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PoliRev/LGC

Larano at buong pagkakaisang sinangayunan ng lahat ng dumalo sa


SECOND DIVISION pulong;

IPINASIYA, na tutulan gaya ng dito ay mahigpit na TINUTUTULAN ang ano


mang uri ng sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna lalot higit ang Lotto;
[G.R. No. 129093. August 30, 2001]
IPINASIYA PA RIN na hilingin tulad ng dito ay hinihiling sa Panlalawigang
pinuno ng Philippine National Police (PNP) Col. [illegible] na mahigpit na
pag-ibayuhin ang pagsugpo sa lahat ng uri ng illegal na sugal sa buong
HON. JOSE D. LINA, JR., SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF
lalawigan ng Laguna lalo na ang Jueteng.[3]
LAGUNA, and HON. CALIXTO CATAQUIZ, petitioners, vs.
HON. FRANCISCO DIZON PAO and TONY
CALVENTO, respondents. As a result of this resolution of denial, respondent Calvento filed a
complaint for declaratory relief with prayer for preliminary injunction and
temporary restraining order. In the said complaint, respondent Calvento
DECISION
asked the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro Laguna, Branch 93, for the
QUISUMBING, J.: following reliefs: (1) a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order,
ordering the defendants to refrain from implementing or
For our resolution is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the enforcing Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995; (2) an order requiring Hon.
reversal of the decision[1] dated February 10, 1997 of the Regional Trial Municipal Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz to issue a business permit for the
Court of San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 93, enjoining petitioners from operation of a lotto outlet; and (3) an order annulling or declaring as
implementing or enforcing Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of invalid Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995.
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna and its subsequent On February 10, 1997, the respondent judge, Francisco Dizon Pao,
Order[2] dated April 21, 1997 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. promulgated his decision enjoining the petitioners from implementing or
On December 29, 1995, respondent Tony Calvento was appointed enforcing resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995. The dispositive
agent by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to install portion of said decision reads:
Terminal OM 20 for the operation of lotto. He asked Mayor Calixto Cataquiz,
Mayor of San Pedro, Laguna, for a mayors permit to open the lotto WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants, their agents and
outlet. This was denied by Mayor Cataquiz in a letter dated February 19, representatives are hereby enjoined from implementing or enforcing
1996. The ground for said denial was an ordinance passed by resolution or kapasiyahan blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna entitled Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, Panlalawigan ng Laguna prohibiting the operation of the lotto in the province
T. 1995 which was issued on September 18, 1995. The ordinance reads: of Laguna.

ISANG KAPASIYAHAN TINUTUTULAN ANG MGA ILLEGAL GAMBLING SO ORDERED.[4]


LALO NA ANG LOTTO SA LALAWIGAN NG LAGUNA
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which was subsequently
SAPAGKAT, ang sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna ay talamak na; denied in an Order dated April 21, 1997, which reads:

SAPAGKAT, ang sugal ay nagdudulot ng masasamang impluwensiya lalot Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by defendants Jose D. Lina,
higit sa mga kabataan; Jr. and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, thru counsel, with the
opposition filed by plaintiffs counsel and the comment thereto filed by
KUNG KAYAT DAHIL DITO, at sa mungkahi nina Kgg. Kgd. Juan M. Unico counsel for the defendants which were duly noted, the Court hereby denies
at Kgg. Kgd. Gat-Ala A. Alatiit, pinangalawahan ni Kgg. Kgd. Meliton C. the motion for lack of merit.

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SO ORDERED.[5] gambling which has been authorized by the national government.[11] He


argues that this is based on the principle that ordinances should not
On May 23, 1997, petitioners filed this petition alleging that the contravene statutes as municipal governments are merely agents of the
following errors were committed by the respondent trial court: national government. The local councils exercise only delegated legislative
powers which have been conferred on them by Congress. This being the
I case, these councils, as delegates, cannot be superior to the principal or
exercise powers higher than those of the latter. The OSG also adds that the
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ENJOINING THE PETITIONERS FROM question of whether gambling should be permitted is for Congress to
IMPLEMENTING KAPASIYAHAN BLG. 508, T. 1995 OF THE determine, taking into account national and local interests. Since Congress
SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF LAGUNA PROHIBITING THE has allowed the PCSO to operate lotteries which PCSO seeks to conduct
OPERATION OF THE LOTTO IN THE PROVINCE OF LAGUNA. in Laguna, pursuant to its legislative grant of authority, the
provinces Sangguniang Panlalawigan cannot nullify the exercise of said
II authority by preventing something already allowed by Congress.
The issues to be resolved now are the following: (1)
THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE ARGUMENT whether Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang
POSITED BY THE PETITIONERS THAT BEFORE ANY GOVERNMENT Panlalawigan of Laguna and the denial of a mayors permit based thereon
PROJECT OR PROGRAM MAY BE IMPLEMENTED BY THE NATIONAL are valid; and (2) whether prior consultations and approval by the
AGENCIES OR OFFICES, PRIOR CONSULTATION AND APPROVAL BY concerned Sanggunian are needed before a lotto system can be operated
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS CONCERNED AND OTHER in a given local government unit.
CONCERNED SECTORS IS REQUIRED.
The entire controversy stemmed from the refusal of Mayor Cataquiz to
issue a mayors permit for the operation of a lotto outlet in favor of private
Petitioners contend that the assailed resolution is a valid policy
respondent. According to the mayor, he based his decision on an existing
declaration of the Provincial Government of Laguna of its vehement
ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto in the province of Laguna. The
objection to the operation of lotto and all forms of gambling. It is likewise a
ordinance, however, merely states the objection of the council to the said
valid exercise of the provincial governments police power under the General
game. It is but a mere policy statement on the part of the local council, which
Welfare Clause of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local
is not self-executing. Nor could it serve as a valid ground to prohibit the
Government Code of 1991.[6] They also maintain that respondents lotto
operation of the lotto system in the province of Laguna. Even petitioners
operation is illegal because no prior consultations and approval by the local
admit as much when they stated in their petition that:
government were sought before it was implemented contrary to the express
provisions of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of R.A. 7160.[7]
5.7. The terms of the Resolution and the validity thereof are express and
For his part, respondent Calvento argues that the questioned clear. The Resolution is a policy declaration of the Provincial Government
resolution is, in effect, a curtailment of the power of the state since in this of Laguna of its vehement opposition and/or objection to the operation of
case the national legislature itself had already declared lotto as legal and and/or all forms of gambling including the Lotto operation in the Province of
permitted its operations around the country.[8] As for the allegation that no Laguna.[12]
prior consultations and approval were sought from the sangguniang
panlalawigan of Laguna, respondent Calvento contends this is not As a policy statement expressing the local governments objection to
mandatory since such a requirement is merely stated as a declaration of the lotto, such resolution is valid. This is part of the local governments
policy and not a self-executing provision of the Local Government Code of autonomy to air its views which may be contrary to that of the national
1991.[9] He also states that his operation of the lotto system is legal because governments. However, this freedom to exercise contrary views does not
of the authority given to him by the PCSO, which in turn had been granted mean that local governments may actually enact ordinances that go against
a franchise to operate the lotto by Congress.[10] laws duly enacted by Congress. Given this premise, the assailed resolution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for the State, contends that in this case could not and should not be interpreted as a measure or
the Provincial Government of Laguna has no power to prohibit a form of ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto.

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The game of lotto is a game of chance duly authorized by the national suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a wrong, sweep from
government through an Act of Congress. Republic Act 1169, as amended existence all of the municipal corporations in the state, and the corporation
by Batas Pambansa Blg. 42, is the law which grants a franchise to the could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as the
PCSO and allows it to operate the lotteries. The pertinent provision reads: corporation themselves are concerned. They are, so to phrase it, the mere
tenants at will of the legislature (citing Clinton vs. Ceder Rapids, etc.
Section 1. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.- The Philippine Railroad Co., 24 Iowa 455).
Charity Sweepstakes Office, hereinafter designated the Office, shall be the
principal government agency for raising and providing for funds for health Nothing in the present constitutional provision enhancing local
programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national autonomy dictates a different conclusion.
character, and as such shall have the general powers conferred in section
thirteen of Act Numbered One thousand four hundred fifty-nine, as The basic relationship between the national legislature and the local
amended, and shall have the authority: government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the
Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to
A. To hold and conduct charity sweepstakes races, lotteries, and other detract from that policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of
similar activities, in such frequency and manner, as shall be determined, the local government units although in significantly reduced degree now
and subject to such rules and regulations as shall be promulgated by the than under our previous Constitutions. The power to create still includes the
Board of Directors. power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the power to withhold or
recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like
This statute remains valid today. While lotto is clearly a game of the direct conferment on the local government units of the power to tax
chance, the national government deems it wise and proper to permit (citing Art. X, Sec. 5, Constitution), which cannot now be withdrawn by mere
it. Hence, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, a local government statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal
unit, cannot issue a resolution or an ordinance that would seek to prohibit of the local government units, which cannot defy its will or modify or violate
permits. Stated otherwise, what the national legislature expressly allows by it.[15]
law, such as lotto, a provincial board may not disallow by ordinance or
resolution. Ours is still a unitary form of government, not a federal state. Being so,
any form of autonomy granted to local governments will necessarily be
In our system of government, the power of local government units to limited and confined within the extent allowed by the central
legislate and enact ordinances and resolutions is merely a delegated power authority. Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987
coming from Congress. As held in Tatel vs. Virac,[13] ordinances should not Constitution simply means decentralization. It does not make local
contravene an existing statute enacted by Congress. The reasons for this governments sovereign within the state or an imperium in imperio.[16]
is obvious, as elucidated in Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp.[14]
To conclude our resolution of the first issue, respondent mayor of San
Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local Pedro, cannot avail of Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of the
councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred upon them by Provincial Board of Laguna as justification to prohibit lotto in his
Congress as the national lawmaking body.The delegate cannot be superior municipality. For said resolution is nothing but an expression of the local
to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a legislative unit concerned. The Boards enactment, like spring water, could
heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of not rise above its source of power, the national legislature.
Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and As for the second issue, we hold that petitioners erred in declaring that
negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute. Sections 2 (c) and 27 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local
Government Code of 1991, apply mandatorily in the setting up of lotto
Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and outlets around the country. These provisions state:
rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life,
without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As it may Section 2. Declaration of Policy. x x x
destroy, it may abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional
limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can

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(c) It is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be
offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government implemented. Obviously, none of these effects will be produced by the
units, non-governmental and peoples organizations, and other concerned introduction of lotto in the province of Laguna.
sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in
their respective jurisdictions. Moreover, the argument regarding lack of consultation raised by
petitioners is clearly an afterthought on their part. There is no indication in
the letter of Mayor Cataquiz that this was one of the reasons for his refusal
Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. No project or program shall be to issue a permit. That refusal was predicated solely but erroneously on the
implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned provisions of Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, Taon 1995, of the Sangguniang
in Section 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the Panlalawigan of Laguna.
sanggunian concerned is obtained; Provided, that occupants in areas where
such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate In sum, we find no reversible error in the RTC decision enjoining Mayor
relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of Cataquiz from enforcing or implementing the Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T.
the Constitution. 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna. That resolution
expresses merely a policy statement of the Laguna provincial board. It
From a careful reading of said provisions, we find that these apply only possesses no binding legal force nor requires any act of implementation. It
to national programs and/or projects which are to be implemented in a provides no sufficient legal basis for respondent mayors refusal to issue the
particular local community. Lotto is neither a program nor a project of the permit sought by private respondent in connection with a legitimate
national government, but of a charitable institution, the PCSO. Though business activity authorized by a law passed by Congress.
sanctioned by the national government, it is far fetched to say that lotto falls
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Order of
within the contemplation of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of the Local Government
the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna enjoining the petitioners from
Code. implementing or enforcing Resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995, of
Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 the Provincial Board of Laguna is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.
thereof.[17] Section 26 reads:
SO ORDERED.

Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
Ecological Balance. It shall be the duty of every national agency or
government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the
planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause
pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of
crop land, range-land, or forest cover, and extinction of animal or plant
species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental
organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and
objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the
community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the
measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects
thereof.

Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be


interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those
enumerated in Section 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution;
(2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of non-
renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, range-land, or
forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species from the face
of the planet; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction

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EN BANC the Liga Chapter of Caloocan City and of the Liga ng mga
Barangay National Chapter, committed certain irregularities in the notice,
venue and conduct of the proposed synchronized Liga ng mga
Barangay elections in 1997. According to the petition, the irregularities
[G.R. No. 130775. September 27, 2004] consisted of the following: (1) the publication of the notice in the Manila
Bulletin but without notifying in writing the individual punong barangays of
Caloocan City;[2] (2) the Notice of Meeting dated 08 June 1997 for the Liga
Chapter of Caloocan City did not specify whether the meeting scheduled on
THE NATIONAL LIGA NG MGA BARANGAY, represented by ALEX L. 14 June 1997 was to be held at 8:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m., and worse, the
DAVID in his capacity as National President and for his own meeting was to be held in Lingayen, Pangasinan;[3] and (3) the deadline for
Person, President ALEX L. DAVID, petitioners, vs. HON. the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy having been set at 5:00 p.m. of the
VICTORIA ISABEL A. PAREDES, Presiding Judge, Regional third day prior to the above election day, or on 11 June 1997,[4] Rayos failed
Trial Court, Branch 124, Caloocan City, and THE to meet said deadline since he was not able to obtain a certified true copy
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR and LOCAL GOVERNMENT, of the COMELEC Certificate of Canvas and Proclamation of Winning
represented the HON. SECRETARY ROBERT Z. BARBERS and Candidate, which were needed to be a delegate, to vote and be voted for in
MANUEL A. RAYOS, respondents. the Liga election. On 13 June 1997, the Executive Judge issued a
temporary restraining order (TRO), effective for seventy-two (72) hours,
enjoining the holding of the general membership and election meeting
of Liga Chapter of Caloocan City on 14 June 1975.[5]
[G.R. No. 131939. September 27, 2004] However, the TRO was allegedly not properly served on herein
petitioner David, and so the election for the officers of the Liga-Caloocan
was held as scheduled.[6] Petitioner David was proclaimed President of
the Liga-Caloocan, and thereafter took his oath and assumed the position
LEANDRO YANGOT, BONIFACIO LACWASAN and BONY of ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Caloocan.
TACIO, petitioners, vs. DILG Secretary ROBERT Z. BARBERS
and DILG Undersecretary MANUEL SANCHEZ, respondents. On 17 July 1997, respondent Rayos filed a second petition, this time
for quo warranto, mandamus and prohibition, with prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order and damages,
DECISION
against David, Nancy Quimpo, Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang
Tinga, J.: Panlungsod of Caloocan City, and Secretary Barbers.[7] Rayos alleged that
he was elected President of the Liga Caloocan Chapter in the elections held
At bottom, the present petition inquires into the essential nature of on 14 June 1997 by the members of the Caloocan Chapter pursuant to their
the Liga ng mga Barangay and questions the extent of the power of Resolution/Petition No. 001-97.[8] On 18 July 1997, the presiding judge
Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), granted the TRO, enjoining therein respondents David, Quimpo and
as alter ego of the President. More immediately, the petition disputes the Secretary Barbers from proceeding with the synchronized elections for the
validity of the appointment of the DILG as the interim caretakerof the Liga Provincial and Metropolitan Chapters of the Liga scheduled on 19 July
ng mga Barangay. 1997, but only for the purpose of maintaining the status quo and effective
for a period not exceeding seventy-two (72) hours.[9]
On 11 June 1997, private respondent Manuel A. Rayos [as petitioner
therein], Punong Barangay of Barangay 52, District II, Zone 5, District II, Eventually, on 18 July 1997, at petitioner Davids instance, Special Civil
Caloocan City, filed a petition for prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for Action (SCA) No. C-512 pending before Branch 126 was consolidated with
a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order and SCA No. C-508 pending before Branch 124.[10]
damages before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan,[1] alleging that Before the consolidation of the cases, on 25 July 1997, the DILG
respondent therein Alex L. David [now petitioner], Punong through respondent Secretary Barbers, filed in SCA No. C-512 an Urgent
Barangay of Barangay 77, Zone 7, Caloocan City and then president of

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Motion,[11] invoking the Presidents power of general supervision over all mayors, city vice mayors, members of the sangguniang
local government units and seeking the following reliefs: panlalawigan and panlungsod, DILG regional directors and other
concerned officers, as follows:
WHEREFORE, in the interest of the much-needed delivery of basic services
to the people, the maintenance of public order and to further protect the 1. All concerned are directed not to recognize and/or honor any Liga
interests of the forty-one thousand barangays all over the country, herein Presidents of the Provincial and Metropolitan Chapters as ex-officio
respondent respectfully prays: members of the sanggunian concerned until further notice from the Courts
or this Department;
a) That the Department of the Interior and Local Government
(DILG), pursuant to its delegated power of general 2. All concerned are directed to disregard any pronouncement and/or
supervision, be appointed as the Interim Caretaker to manage directive issued by Mr. Alex David on any issue or matter relating to the
and administer the affairs of the Liga, until such time that the affairs of the Liga ng mga Barangay until further notice from the Courts or
new set of National Liga Officers shall have been duly elected this Department.[17]
and assumed office; ...[12]
The prayer for injunctive reliefs was anchored on the following On 04 August 1997, public respondent Judge Victoria Isabel A.
grounds: (1) the DILG Secretary exercises the power of general supervision Paredes issued the assailed order,[18] the pertinent portions of which read,
over all government units by virtue of Administrative Order No. 267 dated thus:
18 February 1992; (2) the Liga ng mga Barangay is a government
organization; (3) undue interference by some local elective officials during The authority of the DILG to exercise general supervisory jurisdiction over
the Municipal and City Chapter elections of the Liga ng mga Barangay; (4) local government units, including the different leagues created under the
improper issuance of confirmations of the elected Liga Chapter officers by Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160) finds basis in Administrative
petitioner David and the National Liga Board; (5) the need for the DILG to Order No. 267 dated February 18, 1992. Specifically, Section 1 (a) of the
provide remedies measured in view of the confusion and chaos sweeping said Administrative Order provides a broad premise for the supervisory
the Liga ng mga Barangay and the incapacity of the National Liga Board to power of the DILG.Administratively, the DILGs supervision has been tacitly
address the problems properly. recognized by the local barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces as
shown by the evidences presented by respondent David himself (See
On 31 July 1997, petitioner David opposed the DILGs Urgent Motion, Annexes A to C). The fact that the DILG has sought to refer the matters
claiming that the DILG, being a respondent in the case, is not allowed to therein to the National Liga Board/Directorate does not ipso facto mean that
seek any sanction against a co-respondent like David, such as by filing a it has lost jurisdiction to act directly therein. Jurisdiction is conferred by law
cross-claim, without first seeking leave of court.[13] He also alleged that the and cannot be claimed or lost through agreements or inaction by
DILGs request to be appointed interim caretaker constitutes undue individuals. What respondent David may term as interference should
interference in the internal affairs of the Liga, since the Liga is not subject caretakership be allowed, this Court would rather view as a necessary and
to DILG control and supervision.[14] desirable corollary to the exercise of supervision.[19]
Three (3) days after filing its Urgent Motion, on 28 July 1997, and
before it was acted upon by the lower court, the DILG through then Political motivations must not preclude, hamper, or obstruct the delivery of
Undersecretary Manuel Sanchez, issued Memorandum Circular No. 97- basic services and the perquisites of public service. In this case, the fact of
176.[15] It cited the reported violations of the Liga ng mga confusion arising from conflicting appointments, non-action, and
Barangay Constitution and By-Laws by David and widespread chaos and uninformed or wavering decisions of the incumbent National Liga
confusion among local government officials as to who were the qualified ex- Board/Directorate, having been satisfactorily established, cannot simply be
officio Liga members in their respective sangunians.[16] Pending the brushed aside as being politically motivated or arising therefrom. It is
appointment of the DILG as the Interim Caretaker of the Liga ng mga incumbent, therefore, that the DILG exercise a more active role in the
Barangay by the court and until the officers and board members of the supervision of the affairs and operations of the National Liga Board/
national Liga Chapter have been elected and have assumed office, the Directorate at least until such time that the regular National Liga
Memorandum Circular directed all provincial governors, vice governors, city Board/Directorate may have been elected, qualified and assumed office.[20]

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xxx respondent judges orders of 04 August 1997 and 01 October 1997. They
dispute the latters opinion on the power of supervision of the President
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Urgent Motion of the DILG for under the Constitution, through the DILG over local governments, which is
appointment as interim caretaker, until such time that the regularly elected the same as that of the DILGs as shown by its application of the power on
National Liga Board of Directors shall have qualified and assumed office, to the Liga ng mga Barangay. Specifically, they claim that the public
manage and administer the affairs of the National Liga Board, is hereby respondent judgesdesignation of the DILG as interim caretaker and the acts
GRANTED.[21] which the DILG sought to implement pursuant to its designation as such are
beyond the scope of the Chief Executives power of supervision.
On 11 August 1997, petitioner David filed an urgent motion for the To support the petition, petitioners argue that under Administrative
reconsideration of the assailed order and to declare respondent Secretary Order No. 267, Series of 1992, the power of general supervision of the
Barbers in contempt of Court.[22] David claimed that the 04 August 1997 President over local government units does not apply to the Liga and its
order divested the duly elected members of the Board of Directors of various chapters precisely because the Liga is not a local government unit,
the Liga National Directorate of their positions without due process of contrary to the stance of the respondents.[31]
law. He also wanted Secretary Barbers declared in contempt for having
issued, through his Undersecretary, Memorandum Circular No. 97-176, Section 507 of the Local Government Code (Republic Act No.
even before respondent judge issued the questioned order, in mockery of 7160)[32] provides that the Liga shall be governed by its own Constitution
the justice system. He implied that Secretary Barbers knew about and By-laws. Petitioners posit that the duly elected officers and directors of
respondent judges questioned order even before it was promulgated. [23] the National Liga elected in 1994 had a vested right to their positions and
could only be removed therefrom for cause by affirmative vote of two-thirds
On 11 August 1997, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular No. 97- (2/3) of the entire membership pursuant to the Liga Constitution and By-
193,[24] providing supplemental guidelines for the 1997 synchronized Laws, and not by mere issuances of the DILG, even if bolstered by the
elections of the provincial and metropolitan chapters and for the election of dubious authorization of respondent judge.[33] Thus, petitioners claim that
the national chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay. The Memorandum the questioned order divested the then incumbent officers and directors of
Circular set the synchronized elections for the provincial and metropolitan the Liga of their right to their respective offices without due process of law.
chapters on 23 August 1997 and for the national chapter on 06 September
1997. Assuming the Liga could be subsumed under the term local
governments, over which the President, through the DILG Secretary, has
On 12 August 1997, the DILG issued a Certificate of Appointment[25] in the power of supervision,[34] petitioners point out that still there is no legal or
favor of respondent Rayos as president of the Liga ng mga constitutional basis for the appointment of the DILG as interim
Barangay of Caloocan City. The appointment purportedly served as caretaker.[35] They stress that the actions contemplated by the DILG as
Rayoss legal basis for ex-officio membership in the Sangguniang interim caretaker go beyond supervision, as what it had sought and
Panlungsod of Caloocan City and to qualify and participate in the obtained was authority to alter, modify, nullify or set aside the actions of
forthcoming National Chapter Election of the Liga ng mga Barangay.[26] the Liga Board of Directors and even to substitute its judgment over that of
the latter which are all clearly one of control.[36] Petitioners question the
On 23 August 1997, the DILG conducted the synchronized elections of
appointment of Rayos as Liga-Caloocan President since at that time
Provincial and Metropolitan Liga Chapters. Thereafter, on 06 September
1997, the National Liga Chapter held its election of officers and board of petitioner David was occupying that position which was still the subject of
the quo warranto proceedings Rayos himself had instituted.[37] Petitioners
directors, wherein James Marty L. Lim was elected as President of the
National Liga.[27] likewise claim that DILG Memorandum Circular No. 97-193, providing
supplemental guidelines for the synchronized elections of the Liga,
On 01 October 1997, public respondent judge denied Davids motion replaced the implementing rules adopted by the Ligapursuant to its
for reconsideration,[28] ruling that there was no factual or legal basis to Constitution and By-laws.[38] In fact, even before its appointment as interim
reconsider the appointment of the DILG as interim caretaker of the caretaker, DILG specifically enjoined all heads of government units from
National Liga Board and to cite Secretary Barbers in contempt of court.[29] recognizing petitioner David and/or honoring any of his pronouncements
relating to the Liga.[39]
On 10 October 1997, petitioners filed the instant Petition for
Certiorari[30] under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to annul public

