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Supreme Court of the Philippines


373 Phil. 386 This is a petition for a writ of
prohibition with prayer for
EN BANC preliminary injunction assailing the
constitutionality of Republic Act No.
G.R. No. 133064, September 8528 converting the city of Santiago,
16, 1999 Isabela from an independent
component city to a component city.
DIRIGE, MANUEL H. AFIADO, On May 5, 1994, Republic Act No.
MARIANO V. BABARAN AND 7720 which converted the
municipality of Santiago, Isabela into
ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, IN HIS an independent component city was
CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE signed into law. On July 4, 1994, the
SECRETARY; HON. EPIMACO people of Santiago ratified R.A. No.
VELASCO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS 7720 in a plebiscite.[1]
GOVERNMENT, HON. On February 14, 1998, Republic Act
SALVADOR ENRIQUEZ, IN HIS No. 8528 was enacted. It amended
CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF R.A. No. 7720. Among others, it
changed the status of Santiago from
ELECTIONS HON. BENJAMIN G. an independent component city to a
DY, IN HIS CAPACITY AS component city, viz:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and
House of Representatives of the positions and any elective provincial
Philippines in Congress assembled: office.’
“Sec. 3. Repealing Clause.- All existing
“SECTION 1. Section 2 of Republic
laws or parts thereof inconsistent
Act No. 7720 is hereby amended by
with the provisions of this Act are
deleting the words “an independent”
hereby repealed or modified
thereon so that said Section will read
as follows:
‘SEC. 2. The City of Santiago. – The “Sec. 4. Effectivity.- This Act shall
Municipality of Santiago shall be take effect upon its approval.
converted into a component city to
be known as the City of Santiago, “Approved.”
hereinafter referred to as the City,
Petitioners assail the constitutionality
which shall comprise of the present
of R.A. No. 8528.[2] They alleged as
territory of the Municipality of
ground the lack of provision in R.A.
Santiago, Isabela. The territorial
No. 8528 submitting the law for
jurisdiction of the City shall be
ratification by the people of Santiago
within the present metes and bounds
City in a proper plebiscite. Petitioner
of the Municipality of Santiago.’
Miranda was the mayor of Santiago
“Sec. 2. Section 51 of Republic Act at the time of the filing of the
No. 7720 is hereby amended deleting petition at bar. Petitioner Afiado is
the entire section and in its stead the President of the Liga ng mga
substitute the following: Barangay ng Santiago City. Petitioners
Dirige, Cabuyadao and Babaran are
‘SEC. 51. Election of Provincial
residents of Santiago City.
Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang
Panlalawigan Members, and any Elective
In their Comment, respondent
Provincial Position for the Province of
provincial officials of Isabela
Isabela.- The voters of the City of
defended the constitutionality of
Santiago shall be qualified to vote in
R.A. No. 8528. They assailed the
the elections of the Provincial
standing of petitioners to file the
Governor, Vice-Governor,
petition at bar. They also contend
Sangguniang Panlalawigan members
that the petition raises a political
and other elective provincial
question over which this Court lacks
positions of the Province of Isabela,
and any such qualified voter can be a
candidate for such provincial
Another Comment was filed by the
Solicitor General for the respondent
public officials. The Solicitor We find merit in the petition.
General also contends that
petitioners are not real parties in First. The challenge to the locus standi
interest. More importantly, it is of petitioners cannot succeed. It is
contended that R.A. No. 8528 now an ancient rule that the
merely reclassified Santiago City from constitutionality of law can be
an independent component city to a challenged by one who will sustain a
component city. It allegedly did not direct injury as a result of its
involve any “creation, division, enforcement.[5] Petitioner Miranda
merger, abolition, or substantial was the mayor of Santiago City when
alteration of boundaries of local he filed the present petition in his
government units,” hence, a own right as mayor and not on
plebiscite of the people of Santiago behalf of the city, hence, he did not
is unnecessary. need the consent of the city council
of Santiago City. It is also
A third Comment similar in tone was indubitable that the change of status
submitted by intervenor Giorgidi B. of the city of Santiago from
Aggabao,[3] a member of the independent component city to a
provincial board of Isabela.[4] He mere component city will affect his
contended that both the powers as mayor, as will be shown
Constitution and the Local hereafter. The injury that he would
Government Code of 1991 do not sustain from the enforcement of
require a plebiscite “to approve a law R.A. No. 8528 is direct and
that merely allowed qualified voters immediate and not a mere
of a city to vote in provincial generalized grievance shared with
elections. The rules implementing the people of Santiago City.
the Local Government Code cannot Similarly, the standing of the other
require a plebiscite. He also urged petitioners rests on a firm
that petitioners lacked locus standi. foundation. They are residents and
voters in the city of Santiago. They
Petitioners filed a Reply to meet the have the right to be heard in the
arguments of the respondents and conversion of their city thru a
the intervenor. They defended their plebiscite to be conducted by the
standing. They also stressed the COMELEC. The denial of this right
changes that would visit the city of in R.A. No. 8528 gives them proper
Santiago as a result of its standing to strike the law as
reclassification. unconstitutional.
issues dependent upon the wisdom,
Second. The plea that this court back not legality, of a particular measure.”
off from assuming jurisdiction over
In Casibang v. Aquino,[7] we defined a
the petition at bar on the ground
justiciable issue as follows:
that it involves a political question
has to be brushed aside. This plea “A purely justiciable issue implies a
has long lost its appeal especially in given right, legally demandable and
light of Section 1 of Article VIII of enforceable, an act or omission
the 1987 Constitution which defines violative of such right, and a remedy
judicial power as including “the duty granted and sanctioned by law, for
of the courts of justice to settle said breach of right.”
actual controversies involving rights Clearly, the petition at bar presents a
which are legally demandable and justiciable issue. Petitioners claim
enforceable, and to determine that under Section 10, Article X of
whether or not there has been a the 1987 Constitution they have a
grave abuse of discretion amounting right to approve or disapprove R.A.
to lack or excess of jurisdiction on No. 8528 in a plebiscite before it can
the part of any branch or be enforced. It ought to be self-
instrumentality of the government.” evident that whether or not
To be sure, the cut between a petitioners have the said right is a
political and justiciable issue has legal not a political question. For
been made by this Court in many whether or not laws passed by
cases and need no longer mystify us. Congress comply with the
In Tañada v. Cuenco,[6] we held: requirements of the Constitution
“x x x pose questions that this Court alone
can decide. The proposition that this
“The term ‘political question’ Court is the ultimate arbiter of the
connotes what it means in ordinary meaning and nuances of the
parlance, namely, a question of Constitution need not be the subject
policy. It refers ‘to those questions of a prolix explanation.
which under the Constitution are to
be decided by the people in their Third. The threshold issue is whether
sovereign capacity; or in regard to R.A. No. 8528 is unconstitutional for
which full discretionary authority has its failure to provide that the
been delegated to the legislative or conversion of the city of Santiago
executive branch of the from an independent component
government.’ It is concerned with city to a component city should be
submitted to its people in a proper power must be in accord with the
plebiscite. We hold that the mandate of the Constitution. In the
Constitution requires a plebiscite. case at bar, the issue is whether the
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 downgrading of Santiago City from
Constitution provides: an independent component city to a
mere component city requires the
“No province, city, municipality, or
approval of the people of Santiago
barangay may be created, or divided,
City in a plebiscite. The resolution of
merged, abolished, or its boundary
the issue depends on whether or not
substantially altered except in
the downgrading falls within the
accordance with the criteria
meaning of creation, division,
established in the local government
merger, abolition or substantial
code and subject to approval by a
alteration of boundaries of
majority of the votes cast in a
municipalities per Section 10, Article
plebiscite in the political units
X of the Constitution. A close
directly affected.”
analysis of the said constitutional
This constitutional requirement is provision will reveal that the
reiterated in Section 10, Chapter 2 of creation, division, merger, abolition
the Local Government Code (R.A. or substantial alteration of
No. 7160), thus: boundaries of local government
“Sec. 10. No province, city, units involve a common denominator - -
municipality, or barangay may be - material change in the political and
created, divided, merged, abolished, economic rights of the local
or its boundary substantially altered government units directly affected as
except in accordance with the criteria well as the people therein. It is
established in the local government precisely for this reason that the
code and subject to approval by a Constitution requires the approval of
majority of the votes cast in a the people “in the political units
plebiscite in the political units directly affected.” It is not difficult to
directly affected.” appreciate the rationale of this
constitutional requirement. The 1987
The power to create, divide, merge, Constitution, more than any of our
abolish or substantially alter previous Constitutions, gave more
boundaries of local government reality to the sovereignty of our
units belongs to Congress.[8] This power people for it was borne out of the
is part of the larger power to enact people power in the 1986 EDSA
laws which the Constitution vested revolution. Its Section 10, Article X
in Congress.[9] The exercise of the addressed the undesirable practice in
the past whereby local government city will now have to be shared with
units were created, abolished, the province. Petitioners pointed out
merged or divided on the basis of these far reaching changes on the life
the vagaries of politics and not of of the people of the city of Santiago,
the welfare of the people. Thus, the viz:[10]
consent of the people of the local
“Although RESPONDENTS would
government unit directly affected
like to make it appear that R.A. No.
was required to serve as a checking
8528 had “merely re-classified” Santiago
mechanism to any exercise of
City from an independent
legislative power creating, dividing,
component city into a component
abolishing, merging or altering the
city, the effect when challenged (sic)
boundaries of local government
the Act were operational would be,
units. It is one instance where the
actually, that of conversion.
people in their sovereign capacity
Consequently, there would be
decide on a matter that affects them
substantial changes in the political
- - - direct democracy of the people
culture and administrative
as opposed to democracy thru
responsibilities of Santiago City, and
people’s representatives. This
