009 (RA 9009),
5
which took effect on 30 June 2001. RA 9009
amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code by increasing the
annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city
from P20 million to P100 million. The rationale for the amendment was
to restrain, in the words of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, "the mad rush"
of municipalities to convert into cities solely to secure a larger share in
the Internal Revenue Allotment despite the fact that they are incapable
of fiscal independence.
6

After the effectivity of RA 9009, the House of Representatives of the
12
th
Congress
7
adopted Joint Resolution No. 29,
8
which sought to
exempt from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 the 24
municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved in the
11
th
Congress. However, the 12
th
Congress ended without the Senate
approving Joint Resolution No. 29.
During the 13
th
Congress,
9
the House of Representatives re-adopted
Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarded it to
the Senate for approval. However, the Senate again failed to approve
the Joint Resolution. Following the advice of Senator Aquilino
Pimentel, 16 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors,
individual cityhood bills. The 16 cityhood bills contained a common
provision exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million
income requirement in RA 9009.
On 22 December 2006, the House of Representatives approved the
cityhood bills. The Senate also approved the cityhood bills in February
2007, except that of Naga, Cebu which was passed on 7 June 2007.
The cityhood bills lapsed into law (Cityhood Laws
10
) on various dates
from March to July 2007 without the President's signature.
11

The Cityhood Laws direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites to
determine whether the voters in each respondent municipality approve
of the conversion of their municipality into a city.
Petitioners filed the present petitions to declare the Cityhood Laws
unconstitutional for violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution,
as well as for violation of the equal protection clause.
12
Petitioners also
lament that the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities will
reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment
because more cities will share the same amount of internal revenue
set aside for all cities under Section 285 of the Local Government
Code.
13

2 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
The Issues
The petitions raise the following fundamental issues:
1. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate Section 10, Article X of
the Constitution; and
2. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection
clause.
The Ruling of the Court
We grant the petitions.
The Cityhood Laws violate Sections 6 and 10, Article X of the
Constitution, and are thus unconstitutional.
First, applying the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 to the
present case is a prospective, not a retroactive application, because
RA 9009 took effect in 2001 while the cityhood bills became law more
than five years later.
Second, the Constitution requires that Congress shall prescribe all the
criteria for the creation of a city in the Local Government Code and not
in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.
Third, the Cityhood Laws violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution
because they prevent a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to
local government units.
Fourth, the criteria prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government
Code, as amended by RA 9009, for converting a municipality into a city
are clear, plain and unambiguous, needing no resort to any statutory
construction.
Fifth, the intent of members of the 11
th
Congress to exempt certain
municipalities from the coverage of RA 9009 remained an intent and
was never written into Section 450 of the Local Government Code.
Sixth, the deliberations of the 11
th
or 12
th
Congress on unapproved bills
or resolutions are not extrinsic aids in interpreting a law passed in the
13
th
Congress.
Seventh, even if the exemption in the Cityhood Laws were written in
Section 450 of the Local Government Code, the exemption would still
be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.
Preliminary Matters
Prohibition is the proper action for testing the constitutionality of laws
administered by the COMELEC,
14
like the Cityhood Laws, which direct
the COMELEC to hold plebiscites in implementation of the Cityhood
Laws. Petitioner League of Cities of the Philippines has legal standing
because Section 499 of the Local Government Code tasks the League
with the "primary purpose of ventilating, articulating and crystallizing
issues affecting city government administration and securing, through
proper and legal means, solutions thereto."
15
Petitioners-in-
intervention,
16
which are existing cities, have legal standing because
their Internal Revenue Allotment will be reduced if the Cityhood Laws
are declared constitutional. Mayor Jerry P. Treas has legal standing
because as Mayor of Iloilo City and as a taxpayer he has sufficient
interest to prevent the unlawful expenditure of public funds, like the
release of more Internal Revenue Allotment to political units than what
the law allows.
Applying RA 9009 is a Prospective Application of the Law
RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001 during the 11
th
Congress.
This law specifically amended Section 450 of the Local Government
Code, which now provides:
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 average annual income, as
certified by the Department of Finance, of at least One
hundred million pesos (P100,000,000.00) for the last two
(2) consecutive years based on 2000 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 Land
Management Bureau; or
(ii) a population of not less than one hundred fifty
thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the
National Statistics Office.
The creation thereof shall not reduce the land area,
population and income of the original unit or units at the time
of said creation to less than the minimum requirements
prescribed herein.
(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall be
properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement
on land area shall not apply where the city proposed to be
created is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory
need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more
islands.
(c) The average annual income shall include the income
accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds,
transfers, and non-recurring income. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, RA 9009 increased the income requirement for conversion of a
municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million. Section 450 of
the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not
provide any exemption from the increased income requirement.
Prior to the enactment of RA 9009, a total of 57 municipalities had
cityhood bills pending in Congress. Thirty-three cityhood bills became
law before the enactment of RA 9009. Congress did not act on 24
cityhood bills during the 11
th
Congress.
During the 12
th
Congress, the House of Representatives adopted Joint
Resolution No. 29, exempting from the income requirement of P100
million in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not
acted upon during the 11
th
Congress. This Resolution reached the
Senate. However, the 12
th
Congress adjourned without the Senate
approving Joint Resolution No. 29.
During the 13
th
Congress, 16 of the 24 municipalities mentioned in
the unapproved Joint Resolution No. 29 filed between November and
December of 2006, through their respective sponsors in Congress,
individual cityhood bills containing a common provision, as follows:
Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009. - The City of x x x
shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed
under Republic Act No. 9009.
This common provision exempted each of the 16 municipalities
from the income requirement ofP100 million prescribed in Section
450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.
These cityhood bills lapsed into law on various dates from March to
July 2007 after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed to sign them.
Indisputably, Congress passed the Cityhood Laws long after the
effectivity of RA 9009. RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001
or during the 11
th
Congress. The 13
th
Congress passed in
3 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
December 2006 the cityhood bills which became law only in 2007.
Thus, respondent municipalities cannot invoke the principle of non-
retroactivity of laws.
17
This basic rule has no application because RA
9009, an earlier law to the Cityhood Laws, is not being applied
retroactively but prospectively.
Congress Must Prescribe in the Local Government Code All
Criteria
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:
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.
18
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.
The criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code govern
exclusively the creation of a city. No other law, not even the charter of
the city, can govern such creation. The clear intent of the Constitution
is to insure that the creation of cities and other political units
must follow the same uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found
solely in the Local Government Code. Any derogation or deviation
from the criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code violates
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code to
increase the income requirement fromP20 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 Government Code
and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.
Cityhood Laws Violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution
Uniform and non-discriminatory criteria as prescribed in the Local
Government Code are essential to implement a fair and equitable
distribution of national taxes to all local government units. Section 6,
Article X of the Constitution provides:
Local government units shall have a just share, as
determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be
automatically released to them. (Emphasis supplied)
If the criteria in creating local government units are not uniform and
discriminatory, there can be no fair and just distribution of the national
taxes to local government units.
A city with an annual income of only P20 million, all other criteria being
equal, should not receive the same share in national taxes as a city
with an annual income of P100 million or more. The criteria of land
area, population and income, as prescribed in Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, must be strictly followed because such criteria,
prescribed by law, are material in determining the "just share" of local
government units in national taxes. Since the Cityhood Laws do not
follow the income criterion in Section 450 of the Local Government
Code, they prevent the fair and just distribution of the Internal Revenue
Allotment in violation of Section 6, Article X of the Constitution.
Section 450 of the Local Government Code is Clear,
Plain and Unambiguous
There can be no resort to extrinsic aids like deliberations of
Congress if the language of the law is plain, clear and unambiguous.
Courts determine the intent of the law from the literal language of the
law, within the law's four corners.
19
If the language of the law is plain,
clear and unambiguous, courts simply apply the law according to its
express terms. If a literal application of the law results in absurdity,
impossibility or injustice, then courts may resort to extrinsic aids of
statutory construction like the legislative history of the law.
20

