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LOCGOV 008

Lidasan vs COMELEC (1967)

Sanchez, J.

FACTS:

The Chief Executive signed into law House Bill 1247, known as RA 4790, Sec1 of which provides:
Sec. 1. Barrios Togaig, Madalum, Bayanga, Langkong, Sarakan, Kat-bo, Digakapan,
Magabo, Tabangao, Tiongko, Colodan, Kabamakawan, Kapatagan, Bongabong, Aipang,
Dagowan, Bakikis, Bungabung, Losain, Matimos and Magolatung, (21 in total) in the
Municipalities of Butig and Balabagan, Province of Lanao del Sur, are separated from
said municipalities and constituted into a distinct and independent municipality of the
same province to be known as the Municipality of Dianaton, Province of Lanao del Sur.
The seat of government of the municipality shall be in Togaig.
Apparently, 12 of the said barrios are part of Municipalities in Cotabato and not of Lanao del Sur.
Prompted by the coming elections, COMELEC adopted a resolution implementing RA 4790 for
purposes of establishment of precints, registration of voters and for other election purposes.
o In effect, 12 barrios in the province of Cotabato are transferred to the province of Lanao
del Sur; thus, changing the boundaries in thee 2 provinces.
The office of the President, through the Assistant Executive Secretary, recommended to
COMELEC that the operation of the statute be suspended until clarified by correcting legislation.
o COMELEC, however, issued another resolution declaring that the statute should be
implemented unless declared unconstitutional by the SC.
Bara Lidasan, a resident and taxpayer of a detached portion of Cotabato and a qualified voter,
filed the original action for certiorari and prohibition praying that RA 4790 be declared
unconstitutional; and that the COMELEC resolutions be nullified.

Petitioners Argument:

Constitutional requirement violated: that no bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace
more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill.
o 2 subjects allegedly effected by RA 4790: Creation of the Municipality of Dianaton and
the separation of several barrios from Cotabato.
o The title of the bill An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton, in the Province of
Lanao del Sur provides no implication of the effect of the law to the Province of
Cotabato.

Respondents Argument:

That the change in the two boundaries of the 2 provinces resulting in the substantial diminution
of territorial limits of Cotabato province is merely the incidental results of the definition of the
boundary of the Municipality of Dianaton and that therefore, reference to the fact that portions
of Cotabato are taken away need not be expressed in the title of the law.
That in case RA 4790 is found erroneous, the law may still be salvaged with reference to the 9
barrios in the municipalities of Lanao del Sur that the nullification shall take effect merely on
the 12 portions taken away from Cotabato because the title of the law will anyway cover the 9
barrios actually in the province of Lanao del Sur.

ISSUES:

1. Is RA 4790 unconstitutional?
2. Can the law be salvaged as to the 9 barrios actually in the province of Lanao del Sur?
RULING:

1. YES, RA 4790 is unconstitutional.


Compliance with the requirement [Art VI, Sec 21 (1), 1987 Consitution] that the title of the bill is
to be couched in a language sufficient to notify the legislators and the public and those
concerned of the import of the single subject there of, is imperative. The constitution does not
exact of the Congress to read the entire text of the bill, thus, the title must be stated in such a
way as to sufficiently express the subject of the statute.
o It does not require that the Congress employ such precision as to mirror even the
minute details of the bill. It suffices if the title informs the legislators and persons
interested of the nature, scope and consequences of the proposed law and its
operation. The test of sufficiency is whether or not the title is misleading.
In this case, not a slightest intimation is there that communities in the adjacent province of
Cotabato are incorporated in the new town in Lanao del Sur. It is not acceptable to say that the
dismembering of the 12 barrios is a necessary incident of the creation of a new town that it may
be reasonable inferred from the title of the law. Change of boundaries may be made without
necessarily creating a new municipality and vice versa.
o Hume vs. Village of Fruitport: Very similar case, the title of the act is An act to
Incorporate the Village of Fruitport, in the County of Muskegon. It creates the
impression that the law affects only the County of Muskegon when Sec 1 of the law
included territories of both Muskegon and Ottawa Michigan. The law was declared void.
2. NO, the law is null and void in its entirety.
We are not to assume that the Congress would still have intended to create a new town with
only the 9 barrios, excluding the 12 as stated in the bill.
Municipal Corporations perform twin functions:
o They serve as an instrumentality of the State in carrying out the functions of gvernment
o They act as an agency of the community in the administration of local affairs It is in
this character that they are a separate entity acting in their own purposes and not a
subdivision of the State. Thus, several factors (population, territory and income) come
to the fore in the consideration whether a group is capable of maintaining itself as an
independent municipality.
The bill, having in view the 21 barrios, stated that the territory has become a progressive
community; that the average population is large; and that the collective income is sufficient to
maintain an independent municipality. Thus, it cannot be said that the Congress intended to
create Dianaton with only 9 barrios instead of the 21.

Digested by: Kaye de Chavez