the Province of Isabela. Santiago
plebiscite requirement is also in
City from an independent
accord with the philosophy of the
component city will revert to the
Constitution granting more
Province of Isabela, geographically,
autonomy to local government units.
politically and administratively. Thus,
the territorial land area of Santiago
The changes that will result from the
City will be added to the land area
downgrading of the city of Santiago
comprising the province of Isabela.
from an independent component
This will be to the benefit or
city to a component city are many
advantage of the Provincial
and cannot be characterized as
Government of Isabela on account
insubstantial. For one, the
of the subsequent increase of its
independence of the city as a
share from the internal revenue
political unit will be diminished. The
allotment (IRA) from the National
city mayor will be placed under the
Government (Section 285, R.A. No.
administrative supervision of the
7160 or the Local Government Code
provincial governor. The resolutions
of 1991). The IRA is based on land
and ordinances of the city council of
area and population of local
Santiago will have to be reviewed by
government units, provinces
the Provincial Board of Isabela.
Taxes that will be collected by the
component city and municipality
“The nature or kinds, and magnitude within the territorial jurisdiction of
of the taxes collected by the City the province acts within the scope of
Government, and which taxes shall its prescribed powers and functions
accrue solely to the City (Section 29 and 465 (b) (2) (i), R.A.
Government, will be redefined No. 7160), and to review (Section
(Section 151, R.A. No. 7160), and 30, R.A. No. 7160) all executive
may be shared with the province orders submitted by the former
such as taxes on sand, gravel and (Section 455 (b) (1) (xii), R.A. No.
other quarry resources (Section 138, 7160) and (R)eportorial requirements
R.A. No. 7160), professional taxes with respect to the local governance
(Section 139, R.A. No. 7160), or and state of affairs of the city
amusement taxes (Section 140, R.A. (Section 455 (b) (1) (xx), R.A. No.
No. 7160). The Provincial 7160). Elective city officials will also
Government will allocate operating be effectively under the control of
funds for the City. Inarguably, there the Provincial Governor (Section 63,
would be a (sic) diminished funds R.A. No. 7160). Such will be the
for the local operations of the City great change in the state of the
Government because of reduced political autonomy of what is now
shares of the IRA in accordance with Santiago City where by virtue of
the schedule set forth by Section 285 R.A. No. 7720, it is the Office of the
of the R.A. No. 7160. The City President which has supervisory
Government’s share in the proceeds authority over it as an independent
in the development and utilization of component city (Section 25, R.A.
national wealth shall be diluted since No. 7160; Section 4 (ARTICLE X),
certain portions shall accrue to the 1987 Constitution).
Provincial Government (Section 292,
R.A. No.7160). “The resolutions and ordinances
adopted and approved by the
“The registered voters of Santiago Sangguniang Panlungsod will be
City will vote for and can be voted as subject to the review of the
provincial officials (Section 451 and Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Sections
452 [c], R.A. No. 7160). 56, 468 (a) (1) (i), 468 (a) (2) (vii),
and 469 (c) (4), R.A. No. 7160).
“The City Mayor will now be under Likewise, the decisions in
the administrative supervision of the administrative cases by the former
Provincial Governor who is tasked could be appealed and acted upon by
by law to ensure that every
the latter (Section 67, R.A. No.
7160).” “x x x.”
It is markworthy that when R.A. No.
The rules cover all conversions,
7720 upgraded the status of Santiago
whether upward or downward in
City from a municipality to an
character, so long as they result in a
independent component city, it
material change in the local
required the approval of its people
government unit directly affected,
thru a plebiscite called for the
especially a change in the political
purpose. There is neither rhyme nor
and economic rights of its people.
reason why this plebiscite should not
be called to determine the will of the
A word on the dissenting opinions
people of Santiago City when R.A.
of our esteemed brethren. Mr.
No. 8528 downgrades the status of
Justice Buena justifies R.A. No. 8528
their city. Indeed, there is more
on the ground that Congress has the
reason to consult the people when a
power to amend the charter of
law substantially diminishes their
Santiago City. This power of
right. Rule II, Article 6, paragraph (f)
amendment, however, is limited by
(1) of the Implementing Rules and
Section 10, Article X of the
Regulations of the Local
Constitution. Quite clearly, when an
Government Code is in accord with
amendment of a law involves the
the Constitution when it provides
creation, merger, division, abolition
or substantial alteration of
boundaries of local government
“(f) Plebiscite - (1) no creation,
units, a plebiscite in the political
conversion, division, merger, abolition,
units directly affected is mandatory.
or substantial alteration of
He also contends that the
boundaries of LGUS shall take effect
amendment merely caused a transition
unless approved by a majority of the
in the status of Santiago as a city.
votes cast in a plebiscite called for
Allegedly, it is a transition because
the purpose in the LGU or LGUs
no new city was created nor was a
affected. The plebiscite shall be
former city dissolved by R.A. No.
conducted by the Commission on
8528. As discussed above, the spirit
Elections (COMELEC) within one
of Section 10, Article X of the
hundred twenty (120) days from the
Constitution calls for the people of
effectivity of the law or ordinance
the local government unit directly
prescribing such action, unless said
affected to vote in a plebiscite
law or ordinance fixes another date.
whenever there is a material change
in their rights and responsibilities. criteria fixed by the Local
They may call the downgrading of Government Code on income,
Santiago to a component city as a population and land area and second,
mere transition but they cannot blink the law must be approved by the
away from the fact that the transition people "by a majority of the votes
will radically change its physical and cast in a plebiscite in the political
political configuration as well as the units directly affected."
rights and responsibilities of its
people. In accord with the Constitution,
sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Local
On the other hand, our esteemed Government Code fixed the said
colleague, Mr. Justice Mendoza, criteria and they involve
posits the theory that "only if the requirements on income, population
classification involves changes in and land area. These requirements,
income, population, and land area of however, are imposed to help assure the
the local government unit is there a economic viability of the local government
need for such changes to be approved by the unit concerned. They were not imposed to
people x x x." determine the necessity for a plebiscite of the
people. Indeed, the Local
With due respect, such an Government Code does not state
interpretation runs against the letter that there will be no more plebiscite
and spirit of section 10, Article X of after its requirements on income,
the 1987 Constitution which, to population and land area have been
repeat, states: "No province, city, satisfied. On the contrary, section
municipality, or barangay may be 10, Chapter 2 of the Code provides:
created, divided, merged, abolished, "No creation, division, merger,
or its boundary substantially altered abolition, or substantial alteration of
except in accordance with the criteria boundaries of local government
established in the Local Government units shall take effect unless approved
Code and subject to approval by a by a majority of the votes casts in a
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose in
plebiscite in the political units the political unit or units directly
directly affected." It is clear that the affected. Said plebiscite shall be
Constitution imposes two conditions conducted by the COMELEC within
- - - first, the creation, division, one hundred twenty (120) days from
merger, abolition or substantial the date of the effectivity of the law
alteration of boundary of a local or ordinance effecting such action,
government unit must meet the unless said law or ordinance fixes
another date."[11] Senator Aquilino the inhabitants of the locality
Pimentel, the principal author of the Local concerned. xxx By giving the
Government Code of 1991, opines that the inhabitants a hand in their approval,
plebiscite is absolute and mandatory.[12] the provision will also eliminate the
old practice of gerrymandering and
It cannot be overstressed that the minimize legislative action designed
said two requirements of the for the benefit of a few politicians.
Constitution have different purposes. Hence, it promotes the autonomy of
The criteria fixed by the Local local government units."[13]
Government Code on income,
population and land area are The records show that the
designed to achieve an economic downgrading of Santiago City was
purpose. They are to be based on opposed by certain segments of its
verified indicators, hence, section 7, people. In the debates in Congress, it
Chapter 2 of the Local Government was noted that at the time R.A. No.
Code requires that these "indicators 8528 was proposed, Santiago City
shall be attested by the Department has been converted to an
of Finance, the National Statistics independent component city barely
Office, and the Lands Management two and a half (2 1/2) years ago and
Bureau of the Department of the conversion was approved by a
Environment and Natural majority of 14,000 votes. Some
Resources." In contrast, the people's legislators expressed surprise for the
plebiscite is required to achieve a sudden move to downgrade the
political purpose --- to use the people's status of Santiago City as there had
voice as a check against the been no significant change in its
pernicious political practice of socio-economic-political status. The
gerrymandering. There is no better only reason given for the
check against this excess committed downgrading is to enable the people
by the political representatives of the of the city to aspire for the
people themselves than the exercise leadership of the province. To say
of direct people power. As well- the least, the alleged reason is
observed by one commentator, as unconvincing for it is the essence of
the creation, division, merger, an independent component city that its
abolition, or substantial alteration of people can no longer participate or
boundaries are "xxx basic to local be voted for in the election of
government, it is also imperative that officials of the province. The people
these acts be done not only by of Santiago City were aware that they
Congress but also be approved by gave up that privilege when they voted
to be independent from the province AN ACT AMENDING CERTAIN
of Isabela. There was an attempt on SECTIONS OF R.A. NO. 7720
the part of the Committee on Local ENTITLED "AN ACT
Government to submit the CONVERTING THE
downgrading of Santiago City to its MUNICIPALITY OF SANTIAGO
people via a plebiscite. The INTO AN INDEPENDENT
amendment to this effect was about COMPONENT CITY TO BE
to be voted upon when a recess was KNOWN AS THE CITY OF
called. After the recess, the chairman SANTIAGO
of the Committee anounced the ____________________________
withdrawal of the amendment "after ___________________________
a very enlightening conversation
with the elders of the Body." We The following is the full text of H.B.
quote the debates, viz:[14] No. 8729
H.B. No. 8729 - City of Santiago

"Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move "Senator Tatad. Mr. President, for the
that we consider House Bill No. sponsorship, I ask that the
8729 as reported out under distinguished Chairman of the
Committee Report No. 971. Committee on Local Government be
"The President. Is there any objection?
[Silence] there being none, the "The President. Senator Sotto is
motion is approved. recognized.

"Consideration of House Bill No. SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF

8729 is now in order. With the SENATOR SOTTO
permission of the Body, the
Secretary will read only the title of "Mr. President. House Bill No. 8729,
the bill without prejudice to inserting which was introduced in the House
in the Record the whole text thereof. by Congressman Antonio M. Abaya
as its principal author, is a simple
"The Acting Secretary [Atty. Raval]. measure which merely seeks to
House Bill No. 8729, entitled convert the City of Santiago into a
component city of the Province of
"Mr. President, it is my pleasure,
"The City of Santiago is therefore, to present for
geographically located within, and is consideration of this august Body
physically an integral part of the Committee Report No. 971 of the
Province of Isabela. As an Committee on Local Government ,
independent component city, recommending approval, with our
however, it is completely detached proposed committee amendment, of
and separate from the said province House Bill No. 8729.
as a local political unit. To use the
language of the Explanatory Note of "Thank you, Mr. President.
the proposed bill, the City of
Santiago is an ‘island in the "The President. The Majority Leader is
provincial milieu.’ recognized.

"The residents of the city no longer "Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I

participate in the elections, nor are moved (sic) that we close the period
they qualified to run for any elective of interpellations.
positions in the Province of Isabela.
"The President. Is there any objection?
"The Province of Isabela, on the [Silence] There being none, the
other hand, is no longer vested with period of interpellations is closed.
the power and authority of general
supervision over the city and its "Senator Tatad. I move that we now
officials, which power and authority consider the committee
are now exercised by the Office of amendments.
the President, which is very far away
from Santiago City. "Senator Roco. Mr. President.