Congress, in enacting RA 9009 to amend Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, did not provide any exemption from the increased
income requirement, not even to respondent municipalities whose
cityhood bills were then pending when Congress passed RA 9009.
Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009,
contains no exemption whatsoever. Since the law is clear, plain and
unambiguous that any municipality desiring to convert into a city must
meet the increased income requirement, there is no reason to go
beyond the letter of the law in applying Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.
The 11
th
Congress' Intent was not Written into the Local
Government Code
True, members of Congress discussed exempting respondent
municipalities from RA 9009, as shown by the various deliberations on
the matter during the 11
th
Congress. However, Congress did not write
this intended exemption into law. Congress could have easily included
such exemption in RA 9009 but Congress did not. This is fatal to the
cause of respondent municipalities because such exemption must
appear in RA 9009 as an amendment to Section 450 of the Local
Government Code. The Constitution requires that the criteria for the
conversion of a municipality into a city, including any exemption from
such criteria, must all be written in the Local Government Code.
Congress cannot prescribe such criteria or exemption from such
criteria in any other law. In short, Congress cannot create a city
through a law that does not comply with the criteria or exemption
found in the Local Government Code.
Section 10 of Article X is similar to Section 16, Article XII of the
Constitution prohibiting Congress from creating private corporations
except by a general law. Section 16 of Article XII provides:
The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide
for the formation, organization, or regulation of private
corporations. Government-owned or controlled
corporations may be created or established by special
charters in the interest of the common good and subject to
the test of economic viability. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, Congress must prescribe all the criteria for the "formation,
organization, or regulation" of private corporations in a general law
applicable to all without discrimination.
21
Congress cannot create a
private corporation through a special law or charter.
Deliberations of the 11
th
Congress on Unapproved Bills
Inapplicable
Congress is not a continuing body.
22
The unapproved cityhood bills
filed during the 11
th
Congress became mere scraps of paper upon the
adjournment of the 11
th
Congress. All the hearings and deliberations
conducted during the 11
th
Congress on unapproved bills also became
4 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
worthless upon the adjournment of the 11
th
Congress. These hearings
and deliberations cannot be used to interpret bills enacted into
law in the 13
th
or subsequent Congresses.
The members and officers of each Congress are different. All
unapproved bills filed in one Congress become functus officio upon
adjournment of that Congress and must be re-filed anew in order to be
taken up in the next Congress. When their respective authors re-filed
the cityhood bills in 2006 during the 13
th
Congress, the bills had to start
from square one again, going through the legislative mill just like bills
taken up for the first time, from the filing to the approval. Section 123,
Rule XLIV of the Rules of the Senate, on Unfinished Business,
provides:
Sec. 123. x x x
All pending matters and proceedings shall terminate
upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be
taken by the succeeding Congress as if presented for the
first time. (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, Section 78 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, on
Unfinished Business, states:
Section 78. Calendar of Business. The Calendar of Business
shall consist of the following:
a. Unfinished Business. This is business being
considered by the House at the time of its last
adjournment. Its consideration shall be resumed
until it is disposed of. The Unfinished Business at
the end of a session shall be resumed at the
commencement of the next session as if no
adjournment has taken place. At the end of the
term of a Congress, all Unfinished Business
are deemed terminated. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, the deliberations during the 11
th
Congress on the unapproved
cityhood bills, as well as the deliberations during the 12
th
and
13
th
Congresses on the unapproved resolution exempting from RA
9009 certain municipalities, have no legal significance. They do not
qualify as extrinsic aids in construing laws passed by subsequent
Congresses.
Applicability of Equal Protection Clause
If Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA
9009, contained an exemption to theP100 million annual income
requirement, the criteria for such exemption could be scrutinized for
possible violation of the equal protection clause. Thus, the criteria for
the exemption, if found in the Local Government Code, could be
assailed on the ground of absence of a valid classification. However,
Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009,
does not contain any exemption. The exemption is contained in the
Cityhood Laws, which are unconstitutional because such exemption
must be prescribed in the Local Government Code as mandated in
Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
Even if the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws were written in
Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009,
such exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal
protection clause. The exemption provision merely states, "Exemption
from Republic Act No. 9009 The City of x x x shall be exempted
from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No.
9009." This one sentence exemption provision contains no
classification standards or guidelines differentiating the exempted
municipalities from those that are not exempted.
Even if we take into account the deliberations in the 11
th
Congress that
municipalities with pending cityhood bills should be exempt from
the P100 million income requirement, there is still no valid classification
to satisfy the equal protection clause. The exemption will be based
solely on the fact that the 16 municipalities had cityhood bills
pending in the 11
th
Congress when RA 9009 was enacted. This is
not a valid classification between those entitled and those not entitled
to exemption from the P100 million income requirement.
To be valid, the classification in the present case must be based on
substantial distinctions, rationally related to a legitimate government
objective which is the purpose of the law,
23
not limited to existing
conditions only, and applicable to all similarly situated. Thus, this Court
has ruled:
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.
24

There is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending
cityhood bills in the 11
th
Congress and municipalities that did not have
pending bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the
11
th
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 11
th
Congress does not affect or
determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with
pending cityhood bills in the 11
th
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 11
th
Congress is not rationally related to the purpose of the
law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from
converting into cities.
Municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills were not
informed that a pending cityhood bill in the 11
th
Congress would be a
condition for exemption from the increased P100 million income
requirement. Had they been informed, many municipalities would have
caused the filing of their own cityhood bills. These municipalities, even
if they have bigger annual income than the 16 respondent
municipalities, cannot now convert into cities if their income is less
than P100 million.
The fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11
th
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. This requirement is illustrated in Mayflower Farms, Inc.
v. Ten Eyck,
25
where the challenged law allowed milk dealers engaged
in business prior to a fixed date to sell at a price lower than that
allowed to newcomers in the same business. In Mayflower, the U.S.
Supreme Court held:
We are referred to a host of decisions to the effect that a
regulatory law may be prospective in operation and may
except from its sweep those presently engaged in the calling
or activity to which it is directed. Examples are statutes
licensing physicians and dentists, which apply only to those
entering the profession subsequent to the passage of the act
and exempt those then in practice, or zoning laws which
exempt existing buildings, or laws forbidding
slaughterhouses within certain areas, but excepting existing
establishments. The challenged provision is unlike such
laws, since, on its face, it is not a regulation of a
business or an activity in the interest of, or for the
protection of, the public, but an attempt to give an
economic advantage to those engaged in a given
business at an arbitrary date as against all those who
5 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
enter the industry after that date. The appellees do not
intimate that the classification bears any relation to the public
health or welfare generally; that the provision will discourage
monopoly; or that it was aimed at any abuse, cognizable by
law, in the milk business. In the absence of any such
showing, we have no right to conjure up possible situations
which might justify the discrimination. The classification is
arbitrary and unreasonable and denies the appellant the
equal protection of the law. (Emphasis supplied)
In the same vein, 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 11
th
Congress - as
against all other municipalities that want to convert into cities after the
effectivity of RA 9009.
Furthermore, 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.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petitions and
declare UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Cityhood Laws, namely: Republic
Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405,
9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491.
SO ORDERED.
________________________________________________________
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951 December 21, 2009
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS 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.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 177499 December 21, 2009
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS 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.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178056 December 21, 2009
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF
CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; and MUNICIPALITY OF EL
SALVADOR, MISAMIS ORIENTAL, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS;
MUNICIPALITY OF CABADBARAN,Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO, JR. J .:
Ratio legis est anima. The spirit rather than the letter of the law. A
statute must be read according to its spirit or intent,
1
for what is within
the spirit is within the statute although it is not within its letter, and that
which is within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the
statute.
2
Put a bit differently, that which is within the intent of the
lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within the letter; and that
which is within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless
within the intent of the lawmakers.
3
Withal, courts ought not to interpret
and should not accept an interpretation that would defeat the intent of
the law and its legislators.
4

So as it is exhorted to pass on a challenge against the validity of an act
of Congress, a co-equal branch of government, it behooves the Court
to have at once one principle in mind: the presumption of
constitutionality of statutes.
5
This presumption finds its roots in the tri-
partite system of government and the corollary separation of powers,
which enjoins the three great departments of the government to accord
a becoming courtesy for each others acts, and not to interfere
inordinately with the exercise by one of its official functions. Towards
this end, courts ought to reject assaults against the validity of statutes,
barring of course their clear unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain,
the theory in context being that the law is the product of earnest
studies by Congress to ensure that no constitutional prescription or
concept is infringed.
6
Consequently, before a law duly challenged is
nullified, an unequivocal breach of, or a clear conflict with, the
Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative one, must be
6 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
demonstrated in such a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the
Court.
7