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Petitioners rely on decision in Taule v. Santos,[40] which, they claim, Undersecretary are not vested with any constitutional or legal power to
already passed upon the extent of authority of the then Secretary of Local exercise control or even supervision over the National Liga ng mga
Government over the katipunan ng mga barangay or the barangay councils, Barangay, nor to take over the functions of its officers or suspend its
as it specifically ruled that the Secretary [of Local Government] has no constitution; and declare void any and all acts committed by respondents
authority to pass upon the validity or regularity of the election of officers of therein in connection with their caretakership of the Liga.[54] The petition
the katipunan.[41] was consolidated with G.R. No. 130775, but it was eventually dismissed
because the petitioners failed to submit an affidavit of service and proof of
For his part, respondent Rayos avers that since the Secretary of the service of the petition.[55]
DILG supervises the acts of local officials by ensuring that they act within
the scope of their prescribed powers and functions and since members of Meanwhile, on 01 December 1998, petitioner David died and was
the various leagues, such as the Liga in this case, are themselves officials substituted by his legal representatives.[56]
of local government units, it follows that the Liga members are subject to
the power of supervision of the DILG.[42] He adds that as the DILGs Petitioners have raised a number of issues.[57] Integrated and
management and administration of the Liga affairs was limited only to the simplified, these issues boil down to the question of whether or not
conduct of the elections, its actions were consistent with its rule-making respondent Judge acted with grave abuse of discretion in appointing the
power and power of supervision under existing laws. [43] He asserts that in DILG as interim caretaker to administer and manage the affairs of the
assailing the appointment of the DILG as interim caretaker, petitioners failed National Liga Board, per its order dated 04 August 1997.[58] In turn, the
to cite any provision of positive law in support of their stance. Thus, he adds, resolution of the question of grave abuse of discretion entails a couple of
if a law is silent, obscure or insufficient, a judge may apply a rule he sees fit definitive issues, namely: (1) whether the Liga ng mga Barangay is a
to resolve the issue, as long as the rule chosen is in harmony with general government organization that is subject to the DILG Secretarys power of
interest, order, morals and public policy,[44] in consonance with Article 9 of supervision over local governments as the alter ego of the President, and
the Civil Code.[45] (2) whether the respondent Judges designation of the DILG as interim
caretaker of the Liga has invested the DILG with control over the Liga and
On the other hand, it is quite significant that the Solicitor General has whether DILG Memorandum Circular No. 97-176, issued before it was
shared petitioners position. He states that the DILGs act of managing and designated as such interim caretaker, and DILG Memorandum Circular No.
administering the affairs of the National Liga Board are not merely acts of 97-193 and other acts which the DILG made in its capacity as
supervision but plain manifestations of control and direct takeover of the interim caretaker of the Liga, involve supervision or control of the Liga.
functions of the National Liga Board,[46] going beyond the limits of the power
of general supervision of the President over local However, the Court should first address the question of mootness
governments.[47] Moreover, while the Liga may be deemed a government which intervenor Lim raised because, according to him, during the
organization, it is not strictly a local government unit over which the DILG pendency of the present petition a general election was held; the new set
has supervisory power.[48] of officers and directors had assumed their positions; and that supervening
events the DILG had turned-over the management and administration of
Meanwhile, on 24 September 1998, James Marty L. Lim, the newly the Liga to new Liga officers and directors.[59] Respondent Rayos has
elected President of the National Liga, filed a Motion for Leave to File joined him in this regard.[60] Forthwith, the Court declares that these
Comment in Intervention,[49] with his Comment in supervening events have not rendered the instant petition moot, nor
[50]
Intervention attached, invoking the validity of the DILGs actions relative removed it from the jurisdiction of this Court.
to the conduct of the Liga elections.[51] In addition, he sought the dismissal
of the instant petition on the following grounds: (1) the issue of validity or This case transcends the elections ordered and conducted by the DILG
invalidity of the questioned order has been rendered moot and academic by as interim caretaker of the Liga and the Liga officers and directors who were
the election of Liga officers; (2) the turn-over of the administration and elected to replace petitioner David and the former officers. At the core of the
management of Liga affairs to the Liga officers; and (3) the recognition and petition is the validity of the DILGs caretakership of the Liga and the official
acceptance by the members of the Liga nationwide.[52] acts of the DILG as such caretaker which exceeded the bounds of
supervision and were exercise of control. At stake in this case is the
In the interim, another petition, this time for Prohibition with Prayer for realization of the constitutionally ensconced principle of local government
a Temporary Restraining Order, [53] was filed by several presidents autonomy;[61] the statutory objective to enhance the capabilities of
of Liga Chapters, praying that this Court declare the DILG Secretary and barangays and municipalities by providing them opportunities to participate

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actively in the implementation of national programs and projects;[62] and the city and provincial and metropolitan political subdivision levels. [70] The
promotion of the avowed aim to ensure the independence and non- municipal and city chapters of the Liga are composed of
partisanship of the Liga ng mga Barangay. The mantle of local autonomy the barangay representatives from the municipality or city concerned. The
would be eviscerated and remain an empty buzzword if unconstitutional, presidents of the municipal and city chapters of the Liga form the provincial
illegal and unwarranted intrusions in the affairs of the local governments are or metropolitan political subdivision chapters of the Liga. The presidents of
tolerated and left unchecked. the chapters of the Liga in highly urbanized cities, provinces and the Metro
Manila area and other metropolitan political subdivisions constitute the
Indeed, it is the declared policy of the State that its territorial and National Liga ng mga Barangay.[71]
political subdivisions should enjoy genuine meaningful local autonomy to
enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities As conceptualized in the Local Government Code, the barangay is
and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national positioned to influence and direct the development of the entire
goals.[63] In the case of De Leon v. Esguerra,[64] the Court ruled that even country. This was heralded by the adoption of the bottom-to-top approach
barangays are meant to possess genuine and meaningful local autonomy process of development which requires the development plans of
so that they may develop fully as self-reliant communities.[65] the barangay to be considered in the development plans of the municipality,
city or province,[72] whose plans in turn are to be taken into account by the
Furthermore, well-entrenched is the rule that courts will decide a central government[73] in its plans for the development of the entire
question otherwise moot and academic if it is capable of repetition, yet country.[74] The Liga is the vehicle assigned to make this new development
evading review.[66] For the question of whether the DILG may validly be approach materialize and produce results.
appointed as interim caretaker, or assume a similar position and perform
acts pursuant thereto, is likely to resurrect again, and yet the question may The presidents of the Liga at the municipal, city and provincial levels,
not be decided before the actual assumption, or the termination of said automatically become ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Bayan,
assumption even. Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang
Panlalawigan, respectively. They shall serve as such only during their term
So too, dismissing the petition on the ground of mootness could lead of office as presidents of the Liga chapters, which in no case shall be
to the wrong impression that the challenged order and issuances are valid. beyond the term of office of the sanggunian concerned.[75]
Verily, that does not appear to be the correct conclusion to make since by
applying opposite precedents to the issues the outcome points to The Liga ng mga Barangay has one principal aim, namely: to promote
invalidating the assailed order and memorandum circulars. the development of barangays and secure the general welfare of their
inhabitants.[76] In line with this, the Liga is granted the following functions
The resolution of the issues of whether the Liga ng mga Barangay is and duties:
subject to DILG supervision, and whether the questioned caretakership
order of the respondent judge and the challenged issuances and acts of the a) Give priority to programs designed for the total development of
DILG constitute control in derogation of the Constitution, necessitates a the barangays and in consonance with the policies, programs
brief overview of the barangay, as the lowest LGU, and the Liga, as a and projects of the national government;
vehicle of governance and coordination.
b) Assist in the education of barangay residents for peoples
As the basic political unit, the barangay serves as the primary planning participation in local government administration in order to
and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects promote untied and concerted action to achieve country-wide
and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective views development goals;
of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where
disputes may be amicably settled.[67] c) Supplement the efforts of government in creating gainful
employment within the barangay;
On the other hand, the Liga ng mga Barangay[68] is the organization of
all barangays, the primary purpose of which is the determination of the d) Adopt measures to promote the welfare of barangay officials;
representation of the Liga in the sanggunians, and the ventilation, e) Serve as forum of the barangays in order to forge linkages with
articulation, and crystallization of issues affecting barangay government government and non-governmental organizations and thereby
administration and securing solutions thereto, through proper and legal
means.[69] The Liga ng mga Barangay shall have chapters at the municipal,

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promote the social, economic and political well-being of the The controlling provision on the issues at hand is Section 4, Article X
barangays; and of the Constitution, which reads in part:
f) Exercise such other powers and perform such other duties and
functions which will bring about stronger ties between Sec. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision
barangays and promote the welfare of the barangay over local governments.
inhabitants.[77]
The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions uniformly differentiate the
The Ligas are primarily governed by the provisions of the Local Presidents power of supervision over local governments and his power of
Government Code. However, they are empowered to make their own control of the executive departments bureaus and offices. [81] Similar to the
constitution and by-laws to govern their operations. Sec. 507 of the Code counterpart provisions in the earlier Constitutions, the provision in the 1987
provides: Constitution provision has been interpreted to exclude the power of
control.[82]
Sec. 507. Constitution and By-Laws of the Liga and the Leagues. - All other
matters not herein otherwise provided for affecting the internal organization In the early case of Mondano v. Silvosa, et al.,[83] this Court defined
of the leagues of local government units shall be governed by their supervision as overseeing, or the power or authority of an officer to see that
respective constitution and by-laws which are hereby made suppletory to subordinate officers perform their duties, and to take such action as
the provision of this Chapter: Provided, That said Constitution and By-laws prescribed by law to compel his subordinates to perform their
shall always conform to the provision of the Constitution and existing laws. duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or
modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the
performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for
Pursuant to the Local Government Code, the Liga ng mga that of the latter.[84] In Taule v. Santos,[85] the Court held that the
Barangay adopted its own Constitution and By-Laws. It provides that the Constitution permits the President to wield no more authority than that of
corporate powers of the Liga, expressed or implied, shall be vested in the checking whether a local government or its officers perform their duties as
board of directors of each level of the Liga which shall: provided by statutory enactments.[86] Supervisory power, when contrasted
with control, is the power of mere oversight over an inferior body; it does not
a) Have jurisdiction over all officers, directors and committees of the said include any restraining authority over such body.[87]
Liga; including the power of appointment, assignment and delegation;
The case of Drilon v. Lim[88] clearly defined the extent of supervisory
b) Have general management of the business, property, and funds of said power, thus:
Liga;
The supervisor or superintendent merely sees to it that the rules are
followed, but he himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have the
c) Prepare and approve a budget showing anticipated receipts and
discretion to modify or replace them. If the rules are not observed, he may
expenditures for the year, including the plans or schemes for funding
purposes; and order the work done or re-done but only to conform to the prescribed
rules. He may not prescribe his own manner for the doing of the act. He has
no judgment on this matter except to see that the rules are followed[89]
d) Have the power to suspend or remove from office any officer or member
of the said board on grounds cited and in the manner provided in
In Section 4, Article X of the Constitution applicable to the Liga ng mga
hereinunder provisions.[78]
Barangay? Otherwise put, is the Liga legally susceptible to DILG
suspension?
The National Liga Board of Directors promulgated the rules for the
conduct of its Ligas general elections.[79] And, as early as 28 April 1997, This question was resolved in Bito-Onon v. Fernandez,[90] where the
the Liga National Chapter had already scheduled its general elections on Court ruled that the Presidents power of the general supervision, as
14 June 1997.[80] exercised therein by the DILG Secretary as his alter ego, extends to
the Liga ng mga Barangay.

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Does the Presidents power of general supervision extend to the liga ng mga removed the management from the National Liga Board and vested control
barangay, which is not a local government unit? of the Liga on the DILG. Even a cursory glance at the DILGs prayer for
appointment as interim caretaker of the Liga to manage and administer
We rule in the affirmative. In Opinion No. 41, Series of 1995, the the affairs of the Liga, until such time that the new set of
Department of Justice ruled that the liga ng mga barangay is a government National Liga officers shall have been duly elected and assumed office
organization, being an association, federation, league or union created by reveals that what the DILG wanted was to take control over the Liga. Even
law or by authority of law, whose members are either appointed or elected if said caretakership was contemplated to last for a limited time, or only until
government officials. The Local Government Code defines the liga ng mga a new set of officers assume office, the fact remains that it was a conferment
barangay as an organization of all barangays for the primary purpose of of control in derogation of the Constitution.
determining the representation of the liga in the sanggunians, and for With his Department already appointed as interim caretaker of
ventilating, articulating and crystallizing issues affecting barangay the Liga, Secretary Barbers nullified the results of the Liga elections and
government administration and securing, through proper and legal means, promulgated DILG Memorandum Circular No. 97-193 dated 11 August
solutions thereto.[91] 1997, where he laid down the supplemental guidelines for the 1997
synchronized elections of the provincial and metropolitan chapters and for
The rationale for making the Liga subject to DILG supervision is quite the election of the national chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay; scheduled
evident, whether from the perspectives of logic or of practicality. The Liga is dates for the new provincial, metropolitan and national chapter elections;
an aggroupment of barangays which are in turn represented therein by their and appointed respondent Rayos as president of Liga-Caloocan Chapter.
respective punong barangays. The representatives of the Liga sit in an ex
officio capacity at the municipal, city and provincial sanggunians. As such, These acts of the DILG went beyond the sphere of general supervision
they enjoy all the powers and discharge all the functions of regular municipal and constituted direct interference with the political affairs, not only of
councilors, city councilors or provincial board members, as the case may the Liga, but more importantly, of the barangay as an institution. The
be. Thus, the Liga is the vehicle through which the barangay participates in election of Liga officers is part of the Ligas internal organization, for which
the enactment of ordinances and formulation of policies at all the legislative the latter has already provided guidelines. In succession, the DILG
local levels higher than the sangguniang barangay, at the same time assumed stewardship and jurisdiction over the Liga affairs, issued
serving as the mechanism for the bottom-to-top approach of development. supplemental guidelines for the election, and nullified the effects of the Liga-
conducted elections.Clearly, what the DILG wielded was the power of
In the case at bar, even before the respondent Judge designated the control which even the President does not have.
DILG as interim caretaker of the Liga, on 28 July 1997, it issued
Memorandum Circular No. 97-176, directing local government officials not Furthermore, the DILG assumed control when it appointed respondent
to recognize David as the National Liga President and his pronouncements Rayos as president of the Liga-Caloocan Chapter prior to the newly
relating to the affairs of the Liga. Not only was the action premature, it even scheduled general Liga elections, although petitioner Davids term had not
smacked of superciliousness and injudiciousness. The DILG is the topmost yet expired. The DILG substituted its choice, who was Rayos, over the
government agency which maintains coordination with, and exercises choice of majority of the punong barangay of Caloocan, who was the
supervision over local government units and its multi-level leagues. As incumbent President, petitioner David. The latter was elected and had in
such, it should be forthright, circumspect and supportive in its dealings with fact been sitting as an ex-officio member of the sangguniang panlungsod in
the Ligas especially the Liga ng mga Barangay. The indispensable role accordance with the Liga Constitution and By-Laws. Yet, the DILG
played by the latter in the development of the barangays and the promotion extended the appointment to respondent Rayos although it was aware that
of the welfare of the inhabitants thereof deserve no less than the full support the position was the subject of a quo warranto proceeding instituted by
and respect of the other agencies of government. As the Court held in the Rayos himself, thereby preempting the outcome of that case. It was bad
case of San Juan v. Civil Service Commission, [92] our national officials enough that the DILG assumed the power of control, it was worse when it
should not only comply with the constitutional provisions on local autonomy made use of the power with evident bias and partiality.
but should also appreciate the spirit of liberty upon which these provisions
As the entity exercising supervision over the Liga ng mga Barangay,
are based.[93]
the DILGs authority over the Liga is limited to seeing to it that the rules are
When the respondent judge eventually appointed the DILG as interim followed, but it cannot lay down such rules itself, nor does it have the
caretaker to manage and administer the affairs of the Liga, she effectively discretion to modify or replace them. In this particular case, the most that