Being geographically located within "The President. What is the pleasure of

the Province of Isabela, the City of Senator Roco?
Santiago is affected, one way or the
other, by the happenings in the said "Senator Roco. Mr. President, may I
province, and is benefited by its ask for a reconsideration of the
progress and development. Hence, ruling on the motion to close the
the proposed bill to convert the City period of interpellations just to be
of Santiago into a component city of able to ask a few questions?
"Senator Tatad. May I move for a the public hearing that they are no
reconsideration of my motion, Mr. longer vested with the power and
President. authority of general supervision over
the city. The power and authority is
"The President. Is there any objection now being exercised by the Office of
to the reconsideration of the closing the President and it is quite far from
of the period of interpellations? the City of Santiago.
[Silence] There being none, the
motion is approved. "In the public hearing, we also
gathered that there is a clamor from
"Senator Roco is recognized. some sectors that they want to
participate in the provincial
"Senator Roco. Will the distinguished elections.
gentleman yield for some questions?
"Senator Roco. Mr. President, I did not
"Senator Sotto. Willingly, Mr. mean to delay this. I did want it on
President. record, however. I think there was a
majority of 14,000 who approved the
"Senator Roco. Mr. President, together charter, and maybe we owe it to
with the Chairman of the Committee on those who voted for that charter
Local Government, we were with the some degree of respect. But if there
sponsors when we approved this bill to has been a change of political will,
make Santiago a City. That was about two there has been a change of political
and a half years ago. At that time, I will, then so be it.
remember it was the cry of the city that it be
‘independent.’ Now we are deleting that "Thank you, Mr. President.
word ‘independent.’
"Senator Sotto. Mr. President, to be
"Mr. President, only because I was a co- very frank about it, that was a very
author and a co-sponsor, for the Record, I important point raised by Senator
want some explanation on what happened Roco, and I will have to place it on
between then and now that has made us the Record of the Senate that the
decide that the City of Santiago should reason why we are proposing a
cease to be independent and should now committee amendment is that,
become a component city. originally, there was an objection on
the part of the local officials and
"Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the those who oppose it by
officials of the province said during incorporating a plebiscite in this bill.
That was the solution. Because there the reason why, as mentioned by the good
were some sectors in the City of sponsor, one of the amendments is that a
Santiago who were opposing the plebiscite be conducted before the law takes
reclassification or reconversion of effect.
the city into a component city.
"The question I would like to raise-- and I
"Senator Roco. All I wanted to say, Mr. would like to recall the statement of our
President -- because the two of us Minority Leader -- is that, at this time we
had special pictures (sic) in the city -- should not be passing it for a particular
is that I thought it should be put on politician.
record that we have supported
originally the proposal to make it an "In this particular case, it is obvious that
independent city. But now if it is this bill is being passed in order that the
their request, then, on the additional territory be added to the election
manifestation of the Chairman, let it of the provincial officials of the province of
be so. Isabela.

"Thank you. "Now, is this for the benefit of any

particular politician, Mr. President.
"Senator Drilon. Mr. President.
"Senator Sotto. If it is, I am not aware
"Senator Drilon. Will the gentleman of it, Mr. President.
yield for a few questions, Mr.
President? "Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.

"Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President. "The President. With the permission of
the two gentlemen on the Floor,
"Senator Drilon. Mr. President, further to Senator Alvarez is recognized.
the interpellation of our good friend, the
Senator from Bicol, on the matter of the "Senator Alvarez. As a born inbred
opinion of the citizens of Santiago City, citizen of this city, Mr. President,
there is a resolution passed by the may I share some information.
Sanggunian on January 30, 1997 opposing
the conversion of Santiago from an "Mr. President, if we open up the
independent city. election of the city to the provincial
leadership, it will not be to the
"This opposition was placed on records benefit of the provincial leadership,
during the committee hearings. And that is because the provincial leadership will
then campaign in a bigger territory. in the matter of the provincial election.
Two-and-a-half years after, we are changing
"As a matter of fact, the ones who the rule.
will benefit from this are the citizens
of Santiago who will now be "In the original charter, the citizens of the
enfranchised in the provincial City of Santiago participated in a plebiscite
electoral process, and whose children in order to approve the conversion of the city
will have the opportunity to grow into an independent city. I believe that the
into provincial leadership. This is only way to resolve this issue raised by
one of the prime reasons why this Senator Roco is again to subject this issue
amendment is being put forward. to another plebiscite as part of the provision
of this proposed bill and as will be proposed
"While it is true that there may have by the Committee Chairman as an
been a resolution by the city council, amendment.
those who signed the resolution
were not the whole of the council. "Thank you very much, Mr.
This bill was sponsored by the President.
congressman of that district who
represents a constituency, the voice "Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, the
of the district. Constitution does not require that
the change from an independent to a
"I think, Mr. President, in component city be subjected to a
considering which interest is plebiscite.
paramount, whose voice must be
heard, and if we have to fathom the “Sections 10, 11, 12 of Article X of
interest of the people, the law which the 1987 Constitution provides as
has been crafted here in accordance follows:
with the rules should be given
‘Sec. 10. No province, city,
account, as we do give account to
municipality, or barangay may be
many of the legislations coming
created, divided, merged, abolished,
from the House on local issues.
or its boundary substantially altered,
except in accordance with the criteria
"Senator Drilon. Mr. President, the reason
established in the local government
why I am raising this question is that, as
code and subject to approval by a
Senator Roco said, just two-and-a-half
majority of the votes cast in a
years ago we passed a bill which indeed
plebiscite in the political units
disenfranchized--if we want to use that
directly affected.’
phrase-- the citizens of the City of Santiago
“This change from an independent recognized.
city into a component city is none of
those enumerated. So the proposal "Senator Tatad. At this point, Mr.
coming from the House is in President, I think we can move to
adherence to this constitutional close the period of interpellations.
mandate which does not require a
plebiscite. "The President. Is there any objection?
[Silence] There being none, the
“Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the key motion is approved.
word here is ‘conversion’. The word
‘conversion’ appears in that "Senator Tatad. I move that we now
provision wherein we must call a consider the committee
plebiscite. During the public hearing, amendments, Mr. President.
the representative of Congressman
Abaya was insisting that this is not a "The President. Is there any objection?
conversion; this is merely a Silence] There being none, the
reclassification. But it is clear in the motion is approved.
"Senator Sotto. On page 2, after line
“We are amending a bill that converts, and 13, insert a new Section 3, as follows:
we are converting it into a component city.
That is how the members of the committee "SEC. 3. SECTION 49 OF
felt. That is why we have proposed an REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7720 IS
amendment to this, and this is to HEREBY AMENDED BY
incorporate a plebiscite in as much as there DELETING THE ENTIRE
is no provision on incorporating a plebiscite. SECTION AND IN ITS STEAD
Because we would like not only to give the SUBSTITUTE THE
other people of Santiago a chance or be FOLLOWING:
enfranchised as far as the leadership of the
province is concerned, but also we will give a "SEC. 49. PLEBISCITE. - THE
chance to those who are opposing it. To CONVERSION OF THE CITY
them, this is the best compromise. Let the OF SANTIAGO INTO A
people decide, instead of the political leaders COMPONENT CITY OF THE
of Isabela deciding for them. PROVINCE OF ISABELA SHALL
"Senator Tatad. Mr. President. RATIFICATION OF THIS ACT
"The President. The Majority Leader is PEOPLE OF SAID CITY IN A
HELD FOR THE PURPOSE "Senator Sotto is recognized.
FROM THE APPROVAL OF "Senator Sotto. Mr. President, after a
THIS ACT. THE COMMISSION very enlightening conversation with
ON ELECTIONS SHALL the elders of the Body, I withdraw
"The President. The amendment is
"The President. Is there any objection? withdrawn.

"Senator Enrile. Mr. President. "Senator Maceda. Mr. President.

"The President. Senator Enrile is "The President. Senator Maceda is

recognized. recognized.

"Senator Enrile. I object to this "Senator Maceda. We wish to thank

committee amendment, Mr. the sponsor for the withdrawal of
President. the amendment.