BACKGROUND
The consolidated petitions for prohibition commenced by the League of
Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and
Jerry P. Treas
8
assail the constitutionality of the sixteen (16)
laws,
9
each converting the municipality covered thereby into a city
(cityhood laws, hereinafter) and seek to enjoin the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) from conducting plebiscites pursuant to subject
laws.
By Decision
10
dated November 18, 2008, the Court en banc, by a 6-5
vote, granted the petitions and nullified the sixteen (16) cityhood laws
for being violative of the Constitution, specifically its Section 10, Article
X and the equal protection clause.
Subsequently, respondent local government units (LGUs) moved for
reconsideration, raising, as one of the issues, the validity of the factual
premises not contained in the pleadings of the parties, let alone
established, which became the bases of the Decision subject of
reconsideration.
11
By Resolution of March 31, 2009, a divided Court
denied the motion for reconsideration.
A second motion for reconsideration followed in which respondent
LGUs prayed as follows:
WHEREFORE, respondents respectfully pray that the Honorable Court
reconsider its "Resolution" dated March 31, 2009, in so far as it denies
for "lack of merit" respondents "Motion for Reconsideration" dated
December 9, 2008 and in lieu thereof, considering that new and
meritorious arguments are raised by respondents "Motion for
Reconsideration" dated December 9, 2008 to grant afore-mentioned
"Motion for Reconsideration" dated December 9, 2008 and dismiss the
"Petitions For Prohibition" in the instant case.
Per Resolution dated April 28, 2009, the Court, voting 6-6, disposed
of the motion as follows:
By a vote of 6-6, the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of 31
March 2009 is DENIED for lack of merit. The motion is denied since
there is no majority that voted to overturn the Resolution of 31 March
2009.
The Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of 18
November 2008 is DENIED for being a prohibited pleading, and the
Motion for Leave to Admit Attached Petition in Intervention x x x filed
by counsel for Ludivina T. Mas, et al. are also DENIED. No further
pleadings shall be entertained. Let entry of judgment be made in due
course. x x x
On May 14, 2009, respondent LGUs filed a Motion to Amend the
Resolution of April 28, 2009 by Declaring Instead that Respondents
"Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of March 31, 2009" and
"Motion for Leave to File and to Admit Attached Second Motion for
Reconsideration of the Decision Dated November 18, 2008 Remain
Unresolved and to Conduct Further Proceedings Thereon."
Per its Resolution of June 2, 2009, the Court declared the May 14,
2009 motion adverted to as expunged in light of the entry of judgment
made on May 21, 2009. Justice Leonardo-De Castro, however, taking
common cause with Justice Bersamin to grant the motion for
reconsideration of the April 28, 2009 Resolution and to recall the entry
of judgment, stated the observation, and with reason, that the entry
was effected "before the Court could act on the aforesaid motion which
was filed within the 15-day period counted from receipt of the April 28,
2009 Resolution."
12

Forthwith, respondent LGUs filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the
Resolution of June 2, 2009 to which some of the petitioners and
petitioners-in-intervention filed their respective comments. The Court
will now rule on this incident. But first, we set and underscore some
basic premises:
(1) The initial motion to reconsider the November 18, 2008
Decision, as Justice Leonardo-De Castro noted, indeed
raised new and substantial issues, inclusive of the matter of
the correctness of the factual premises upon which the said
decision was predicated. The 6-6 vote on the motion for
reconsideration per the Resolution of March 31, 2009, which
denied the motion on the sole ground that "the basic issues
have already been passed upon" reflected a divided Court
on the issue of whether or not the underlying Decision of
November 18, 2008 had indeed passed upon the basic
issues raised in the motion for reconsideration of the said
decision;
(2) The aforesaid May 14, 2009 Motion to Amend Resolution
of April 28, 2009 was precipitated by the tie vote which
served as basis for the issuance of said resolution. This May
14, 2009 motionwhich mainly argued that a tie vote is
inadequate to declare a law unconstitutional remains
unresolved; and
(3) Pursuant to Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII of the Constitution, all
cases involving the constitutionality of a law shall be heard
by the Court en banc and decided with the concurrence of a
majority of the Members who actually took part in the
deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.
The basic issue tendered in this motion for reconsideration of the June
2, 2009 Resolution boils down to whether or not the required vote set
forth in the aforesaid Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII is limited only to the initial vote
on the petition or also to the subsequent voting on the motion for
reconsideration where the Court is called upon and actually votes on
the constitutionality of a law or like issuances. Or, as applied to this
case, would a minute resolution dismissing, on a tie vote, a motion for
reconsideration on the sole stated groundthat the "basic issues have
already been passed" suffice to hurdle the voting requirement
required for a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the cityhood laws
in question?
The 6-6 vote on the motion to reconsider the Resolution of March 31,
2009, which denied the initial motion on the sole ground that "the basic
issues had already been passed upon" betrayed an evenly divided
Court on the issue of whether or not the underlying Decision of
November 18, 2008 had indeed passed upon the issues raised in the
motion for reconsideration of the said decision. But at the end of the
day, the single issue that matters and the vote that really counts really
turn on the constitutionality of the cityhood laws. And be it remembered
that the inconclusive 6-6 tie vote reflected in the April 28, 2009
Resolution was the last vote on the issue of whether or not the
cityhood laws infringe the Constitution. Accordingly, the motions of the
respondent LGUs, in light of the 6-6 vote, should be deliberated anew
until the required concurrence on the issue of the validity or invalidity of
the laws in question is, on the merits, secured.
It ought to be clear that a deadlocked vote does not reflect the
"majority of the Members" contemplated in Sec. 4 (2) of Art. VIII of the
Constitution, which requires that:
All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or
executive agreement, or law shall be heard by the Supreme Court en
banc, x x x shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the
Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in
the case and voted thereon. (Emphasis added.)
Webster defines "majority" as "a number greater than half of a
total."
13
In plain language, this means 50% plus one. In Lambino v.
Commission on Elections, Justice, now Chief Justice, Puno, in a
separate opinion, expressed the view that "a deadlocked vote of six (6)
is not a majority and a non-majority cannot write a rule with
precedential value."
14

7 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
As may be noted, the aforequoted Sec. 4 of Art. VIII, as couched,
exacts a majority vote in the determination of a case involving the
constitutionality of a statute, without distinguishing whether such
determination is made on the main petition or thereafter on a motion
for reconsideration. This is as it should be, for, to borrow from the late
Justice Ricardo J. Francisco: "x x x [E]ven assuming x x x that the
constitutional requirement on the concurrence of the majority was
initially reached in the x x x ponencia, the same is inconclusive as it
was still open for review by way of a motion for reconsideration."
15

To be sure, the Court has taken stock of the rule on a tie-vote situation,
i.e., Sec. 7, Rule 56 and the complementary A.M. No. 99-1-09- SC,
respectively, providing that:
SEC. 7. Procedure if opinion is equally divided. Where the court en
banc is equally divided in opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be
had, the case shall again be deliberated on, and if after such
deliberation no decision is reached, the original action commenced in
the court shall be dismissed; in appealed cases, the judgment or order
appealed from shall stand affirmed; and on all incidental matters, the
petition or motion shall be denied.
A.M. No. 99-1-09-SC x x x A motion for reconsideration of a decision
or resolution of the Court En Banc or of a Division may be granted
upon a vote of a majority of the En Banc or of a Division, as the case
may be, who actually took part in the deliberation of the motion.
If the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is deemed
denied.
But since the instant cases fall under Sec. 4 (2), Art. VIII of the
Constitution, the aforequoted provisions ought to be applied in
conjunction with the prescription of the Constitution that the cases
"shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members
who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the instant
cases and voted thereon." To repeat, the last vote on the issue of the
constitutionality of the cityhood bills is that reflected in the April 28,
2009 Resolutiona 6-6 deadlock.
On the postulate then that first, the finality of the November 18, 2008
Decision has yet to set in, the issuance of the precipitate
16
entry of
judgment notwithstanding, and second, the deadlocked vote on the
second motion for reconsideration did not definitely settle the
constitutionality of the cityhood laws, the Court is inclined to take
another hard look at the underlying decision. Without belaboring in
their smallest details the arguments for and against the procedural
dimension of this disposition, it bears to stress that the Court has the
power to suspend its own rules when the ends of justice would be
served thereby.
17
In the performance of their duties, courts should not
be shackled by stringent rules which would result in manifest injustice.
Rules of procedure are only tools crafted to facilitate the attainment of
justice. Their strict and rigid application must be eschewed, if they
result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote
substantial justice. Substantial rights must not be prejudiced by a rigid
and technical application of the rules in the altar of expediency. When
a case is impressed with public interest, a relaxation of the application
of the rules is in order.
18
Time and again, this Court has suspended its
own rules or excepted a particular case from their operation whenever
the higher interests of justice so require.
19