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the DILG could do was review the acts of the incumbent officers of In Taule,[96] the Court ruled that the Secretary of Local Government
the Liga in the conduct of the elections to determine if they committed any had no authority to pass upon the validity or regularity of the election of
violation of the Ligas Constitution and By-laws and its implementing rules. officers of katipunan ng mga barangay or barangay councils. In that case,
If the National Liga Board and its officers had violated Liga rules, the DILG a protest was lodged before the Secretary of Local Government regarding
should have ordered the Liga to conduct another election in accordance several irregularities in, and seeking the nullification of, the election of
with the Ligas own rules, but not in obeisance to DILG-dictated officers of the Federation of Associations of Barangay Councils (FABC) of
guidelines. Neither had the DILG the authority to remove the incumbent Catanduanes. Then Local Government Secretary Luis Santos issued a
officers of the Liga and replace them, even temporarily, with resolution nullifying the election of officers and ordered a new one to be
unelected Ligaofficers. conducted. The Court ruled:
Like the local government units, the Liga ng mga Barangay is not
subject to control by the Chief Executive or his alter ego. Construing the constitutional limitation on the power of general supervision
of the President over local governments, We hold that respondent Secretary
In the Bito-Onon[94] case, this Court held that DILG Memorandum has no authority to pass upon the validity or regularity of the officers of
Circular No. 97-193, insofar as it authorized the filing of a petition for review the katipunan. To allow respondent Secretary to do so will give him more
of the decision of the Board of Election Supervisors (BES) with the regular power than the law or the Constitution grants. It will in effect give him control
courts in a post-proclamation electoral protest, involved the exercise of over local government officials for it will permit him to interfere in a purely
control as it in effect amended the guidelines already promulgated by democratic and non-partisan activity aimed at strengthening the barangay
the Liga. The decision reads in part: as the basic component of local governments so that the ultimate goal of
fullest autonomy may be achieved. In fact, his order that the new elections
xxx. Officers in control, lay down the rules in the doing of an act. If they are to be conducted be presided by the Regional Director is a clear and direct
not followed, it is discretionary on his part to order the act undone or redone interference by the Department with the political affairs of the barangays
by his subordinate or he may even decide to do it himself. Supervision does which is not permitted by the limitation of presidential power to general
not cover such authority. Supervising officers merely see to it that the rules supervision over local governments.[97]
are followed, but he himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have
the discretion to modify or replace them. If the rules are not observed, he All given, the Court is convinced that the assailed order was issued
may order the work done or re-done to conform for to the prescribed rules. with grave abuse of discretion while the acts of the respondent Secretary,
He cannot prescribe his own manner the doing of the act. including DILG Memorandum Circulars No. 97-176 and No. 97-193, are
unconstitutional and ultra vires, as they all entailed the conferment or
xxx exercise of control a power which is denied by the Constitution even to the
President.
xxx. The amendment of the GUIDELINES is more than an exercise of the WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Order of the Regional
power of supervision but is an exercise of the power of control, which the Trial Court dated 04 August 1997 is SET ASIDE for having been issued with
President does not have over the LIGA.Although the DILG is given the grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. DILG
power to prescribe rules, regulations and other issuances, the Memorandum Circulars No. 97-176 and No. 97-193, are declared VOID for
Administrative Code limits its authority to merely monitoring compliance by being unconstitutional and ultra vires.
local government units of such issuances. To monitor means to watch,
observe or check and is compatible with the power of supervision of the No pronouncements as to costs.
DILG Secretary over local governments, which is limited to checking SO ORDERED.
whether the local government unit concerned or the officers thereof perform
their duties as per statutory enactments. Besides, any doubt as to the power Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
of the DILG Secretary to interfere with local affairs should be resolved in Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales,
favor of the greater autonomy of the local government.[95] Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Chico-Nazario, J., on leave.

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FIRST DIVISION The Case

This is a petition for review[1] of the Order[2] dated 7 November 1997 of


[G.R. No. 131442. July 10, 2003] the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7 (Manila RTC), dismissing
petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction.

BANGUS FRY FISHERFOLK DIWATA MAGBUHOS, ANGELITA BINAY, The Facts


ELMA GARCIA, VIRGILIO PANGUIO, ARSENIO CASTILLO,
ARIEL PANGUIO, ANTONIO PANGUIO, ANTONIO BUNQUIN,
GENEROSO BUNQUIN, CHARLIE DIMAYACYAC, RENATO On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G. Principe
PANGUIO, ATILANO BUNQUIN, CARLOS CHAVEZ, JUAN (RED Principe) of Region IV, Department of Environment and Natural
DIMAYACYAC, FILEMON BUNQUIN, MARIO MAGBUHOS, Resources (DENR), issued an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC)
MAURO MAGBUHOS, NORA MAGBUHOS, JEOVILYN, in favor of respondent National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). The ECC
GENALYN and JORVAN QUIMUEL, minors, represented by authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary mooring facility in Minolo
their parents FELICIANA and SABINO QUIMUEL, MARICAR Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.
MAGBUHOS, minor, represented by her parents CARMELITA The Sangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared Minolo Cove, a
and ANTONIO MAGBUHOS, MARLO BINAY, minor, mangrove area and breeding ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone.[3]
represented by his parents EFRENITA and CHARLITO BINAY,
and the BANGUS, BANGUS FRY and other MARINE LIFE OF The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking site of
MINOLO COVE, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE ENRICO NAPOCORs power barge, which, due to turbulent waters at its former
LANZANAS as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, mooring site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, required relocation to a safer site
Branch VII, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts power barge would provide the main
NATURAL RESOURCES Region IV, represented by its source of power for the entire province of Oriental Mindoro pending the
Regional Executive Director and its Regional Director for construction of a land-based power plant in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The
Environment, THE NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, ECC for the mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its date of
ORIENTAL MINDORO ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, issuance or until 30 June 1999.[4]
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, herein Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro, Puerto
represented by GOVERNOR RODOLFO VALENCIA, PUERTO Galera,[5] sought reconsideration of the ECC issuance. RED Principe,
GALERA MAYOR GREGORIO DELGADO, VICE MAYOR however, denied petitioners plea on 15 July 1997. On 21 July 1997,
ARISTEO ATIENZA, and MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
BAYAN OF PUERTO GALERA, JUAN ASCAN, JR., RAFAEL 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance of a writ of injunction
ROMEY, CENON SALCEDO, JERRY DALISAY, SIMON to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Impleaded as defendants
BALITAAN, RENATO CATAQUIS, MARCELINO BANAAG, were the following: (1) NAPOCOR, (2) RED Principe, (3) DENR Region IV
DANIEL ENRIQUEZ, AMELYN MARCO, GABRIEL ILAGAN, Technical Director for Environment Oscar Dominguez, (4) Oriental Mindoro
MUNICIPAL ENGINEER RODEL RUBIO, and MUNICIPAL Electric Cooperative (ORMECO), which is engaged in the distribution of
PLANNING and DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WILHELMINA electricity in Oriental Mindoro, and (5) certain officials of Puerto
LINESES, respondents. Galera.[6] Petitioners subsequently amended their complaint to include as
additional defendants the elective officials of Oriental Mindoro represented
DECISION by then Governor Rodolfo G. Valencia. Petitioners further prayed for the
demolition of mooring structures that respondents had already built.
CARPIO, J.:
On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended complaint, the trial
court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order enjoining the construction

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of the mooring facility. However, the trial court lifted the same on 6 August renders his [sic] petition dismissible (Chia vs. Acting Collector of Customs,
1997 on NAPOCORs manifestation that the provincial government of 177 SCRA 755). And a dismissal on the ground of failure to exhaust
Oriental Mindoro was the one undertaking the construction of the mooring administrative remedies is tantamount to a dismissal based on lack of cause
facility.[7] of action (Baguiro vs. Basa, Jr., 214 SCRA 437; Pineda vs. CFI of Davao,
111 Phil. 643; Sarabia vs. Secretary of Agriculture & Natural Resources, L-
On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers, respondents ORMECO 16002, May 23, 1961; Gone, et al. vs. District Engineer, et. al., L-22782,
and the provincial officials of Oriental Mindoro moved to dismiss the August 29, 1975; Abe-Abe, et al. vs. Manta, et. al., L-4827, May 31, 1979)
complaint. These respondents claimed that petitioners failed to exhaust although it does not affect the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter
administrative remedies, rendering the complaint without cause of (Mun. of La Trinidad, et al. vs. CFI of Baguio-Benguet, et al., L-33889, June
action. They also asserted that the Manila RTC has no jurisdiction to enjoin 28, 1983).
the construction of the mooring facility in Oriental Mindoro, which lies
outside the Manila RTCs territorial jurisdiction.
Moreover, this Court finds the Opposition of the Petitioners highly untenable
Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was no need and bereft of merits that the controverted act in question is patently illegal
to exhaust administrative remedies. They argued that the issuance of the and there was an immediate need for judicial intervention.
ECC was in patent violation of Presidential Decree No. 1605,[8] Sections 26
and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160,[9] and the provisions of DENR Department The ECC in question was issued by the Regional Office of the DENR which
Administrative Order No. 96-37 (DAO 96-37) on the documentation of ECC has jurisdiction and authority over the same x x x. And corollary to this, the
applications. Petitioners also claimed that the implementation of the ECC issue as to whether or not the Minolo Cove is within the enclosed coves and
was in patent violation of its terms. waters embraced by Puerto Galera bay and protected by Medio island is a
clear question of fact which the DENR may appropriately resolve before
In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the motion and
resorting to [the] Court[s].
dismissed petitioners complaint.
Hence, this petition. This Court is likewise aware and cognizant of its territorial jurisdiction in the
enforcement of Writ of Injunction. That truly, [a] writ of injunction can only
be enforced within [the] territorial jurisdiction of this Court but not for acts
The Ruling of the Trial Court which are being or about to be committed outside its territorial
jurisdiction. Thus, in Philippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197 SCRA 1, the
Honorable Supreme Court ruled: Regional Trial Courts can only enforce
The trial courts order dismissing the complaint reads in part: their writs of injunction within their respective designated
territories. Furthermore, we find the issuance of the preliminary injunction
directed against the Provincial Sheriff of Negros Occidental a jurisdictional
After careful evaluation and analysis, this Court finds the Motion to Dismiss
paux [sic] pas (from Black Dictionary means jurisdictional falsity) as the
tenable and meritorious.
Courts of First Instance now Regional Trial Court[s], can only enforce their
writs of injunction within their respective designated territories.
Petitioners have clearly failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before
taking this legal action in Court x x x.
And finally, this Court is not unmindful of the relevant and square application
in the case at bar of Presidential Decree No. 1818, Executive Order No. 380
It is x x x worth mentioning that the decision of the Regional Director may dated November 27, 1989, and Circular No. 2-91 of the Supreme Court that
still be x x x elevated to the Office of the Secretary of the DENR to fully the National Power Corporation (NPC) is a public utility, created under
comply with the process of exhaustion of administrative remedies. And well special legislation, engaged in the generation and distribution of electric
settled is the rule in our jurisdiction that before bringing an action in or power and energy. The mooring site of NPC in Puerto Galera, Oriental
resorting to the Courts of Justice, all remedies of administrative character Mindoro is one of its infrastructure projects falling within the mantle of
affecting or determinative of the controversy at that level should first be Executive Order No. 380, November 27, 1989 x x x.
exhausted by the aggrieved party (Pestanas vs. Dyogi, L-25786, February
27, 1978). And petitioners failure to exhaust administrative remedies