"SUSPENSION OF SESSION "Mr. President, with due respect to the

Senator from Isabela -- I am no great fan
"Senator Tatad. May I ask for a one- of the Senator from Isabela -- but it so
minute suspension of the session. happens that this is a local bill affecting not
only his province but his own city where he
"The President. The session is is a resident and registered voter.
suspended for a few minutes if there
is no objection. [There was none] "So, unless the issue is really a matter of
life and death and of national importance,
"It was 7:54 p.m. senatorial courtesy demands that we, as
much as possible, accommodate the request
"RESUMPTION OF SESSION of the Senator from Isabela as we have done
on matters affecting the district of other
"At 7:57 p.m., the session was senators. I need not remind them.
"Thank you anyway, Mr. President.
"The President. The session is
resumed. "Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.
title of this bill by removing the
"The President. Senator Alvarez is word ‘independent’ preceding
recognized. ‘component city’?

"Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, may I "Senator Sotto. No, Mr. President. We
express my deepest appreciation for are merely citing the title. The main
the statement of the gentleman from title of this House Bill No. 8729 is
Ilocos and Laguna. Whatever he may ‘An Act Amending Certain Sections
have said, the feeling is not mutual. of Republic Act 7720’. The title is
At least for now, I have suddenly the title of Republic Act 7720. So, I
become his great fan for the evening. do not think that we should amend
that anymore.
"May I put on record, Mr. President,
that I campaigned against the "The President. What is the pending
cityhood of Santiago not because I motion? Will the gentleman kindly
do not want it to be a city but state the motion?
because it had disenfranchised the
young men of my city from aspiring "Senator Tatad. I move that we close
for the leadership of the province. the period of committee
The town is the gem of the province. amendments.
How could we extricate the town
from the province? "The President. Is there any objection?
[Silence] There being none, the
"But I would like to thank the motion is approved.
gentleman, Mr. President, and also
the Chairman of the Committee. "Senator Tatad. Unless there are any
individual amendments, I move that
"Senator Tatad. Mr. President. we close the period of individual
"The President. The Majority Leader is
recognized. "The President. Is there any objection?
[Silence] There being none, the
"Senator Tatad. There being no period of individual amendments is
committee amendments, I move that closed.
the period of committee
amendments be closed. "APPROVAL OF H.B. NO. 8729
"The President. Shall we amend the
"Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move the new Province a fait accompli by
that we vote on Second Reading on the time elections are held on
House Bill No. 8729. February 7, 1986. The transparent
purpose is unmistakably so that the
"The President. Is there any objection? new Governor and other officials
[Silence] There being none, we shall shall by then have been installed in
now vote on Second Reading on office, ready to function for
House Bill No. 8729. purposes of the election for
President and Vice-President.’ Thus,
"As many as are in favor of the bill, the petitioners reported after the
say aye. event: ‘With indecent haste, the
plebiscite was held; Negros del
"Several Members. Aye Norte was set up and proclaimed by
President Marcos as in existence; a
“As many as are against the bill, say new set of government officials
nay. [Silence] headed by Governor Armando
Gustilo was appointed; and, by the
"House Bill No. 8729 is approved on time the elections were held on
Second Reading." February 7, 1986, the political
machinery was in place to deliver the
The debates cannot but raise some
‘solid North’ to ex-President Marcos.
quizzical eyebrows on the real purpose for
The rest is history. What happened
the downgrading of the city of Santiago.
in Negros del Norte during the
There is all the reason to listen to the voice
elections - the unashamed use of
of the people of the city via a plebiscite.
naked power and resources -
contributed in no small way to
In the case of Tan, et al. vs.
arousing ‘people’s power’ and steel
COMELEC,[15] BP 885 was enacted
the ordinary citizen to perform
partitioning the province of Negros
deeds of courage and patriotism that
Occidental without consulting its
makes one proud to be a Filipino
people in a plebiscite. In his
concurring opinion striking down
the law as unconstitutional, Chief
"The challenged Act is manifestly
Justice Teehankee cited the illicit political
void and unconstitutional.
purpose behind its enactment, viz:
Consequently, all the implementing
acts complained of, viz. the
"The scenario, as petitioners urgently
plebiscite, the proclamation of a new
asserted, was ‘to have the creation of
province of Negros del Norte and
the appointment of its officials are and seceded from the province is as
equally void. The limited holding of absurd and illogical as allowing only
the plebiscite only in the areas of the the secessionists to vote for the
proposed new province (as provided secession that they demanded against
by Section 4 of the Act) to the the wishes of the majority and to
exclusion of the voters of the nullify the basic principle of majority
remaining areas of the integral rule.”
province of Negros Occidental
(namely, the three cities of Bacolod, Mr. Justice Mendoza and Mr. Justice
Bago and La Carlota and the Buena also cite two instances when
Municipalities of Las Castellana, allegedly independent component cities
Isabela, Moises Padilla, Pontevedra, were downgraded into component cities
Hinigaran, Himamaylan, without need of a plebiscite. They cite the
Kabankalan, Murcia, Valladolid, San City of Oroquieta, Misamis
Enrique, Ilog, Cauayan, Hinoba-an Occidental,[16] and the City of San
and Sipalay and Candoni), grossly Carlos, Pangasinan[17] whose charters
contravenes and disregards the were amended to allow their people
mandate of Article XI, section 3 of to vote and be voted upon in the
the then prevailing 1973 election of officials of the province
Constitution that no province may to which their city belongs without
be created or divided or its boundary submitting the amendment to a
substantially altered without ‘the plebiscite. With due respect, the cities of
approval of a majority of the votes in Oroquieta and San Carlos are not
a plebiscite in the unit or units affected.’ similarly situated as the city of Santiago.
It is plain that all the cities and The said two cities then were not
municipalities of the province of independent component cities unlike the city
Negros Occidental, not merely those of Santiago. The two cities were chartered
of the proposed new province, but were not independent component cities
comprise the units affected. It follows for both were not highly urbanized cities
that the voters of the whole and which alone were considered independent
entire province of Negros cities at that time. Thus, when the case
Occidental have to participate and of San Carlos City was under
give their approval in the plebiscite, consideration by the Senate, Senator
because the whole province is Pimentel explained:[18]
affected by its proposed division and
substantial alteration of its boundary. "x x x Senator Pimentel. The bill under
To limit the plebiscite to only the consideration, Mr. President, merely
voters of the areas to be partitioned empowers the voters of San Carlos
to vote in the elections of provincial prohibiting their people from voting in
officials. There is no intention whatsoever provincial elections.
to downgrade the status of the City of San
Carlos and there is no showing IN VIEW WHEREOF, the
whatsoever that the enactment of petition is granted. Republic Act No.
this bill will, in any way, diminish the 8528 is declared unconstitutional and
powers and prerogatives already the writ of prohibition is hereby
enjoyed by the City of San Carlos. In issued commanding the respondents
fact, the City of San Carlos as of now, is a to desist from implementing said
component city. It is not a highly law.
urbanized city. Therefore, this bill
merely, as we said earlier, grants the SO ORDERED.
voters of the city, the power to vote
in provincial elections, without in any Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo,
way changing the character of its being a Kapunan, Panganiban, Pardo, Gonzaga-
component city. It is for this reason that Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
I vote in favor of this bill.” It was Vitug, J., see separate opinion.
Senator Pimentel who also Mendoza, J., see dissenting opinion.
sponsored the bill[19] allowing Quisumbing, and Purisima, JJ., joins J.
qualified voters of the city of Mendoza in his dissenting opinion.
Oroquieta to vote in provincial Buena, J., see dissenting opinion.
elections of the province of Misamis
Occidental. In his sponsorship
speech, he explained that the right to [1] See Section 4 of R.A. No. 7720.
vote being given to the people of
Oroquieta City was consistent with See Section 10, Article X of the

its status as a component city.[20] 1987 Constitution.