While perhaps not on all fours with the case, because it involved a
purely business transaction, what the Court said in Chuidian v.
Sandiganbayan
20
is most apropos:
To reiterate what the Court has said in Ginete vs. Court of Appeals and
other cases, the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere
instruments designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They are
not to be applied with severity and rigidity when such application would
clearly defeat the very rationale for their conception and existence.
Even the Rules of Court reflects this principle. The power to suspend
or even disregard rules, inclusive of the one-motion rule, can be so
pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court has
already declared to be final. The peculiarities of this case impel us to
do so now.
The Court, by a vote of 6-4, grants the respondent LGUs motion for
reconsideration of the Resolution of June 2, 2009, as well as their May
14, 2009 motion to consider the second motion for reconsideration of
the November 18, 2008 Decision unresolved, and also grants said
second motion for reconsideration.
This brings us to the substantive aspect of the case.
The Undisputed Factual Antecedents in Brief
During the 11th Congress,
21
fifty-seven (57) cityhood bills were filed
before the House of Representatives.
22
Of the fifty-seven (57), thirty-
three (33) eventually became laws. The twenty-four (24) other bills
were not acted upon.
Later developments saw the introduction in the Senate of Senate Bill
(S. Bill) No. 2157
23
to amend Sec. 450 of Republic Act No. (RA) 7160,
otherwise known as the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991. The
proposed amendment sought to increase the income requirement to
qualify for conversion into a city from PhP 20 million average annual
income to PhP 100 million locally generated income.
In March 2001, S. Bill No. 2157 was signed into law as RA 9009 to
take effect on June 30, 2001. As thus amended by RA 9009, Sec. 450
of the LGC of 1991 now provides that "[a] municipality x x x may be
converted into a component city if it has a [certified] locally generated
average annual income x x x of at least [PhP 100 million] for the last
two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices."
After the effectivity of RA 9009, the Lower House of the 12th Congress
adopted in July 2001 House (H.) Joint Resolution No. 29
24
which, as its
title indicated, sought to exempt from the income requirement
prescribed in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose conversions into
cities were not acted upon during the previous Congress. The 12th
Congress ended without the Senate approving H. Joint Resolution No.
29.
Then came the 13th Congress (July 2004 to June 2007), which saw
the House of Representatives re-adopting H. Joint Resolution No. 29
as H. Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarding it to the Senate for
approval.
The Senate, however, again failed to approve the joint resolution.
During the Senate session held on November 6, 2006, Senator
Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. asserted that passing H. Resolution No. 1 would,
in net effect, allow a wholesale exemption from the income
requirement imposed under RA 9009 on the municipalities. For this
reason, he suggested the filing by the House of Representatives of
individual bills to pave the way for the municipalities to become cities
and then forwarding them to the Senate for proper action.
25

Heeding the advice, sixteen (16) municipalities filed, through their
respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. Common to all 16
measures was a provision exempting the municipality covered from the
PhP 100 million income requirement.
As of June 7, 2007, both Houses of Congress had approved the
individual cityhood bills, all of which eventually lapsed into law on
various dates. Each cityhood law directs the COMELEC, within thirty
(30) days from its approval, to hold a plebiscite to determine whether
the voters approve of the conversion.
As earlier stated, the instant petitions seek to declare the cityhood laws
unconstitutional for violation of Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution, as
well as for violation of the equal-protection clause. The wholesale
conversion of municipalities into cities, the petitioners bemoan, will
reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment
(IRA), since more cities will partake of the internal revenue set aside
for all cities under Sec. 285 of the LGC of 1991.
26

Petitioners-in-intervention, LPC members themselves, would later seek
leave and be allowed to intervene.
8 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
Aside from their basic plea to strike down as unconstitutional the
cityhood laws in question, petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention
collectively pray that an order issue enjoining the COMELEC from
conducting plebiscites in the affected areas. An alternative prayer
would urge the Court to restrain the poll body from proclaiming the
plebiscite results.
On July 24, 2007, the Court en banc resolved to consolidate the
petitions and the petitions-in-intervention. On March 11, 2008, it heard
the parties in oral arguments.
The Issues
In the main, the issues to which all others must yield pivot on whether
or not the cityhood laws violate (1) Sec. 10. Art. X of the Constitution
and (2) the equal protection clause.
In the November 18, 2008 Decision granting the petitions, Justice
Antonio T. Carpio, for the Court, resolved the twin posers in the
affirmative and accordingly declared the cityhood laws unconstitutional,
deviating as they do from the uniform and non-discriminatory income
criterion prescribed by the LGC of 1991. In so doing, the ponencia
veritably agreed with the petitioners that the Constitution, in clear and
unambiguous language, requires that all the criteria for the creation of
a city shall be embodied and written in the LGC, and not in any other
law.
After a circumspect reflection, the Court is disposed to reconsider.
Petitioners threshold posture, characterized by a strained
interpretation of the Constitution, if accorded cogency, would veritably
curtail and cripple Congress valid exercise of its authority to create
political subdivisions.
By constitutional design
27
and as a matter of long-established principle,
the power to create political subdivisions or LGUs is essentially
legislative in character.
28
But even without any constitutional grant,
Congress can, by law, create, divide, merge, or altogether abolish or
alter the boundaries of a province, city, or municipality. We said as
much in the fairly recent case, Sema v. CIMELEC.
29
The 1987
Constitution, under its Art. X, Sec. 10, nonetheless provides for the
creation of LGUs, thus:
Section 10. 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.)
As may be noted, the afore-quoted provision specifically provides for
the creation of political subdivisions "in accordance with the criteria
established in the local government code," subject to the approval of
the voters in the unit concerned. The criteria referred to are the
verifiable indicators of viability, i.e., area, population, and income, now
set forth in Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991, as amended by RA 9009. The
petitioners would parlay the thesis that these indicators or criteria must
be written only in the LGC and not in any other statute. Doubtless, the
code they are referring to is the LGC of 1991. Pushing their point, they
conclude that the cityhood laws that exempted the respondent LGUs
from the income standard spelled out in the amendatory RA 9009
offend the Constitution.
Petitioners posture does not persuade.
The supposedly infringed Art. X, Sec. 10 is not a new constitutional
provision. Save for the use of the term "barrio" in lieu of "barangay,"
"may be" instead of "shall," the change of the phrase "unit or units" to
"political unit" and the addition of the modifier "directly" to the word
"affected," the aforesaid provision is a substantial reproduction of Art.
XI, Sec. 3 of the 1973 Constitution, which reads:
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 approval by a majority of the votes
cast in a plebiscite in the unit or units affected. (Emphasis supplied.)
It bears notice, however, that the "code" similarly referred to in the
1973 and 1987 Constitutions is clearly but a law Congress enacted.
This is consistent with the aforementioned plenary power of Congress
to create political units. Necessarily, since Congress wields the vast
poser of creating political subdivisions, surely it can exercise the lesser
authority of requiring a set of criteria, standards, or ascertainable
indicators of viability for their creation. Thus, the only conceivable
reason why the Constitution employs the clause "in accordance with
the criteria established in the local government code" is to lay stress
that it is Congress alone, and no other, which can impose the criteria.
The eminent constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., in his
treatise on Constitutional Law, specifically on the subject provision,
explains:
Prior to 1965, there was a certain lack of clarity with regard to the
power to create, divide, merge, dissolve, or change the boundaries of
municipal corporations. The extent to which the executive may share in
this power was obscured by Cardona v. Municipality of
Binangonan.
30
Pelaez v. Auditor General subsequently clarified the
Cardona case when the Supreme Court said that "the authority to
create municipal corporations is essentially legislative in
nature."
31
Pelaez, however, conceded that "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."
32
Pelaez was silent
about division, merger, and dissolution of municipal corporations. But
since division in effect creates a new municipality, and both dissolution
and merger in effect abolish a legal creation, it may fairly be inferred
that these acts are also legislative in nature.
Section 10 [Art. X of the 1987 Constitution], which is a legacy from the
1973 Constitution, goes further than the doctrine in the Pelaez case. It
not only makes creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial
alteration of boundaries of provinces, cities, municipalities x x x subject
to "criteria established in the local government code,"thereby
declaring these actions properly legislative, but it also makes
creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of
boundaries "subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a
plebiscite in the political units directly affected."
33
x x x (Emphasis
added.)
It remains to be observed at this juncture that when the 1987
Constitution speaks of the LGC, the reference cannot be to any
specific statute or codification of laws, let alone the LGC of 1991.
34
Be
it noted that at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, Batas
Pambansa Blg. (BP) 337, the then LGC, was still in effect. Accordingly,
had the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended to isolate the
embodiment of the criteria only in the LGC, then they would have
actually referred to BP 337. Also, they would then not have provided
for the enactment by Congress of a new LGC, as they did in Art. X,
Sec. 3
35
of the Constitution.
Consistent with its plenary legislative power on the matter, Congress
can, via either a consolidated set of laws or a much simpler, single-
subject enactment, impose the said verifiable criteria of viability. These
criteria need not be embodied in the local government code, albeit this
code is the ideal repository to ensure, as much as possible, the
element of uniformity. Congress can even, after making a codification,
enact an amendatory law, adding to the existing layers of indicators
earlier codified, just as efficaciously as it may reduce the same. In this
case, the amendatory RA 9009 upped the already codified income
requirement from PhP 20 million to PhP 100 million. At the end of the
day, the passage of amendatory laws is no different from the
enactment of laws, i.e., the cityhood laws specifically exempting a
particular political subdivision from the criteria earlier mentioned.
Congress, in enacting the exempting law/s, effectively decreased the
already codified indicators.
9 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
Petitioners theory that Congress must provide the criteria solely in the
LGC and not in any other law strikes the Court as illogical. For if we
pursue their contention to its logical conclusion, then RA 9009
embodying the new and increased income criterion would, in a way,
also suffer the vice of unconstitutionality. It is startling, however, that
petitioners do not question the constitutionality of RA 9009, as they in
fact use said law as an argument for the alleged unconstitutionality of
the cityhood laws.
As it were, Congress, through the medium of the cityhood laws, validly
decreased the income criterion vis--vis the respondent LGUs, but
without necessarily being unreasonably discriminatory, as shall be
discussed shortly, by reverting to the PhP 20 million threshold what it
earlier raised to PhP 100 million. The legislative intent not to subject
respondent LGUs to the more stringent requirements of RA 9009 finds
expression in the following uniform provision of the cityhood laws:
Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009. The City of x x x shall be
exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act
No. 9009.
In any event, petitioners constitutional objection would still be
untenable even if we were to assume purely ex hypothesi the
correctness of their underlying thesis, viz: that the conversion of a
municipality to a city shall be in accordance with, among other things,
the income criterion set forth in the LGC of 1991, and in no other;
otherwise, the conversion is invalid. We shall explain.
Looking at the circumstances behind the enactment of the laws subject
of contention, the Court finds that the LGC-amending RA 9009, no
less, intended the LGUs covered by the cityhood laws to be exempt
from the PhP 100 million income criterion. In other words, the cityhood
laws, which merely carried out the intent of RA 9009, adhered, in the
final analysis, to the "criteria established in the Local Government
Code," pursuant to Sec. 10, Art. X of the 1987 Constitution. We shall
now proceed to discuss this exemption angle.
36