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And as held by the Supreme Court in the case of National Power A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners
Corporation vs. Honorable Abraham P. Vera, et al., 170 SCRA 721, courts principal cause of action is the alleged illegality of the issuance of the
are without jurisdiction to issue injunctive writs against [the] National Power ECC. The violation of laws on environmental protection and on local
Corporation. The latter enjoys the protective mantle of P.D. 1818, (Circular government participation in the implementation of environmentally critical
No. 2-91). projects is an issue that involves the validity of NAPOCORs ECC. If the
ECC is void, then as a necessary consequence, NAPOCOR or the
xxx provincial government of Oriental Mindoro could not construct the mooring
facility. The subsidiary issue of non-compliance with pertinent local
ordinances in the construction of the mooring facility becomes immaterial
Injunction in this case is not a mere ancillary [sic] writ but the main action
for purposes of granting petitioners main prayer, which is the annulment of
itself together with the Annulment of the Environmental Clearance
the ECC. Thus, if the court has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the
Certificate (ECC). Even assuming arguendo that the court [can] annul the
ECC how can the latter enforce the same against the Provincial issuance of the ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners
complaint.
Government of Oriental Mindoro which was impleaded by the petitioners as
a necessary party together with the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Petitioners complaint is one that is not capable of pecuniary
and the government officials of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, whose acts estimation. It falls within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the
and functions are being performed outside the territorial jurisdiction of this Regional Trial Courts under Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as
court? x x x Indisputably, the injunction and annulment of ECC as prayed amended by Republic Act No. 7691. The question of whether petitioners
for in the petition are inseparable x x x. should file their complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Manila or Oriental
Mindoro then becomes a matter of venue, to be determined by the
The conclusion, therefore, is inescapable that petitioners have failed to residence of the parties.[12]
exhaust all the available administrative remedies and this Court has no
jurisdiction to issue the injunctive writ prayed for in the Amended Petitioners main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The principal
[Complaint].[10] respondent, DENR Region IV, has its main office at the L & S Building,
Roxas Boulevard, Manila.Regional Executive Director Principe of the DENR
Region IV, who issued the ECC, holds office there. Plainly, the principal
respondent resides in Manila, which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the
The Issue Manila RTC. Thus, petitioners filed their complaint in the proper venue.
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts to issue
The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners injunctive writs is limited to acts committed or about to be committed within
complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction. their judicial region.[13]Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 1818 (PD No.
1818) prohibited[14] courts from issuing injunctive writs against government
infrastructure projects like the mooring facility in the present case. Republic
Act No. 8975 (RA No. 8975), which took effect on 26 November 2000,
The Ruling of the Court superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates more clearly the coverage of the
prohibition, reserves the power to issue such writs exclusively with this
Court, and provides penalties for its violation.[15] Obviously, neither the
The petition has no merit.
Manila RTC nor the Oriental Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive writ to
stop the construction of the mooring facility. Only this Court can do so under
PD No. 1818 and later under RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether
Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case the Manila RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint considering that its
injunctive writ is not enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is academic.

Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. Such Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the
jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint, irrespective of issuance of the ECC, although it could not issue an injunctive writ against
whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the reliefs sought.[11] the DENR or NAPOCOR. However, since the construction of the mooring

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facility could not proceed without a valid ECC, the validity of the ECC The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains these
remains the determinative issue in resolving petitioners complaint. provisions thus:

Final decisions of the RED may be appealed. These decisions include those
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies relating to the issuance or non-issuance of an ECC, and the imposition of
fines and penalties. By inference, the decision of the Secretary on the
issuance or non-issuance of the ECC may also be appealed based on this
The settled rule is before a party may seek the intervention of the provision. Resort to courts prior to availing of this remedy would make the
courts, he should first avail of all the means afforded by administrative appellants action dismissible on the ground of non-exhaustion of
processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery is still administrative remedies.
available, with a procedure prescribed pursuant to law for an administrative
officer to decide the controversy, a party should first exhaust such remedy The right to appeal must be exercised within 15 days from receipt by the
before resorting to the courts. The premature invocation of a courts aggrieved party of such decision. Failure to file such appeal within the
intervention renders the complaint without cause of action and dismissible requisite period will result in the finality of the REDs or Secretarys
on such ground.[16] decision(s), which can no longer be disturbed.
RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the ECC based on
(1) Presidential Decree No. 1586 (PD No. 1586) and its implementing rules An appeal shall not stay the effectivity of the REDs decision, unless the
establishing the Environmental Impact Statement System, (2) DAO 96- Secretary directs otherwise.
37[17] and (3) the Procedural Manual of DAO 96-37. Section 4[18] of PD No.
1586 requires a proponent of an environmentally critical project, or a project The right to appeal does not prevent the aggrieved party from first resorting
located within an environmentally critical area as declared by the President, to the filing of a motion for reconsideration with the RED, to give the RED
to secure an ECC prior to the projects operation.[19]NAPOCOR thus secured an opportunity to re-evaluate his decision. (Emphasis added)
the ECC because the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an
environmentally critical project, is located within an environmentally critical Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners bypassed the
area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2146, issued on 14 December DENR Secretary and immediately filed their complaint with the Manila RTC,
1981.[20] depriving the DENR Secretary the opportunity to review the decision of his
subordinate, RED Principe. Under the Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37
The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the DENR Regional
and applicable jurisprudence, petitioners omission renders their complaint
Directors on the implementation of PD No. 1586 are found in Article VI of
dismissible for lack of cause of action.[21] Consequently, the Manila RTC did
DAO 96-37, which provides:
not err in dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action.

SECTION 1.0. Appeal to the Office of the Secretary. Any party aggrieved
by the final decision of the RED may, within 15 days from receipt of such
decision, file an appeal with the Office of the Secretary. The decision of the On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC
Secretary shall be immediately executory.
Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt from filing an
SECTION 2.0. Grounds for Appeal. The grounds for appeal shall be limited appeal with the DENR Secretary because the issuance of the ECC was in
to grave abuse of discretion and serious errors in the findings of fact which patent violation of existing laws and regulations. These are (1) Section 1 of
would cause grave or irreparable injury to the aggrieved party. Frivolous Presidential Decree No. 1605, as amended, (2) Sections 26 and 27 of
appeals shall not be countenanced. Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), and (3) the
provisions of DAO 96-37 on the documentary requirements for the zoning
SECTION 3.0. Who May Appeal. The proponent or any stakeholder, permit and social acceptability of the mooring facility.
including but not limited to, the LGUs concerned and affected communities,
may file an appeal.

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Petitioners contention is without merit. While the patent illegality of an Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160
act exempts a party from complying with the rule on exhaustion of
administrative remedies,[22] this does not apply in the present case.
Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government
Code to emphasize the legislative concern for the maintenance of a sound
ecology and clean environment.[26] These provisions require every
Presidential Decree No. 1605 national government agency or government-owned and controlled
corporation to hold prior consultations with the local government unit
concerned and to secure the prior approval of its sanggunian before
Presidential Decree No. 1605 (PD No. 1605),[23] as amended by
implementing any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic
Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and 1805, declares as ecologically
change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland,
threatened zone the coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera Bay as
or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species. Sections 26 and
protected by Medio Island. This decree provides in part:
27 respectively provide:
Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the
Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of
construction of marinas, hotels, restaurants, other commercial structures;
Ecological Balance. - It shall be the duty of every national agency or
commercial or semi-commercial wharfs [sic]; commercial docking within the
government-owned or controlled corporation authorized or involved in the
enclosed coves of Puerto Galera; the destruction of its mangrove stands;
planning and implementation of any project or program that may
the devastation of its corals and coastline by large barges, motorboats,
cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources,
tugboat propellers, and any form of destruction by other human activities
loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant
are hereby prohibited.
species, to consult with the local government units, non-governmental
organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and
Section 2. x x x objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the
community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the
No permit for the construction of any wharf, marina, hotel, restaurants and measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects
other commercial structures in Puerto Galera shall be issued without prior thereof.
approval of the Office of the President upon the recommendation of the
Philippine Tourism Authority. (Emphasis supplied) Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall be
implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned
NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of Puerto Galera in Section x x x 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the
Bay as protected by Medio Island,[24] PD No. 1605 does not apply to this sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas
case. However, petitioners assert that Minolo Cove is one of the enclosed where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless
coves of Puerto Galera[25] and thus protected under PD No. 1605. This is a appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the
question of fact that the DENR Secretary should have first resolved. In any provisions of the Constitution.
event, there is no dispute that NAPOCOR will use the mooring facility for its
power barge that will supply 14.4 megawatts of electricity to the entire In Lina, Jr. v. Pao,[27] the Court interpreted these provisions in this
province of Oriental Mindoro, including Puerto Galera. The mooring facility manner:
is obviously a government-owned public infrastructure intended to serve a
basic need of the people of Oriental Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a
Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof
commercial structure; commercial or semi-commercial wharf or commercial
x x x.
docking as contemplated in Section 1 of PD No. 1605. Therefore, the
issuance of the ECC does not violate PD No. 1605 which applies only to
commercial structures like wharves, marinas, hotels and restaurants. Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be
interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those
enumerated in Sections 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause

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pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion jurisdiction, or has committed a grave abuse of discretion; or when his act
of non-renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, rangeland, is clearly and obviously devoid of any color of authority.[30]
or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species; and (6)
other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer duly
of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. authorized under DAO 96-37[31] to issue ECCs for projects located within
environmentally critical areas. RED Principe issued the ECC on the
recommendation of Amelia Supetran, the Director of the Environmental
Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case because as Management Bureau. Thus, RED Principe acted with full authority pursuant
petitioners admit,[28] the mooring facility itself is not environmentally critical to DENR regulations. Moreover, the legal presumption is that he acted with
and hence does not belong to any of the six types of projects mentioned in the requisite authority.[32] This clothes RED Principes acts with presumptive
the law. There is no statutory requirement for the concerned sanggunian to validity and negates any claim that his actions are patently illegal or that he
approve the construction of the mooring facility. It is another matter if the gravely abused his discretion. While petitioners may present proof to the
operation of the power barge is at issue. As an environmentally critical contrary, they must do so before the proper administrative forum before
project that causes pollution, the operation of the power barge needs the resorting to judicial remedies.
prior approval of the concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this
Court is only the construction of the mooring facility, not the operation of the
power barge. Thus, the issuance of the ECC does not violate Sections 26
and 27 of RA No. 7160. On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the ECC

Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in immediately seeking


Documentary Requirements for judicial recourse because NAPOCOR is guilty of violating the conditions of
ECC Applications the ECC, which requires it to secure a separate ECC for the operation of
the power barge. The ECC also mandates NAPOCOR to secure the usual
local government permits, like zoning and building permits, from the
Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located within an municipal government of Puerto Galera.
environmentally critical area is required to submit an Initial Environment
Examination, which must contain a brief description of the environmental The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that NAPOCORs
setting and a documentation of the consultative process undertaken, when ECC is subject to cancellation for non-compliance with its conditions does
appropriate.[29] As part of the description of the environmental setting, the not justify petitioners conduct in ignoring the procedure prescribed in DAO
ECC applicant must submit a certificate of locational clearance or zoning 96-37 on appeals from the decision of the DENR Executive
certificate. Director. Petitioners vigorously insist that NAPOCOR should comply with
the requirements of consultation and locational clearance prescribed in
Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for the ECC, DAO 96-37. Ironically, petitioners themselves refuse to abide with the
did not submit to the DENR Region IV Office the documents proving the procedure for filing complaints and appealing decisions laid down in DAO
holding of consultations and the issuance of a locational clearance or zoning 96-37.
certificate. Petitioners assert that this omission renders the issuance of the
ECC patently illegal. DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative proceeding to
address complaints for the cancellation of an ECC. Under Article IX of DAO
The contention is also without merit. While such documents are part of 96-37, complaints to nullify an ECC must undergo an administrative
the submissions required from a project proponent, their mere absence investigation, after which the hearing officer will submit his report to the EMB
does not render the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To justify non- Director or the Regional Executive Director, who will then render his
exhaustion of administrative remedies due to the patent illegality of the decision. The aggrieved party may file an appeal to the DENR Secretary,
ECC, the public officer must have issued the ECC [without any] semblance who has authority to issue cease and desist orders. Article IX also classifies
of compliance, or even an attempt to comply, with the pertinent laws; when the types of violations covered under DAO 96-37, including projects
manifestly, the officer has acted without jurisdiction or has exceeded his operating without an ECC or violating the conditions of the ECC. This is the

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applicable procedure to address petitioners complaint on NAPOCORs


alleged violations and not the filing of the instant case in court.

A Final Word

The Court commends petitioners for their courageous efforts to


safeguard and maintain the ecological balance of Minolo Cove. This Court
recognizes the utmost importance of protecting the environment.[33] Indeed,
we have called for the vigorous prosecution of violators of environmental
laws.[34] Legal actions to achieve this end, however, must be done in
accordance with established rules of procedure that were intended, in the
first place, to achieve orderly and efficient administration of justice.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna,
JJ., concur.