Indeed, during the debates, former
Senator Neptali Gonzales pointed The intervention was granted on

out the need to remedy the June 30, 1998.

anomalous situation then obtaining
“xxx where voters of one After R.A. No. 8528 was enacted,

component city can vote in the COMELEC reallocated the seats for
provincial election while the voters the provincial board in Isabela. It
of another component city cannot added one (1) seat to the 4th district
vote simply because their charters so where Santiago City belongs. The
provide.”[21] Thus, Congress amended intervenor won the additional seat in
other charters of component cities the May 11, 1998 elections.
See R.A. No. 6843 which

Sanidad vs. COMELEC, 73 SCRA

[5] amended R.A. No. 4487.
333 (1976).
Record of the Senate, October
[6] 100 Phil. 1101 (1957). 20, 1989, p. 795.

[7] 92 SCRA 642 (1979). House Bill No. 1881; Committee


Report Nos. 73 and 76 in the Senate.

Mendenilla v. Onandia, 115 Phil. 534

(1962). Record of the Senate, November


25, 1988, p. 763.

Section 1, Article VI of the 1987

Constitution. Ibid., p. 764. See Record of the


Senate, October 6, 1989, p. 506

[10] Reply of Petitioners, pp. 7-9. where the cases of the cities of Naga
and Ormoc were cited as examples.
See also Rule II, Article 6, par.

F(1) of the Implementing Rules of

the Local Government Code.
Pimentel, The Local Government

Code of 1991, The Key to National

Development, p. 36. VITUG, J.:

Hector S. de Leon, Philippine

[13] I share the opinion of the majority
Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, 1991 ed., p. of my colleagues that, for the
509. reasons expressed in the ponencia, a
plebicite is essential in order to
Journal of the Senate, 10th
[14] render effective the conversion of
Congress, 3rd Regular Session, the City of Santiago, Isabela, from an
Session No. 55, February 3, 1998, independent to a component city. I
pp. 92-100. would not go to the extent, however,
of declaring Republic Act No. 7720
[15] 142 SCRA 727, 753-754 (1986). unconstitutional; instead, with due
respect, I take the view that a
See R.A. No. 6720 which
[16] plebiscite can be held conformably
amended R.A. No. 5518. with the provisions of the Local
Government Code. I do not see, in
this instance, a serious therein,” the approval of the law in a
incompatibility in having Republic plebiscite is required.
Act No. 7720 stand along with the
Local Government Code. With all due respect I submit that
not every change - however
“material” and far-reaching - in the
classification of a local government
unit requires popular approval. Only
DISSENTING if the reclassification involves
changes in income, population, and
land area of the local government
MENDOZA, J.: unit is there a need for such changes
to be approved by the people, for
The issue in this case is whether the then there would be a creation,
conversion of the City of Santiago in division, merger, abolition, or
Isabela province from an substantial alteration of the
independent component city to a boundary of a local government unit,
component city constitutes the as the case may be, within the
creation, division, merger, abolition, meaning of Art. X, §10 of the
or substantial alteration of the Constitution. Thus, the Local
boundary of a city within the Government Code (R.A. No. 7160),
contemplation of Art. X, §10 of the in implementing the constitutional
Constitution so as to require the provision in question, states:
approval of the people in a
plebiscite. The Court, in declaring SEC. 7. Creation and Conversion. - As a
R.A. No. 8528 unconstitutional for general rule, the creation of a local
lack of provision for a plebiscite, government unit or its conversion
does not say that the reclassification from one level to another level shall
of Santiago City as an ordinary be based on verifiable indicators or
component city constitutes creation, viability and projected capacity to
division, merger, abolition, or provide services, to wit:
substantial alteration of boundary.
Nonetheless, the Court today holds (a) Income. - It must be sufficient,
that because the reclassification of based on acceptable standards, to
the city would result in a “material provide for all essential government
change in the political and economic facilities and services and special
rights of the local government units functions commensurate with the
directly affected as well as the people size of its population, as expected of
the local government unit the minimum requirements
concerned; prescribed in this Code: Provided,
further, That the income classification
(b) Population. - It shall be of the original local government unit
determined as the total number of or units shall not fall below its
inhabitants within the territorial current income classification prior to
jurisdiction of the local government such division.
unit concerned; and
The income classification of local
(c) Land Area. - It must be government units shall be updated
contiguous, unless it comprises two within six (6) months from the
(2) or more islands or is separated by effectivity of this Code to reflect the
a local government unit independent changes in their financial position
of the others; properly identified by resulting from the increased
metes and bounds with technical revenues as provided herein.
descriptions; and sufficient to
provide for such basic services and SEC. 9. Abolition of Local Government
facilities to meet the requirements of Units. - A local government unit may
its populace. be abolished when its income,
population, or land area has been
Compliance with the foregoing irreversibly reduced to less than the
indicators shall be attested to by the minimum standards prescribed for
Department of Finance (DOF), the its creation under Book III of this
National Statistics Office (NSO), Code, as certified by the national
and the Lands Management Bureau agencies mentioned in Section 7
(LMB) of the Department of hereof to Congress or to the
Environment and Natural Resources sanggunian concerned, as the case may
(DENR). be.