Among the criteria established in the LGC pursuant to Sec.10, Art. X of
the 1987 Constitution are those detailed in Sec. 450 of the LGC of
1991 under the heading "Requisites for Creation." The section sets the
minimum income qualifying bar before a municipality or a cluster of
barangays may be considered for cityhood. Originally, Sec. 164 of BP
337 imposed an average regular annual income "of at least ten million
pesos for the last three consecutive years" as a minimum income
standard for a municipal-to-city conversion. The LGC that BP 337
established was superseded by the LGC of 1991 whose then Sec. 450
provided that "[a] municipality or cluster of barangays may be
converted into a component city if it has an average annual income, x x
x of at least twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for at least two (2)
consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices x x x." RA 9009 in
turn amended said Sec. 450 by further increasing the income
requirement to PhP 100 million, thus:
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 average annual income, as certified by the Department of
Finance, of at least One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00)
for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant
prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:
x x x x
(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.)
The legislative intent is not at all times accurately reflected in the
manner in which the resulting law is couched. Thus, applying a verba
legis
37
or strictly literal interpretation of a statute may render it
meaningless and lead to inconvenience, an absurd situation or
injustice.
38
To obviate this aberration, and bearing in mind the principle
that the intent or the spirit of the law is the law itself,
39
resort should be
to the rule that the spirit of the law controls its letter.
40

It is in this respect that the history of the passage of RA 9009 and the
logical inferences derivable therefrom assume relevancy in discovering
legislative intent.
41

The rationale behind the enactment of RA 9009 to amend Sec. 450 of
the LGC of 1991 can reasonably be deduced from Senator Pimentels
sponsorship speech on S. Bill No. 2157. Of particular significance is
his statement regarding the basis for the proposed increase from PhP
20 million to PhP 100 million in the income requirement for
municipalities wanting to be converted into cities, viz:
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 [LGC]. However, it is a fact that
there is a mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into
cities. Whereas in 1991, when the [LGC] was approved, there were
only 60 cities, today the number has increased to 85 cities, with 41
more municipalities applying for conversion x x x. At the rate we are
going, 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 [LGC], 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.
Congress to be sure knew, when RA 9009 was being deliberated
upon, of the pendency of several bills on cityhood, wherein the
applying municipalities were qualified under the then obtaining PhP 20
million-income threshold. These included respondent LGUs. Thus,
equally noteworthy is the ensuing excerpts from the floor exchange
between then Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Pimentel,
the latter stopping short of saying that the income threshold of PhP 100
million under S. Bill No. 2157 would not apply to municipalities that
have pending cityhood bills, 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.
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.
42
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
10 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
What the foregoing Pimental-Drilon exchange eloquently indicates are
the following complementary legislative intentions: (1) the then pending
cityhood bills would be outside the pale of the minimum income
requirement of PhP 100 million that S. Bill No. 2159 proposes; and (2)
RA 9009 would not have any retroactive effect insofar as the cityhood
bills are concerned.
Given the foregoing perspective, it is not amiss to state that the basis
for the inclusion of the exemption clause of the cityhood laws is the
clear-cut intent of Congress of not according retroactive effect to RA
9009. Not only do the congressional records bear the legislative intent
of exempting the cityhood laws from the income requirement of PhP
100 million. Congress has now made its intention to exempt express in
the challenged cityhood laws.
Legislative intent is part and parcel of the law, the controlling factor in
interpreting a statute. In construing a statute, the proper course is to
start out and follow the true intent of the Legislature and to adopt the
sense that best harmonizes with the context and promotes in the fullest
manner the policy and objects of the legislature.
43
In fact, any
interpretation that runs counter to the legislative intent is unacceptable
and invalid.
44
Torres v. Limjapcould not have been more precise:
The intent of a Statute is the Law. If a statute is valid, it is to have
effect according to the purpose and intent of the lawmaker. The intent
is x x x the essence of the law and the primary rule of
construction is to ascertain and give effect to that intent. The
intention of the legislature in enacting a law is the law itself, and 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
a statute when it leads away from the true intent and purpose of the
legislature and to conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of
the act. Intent is the spirit which gives life to a legislative
enactment. In construing statutes the proper course is to start out and
follow the true intent of the legislature x x x.
45
(Emphasis supplied.)
As emphasized at the outset, behind every law lies the presumption of
constitutionality.
46
Consequently, to him who would assert the
unconstitutionality of a statute belongs the burden of proving
otherwise. Laws will only be declared invalid if a conflict with the
Constitution is beyond reasonable doubt.
47
Unfortunately for petitioners
and petitioners-in-intervention, they failed to discharge their heavy
burden.
It is contended that the deliberations on the cityhood bills and the
covering joint resolution were undertaken in the 11th and/or the 12th
Congress. Accordingly, so the argument goes, such deliberations,
more particularly those on the unapproved resolution exempting from
RA 9009 certain municipalities, are without significance and would not
qualify as extrinsic aids in construing the cityhood laws that were
passed during the 13th Congress, Congress not being a continuing
body.
The argument is specious and glosses over the reality that the
cityhood billswhich were already being deliberated upon even
perhaps before the conception of RA 9009were again being
considered during the 13th Congress after being tossed around in the
two previous Congresses. And specific reference to the cityhood bills
was also made during the deliberations on RA 9009. At the end of the
day, it is really immaterial if Congress is not a continuing legislative
body. What is important is that the debates, deliberations, and
proceedings of Congress and the steps taken in the enactment of the
law, in this case the cityhood laws in relation to RA 9009 or vice versa,
were part of its legislative history and may be consulted, if appropriate,
as aids in the interpretation of the law.
48
And of course the earlier cited
Drilon-Pimentel exchange on whether or not the 16 municipalities in
question would be covered by RA 9009 is another vital link to the
historical chain of the cityhood bills. This and other proceedings on the
bills are spread in the Congressional journals, which cannot be
conveniently reduced to pure rhetoric without meaning whatsoever, on
the simplistic and non-sequitur pretext that Congress is not a
continuing body and that unfinished business in either chamber is
deemed terminated at the end of the term of Congress.
This brings us to the challenge to the constitutionality of cityhood laws
on equal protection grounds.
To the petitioners, the cityhood laws, by granting special treatment to
respondent municipalities/LGUs by way of exemption from the
standard PhP 100 million minimum income requirement, violate Sec.1,
Art. III of the Constitution, which in part provides that no person shall
"be denied the equal protection of the laws."
Petitioners challenge is not well taken. At its most basic, the equal
protection clause proscribes undue favor as well as hostile
discrimination. Hence, a law need not operate with equal force on all
persons or things to be conformable with Sec. 1, Art. III of the
Constitution.
The equal protection guarantee is embraced in the broader and elastic
concept of due process, every unfair discrimination being an offense
against the requirements of justice and fair play. It has nonetheless
come as a separate clause in Sec. 1, Art. III of the Constitution to
provide for a more specific protection against any undue discrimination
or antagonism from government. Arbitrariness in general may be
assailed on the basis of the due process clause. But if a particular
challenged act partakes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the
sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.
49
This
constitutional protection extends to all persons, natural or artificial,
within the territorial jurisdiction. Artificial persons, as the respondent
LGUs herein, are, however, entitled to protection only insofar as their
property is concerned.
50