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EN BANC the 20% development fund of some LGUs was not actually utilized for
development projects but was diverted to expenses properly chargeable
G.R. No. 195390 December 10, 2014 against the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), in stark
violation of Section 287 of R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local
GOV. LUIS RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR., and the PROVINCE OF Government Code of 1991 (LGC). Thus, on December 14, 1995, the DILG
CAMARINES SUR, Petitioners, issued MC No. 95-216,5 enumerating the policies and guidelines on the
vs. utilization of the development fund component of the IRA. It likewise carried
HON. JESSE M. ROBREDO, in his capacity as Secretary of the a reminder to LGUs of the strict mandate to ensure that public funds, like
Department of the Interior and Local Government, Respondent. the 20% development fund, "shall bespent judiciously and only for the very
purpose or purposes for which such funds are intended."6
DECISION
On September 20, 2005, then DILG Secretary Angelo T. Reyes and
Department of Budget and Management Secretary Romulo L. Neri issued
REYES, J.: Joint MC No. 1, series of 2005,7 pertaining to the guidelines on the
appropriation and utilization of the 20% of the IRA for development projects,
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition1 under Rule 65 of the 1997 which aims to enhance accountability of the LGUs in undertaking
Revised Rules of Court filed by former Governor Luis Raymund F. development projects. The said memorandum circular underscored that the
Villafuerte, Jr. (Villafuerte) and the Province of Camarines Sur (petitioners), 20% of the IRA intended for development projects should be utilized for
seeking to annul and set aside the following issuances of the late Honorable social development, economic development and environmental
Jesse M. Robredo (respondent), in his capacity as then Secretary of the management.8
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), to wit:
On August 31, 2010, the respondent, in his capacity as DILG Secretary,
(a) Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2010-83dated August 31, issued the assailed MC No. 2010-83,9entitled "Full Disclosure of Local
2010, pertaining to the full disclosure of local budget and finances, Budget and Finances, and Bids and Public Offerings," which aims to
and bids and public offerings;2 promote good governance through enhanced transparency and
accountability of LGUs. The pertinent portion of the issuance reads:
(b) MC No. 2010-138 dated December 2, 2010, pertaining to the
use of the 20% component of the annual internal revenue allotment Legal and Administrative Authority
shares;3 and
Section 352 of the Local Government Code of 1991 requires the posting
(c) MC No. 2011-08 dated January 13, 2011, pertaining to the strict within 30 days from the end of eachfiscal year in at least three (3) publicly
adherence to Section 90 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10147 or the accessible and conspicuous places in the local government unit a summary
General Appropriations Act of 2011.4 of all revenues collected and funds received including the appropriations
and disbursements of such funds during the preceding fiscal year.
The petitioners seek the nullification of the foregoing issuances on the
ground of unconstitutionality and for having been issued with grave abuse On the other hand, Republic Act No. 9184, known as the Government
of discretion amounting to lack orexcess of jurisdiction. Procurement Reform Act, calls for the posting of the Invitation to Bid, Notice
of Award, Notice to Proceed and Approved Contract in the procuring entity’s
The Facts premises, in newspapers of general circulation, the Philippine Government
Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) and the website of the
In 1995, the Commission on Audit (COA) conducted an examination and procuring entity. The declared policy of the State to promote good local
audit on the manner the local government units (LGUs) utilized their Internal governance also calls for the posting of budgets, expenditures, contracts
Revenue Allotment (IRA) for the calendar years 1993-1994. The and loans, and procurement plans of local government units in conspicuous
examination yielded an official report,showing that a substantial portion of

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places within public buildings in the locality, inthe web, and in print media of Budget Preparation Form No. 3, titled, Program Appropriation and
community or general circulation. Obligation by Object of Expenditure, limited to PDAF Utilization);

Furthermore, the President, in his first State of the Nation Address, directed 5. CY 2010 Special Education Fund Utilization, information detail to
all government agencies and entities to bring to an end luxurious spending the level of particulars of object expenditures (Source Document -
and misappropriation ofpublic funds and to expunge mendacious and Local Budget Preparation Form No. 3, titled, Program Appropriation
erroneous projects, and adhere to the zero-based approach budgetary and Obligation by Object of Expenditure, limited to Special
principle. Education Fund);

Responsibility of the Local Chief Executive 6. CY 2010 20% Component of the IRA Utilization, information
detail to the level of particulars of objects of expenditure on social
All Provincial Governors, City Mayors and Municipal Mayors, are directed development, economic development and environmental
to faithfully comply with the above cited [sic] provisions of laws, and existing management (Source Document - Local Budget Preparation Form
national policy, by posting in conspicuous places within public buildings in No. 3, titled, Program Appropriation and Obligation by Object of
the locality, or inprint media of community or general circulation, and in their Expenditure, limited to 20% Component of the Internal Revenue
websites, the following: Allotment);

1. CY 2010 Annual Budget, information detail to the level of 7. CY 2010 Gender and Development Fund Utilization, information
particulars of personal services, maintenance and other operating detail to the level of particulars of object expenditures (Source
expenses and capital outlay per individual offices (Source Document - Local Budget Preparation Form No. 3, titled, Program
Document - Local Budget Preparation Form No. 3, titled, Program Appropriation and Obligation by Object of Expenditure, limited to
Appropriation and Obligation by Object of Expenditure, limited to Gender and Development Fund);
PS, MOOE and CO. For sample form, please visit
www.naga.gov.ph); 8. CY 2010 Statement of Debt Service, information detail to the
level of name of creditor, purpose of loan, date contracted, term,
2. Quarterly Statement of Cash Flows, information detail to the level principal amount, previous payment made on the principal and
of particulars of cash flows from operating activities (e.g. cash interest, amount due for the budget year and balance of the
inflows, total cash inflows, total cash outflows), cash flows from principal (Source Document - Local Budget Preparation Form No.
investing activities (e.g. cash outflows), net increase in cash and 6, titled, Statement of Debt Service);
cash at the beginning of the period (Source Document - Statement
of Cash Flows Form); 9. CY 2010 Annual Procurement Plan or Procurement List,
information detail to the level ofname of project, individual item or
3. CY 2009 Statement of Receipts and Expenditures, information article and specification or description of goods and services,
detail to the level of particulars of beginning cash balance, receipts procurement method, procuring office or fund source, unit price or
or income on local sources (e.g., tax revenue, non-tax revenue), estimated cost or approved budget for the contract and
external sources, and receipts from loans and borrowings, surplus procurement schedule (Source Document - LGU Form No. 02,
of prior years, expenditures on general services, economic Makati City. For sample form, please visit www.makati.gov.ph.)[;]
services, social services and debt services, and total expenditures
(Source Document - Local Budget Preparation Form No. 2, titled, 10. Items to Bid, information detail to the level of individual Invitation
Statement of Receipts and Expenditures); to Bid, containing information as prescribed in Section 21.1 of
Republic Act No. 9184, or The Government Procurement Reform
4. CY 2010 Trust Fund (PDAF) Utilization, information detail to the Act, to be updated quarterly (Source Document - Invitation to Apply
level of particulars of object expenditures (Source Document - Local for Eligibility and to Bid, as prescribed in Section 21.1 of R.A. No.
9184. For sample form, please visit www.naga.gov.ph);

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11. Bid Results on Civil Works, and Goods and Services, respondent issued MC No. 2011-08,13 directing for the strict
information detail to the level of project reference number, name adherence toSection 90 of R.A. No. 10147 or the General
and location of project, name (company and proprietor) and Appropriations Act of 2011. The pertinent portion of the issuance
address of winning bidder, bid amount, approved budget for the reads as follows:
contract, bidding date, and contract duration, to be updated
quarterly (Source Document – Infrastructure Projects/Goods and Legal and Administrative Authority
Services Bid-Out (2010), Naga City. For sample form, please visit
www.naga.gov.ph); and
● Section 90 of Republic Act No. 10147 (General Appropriations Act) FY
2011 re "Use and Disbursement of Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs",
12. Abstract of Bids as Calculated, information detail to the level of [sic] stipulates: The amount appropriated for the LGU’s share in the Internal
project name, location, implementing office, approved budget for Revenue Allotment shall be used in accordance with Sections 17 (g) and
the contract, quantity and items subject for bidding, and bids of 287 of R.A. No 7160. The annual budgets of LGUs shall be prepared in
competing bidders, to be updated quarterly (Source Document - accordance with the forms, procedures, and schedules prescribed by the
Standard Form No. SF-GOOD-40, Revised May 24, 2004, Naga Department of Budget and Management and those jointly issued with the
City. For sample form, please visit www.naga.gov.ph). Commission on Audit. Strict compliance with Sections 288 and 354 of R.A.
No. 7160 and DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2010-83, entitled "Full
The foregoing circular also statesthat non-compliance will be meted Disclosure of Local Budget and Finances, and Bids and Public offering" is
sanctions in accordance with pertinent laws, rules and regulations. 10 hereby mandated; PROVIDED, That in addition to the publication or posting
requirement under Section 352 of R.A. No. 7160 in three (3) publicly
On December 2, 2010, the respondent issued MC No. 2010-138,11 accessible and conspicuous places in the local government unit, the LGUs
reiterating that 20% component of the IRA shall be utilized for desirable shall also post the detailed information on the use and disbursement, and
social, economic and environmental outcomes essential to the attainment status of programs and projects in the LGUS websites. Failure to comply
of the constitutional objective of a quality oflife for all. It also listed the with these requirements shall subject the responsible officials to disciplinary
following enumeration of expenses for which the fund must not be utilized, actions in accordance with existing laws. x x x14
viz:
xxxx
1. Administrative expenses such ascash gifts, bonuses, food
allowance, medical assistance, uniforms, supplies, meetings, Sanctions
communication, water and light, petroleum products, and the like;
2. Salaries, wages or overtime pay; Non-compliance with the foregoing shall be dealt with in accordance with
pertinent laws, rules and regulations. In particular, attention is invited to the
3. Travelling expenses, whether domestic or foreign; provision of the Local Government Code of 1991, quoted as follows:

4. Registration or participation feesin training, seminars, Section 60. Grounds for Disciplinary Actions - An elective local official may
conferences or conventions; be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office on: (c) Dishonesty,
oppression, misconduct in office, gross negligence, or dereliction of duty. x
5. Construction, repairor refinishing of administrative offices; x x15(Emphasis and underscoring in the original)

6. Purchase of administrative office furniture, fixtures, equipment or On February 21, 2011, Villafuerte, then Governor of Camarines Sur, joined
appliances; and by the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur, filed the instant petition for
certiorari, seeking to nullify the assailed issuances of the respondent for
being unconstitutional and having been issued with grave abuse of
7. Purchase, maintenance or repair of motor vehicles or
discretion.
motorcycles, except ambulances.12 On January 13, 2011, the

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On June 2, 2011, the respondent filed his Comment on the petition.16 Then, the petition is premature since there is yet any actual controversy that is ripe
on June 22, 2011, the petitioners filed their Reply (With Urgent Prayer for for judicial determination. He points out the lack of allegation in the petition
the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary that the assailed issuances had been fully implemented and that the
Restraining Order).17 In the Resolution18 dated October 11, 2011, the Court petitioners had already exhausted administrative remedies under Section
gave due course to the petition and directed the parties to file their 25 of the Revised Administrative Code before filing the same in court. 22
respective memorandum. In compliance therewith, the respondent and the
petitioners filed their Memorandum on January 19, 201219 and on February It is well-settled that the Court’s exercise of the power of judicial review
8, 201220 respectively. requires the concurrence of the following elements: (1) there must be an
actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the
The petitioners raised the following issues: person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity
of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal
Issues and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will
sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of
constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue
I
of constitutionality must be the very lis motaof the case.23
THE HON. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The respondent claims that there isyet any actual case or controversy that
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
calls for the exercise of judicial review. He contends that the mere
OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN HEISSUED THE ASSAILED
expectation of an administrative sanction does not give rise to a justiciable
MEMORANDUM CIRCULARS IN VIOLATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF
controversy especially, in this case, that the petitioners have yet to exhaust
LOCAL AUTONOMY AND FISCAL AUTONOMY ENSHRINED IN THE
1987 CONSTITUTION AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF administrative remedies available.24
1991[.]
The Court disagrees.
II
In La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos,25 the Court
THE HON. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT characterized an actual case or controversy, viz:
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN HEINVALIDLY ASSUMED An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that
LEGISLATIVE POWERS IN PROMULGATING THE ASSAILED is appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest
MEMORANDUM CIRCULARS WHICH WENT BEYOND THE CLEAR AND the decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion. The power
MANIFEST INTENT OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND THE LOCAL does not extend to hypothetical questions since any attempt at abstraction
GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991[.]21 could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile
conclusions unrelated to actualities.26 (Citations omitted)
Ruling of the Court
The existence of an actual controversy in the instant case cannot be
The present petition revolves around the main issue: Whether or not the overemphasized. At the time of filing of the instant petition, the respondent
had already implemented the assailed memorandum circulars. In fact, on
assailed memorandum circulars violate the principles of local and fiscal
May 26, 2011, Villafuerte received Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM)
autonomy enshrined in the Constitution and the LGC.
No. 2011-009 dated May 10, 201127 from the Office of the Provincial Auditor
of Camarines Sur, requiring him to comment on the observation of the audit
The present petition is ripe for judicial review. team, which states:

At the outset, the respondent is questioning the propriety of the exercise of The Province failed to post the transactions and documents required under
the Court’s power of judicial review over the instant case. He argues that Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum

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Circular No. 2010-83, thereby violating the mandate of full disclosure of in Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART) v. National Telecommunications
Local Budget and Finances, and Bids and Public Offering. Commission (NTC),31 where it was ruled, thus:

xxxx In questioning the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued


by an administrative agency, a party need not exhaust administrative
The local officials concerned are reminded of the sanctions mentioned in remedies before going to court. This principle applies only where the act of
the circular which is quoted hereunder, thus: the administrative agency concerned was performed pursuant to its quasi-
judicial function, and not when the assailed act pertained to its rule-making
orquasi-legislative power. x x x.32
"Non compliance with the foregoing shall be dealt with in accordance with
pertinent laws, rules and regulations. In particular, attention is invited to the
provision of Local Government Code of 1991, quoted as follows: Considering the foregoing clarification, there is thus no bar for the Court to
resolve the substantive issues raised in the petition.
Section 60. Grounds for Disciplinary Actions – An elective local official may
be disciplined, suspended or removed from office on: (c) Dishonesty, The assailed memorandum
oppression, misconduct in office, gross negligence or dereliction of duty." 28 circulars do not transgress the local
and fiscal autonomy granted to
LGUs.
The issuance of AOM No. 2011-009 to Villafuerte is a clear indication that
the assailed issuances of the respondent are already in the full course of
implementation. The audit memorandum specifically mentioned of The petitioners argue that the assailed issuances of the respondent
Villafuerte’s alleged non-compliance with MCNo. 2010-83 regarding the interfere with the local and fiscal autonomy of LGUs embodied in the
posting requirements stated in the circular and reiterated the sanctions that Constitution and the LGC. In particular, they claim that MC No. 2010-138
may be imposed for the omission. The fact that Villafuerte is being required transgressed these constitutionally-protected liberties when it restricted the
to comment on the contents of AOM No. 2011-009 signifies that the process meaning of "development" and enumerated activities which the local
of investigation for his alleged violation has already begun. Ultimately, the government must finance from the 20% development fund component of
investigation is expected to end in a resolution on whether a violation has the IRA and provided sanctions for local authorities who shall use the said
indeed been committed, together with the appropriate sanctions that come component of the fund for the excluded purposes stated therein.33 They
with it. Clearly, Villafuerte’s apprehension is real and well-founded as he argue that the respondent cannot substitute his own discretion with that of
stands to be sanctioned for non-compliance with the issuances. the local legislative council in enacting its annual budget and specifying the
development projects that the 20% component of its IRA should fund.34
There is likewise no merit in the respondent’s claim that the petitioners’
failure to exhaust administrative remedies warrants the dismissal of the The argument fails to persuade.
petition. It bears emphasizing that the assailed issuances were issued
pursuant to the rule-making or quasi-legislative power of the DILG. This The Constitution has expressly adopted the policy of ensuring the autonomy
pertains to "the power to make rules and regulations which results in of LGUs.35 To highlight its significance, the entire Article X of the
delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting Constitution was devoted to laying down the bedrock upon which this policy
statute."29 Not to be confused with the quasi-legislative or rule-making is anchored.
power of an administrative agency is its quasi-judicial or administrative
adjudicatory power. This is the power to hear and determine questions of It is also pursuant to the mandate of the Constitution of enhancing local
fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance autonomy that the LGC was enacted. Section 2 thereof was a reiteration of
with the standards laid down by the law itself in enforcing and administering the state policy. It reads, thus:
the same law.30 In challenging the validity of anadministrative issuance
carried out pursuant to the agency’s rule-making power, the doctrine of
Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. – (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the
exhaustion of administrative remedies does not stand as a bar in promptly
State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy
resorting to the filing of a case in court. This was made clear by the Court
genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest

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development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective The President’s power of general supervision means the power of a
partners in the attainment ofnational goals. Toward this end, the State shall superior officer to see to it that subordinates perform their functions
provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure according to law. This is distinguished from the President’s power of control
instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government which is the power to alter or modify or set aside what a subordinate officer
units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of
The process of decentralization shall proceed from the national government the President over that of the subordinate officer. The power of control gives
to the local government units. the President the power to revise or reverse the acts or decisions of a
subordinate officer involving the exercise of discretion. 42 (Citations omitted)
Verily, local autonomy means a more responsive and accountable local
government structure instituted through a system of decentralization.36 In It is the petitioners’ contention that the respondent went beyond the confines
Limbona v. Mangelin,37 the Court elaborated on the concept of of his supervisory powers, asalter ego of the President, when he issued MC
decentralization, thus: No. 2010-138. They arguethat the mandatory nature of the circular, with the
threat of imposition of sanctions for non-compliance, evinces a clear desire
[A]utonomy is either decentralization of administration ordecentralization of to exercise control over LGUs.43
power. There is decentralization of administration when the central
government delegates administrative powers to political subdivisions in The Court, however, perceives otherwise.
order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make
local governments "more responsive and accountable," and "ensure their A reading of MC No. 2010-138 shows that it is a mere reiteration of an
fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more existing provision in the LGC. It was plainly intended to remind LGUs to
effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social faithfully observe the directive stated in Section 287 of the LGC to utilize the
progress." At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden 20% portion of the IRA for development projects. It was, at best, an advisory
of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. to LGUs to examine themselves if they have been complying with the law.
x x x. Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication It must be recalled that the assailed circular was issued in response to the
of political power in the favor of local governments [sic] units declared to be report of the COA that a substantial portion of the 20% development fund
autonomous. In thatcase, the autonomous government is free to chart its of some LGUs was not actually utilized for development projects but was
own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central diverted to expenses more properly categorized as MOOE, in violation of
authorities. x x x.38 (Citations omitted) Section 287 of the LGC. This intention was highlighted in the very first
paragraph of MC No. 2010-138, which reads:
To safeguard the state policy on local autonomy, the Constitution confines
the power of the President over LGUs to mere supervision.39 "The President Section 287 of the Local Government Code mandates every local
exercises ‘general supervision’ over them, but only to ‘ensure that local government to appropriate in its annual budget no less than 20% of its
affairs are administered according to law.’ He has no control over their acts annual revenue allotment for development projects. In common
in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own." 40 Thus, understanding, development means the realization of desirable social,
Section 4, Article X of the Constitution, states: economic and environmental outcomes essential in the attainment of the
constitutional objective of a desired quality of life for all. 44 (Underscoring in
Section 4. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general the original)
supervision over local governments. Provinces with respect to component
cities and municipalities, and cities and municipalities with respect to That the term developmentwas characterized asthe "realization of desirable
component barangays, shall ensure that the acts of their component units social, economic and environmental outcome" does not operate as a
are within the scope of their prescribed powers and functions. restriction of the term so as to exclude some other activities that may bring
about the same result. The definition was a plain characterization of the
In Province of Negros Occidental v. Commissioners, Commission on concept of development as it is commonly understood. The statement of a
Audit,41 the Court distinguished general supervision from executive control general definition was only necessary to illustrate among LGUs the nature
in the following manner: of expenses that are properly chargeable against the development fund

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component of the IRA. It is expected to guide them and aid them in for any purpose beyond those expressly prescribed by law or public policy
rethinking their ways so that they may be able to rectify lapses in judgment, shall be subject to the sanctions provided under the Local Government
should there be any, or it may simply stand as a reaffirmation of an already Code and under such other applicable laws.45
proper administration of expenses.
Significantly, the issuance itself did not provide for sanctions. It did not
The same clarification may be said of the enumeration of expenses in MC particularly establish a new set ofacts or omissions which are deemed
No. 2010-138. To begin with, it is erroneous to call them exclusions because violations and provide the corresponding penalties therefor. It simply stated
such a term signifies compulsory disallowance of a particular item or a reminder to LGUs that there are existing rules to consider in the
activity. This is not the contemplation of the enumeration. Again, it is helpful disbursement of the 20% development fund and that non-compliance
to retrace the very reason for the issuance of the assailed circular for a therewith may render them liable to sanctions which are provided in the
better understanding. The petitioners should be reminded that the issuance LGC and other applicable laws. Nonetheless, this warning for possible
of MC No. 2010-138 was brought about by the report of the COA that the imposition of sanctions did not alter the advisory nature of the issuance. At
development fund was not being utilized accordingly. To curb the alleged any rate, LGUs must be reminded that the local autonomy granted to them
misuse of the development fund, the respondent deemed it proper to remind does not completely severe them from the national government or turn them
LGUs of the nature and purpose of the provision for the IRA through MC into impenetrable states. Autonomy does not make local governments
No. 2010-138. To illustrate his point, heincluded the contested enumeration sovereign within the state.46 InGanzon v. Court of Appeals,47 the Court
of the items for which the development fund must generallynot be used. The reiterated:
enumerated items comprised the expenses which the COA perceived to
have been improperly earmarked or charged against the development fund Autonomy, however, is not meant to end the relation of partnership and
based on the audit it conducted. interdependence between the central administration and local government
units, or otherwise, to usher in a regime of federalism. The Charter has not
Contrary to the petitioners’ posturing, however, the enumeration was not taken such a radical step.1avvphi1 Local governments, under the
meant to restrict the discretion of the LGUs in the utilization of their funds. Constitution, are subject to regulation, however limited, and for no other
It was meant to enlighten LGUs as to the nature of the development fund purpose than precisely, albeit paradoxically, to enhance self-government.48
by delineating it from other types of expenses. It was incorporated in the
assailed circular in order to guide them in the proper disposition of the IRA Thus, notwithstanding the local fiscal autonomy being enjoyed by LGUs,
and avert further misuse of the fund by citing current practices which they are still under the supervision of the President and maybe held
seemed to be incompatible with the purpose of the fund. Even then, LGUs accountable for malfeasance or violations of existing laws. "Supervision is
remain at liberty to map out their respective development plans solely on not incompatible with discipline. And the power to discipline and ensure that
the basis of their own judgment and utilize their IRAs accordingly, with the the laws be faithfully executed must be construed to authorize the President
only restriction that 20% thereof be expended for development projects. to order an investigation of the act or conduct of local officials when in his
They may even spend their IRAs for some of the enumerated items should opinion the good of the public service so requires."49
they partake of indirect costs of undertaking development projects. In such
case, however, the concerned LGU must ascertain that applicable rules and
Clearly then, the President’s power of supervision is not antithetical to
regulations on budgetary allocation have been observed lest it be inviting
investigation and imposition of sanctions. In Hon. Joson v. Exec. Sec.
an administrative probe.
Torres,50 the Court pointed out, thus: "Independently of any statutory
provision authorizing the President to conduct an investigation of the nature
The petitioners likewise misread the issuance by claiming that the provision involved in this proceeding, and in view of the nature and character of the
of sanctions therein is a clear indication of the President’s interference in executive authority with which the President of the Philippines is invested,
the fiscalautonomy of LGUs. The relevant portion of the assailed issuance the constitutional grant to him of power to exercise general supervision over
reads, thus: all local governments and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed
must be construed to authorize him to order an investigation of the act or
All local authorities are further reminded that utilizing the 20% component conduct of the petitioner herein. Supervision is not a meaningless thing. It
of the Internal Revenue Allotment, whether willfully or through negligence, is an active power. It is certainly not without limitation, but it at least implies

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authority to inquire into facts and conditions in order to render the power interest and provide the people with the right to access public
real and effective. x x x."51(Emphasis ours and italics in the original) information.56 Section 352 of the LGC is a response to this call for
transparency. It is a mechanism of transparency and accountability of local
As in MC No. 2010-138, the Court finds nothing in two other questioned government officials and is in fact incorporated under Chapter IV of the LGC
issuances of the respondent, i.e., MC Nos. 2010-83 and 2011-08, that can which deals with "Expenditures, Disbursements, Accounting and
be construed as infringing onthe fiscal autonomy of LGUs. The petitioners Accountability."
claim that the requirement to post other documents in the mentioned
issuances went beyond the letter and spirit of Section 352 of the LGC and In the same manner, R.A. No. 9184 established a system of transparency
R.A. No. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform in the procurement process and in the implementation of procurement
Act, by requiring that budgets, expenditures, contracts and loans, and contracts in government agencies.57 It is the public monitoring of the
procurement plans of LGUs be publicly posted as well.52 procurement process and the implementation of awarded contracts with the
end in view of guaranteeing that these contracts are awarded pursuant to
Pertinently, Section 352 of the LGC reads: the provisions of the law and its implementing rules and regulations, and
that all these contracts are performed strictly according to specifications.58
Section 352. Posting of the Summary of Income and Expenditures.– Local
treasurers, accountants, budget officers, and other accountable officers The assailed issuances of the respondent, MC Nos. 2010-83 and 2011-08,
shall, within thirty (30) days from the end of the fiscal year, post in at least are but implementation of this avowed policy of the State to make public
three (3) publicly accessible and conspicuous places in the local officials accountable to the people. They are amalgamations of existing
government unit a summary of all revenues collected and funds received laws, rules and regulation designed to give teeth to the constitutional
including the appropriations and disbursements of such funds during the mandate of transparency and accountability.
preceding fiscal year.
A scrutiny of the contents of the mentioned issuances shows that they do
R.A. No. 9184, on the other hand, requires the posting of the invitation to not, in any manner, violate the fiscal autonomy of LGUs. To be clear, "[f]iscal
bid, notice of award, notice to proceed, and approved contract in the autonomy means that local governments have the power to create their own
procuring entity’s premises, in newspapers of general circulation, and the sources of revenue in addition to their equitable share in the national taxes
website of the procuring entity.53 released by the national government, as well as the power to allocate their
resources in accordance withtheir own priorities.It extends to the
preparation of their budgets, and local officials in turn have to work within
It is well to remember that fiscal autonomy does not leave LGUs with
the constraints thereof."59
unbridled discretion in the disbursement of public funds. They remain
accountable to their constituency. For, public office was created for the
benefit of the people and not the person who holds office. It is inconceivable, however, how the publication of budgets, expenditures,
contracts and loans and procurement plans of LGUs required in the assailed
issuances could have infringed on the local fiscal autonomy of LGUs. Firstly,
The Court strongly enunciated in ABAKADA GURO Party List (formerly
the issuances do not interfere with the discretion of the LGUs in the
AASJS), et al. v.Hon. Purisima, et al.,54 thus:
specification of their priority projects and the allocation of their budgets. The
posting requirements are mere transparency measures which do not at all
Public office is a public trust. It must be discharged by its holder not for his hurt the manner by which LGUs decide the utilization and allocation of their
own personal gain but for the benefit of the public for whom he holds it in funds.
trust. By demanding accountability and service with responsibility, integrity,
loyalty, efficiency, patriotism and justice, all government officials and
Secondly, it appears that even Section 352 of the LGC that is being invoked
employees havethe duty to be responsive to the needs of the people they
are called upon to serve.55 by the petitioners does not exclude the requirement for the posting of the
additional documents stated in MC Nos. 2010-83 and 2011-08. Apparently,
the mentioned provision requires the publication of "a summary of revenues
Thus, the Constitution strongly summoned the State to adopt and collected and funds received, including the appropriations and
implement a policy of full disclosure of all transactions involving public