SEC. 8. Division and Merger. - The law or ordinance abolishing a

Division and merger of existing local local government unit shall specify
government units shall comply with the province, city, municipality, or
the same requirements herein barangay with which the local
prescribed for their creation: Provided, government unit sought to be
however, That such division shall not abolished will be incorporated or
reduce the income, population, or merged.
land area of the local government
unit or units concerned to less than The conversion from an
independent component city to a
component city involves no such (i) a contiguous territory of at least
changes in income, population, or one hundred (100) square
land area. There may be changes in kilometers, as certified by the Lands
the voting rights of the residents of Management Bureau; or
the city, the supervision of the city’s
administration, and the city’s share in (ii) a population of not less than one
the local taxes, as petitioners point hundred fifty thousand (150,000)
out, but such changes do not inhabitants, as certified by the
amount to the creation, division, National Statistics Office:
merger, abolition, or substantial
alteration of the boundary of a local Provided, That, the creation thereof
government unit so as to require a shall not reduce the land area,
plebiscite for their approval. An population, and income of the
independent component city and an original unit or units at the time of
ordinary component city are both said creation to less than the
component cities, as distinguished minimum requirements prescribed
from highly urbanized cities.[1] The herein.
only difference between them is that
the charters of the independent (b) The territorial jurisdiction of a
component cities prohibit their newly-created city shall be properly
voters from voting for provincial identified by metes and bounds. The
elective officials and such cities are requirement on land area shall not
independent of the provinces in apply where the city proposed to be
which they are located.[2] Thus, the created is composed of one (1) or
Local Government Code provides: more islands. The territory need not
be contiguous if it comprises two (2)
SEC. 450. Requisites for Creation. - (a) or more islands.
A municipality or a cluster of
barangays may be converted into a (c) The average annual income shall
component city if it has an average include the income accruing to the
annual income, as certified by the general fund, exclusive of special
Department of Finance, of at least funds, transfers, and nonrecurring
Twenty million pesos income.
(P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2)
consecutive years based on 1991 SEC. 451. Cities, Classified. - A city
constant prices, and if it has either of may either be component or highly
the following requisites: urbanized: Provided, however, That the
criteria established in this Code shall excluded from voting for elective
not affect the classification and provincial officials.
corporate status of existing cities.
Unless otherwise provided in the
Independent component cities are Constitution or this Code, qualified
those component cities whose voters of independent component
charters prohibit their voters from cities shall be governed by their
voting for provincial elective respective charters, as amended, on
officials. Independent component the participation of voters in
cities shall be independent of the provincial elections.
Qualified voters of cities who
SEC. 452. Highly Urbanized Cities. - acquired the right to vote for elective
(a) Cities with a minimum provincial officials prior to the
population of two hundred thousand classification of said cities as highly
(200,000.00) inhabitants, as certified urbanized after the ratification of the
by the National Statistics Office, and Constitution and before the
with the latest annual income of at effectivity of this Code, shall
least Fifty Million Pesos continue to exercise such right.
(P50,000,000.00) based on 1991
constant prices, as certified by the The Court says that the changes
city treasurer, shall be classified as resulting from the reclassification of
highly urbanized cities. Santiago City as an ordinary
component city “cannot be
(b) Cities which do not meet the considered insubstantial.” For one, it
above requirements shall be is said, its independence will be
considered component cities of the diminished because the city mayor
province in which they are will be placed under the
geographically located. If a administrative supervision of the
component city is located within the provincial governor. For another, the
boundaries of two (2) or more resolutions and ordinances of the
provinces, such city shall be city council will have to be approved
considered a component of the by the provincial board of Isabela.
province of which it used to be a
municipality. The fact is that whether the City of
Santiago is an independent
(c) Qualified voters of highly component city or an ordinary
urbanized cities shall remain component city, it is subject to
administrative supervision, with the that the acts of their component
only difference that, as an units are within the scope of their
independent component city, it is prescribed powers and functions.
under the direct supervision of the
President of the Philippines, In any case, these are not important
whereas, as an ordinary component differences which determine whether
city, it will be subject to the the law effecting them should be
supervision of the President through approved in a plebiscite. The
the province.[3] That is hardly a defining characteristics of a local
distinction. For the fact is that under government unit are its income,
the Constitution, the President of population, and local area, as §§450
the Philippines exercises general and 452 of the LGC provide. These
supervision over all local are referred to in §7 of the LGC and
governments.[4] its Implementing Rules as the
“verifiable indicators of viability and
Nor does it matter that ordinances projected capacity to provide
passed by the city councils of services.” Tested by these standards,
component cities are subject to there is no change in the City of
review (not approval as the Court Santiago requiring the approval of
says) by the provincial boards for the the people in a plebiscite.
purpose of determining whether the
ordinances are within the powers of The majority states: “It is
the city councils to enact.[5] For that markworthy that when R.A. No.
matter, ordinances passed by the city 7720 upgraded the status of Santiago
councils of independent component City from a municipality to an
cities are likewise subject to review, independent component city, it
although by the Office of the required the approval of its people
President.[6] The reason for this is to thru a plebiscite called for the
be found in Art. X, §4 of the purpose. There is neither rhyme nor
Constitution which provides: reason why this plebiscite should not
be called to determine the will of the
The President of the Philippines people of Santiago City when R.A.
shall exercise general supervision No. 8528 downgrades the status of
over local governments. Provinces their city.” The conversion of the
with respect to component cities and then Municipality of Santiago in
municipalities, and cities and Isabela Province by R.A. No. 7720
municipalities with respect to was an act of creation. It was based
component barangays shall ensure on the municipality’s satisfying the
requisites for the creation of a city as created is composed of one (1) or
provided in the LGC, to wit: more islands. The territory need not
be contiguous if it comprises two (2)
SEC. 450. Requisites for Creation. - (a) or more islands.
A municipality or a cluster of
barangays may be converted into a (c) The average annual income shall
component city if it has an average include the income accruing to the
annual income, as certified by the general fund, exclusive of special
Department of Finance, of a least funds, transfers, and nonrecurring
Twenty million pesos income.
(P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2)
consecutive years based on 1991 As thus indicated these requisites are
constant prices, and if it has either of based on the “verifiable indicators”
the following requisites: of income, population, and land area
and, therefore, the conversion of
(i) a contiguous territory of at least what was once a municipality into a
one hundred (100) square city needed approval in a plebiscite.
kilometers, as certified by the Lands But the conversion of Santiago City
Management Bureau; or from an independent component
city into a component city involves
(ii) a population of not less than one no more than a change in the right
hundred fifty thousand (150,000) of the people (i.e., the registered
inhabitants, as certified by the voters of the city) to vote for
National Statistics Office; provincial elective officials.

Provided, That, the creation thereof If an analogy is needed, it is to the

shall not reduce the land area, reversion of a component city ¾
population, and income of the whether independent or ordinary ¾
original unit or units at the time of to the status of a municipality. For
said creation to less than the then the city is actually abolished and
minimum requirements prescribed abolition, as stated in the Art. X, §10
herein. of the Constitution, must be
approved by the majority of the
(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a votes cast in a plebiscite. Stated
newly-created city shall be properly otherwise, when a municipality is
identified by metes and bounds. The converted into a city, a city is created,
requirement on land area shall not and when the city is reverted into a
apply where the city proposed to be municipality, the city is abolished.
Both acts of creation and abolition It is easy to sympathize with calls for
require the approval of the people in plebiscites as an exercise of direct
a plebiscite called for the purpose. democracy by the people. But,
But when an independent although the Constitution declares
component city is converted into a that “Sovereignty resides in the
component city, it is not created into people and all government authority
another form, it is not divided, it is emanates from them,” it also
not merged with another unit of provides that we are a “republican
local government, it is not abolished, State.”[7] It is thus a representative
much less is its boundary form of government that we have.
substantially altered. With few exceptions, we have vested
the legislative power in the Congress
Indeed, this is not the first time that of the Philippines.[8] This means that
an independent component city is when an act of the people’s
converted into a component city representatives assembled in
without a plebiscite. The City of Congress is duly passed and
Oroquieta, created as an approved by the President in the
independent component city in 1969 manner prescribed in the
by R.A. No. 5518, was converted Constitution, the act becomes a law[9]
into a component city in 1989 by without the need of approval or
R.A. No. 6726, while the City of San ratification by the people in order to
Carlos, created as an independent be effective.[10]
component city in 1965 by R.A. No.
4487, was converted into a This is the theory of representative
component city by R.A. No. 6843 in government. Such a government is
1990. In both cases, the conversion no less democratic because it is
was made without submitting the indirect. In some ways it is better
matter to a plebiscite. than direct government given the
complexity of modern society, let
There is, therefore, no reason for alone the volatility of voters and
requiring that the reclassification of their susceptability to manipulation.
Santiago City as a component city In this age of mass communication
must be approved by the majority of there is less reason to distrust the
the votes cast in a plebiscite and for judgment of the people’s
holding that, because R.A. No. 8528 representatives in Congress on
contains no provision for such matters such as this and, therefore,
plebiscite, it is unconstitutional. no reason to require the people to
manifest their sovereign will, except
where this is expressly required by (4) the adoption of a new name,
the Constitution. national anthem, or national seal for
the country [Art. XVI, §2]; (5)
For the foregoing reasons, I vote to referral to the people of the question
dismiss the petition in this case. whether to call a constitutional
convention [Art. XVII, §3]; (6)
ratification of constitutional
amendments [Art. XVII, §4]; and (7)
CODE, §451. the adoption of a treaty allowing
foreign military bases, troops, or
CONST., ART. X, §12; LGC,
facilities in the Philippines if
§451. Congress decides to refer the matter
to the people [Art. XVIII, §25].
[3] LGC, §25.
Direct lawmaking by the people is
[4] ART. X, §4. provided through initiative and
referendum [Art. VI, §32; R.A. No.
[5] LGC, §468(a)(1)(i). 6735] and ratification of
constitutional amendments through
[6] Id., §25(a). a plebiscite [Art. XVII, §4].
[7] ART. II, §1.