In the proceedings at bar, petitioner LCP and the intervenors cannot
plausibly invoke the equal protection clause, precisely because no
deprivation of property results by virtue of the enactment of the
cityhood laws. The LCPs claim that the IRA of its member-cities will be
substantially reduced on account of the conversion into cities of the
respondent LGUs would not suffice to bring it within the ambit of the
constitutional guarantee. Indeed, it is presumptuous on the part of the
LCP member-cities to already stake a claim on the IRA, as if it were
their property, as the IRA is yet to be allocated. For the same reason,
the municipalities that are not covered by the uniform exemption
clause in the cityhood laws cannot validly invoke constitutional
protection. For, at this point, the conversion of a municipality into a city
will only affect its status as a political unit, but not its property as such.
As a matter of settled legal principle, the fundamental right of equal
protection does not require absolute equality. It is enough that all
persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to
rights or privileges conferred and responsibilities or obligations
imposed. The equal protection clause does not preclude the state from
recognizing and acting upon factual differences between individuals
and classes. It recognizes that inherent in the right to legislate is the
right to classify,
51
necessarily implying that the equality guaranteed is
not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification.
Classification, to be reasonable, must (1) rest on substantial
distinctions; (2) be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) not be
limited to existing conditions only; and (4) apply equally to all members
of the same class.
52
The Court finds that all these requisites have been
met by the laws challenged as arbitrary and discriminatory under the
equal protection clause.
As things stand, the favorable treatment accorded the sixteen (16)
municipalities by the cityhood laws rests on substantial distinction.
Indeed, respondent LGUs, which are subjected only to the erstwhile
PhP 20 million income criterion instead of the stringent income
requirement prescribed in RA 9009, are substantially different from
other municipalities desirous to be cities. Looking back, we note that
respondent LGUs had pending cityhood bills before the passage of RA
9009. There lies part of the tipping difference. And years before the
enactment of the amendatory RA 9009, respondents LGUs had
already met the income criterion exacted for cityhood under the LGC of
1991. Due to extraneous circumstances, however, the bills for their
conversion remained unacted upon by Congress. As aptly observed by
then Senator, now Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim in his speech sponsoring
H. Joint Resolution No. 1, or the cityhood bills, respondent LGUs saw
themselves confronted with the "changing of the rules in the middle of
the game." Some excerpts of Senator Lims sponsorship speech:
11 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
x x x [D]uring the Eleventh Congress, fifty-seven (57) municipalities
applied for city status, confident that each has met the requisites for
conversion under Section 450 of the [LGC], particularly the income
threshold of P20 million. Of the 57 that filed, thirty-two (32) were
enacted into law; x x x while the rest twenty-four (24) in all failed to
pass through Congress. Shortly before the long recess of Congress in
February 2001, to give way to the May elections x x x, Senate Bill No.
2157, which eventually became [RA] 9009, was passed into law,
effectively raising the income requirement for creation of cities to a
whooping P100 million x x x. Much as the proponents of the 24
cityhood bills then pending struggled to beat the effectivity of the law
on June 30, 2001, events that then unfolded were swift and
overwhelming that Congress just did not have the time to act on the
measures.
Some of these intervening events were x x x the impeachment of
President Estrada x x x and the May 2001 elections.
The imposition of a much higher income requirement for the creation of
a city x x x was unfair; like any sport changing the rules in the middle
of the game.
Undaunted, they came back during the [12th] Congress x x x. They
filed House Joint Resolution No. 29 seeking exemption from the higher
income requirement of RA 9009. For the second time, [however], time
ran out from them.
For many of the municipalities whose Cityhood Bills are now under
consideration, this year, at the closing days of the [13th] Congress,
marks their ninth year appealing for fairness and justice. x x x
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 [LGC] prior to its amendment by RA 9009. Hence,
when House Joint Resolution No. 1 reached the Senate x x x I
immediately set the public hearing x x x. On July 25, 2006, I filed
Committee Report No. 84 x x x. On September 6, I delivered the
sponsorship x x x.
x x x By November 14, the measure had reverted to the period of
individual amendments. This was when the then acting majority leader,
x x x informed the Body that Senator Pimentel and the proponents of
House Joint Resolution No. 1 have agreed to the proposal of the
Minority Leader for the House to first approve the individual Cityhood
Bills of the qualified municipalities, along with the provision exempting
each of them from the higher income requirement of RA 9009. x x x
This led to the certification issued by the proponents short-listing
fourteen (14) municipalities deemed to be qualified for city-status.
Acting on the suggestion of Senator Pimentel, the proponents lost no
time in working for the approval by the House of Representatives of
their individual Cityhood Bills, each containing a provision of exemption
from the higher income requirement of RA 9009. On the last session
day of last year, December 21, the House transmitted to the Senate
the Cityhood Bills of twelve out of the 14 pre-qualified municipalities.
Your Committee immediately conducted the public hearing x x x.
The whole process I enumerated [span] three Congresses x x x.
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 RA
9009. The proponents are invoking the exemption on the basis of
justice and fairness.
Each of the 12 municipalities has all the requisites for conversion into a
component city based on the old requirements set forth under Section
450 of the [LGC], prior to its amendment by RA 9009, namely: x x
x
53
(Emphasis supplied.)
In hindsight, the peculiar conditions, as depicted in Senator Lims
speech, which respondent LGUs found themselves in were unsettling.
They were qualified cityhood applicants before the enactment of RA
009. Because of events they had absolutely nothing to do with, a
spoiler in the form of RA 9009 supervened. Now, then, to impose on
them the much higher income requirement after what they have gone
through would appear to be indeed "unfair," to borrow from Senator
Lim. Thus, the imperatives of fairness dictate that they should be given
a legal remedy by which they would be allowed to prove that they have
all the necessary qualifications for city status, using the criteria set
forth under the LGC of 1991 prior to its amendment by RA 9009. Truly,
the peculiar conditions of respondent LGUs, which are actual and real,
provide sufficient grounds for legislative classification.
To be sure, courts, regardless of doubts they might be entertaining,
cannot question the wisdom of the congressional classification, if
reasonable, or the motivation underpinning the classification.
54
By the
same token, they do not sit to determine the propriety or efficacy of the
remedies Congress has specifically chosen to extend. That is its
prerogative. The power of the Legislature to make distinctions and
classifications among persons is, to reiterate, neither curtailed nor
denied by the equal protection clause. A law can be violative of the
constitutional limitation only when the classification is without
reasonable basis.
The classification is also germane to the purpose of the law. The
exemption of respondent LGUs/municipalities from the PhP 100 million
income requirement was meant to reduce the inequality occasioned by
the passage of the amendatory RA 9009. From another perspective,
the exemption was unquestionably designed to insure that fairness and
justice would be accorded respondent LGUs. Let it be noted that what
were then the cityhood bills covering respondent LGUs were part and
parcel of the original 57 conversion bills filed in the 11th Congress, 33
of those became laws before the adjournment of that Congress. The
then bills of the challenged cityhood laws were not acted upon due,
inter alia, to the impeachment of then President Estrada, the related
jueteng scandal investigations conducted before, and the EDSA events
that followed the aborted impeachment.
While the equal protection guarantee frowns upon the creation of a
privileged class without justification, inherent in the equality clause is
the exhortation for the Legislature to pass laws promoting equality or
reducing existing inequalities. The enactment of the cityhood laws was
in a real sense an attempt on the part of Congress to address the
inequity dealt the respondent LGUs. These laws positively promoted
the equality and eliminated the inequality, doubtless unintended,
between respondent municipalities and the thirty-three (33) other
municipalities whose cityhood bills were enacted during the 11th
Congress. Respondent municipalities and the 33 other municipalities,
which had already been elevated to city status, were all found to be
qualified under the old Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991 during the 11th
Congress. As such, both respondent LGUs and the 33 other former
municipalities are under like circumstances and conditions. There is,
thus, no rhyme or reason why an exemption from the PhP 100 million
requirement cannot be given to respondent LGUs. Indeed, to deny
respondent LGUs/municipalities the same rights and privileges
accorded to the 33 other municipalities when, at the outset they were
similarly situated, is tantamount to denying the former the protective
mantle of the equal protection clause. In effect, petitioners and
petitioners-in-intervention are creating an absurd situation in which an
alleged violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution is
remedied by another violation of the same clause. The irony is not lost
to the Court.
Then too the non-retroactive effect of RA 9009 is not limited in
application only to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. It is
intended to apply for all time, as long as the contemplated conditions
obtain. To be more precise, the legislative intent underlying the
enactment of RA 9009 to exclude would-be-cities from the PhP 100
million criterion would hold sway, as long as the corresponding
cityhood bill has been filed before the effectivity of RA 9009 and the
concerned municipality qualifies for conversion into a city under the
original version of Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991.
12 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
Viewed in its proper light, the common exemption clause in the
cityhood laws is an application of the non-retroactive effect of RA 9009
on the cityhood bills. It is not a declaration of certain rights, but a mere
declaration of prior qualification and/or compliance with the non-
retroactive effect of RA 9009.
Lastly and in connection with the third requisite, the uniform exemption
clause would apply to municipalities that had pending cityhood bills
before the passage of RA 9009 and were compliant with then Sec. 450
of the LGC of 1991, which prescribed an income requirement of PhP
20 million. It is hard to imagine, however, if there are still municipalities
out there belonging in context to the same class as the sixteen (16)
respondent LGUs. Municipalities that cannot claim to belong to the
same class as the 16 cannot seek refuge in the cityhood laws. The
former have to comply with the PhP 100 million income requirement
imposed by RA 9009.
A final consideration. The existence of the cities consequent to the
approval of the creating, but challenged, cityhood laws in the
plebiscites held in the affected LGUs is now an operative fact. New
cities appear to have been organized and are functioning accordingly,
with new sets of officials and employees. Other resulting events need
not be enumerated. The operative fact doctrine provides another
reason for upholding the constitutionality of the cityhood laws in
question.
In view of the foregoing discussion, the Court ought to abandon as it
hereby abandons and sets aside the Decision of November 18, 2008
subject of reconsideration. And by way of summing up the main
arguments in support of this disposition, the Court hereby declares the
following:
(1) Congress did not intend the increased income
requirement in RA 9009 to apply to the cityhood bills which
became the cityhood laws in question. In other words,
Congress intended the subject cityhood laws to be exempted
from the income requirement of PhP 100 million prescribed
by RA 9009;
(2) The cityhood laws merely carry out the intent of RA 9009,
now Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991, to exempt respondent
LGUs from the PhP 100 million income requirement;
(3) The deliberations of the 11th or 12th Congress on
unapproved bills or resolutions are extrinsic aids in
interpreting a law passed in the 13th Congress. It is really
immaterial if Congress is not a continuing body. The
hearings and deliberations during the 11th and 12th
Congress may still be used as extrinsic reference inasmuch
as the same cityhood bills which were filed before the
passage of RA 9009 were being considered during the 13th
Congress. Courts may fall back on the history of a law, as
here, as extrinsic aid of statutory construction if the literal
application of the law results in absurdity or injustice.
(4) The exemption accorded the 16 municipalities is based
on the fact that each had pending cityhood bills long before
the enactment of RA 9009 that substantially distinguish them
from other municipalities aiming for cityhood. On top of this,
each of the 16 also met the PhP 20 million income level
exacted under the original Sec. 450 of the 1991 LGC.
And to stress the obvious, the cityhood laws are presumed
constitutional. As we see it, petitioners have not overturned the
presumptive constitutionality of the laws in question.
WHEREFORE, respondent LGUs Motion for Reconsideration dated
June 2, 2009, their "Motion to Amend the Resolution of April 28, 2009
by Declaring Instead that Respondents Motion for Reconsideration of
the Resolution of March 31, 2009 and Motion for Leave to File and to
Admit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision
Dated November 18, 2008 Remain Unresolved and to Conduct
Further Proceedings," dated May 14, 2009, and their second Motion for
Reconsideration of the Decision dated November 18, 2008
are GRANTED. The June 2, 2009, the March 31, 2009, and April 31,
2009 Resolutions are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The entry of
judgment made on May 21, 2009 must accordingly be RECALLED.
The instant consolidated petitions and petitions-in-intervention
are DISMISSED. The cityhood laws, namely Republic Act Nos. 9389,
9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409,
9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491 are
declared VALID and CONSTITUTIONAL.
SO ORDERED.
________________________________________________________
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951 : August 24, 2010
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYBAY,
PROVINCE OF LEYTE; MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO, PROVINCE OF
CEBU; MUNICIPALITY OF CATBALOGAN, PROVINCE OF ESTERN
SAMAR; MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG, PROVINCE OF SURIGAO
DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN, PROVINCE OF
EASTERN SAMAR; and MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS, PROVINCE
OF QUEZON, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.