[8] ART. VI, §1.

[9] Id., §§26-27.
[10]In the following cases, the
Constitution requires a plebiscite or With all due respect to my esteemed
a referendum to approve or ratify an colleague, Mr. Justice Reynato S.
act of Congress or of the President: Puno, whose well-written ponencia
(1) the creation, division, merger, expresses his opinion with clarity, I
abolition, or substantial alteration of regret that I am unable to agree that
the boundary of a local government Republic Act No. 8528 should be
unit [Art. X, §10]; (2) the creation of declared as unconstitutional for the
a special metropolitan political following reasons:
subdivision [Id., §11]; (3) the creation
of an autonomous region [Id., §18];
1. Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Rule II, Article 6, paragraph (f) (1) of
Constitution provides that – the Implementing Rules of the Local
Government Code included
“Section 10, Article X. – No province,
conversion in the enumeration of the
city, municipality, or barangay may
modes of changing the status of
be created, divided, merged,
local government units, thus:
abolished, or its boundary
substantially altered, except in “(f) Plebiscite. – (1) No creation,
accordance with the criteria conversion, division, merger, abolition ,
established in the Local Government or substantial alteration of
Code and subject to approval by a boundaries of LGUs shall take effect
majority of the votes cast in a unless approved by a majority of the
plebiscite in the political units votes cast in the plebiscite called for
directly affected.” the purpose in the LGU or LGUs
affected. The plebiscite shall be
Section 10 Chapter 2 of the Local
conducted by the Commission on
Government Code (R.A. No. 7160)
Elections (COMELEC) within one
hundred twenty (120) days from the
“Section 10, Chapter 2. – Plebiscite effectivity of the law or ordinance
Requirement. No creation, division, prescribing such action, unless said
merger, abolition, or substantial law or ordinance fixes another date.
alteration of boundaries of local
government units shall take effect xxx xxx xxx.” (italics supplied)
unless approved by a majority of the
Other than that, the Local
votes cast in a plebiscite called for
Government Code uses the term
the purpose in the political unit or
“conversion” only in the following
units directly affected. Said plebiscite
instances: (1) Section 7, which
shall be conducted by the
provides that “[a]s a general rule, the
Commission on Elections
creation of a local government unit
(COMELEC) within one hundred
or its conversion from one level to
twenty (120) from the date of
another shall be based on verifiable
effectivity of the law or ordinance
indicators of viability and projected
effecting such action, unless said law
capacity to provide services, to wit:
or ordinance fixes another date.”
xxx xxx;” (2) Section 450, which
In short, conversion does not appear in provides for the requisites for the
the 1987 Constitution nor in the “conversion” of a municipality or a
Section 10, Chapter 2 of the Local cluster of barangays into a component
Government Code. Surprisingly, city; and (3) Section 462, which
involves the “conversion” of existing case of discrepancy between the
sub-provinces into regular provinces. basic law and a rule or regulation to
implement said law, the basic law
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. prevails as said rule or regulation can
defines[1] “conversion” as “the not go beyond the terms and
elevation of an LGU from one level provisions of the basic law. Neither
to another, like converting a can such rules and regulation extend
municipality to a city or a or expand the letter and spirit of the
component city to a highly law they seek to implement. (Iglesia ni
urbanized one or the raising of the Kristo vs. Court of Appeal, 259 SCRA
classification of one municipality, 529)”[2]
city or province from a fourth class
category to third, second or first.” It As a matter of fact, Mr.Justice Puno,
is my humble opinion therefore that in his ponencia in the above cited case
the requirement of a plebiscite does of Iglesia ni Kristo, opined that “(T)his
not apply to the case at bar which rule is void for it runs smack against
does not involve the upgrading or the hoary doctrine that
elevation of Santiago City but a administrative rules and regulations
downgrading thereof. cannot expand the letter and spirit of
the law they seek to enforce.[3]
2. I am not convinced that a mere
Rule and Regulation intended to 3. The proceedings in the Senate
implement the Local Government show that the Committee on Local
Code can expand the terms and Government, to which H.B. No.
provisions clearly expressed in the 8729 was referred, reported back to
basic law to be implemented. As the senate with the recommendation
aptly contended by the Solicitor that it be approved with the
General in his Comment on the following amendment:
petition viz:
“SECTION 3. Section 49 of
“It is settled jurisprudence that the Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby
power of administrative agencies to amended by deleting the entire
promulgate rules and regulation section and in its stead substitute the
must be in strict compliance with the following:
legislative enactment. Thus, in Tayug
Rural Bank vs. Central Bank of the
Philippines (146 SCRA 129-30), this
Honorable Court ruled that in the
PROVINCE OF ISABELA SHALL 4. I Likewise submit that we must
TAKE EFFECT UPON THE consider the ramifications of
RATIFICATION OF THIS ACT declaration of unconstitutionality of
BY A MAJORITY OF THE Republic Act No. 8528 on Republic
PEOPLE OF SAID CITY IN A Act No. 6726 (1989) and Republic
PLEBISCITE WHICH SHALL BE Act No. 6843 (1990), respectively
HELD FOR THE PURPOSE allowing the voters of the City of
WITHIN (60) DAYS FROM THE Oroquieta (Misamis Oriental) and
APPROVAL OF THIS ACT. THE San Carlos City (Pangasinan) to vote
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and be voted for any of the
SHALL CONDUCT AND respective provincial offices, in
SUPERVISE SUCH effect downgrading them from
PLEBISCITE.” independent component cities to
component cities. The resulting
However, after the deliberation in
confusion on the political structures
the Senate, the Committee on Local
of the local government units
Government decided to withdraw
involved would surely be disastrous
the foregoing proposed amendment.
to the order and stability of these
Hence, on February 6, 1998, the
Republic Act No. 8528, the
constitutionality of which is
5. Finally, in the situation where the
challenged by the petitioners, was
supposed breach of the constitution
is doubtful, equivocal and, at best,
based on argumentative implications,
Be that as it may, this Court properly
I believe that, as we have ruled in a
require a plebiscite for the validity of
plethora of cases[4], every law has in
said law when Congress itself, which
its favor, the presumption of
had been given the opportunity to
constitutionality and in case of
include such a requirement, decided
doubt, the Court must exert every
against it? Are we not supplanting
effort to prevent the invalidation of
our judgment over that of Congress,
the law and the nullification of the
or co-equal branch of government
will of the legislature that enacted it
entrusted by the Constitution to
and the executive that approved it.
enact laws? I respectfully submit that
we may not do so without disturbing
I therefore vote to dismiss the
the balance of power as apportioned
and delineated by the Constitution.
In The Local Government Code of

1991, The Key to National

Development, 1993 ed., p. 34.

[2] Rollo, p. 110.

Iglesia ni Kristo vs. Court of Appeal,


259 SCRA 529, pp. 547-548.

Tan vs. People, 290 SCRA 117


(1998); Tano vs. Socrates, 278 SCRA

154 (1997); Padilla vs. Court of Appeals,
269 SCRA 402 (1997); Alvarez vs.
Guingona, Jr., 252 SCRA 695 (1996);
Drilon vs. Lim, 235 SCRA 135 (1994);
Garcia vs. Comelec, 227 SCRA 100

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