G.R. No. 177499 : August 24, 2010
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
v. 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.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.

13 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
G.R. No. 178056 : August 24, 2010
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by
LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO
represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY
P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF
CABADBARAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE;
MUNICIPALITY OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; and
MUNICIPALITY OF EL SALVADOR, MISAMIS
ORIENTAL, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF
LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF
SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF
GENERAL SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG,
CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS,
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF
TANGUB, CITY OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF
VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF
BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF
TAGUM, Petitioners-In-Intervention.
R E S O L U T I O N
CARPIO, J .:
For resolution are (1) the ad cautelam motion for reconsideration
and (2) motion to annul the Decision of 21 December 2009 filed by
petitioners League of Cities of the Philippines, et al. and (3) the ad
cautelam motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners-in-intervention
Batangas City, Santiago City, Legazpi City, Iriga City, Cadiz City, and
Oroquieta City.
On 18 November 2008, the Supreme Court En Banc, by a majority
vote, struck down the subject 16 Cityhood Laws for violating Section
10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution and the equal protection
clause. On 31 March 2009, the Supreme Court En Banc, again by a
majority vote, denied the respondents' first motion for
reconsideration. On 28 April 2009, the Supreme Court En Banc, by
a split vote, denied the respondents' second motion for
reconsideration. Accordingly, the 18 November 2008 Decision became
final and executory and was recorded, in due course, in the Book of
Entries of Judgments on 21 May 2009.
However, after the finality of the 18 November 2008 Decision and
without any exceptional and compelling reason, the Court En
Bancunprecedentedly reversed the 18 November 2008 Decision by
upholding the constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws in the Decision of
21 December 2009.
Upon reexamination, the Court finds the motions for reconsideration
meritorious and accordingly reinstates the 18 November 2008 Decision
declaring the 16 Cityhood Laws unconstitutional.
A. Violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitutionprovides:
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.
1
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.
The clear intent of the Constitution is to insure that the creation of cities
and other political units must follow the same uniform, non-
discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code. Any
derogation or deviation from the criteria prescribed in the Local
Government Code violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
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 theLocal 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 Government Code and not in
any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.
RA 9009 is not a law different from the Local Government
Code. Section 1 of RA 9009 pertinently provides: "Section 450 of
Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government
Code of 1991, is hereby amended to read as follows: x x x." RA 9009
amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code. RA 9009, by
amending Section 450 of the Local Government Code, embodies the
new and prevailing Section 450 of the Local Government Code.
Considering the Legislature's primary intent to curtail "the mad rush of
municipalities wanting to be converted into cities," RA 9009 increased
the income requirement for the creation of cities. To repeat, RA 9009
is not a law different from the Local Government Code, as it expressly
amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code.
The language of RA 9009 is plain, simple, and clear. Nothing is
unintelligible or ambiguous; not a single word or phrase admits of two
or more meanings. RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local
Government Code of 1991 by increasing the income requirement for
the creation of cities. There are no exemptions from this income
requirement. Since the law is clear, plain and unambiguous that any
municipality desiring to convert into a city must meet the increased
income requirement, there is no reason to go beyond the letter of the
law. Moreover, where the law does not make an exemption, the Court
should not create one.
2

B. Operative Fact Doctrine
Under the operative fact doctrine, the law is recognized as
unconstitutional but the effects of the unconstitutional law, prior to its
declaration of nullity, may be left undisturbed as a matter of equity and
fair play. In fact, the invocation of the operative fact doctrine is an
admission that the law is unconstitutional.
However, the minority's novel theory, invoking the operative fact
doctrine, is that the enactment of the Cityhood Laws and the
functioning of the 16 municipalities as new cities with new sets of
officials and employees operate to contitutionalize the unconstitutional
Cityhood Laws. This novel theory misapplies the operative fact
doctrine and sets a gravely dangerous precedent.
Under the minority's novel theory, an unconstitutional law, if already
implemented prior to its declaration of unconstitutionality by the Court,
can no longer be revoked and its implementation must be continued
despite being unconstitutional. This view will open the floodgates to
the wanton enactment of unconstitutional laws and a mad rush for their
14 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
immediate implementation before the Court can declare them
unconstitutional. This view is an open invitation to serially violate the
Constitution, and be quick about it, lest the violation be stopped by the
Court.
The operative fact doctrine is a rule of equity. As such, it must be
applied as an exception to the general rule that an unconstitutional law
produces no effects. It can never be invoked to validate as
constitutional an unconstitutional act. In Planters Products, Inc. v.
Fertiphil Corporation,
3
the Court stated:
The general rule is that an unconstitutional law is void. It produces no
rights, imposes no duties and affords no protection. It has no legal
effect. It is, in legal contemplation, inoperative as if it has not been
passed. Being void, Fertiphil is not required to pay the levy. All levies
paid should be refunded in accordance with the general civil code
principle against unjust enrichment. The general rule is supported by
Article 7 of the Civil Code, which provides:
ART. 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their
violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse or custom
or practice to the contrary.
When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution,
the former shall be void and the latter shall govern.
The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only
applies as a matter of equity and fair play. It nullifies the effects of an
unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior
to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may
have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot
always be erased by a new judicial declaration.
The doctrine is applicable when a declaration of unconstitutionality will
impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law.
Thus, it was applied to a criminal case when a declaration of
unconstitutionality would put the accused in double jeopardy or would
put in limbo the acts done by a municipality in reliance upon a law
creating it. (Emphasis supplied)
The operative fact doctrine never validates or constitutionalizes an
unconstitutional law. Under the operative fact doctrine, the
unconstitutional law remains unconstitutional, but the effects of the
unconstitutional law, prior to its judicial declaration of nullity, may be
left undisturbed as a matter of equity and fair play. In short, the
operative fact doctrine affects or modifies only the effects of the
unconstitutional law, not the unconstitutional law itself.
Thus, applying the operative fact doctrine to the present case, the
Cityhood Laws remain unconstitutional because they violate Section
10, Article X of the Constitution. However, the effects of the
implementation of the Cityhood Laws prior to the declaration of their
nullity, such as the payment of salaries and supplies by the "new cities"
or their issuance of licenses or execution of contracts, may be
recognized as valid and effective. This does not mean that the
Cityhood Laws are valid for they remain void. Only the effects of the
implementation of these unconstitutional laws are left undisturbed as a
matter of equity and fair play to innocent people who may have relied
on the presumed validity of the Cityhood Laws prior to the Court's
declaration of their unconstitutionality.
C. Equal Protection Clause
As the Court held in the 18 November 2008 Decision, there is no
substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood
bills in the 11
th
Congress and municipalities that did not have pending
bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11
th
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 11
th
Congress does not affect or determine the level of income of a
municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the
11
th
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
11
th
Congress is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which
is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting into
cities.
Moreover, the fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11
th
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. In fact, the minority concedes
that "the conditions (pendency of the cityhood bills) adverted to can no
longer be repeated."
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 11
th
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.
D. Tie-Vote on a Motion for Reconsideration
Section 7, Rule 56 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Procedure if opinion is equally divided. - Where the court en
banc is equally divided in opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be
had, the case shall again be deliberated on, and if after such
deliberation no decision is reached, the original action commenced in
the court shall be dismissed; in appealed cases, the judgment or order
appealed from shall stand affirmed; and on all incidental matters, the
petition or motion shall be denied. (Emphasis supplied)
The En Banc Resolution of 26 January 1999 in A.M. No. 99-1-09-SC,
reads:
A MOTION FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF A D E C I S I O N OR
RESOLUTION OF THE COURT EN BANC OR OF A DIVISION MAY
BE GRANTED UPON A VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS
OF THE EN BANC OR OF A DIVISION, AS THE CASE MAY BE,
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART IN THE DELIBERATION OF THE
MOTION.
IF THE VOTING RESULTS IN A TIE, THE MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION IS DEEMED DENIED. (Emphasis supplied)
The clear and simple language of the clarificatory en banc Resolution
requires no further explanation. If the voting of the Court en
bancresults in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is deemed denied.
The Court's prior majority action on the main decision stands
affirmed.
4
This clarificatory Resolution applies to all cases heard by
the Court en banc , which includes not only cases involving the
constitutionality of a law, but also, as expressly stated in Section 4(2),
Article VIII of the Constitution, "all other cases which under the Rules
of Court are required to be heard en banc."
The 6-6 tie-vote by the Court en banc on the second motion for
reconsideration necessarily resulted in the denial of the second motion
for reconsideration. Since the Court was evenly divided, there could be
no reversal of the 18 November 2008 Decision, for a tie-vote cannot
result in any court order or directive.
5
The judgment stands in full
force.
6
Undeniably, the 6-6 tie-vote did not overrule the prior
majority en banc Decision of 18 November 2008, as well as the prior
majority en banc Resolution of 31 March 2009 denying
reconsideration. The tie-vote on the second motion for
15 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
reconsideration is not the same as a tie-vote on the main decision
where there is no prior decision. Here, the tie-vote plainly signifies that
there is no majority to overturn the prior 18 November 2008 Decision
and 31 March 2009 Resolution, and thus the second motion for
reconsideration must be denied.
Further, the tie-vote on the second motion for reconsideration did not
mean that the present cases were left undecided because there
remain the Decision of 18 November 2008 and the Resolution of 31
March 2009 where a majority of the Court en banc concurred in
declaring the unconstitutionality of the sixteen Cityhood Laws. In short,
the 18 November 2008 Decision and the 31 March 2009 Resolution,
which were both reached with the concurrence of a majority of the
Court en banc, are not reconsidered but stand affirmed.
7
These prior
majority actions of the Court en banc can only be overruled by a new
majority vote, not a tie-vote because a tie-vote cannot overrule a prior
affirmative action.
The denial, by a split vote, of the second motion for
reconsideration inevitably rendered the 18 November 2008 Decision
final. In fact, in its Resolution of 28 April 2009, denying the second
motion for reconsideration, the Court en banc reiterated that no further
pleadings shall be entertained and stated that entry of judgment be
made in due course.
The dissenting opinion stated that "a deadlocked vote of six is not a
majority and a non-majority does not constitute a rule with precedential
value."
8

Indeed, a tie-vote is a non-majority - a non-majority which cannot
overrule a prior affirmative action, that is the 18 November 2008
Decision striking down the Cityhood Laws. In short, the 18 November
2008 Decision stands affirmed. And assuming a non-majority lacks any
precedential value, the 18 November 2008 Decision, which was
unreversed as a result of the tie-vote on the respondents' second
motion for reconsideration, nevertheless remains binding on the
parties.
9

Conclusion
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.
Adhering to the explicit prohibition in Section 10, Article X of the
Constitution does not cripple Congress' power to make laws. In fact,
Congress is not prohibited from amending the Local Government Code
itself, as what Congress did by enacting RA 9009. Indisputably, the
act of amending laws comprises an integral part of the Legislature's
law-making power. The unconstitutionality of the Cityhood Laws lies in
the fact that Congress provided an exemption contrary to the express
language of the Constitution that "[n]o x x x city x x x shall be created
except in accordance with the criteria established in the local
government code."In other words, Congress exceeded and abused its
law-making power, rendering the challenged Cityhood Laws void for
being violative of the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the motions for reconsideration of the 21
December 2009 Decision and REINSTATE the 18 November 2008
Decision declaring UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Cityhood Laws, namely:
Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404,
9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491.
We NOTE petitioners' motion to annul the Decision of 21 December
2009.
SO ORDERED.
________________________________________________________
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951 February 15, 2011
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by
LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog,
represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P.
Treas, 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.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 177499
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by
LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog,
represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P.
Treas, 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.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178056
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by
LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog,
represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P.
Treas, 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.
R E S O L U T I O N
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"].
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.
16 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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. Treas, 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.
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.
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-intervention 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 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:
x x x x
(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, 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
17 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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 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 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.]
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 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.]
18 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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 provinces 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.]
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 cabeceras 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 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 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=p080
115.htm&no.=9&date, accessed on September 19, 2008)
Naga [Cebu]: Historical BackgroundIn 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 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
19 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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 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
unitsincome, 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.
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 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 7
13
of the
LGC. It was imposed 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--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 list
14
below
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
20 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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
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 development 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 States 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 feared reduction proved to
be false when, after the implementation of the Cityhood Laws, their
respective shares increased, not decreased. Consider the
table
15
below
1avvphi1
CITY
CY 2006 IRA
(Before Implementation of Sixteen [16] Cityhood
Laws)
CY 2008 IRA
(Actual Release After Implementation of Sixteen [16] Cityhood
Laws)
21 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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 Carlos 239,524,249.00 260,515,711.00
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
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.
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 financial
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.
22 | L e g a l R e s e a r c h ( L e a g u e o f C i t i e s v s . C O M E L E C )
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 knowexpand 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

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 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 days 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 hours 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:
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 LawsRepublic Acts Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392,
9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436,
and 9491are declared CONSTITUTIONAL.
SO ORDERED.