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disbursements of such funds." The additional requirement for the posting of It is needless to say that the power to govern is a delegated authority from
budgets, expenditures, contracts and loans, and procurement plans are the people who hailed the public official to office through the democratic
well-within the contemplation of Section 352 of the LGC considering they process of election. His stay in office remains a privilege which may be
are documents necessary for an accurate presentation of a summary of withdrawn by the people should he betray his oath of office. Thus, he must
appropriations and disbursements that an LGU is required to publish. not frown upon accountability checks which aim to show how well he is
performing his delegated power. For, it is through these mechanisms of
Finally, the Court believes that the supervisory powers of the President are transparency and accountability that he is able to prove to his constituency
broad enough to embrace the power to require the publication of certain that he is worthy of the continued privilege.
documents as a mechanism of transparency. In Pimentel,Jr. v. Hon.
Aguirre,60 the Court reminded that localfiscal autonomy does not rule out WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the petition is
any manner of national government intervention by way of supervision, in DISMISSED for lack of merit.
order to ensure that local programs, fiscal and otherwise, are consistent with
national goals. The President, by constitutional fiat, is the head of the SO ORDERED.
economic and planning agency of the government, primarily responsible for
formulating and implementing continuing, coordinated and integrated social
and economic policies, plans and programs for the entire
country.61 Moreover, the Constitution, which was drafted after long years of
dictatorship and abuse of power, is now replete with numerous provisions
directing the adoption of measures to uphold transparency and
accountability in government, with a view of protecting the nation from
repeating its atrocious past. In particular, the Constitution commands the
strict adherence to full disclosure of information onall matters relating to
official transactions and those involving public interest. Pertinently, Section
28, Article II and Section 7, Article III of the Constitution, provide: Article II

Declaration of Principles and State Policies Principles

Section 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State


adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions
involving public interest.

Article III
Bill of Rights

Section 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern


shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and
papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to
government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be
afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

In the instant case, the assailed issuances were issued pursuant to the
policy of promoting good governance through transparency, accountability
and participation. The action of the respondent is certainly within the
constitutional bounds of his power as alter ego of the President.

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EN BANC issued Administrative Order 273-A (AO 273-A) amending the former, by
delegating instead of transferring supervision of the ARMM to the DILG.[3]

DATU ZALDY UY AMPATUAN, G.R. No. 190259 Claiming that the Presidents issuances encroached on the ARMMs
ANSARUDDIN ADIONG, REGIE autonomy, petitioners Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, Ansaruddin Adiong, and
SAHALI-GENERALE Petitioners, Regie Sahali-Generale, all ARMM officials,[4] filed this petition for prohibition
- versus - under Rule 65. They alleged that the proclamation and the orders
HON. RONALDO PUNO, in his capacity empowered the DILG Secretary to take over ARMMs operations and seize
as Secretary of the Department of Interior the regional governments powers, in violation of the principle of local
and Local Government and alter-ego of autonomy under Republic Act 9054 (also known as the Expanded ARMM
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Act) and the Constitution. The President gave the DILG Secretary the power
and anyone acting in his stead and on to exercise, not merely administrative supervision, but control over the
behalf of the President of the Philippines, ARMM since the latter could suspend ARMM officials and replace them. [5]
ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES
(AFP), or any of their units operating in Petitioner ARMM officials claimed that the President had no factual basis
the Autonomous Region in Muslim for declaring a state of emergency, especially in the Province of Sultan
Mindanao (ARMM), and PHILIPPINE Kudarat and the City of Cotabato, where no critical violent incidents
NATIONAL POLICE, or any of their Promulgated: occurred. The deployment of troops and the taking over of the ARMM
units operating in ARMM, constitutes an invalid exercise of the Presidents emergency
Respondents. June 7, 2011 powers.[6] Petitioners asked that Proclamation 1946 as well as AOs 273 and
273-A be declared unconstitutional and that respondents DILG Secretary,
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x the AFP, and the PNP be enjoined from implementing them.

In its comment for the respondents,[7] the Office of the Solicitor


General (OSG) insisted that the President issued Proclamation 1946, not to
deprive the ARMM of its autonomy, but to restore peace and order in subject
DECISION places.[8] She issued the proclamation pursuant to her calling out power[9] as
Commander-in-Chief under the first sentence of Section 18, Article VII of
ABAD, J.: the Constitution. The determination of the need to exercise this power rests
solely on her wisdom.[10] She must use her judgment based on intelligence
reports and such best information as are available to her to call out the
On November 24, 2009, the day after the gruesome massacre of 57 men armed forces to suppress and prevent lawless violence wherever and
and women, including some news reporters, then President Gloria whenever these reared their ugly heads.
Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1946,[1] placing the Provinces of On the other hand, the President merely delegated through AOs
Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and the City of Cotabato under a state of 273 and 273-A her supervisory powers over the ARMM to the DILG
emergency. She directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Secretary who was her alter ego any way. These orders did not authorize a
the Philippine National Police (PNP) to undertake such measures as may take over of the ARMM. They did not give him blanket authority to suspend
be allowed by the Constitution and by law to prevent and suppress all or replace ARMM officials.[11] The delegation was necessary to facilitate the
incidents of lawless violence in the named places. investigation of the mass killings.[12] Further, the assailed proclamation and
administrative orders did not provide for the exercise of emergency
Three days later or on November 27, President Arroyo also issued powers.[13]
Administrative Order 273 (AO 273)[2] transferring supervision of the
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from the Office of the Although normalcy has in the meantime returned to the places subject of
President to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). But, this petition, it might be relevant to rule on the issues raised in this petition
due to issues raised over the terminology used in AO 273, the President since some acts done pursuant to Proclamation 1946 and AOs 273 and

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273-A could impact on the administrative and criminal cases that the SECTION 23. x x x (2) In times of war or other
government subsequently filed against those believed affected by such national emergency, the Congress may, by law,
proclamation and orders. authorize the President, for a limited period and
subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to
The Issues Presented exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a
declared national policy. Unless sooner withdrawn by
The issues presented in this case are: resolution of the Congress, such powers shall cease
upon the next adjournment thereof.
1. Whether or not Proclamation 1946 and AOs 273 and 273-A
violate the principle of local autonomy under Section 16, Article X of the The President did not proclaim a national emergency, only a state
Constitution, and Section 1, Article V of the Expanded ARMM Organic Act; of emergency in the three places mentioned. And she did not act pursuant
to any law enacted by Congress that authorized her to exercise
2. Whether or not President Arroyo invalidly exercised emergency extraordinary powers. The calling out of the armed forces to prevent or
powers when she called out the AFP and the PNP to prevent and suppress suppress lawless violence in such places is a power that the Constitution
all incidents of lawless violence in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and directly vests in the President. She did not need a congressional authority
Cotabato City; and to exercise the same.

3. Whether or not the President had factual bases for her actions. Three. The Presidents call on the armed forces to prevent or
suppress lawless violence springs from the power vested in her under
The Rulings of the Court Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which provides.[17]
We dismiss the petition.
SECTION 18. The President shall be the
One. The claim of petitioners that the subject proclamation and Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the
administrative orders violate the principle of local autonomy is anchored on Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he
the allegation that, through them, the President authorized the DILG may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress
Secretary to take over the operations of the ARMM and assume direct lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. x x x
governmental powers over the region.
While it is true that the Court may inquire into the factual bases for
But, in the first place, the DILG Secretary did not take over control the Presidents exercise of the above power,[18] it would generally defer to
of the powers of the ARMM. After law enforcement agents took respondent her judgment on the matter. As the Court acknowledged in Integrated Bar
Governor of ARMM into custody for alleged complicity in the Maguindanao of the Philippines v. Hon. Zamora,[19] it is clearly to the President that the
massacre, the ARMM Vice-Governor, petitioner Ansaruddin Adiong, Constitution entrusts the determination of the need for calling out the armed
assumed the vacated post on December 10, 2009 pursuant to the rule on forces to prevent and suppress lawless violence. Unless it is shown that
succession found in Article VII, Section 12,[14] of RA 9054. In turn, Acting such determination was attended by grave abuse of discretion, the Court
Governor Adiong named the then Speaker of the ARMM Regional will accord respect to the Presidents judgment. Thus, the Court said:
Assembly, petitioner Sahali-Generale, Acting ARMM Vice-Governor.[15] In
short, the DILG Secretary did not take over the administration or operations If the petitioner fails, by way of proof, to
of the ARMM. support the assertion that the President acted without
factual basis, then this Court cannot undertake an
Two. Petitioners contend that the President unlawfully exercised independent investigation beyond the pleadings. The
emergency powers when she ordered the deployment of AFP and PNP factual necessity of calling out the armed forces is not
personnel in the places mentioned in the proclamation.[16] But such easily quantifiable and cannot be objectively
deployment is not by itself an exercise of emergency powers as understood established since matters considered for satisfying the
under Section 23 (2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides: same is a combination of several factors which are not
always accessible to the courts. Besides the absence

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of textual standards that the court may use to judge prepare for and prevent reported retaliatory actions
necessity, information necessary to arrive at such from the Mangudadatu clan and additional offensive
judgment might also prove unmanageable for the measures from the Ampatuan clan.
courts. Certain pertinent information might be difficult
to verify, or wholly unavailable to the courts. In many xxxx
instances, the evidence upon which the President
might decide that there is a need to call out the armed The Ampatuan forces are estimated to be
forces may be of a nature not constituting technical approximately two thousand four hundred (2,400)
proof. persons, equipped with about two thousand (2,000)
firearms, about four hundred (400) of which have been
On the other hand, the President, as accounted for. x x x
Commander-in-Chief has a vast intelligence network to
gather information, some of which may be classified as As for the Mangudadatus, they have an
highly confidential or affecting the security of the state. estimated one thousand eight hundred (1,800)
In the exercise of the power to call, on-the-spot personnel, with about two hundred (200) firearms. x x
decisions may be imperatively necessary in x
emergency situations to avert great loss of human
lives and mass destruction of property. Indeed, the Apart from their own personal forces, both
decision to call out the military to prevent or suppress clans have Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA)
lawless violence must be done swiftly and decisively if personnel who support them: about five hundred (500)
it were to have any effect at all. x x x.[20] for the Ampatuans and three hundred (300) for the
Mangudadatus.
Here, petitioners failed to show that the declaration of a state of emergency
in the Provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, as well What could be worse than the armed clash of
as the Presidents exercise of the calling out power had no factual basis. two warring clans and their armed supporters,
They simply alleged that, since not all areas under the ARMM were placed especially in light of intelligence reports on the
under a state of emergency, it follows that the take over of the entire ARMM potential involvement of rebel armed groups (RAGs).
by the DILG Secretary had no basis too.[21]
One RAG was reported to have planned an
But, apart from the fact that there was no such take over to begin attack on the forces of Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. to
with, the OSG also clearly explained the factual bases for the Presidents show support and sympathy for the victims. The said
decision to call out the armed forces, as follows: attack shall worsen the age-old territorial dispute
between the said RAG and the Ampatuan family.
The Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans are
prominent families engaged in the political control of xxxx
Maguindanao. It is also a known fact that both families
have an arsenal of armed followers who hold elective On the other hand, RAG faction which is based
positions in various parts of the ARMM and the rest in Sultan Kudarat was reported to have received three
of Mindanao. million pesos (P3,000,000.00) from Datu Andal
Ampatuan, Sr. for the procurement of ammunition. The
Considering the fact that the principal victims said faction is a force to reckon with because the group
of the brutal bloodshed are members of the is well capable of launching a series of violent
Mangudadatu family and the main perpetrators of the activities to divert the attention of the people and the
brutal killings are members and followers of the authorities away from the multiple murder case. x x x
Ampatuan family, both the military and police had to

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In addition, two other factions of a RAG are


likely to support the Mangudadatu family. The
Cotabato-based faction has the strength of about five
hundred (500) persons and three hundred seventy-two
(372) firearms while the Sultan Kudarat-based faction
has the strength of about four hundred (400) persons
and three hundred (300) firearms and was reported to
be moving towards Maguindanao to support the
Mangudadatu clan in its armed fight against the
Ampatuans.[22]

In other words, the imminence of violence and anarchy at the time the
President issued Proclamation 1946 was too grave to ignore and she had
to act to prevent further bloodshed and hostilities in the places
mentioned. Progress reports also indicated that there was movement in
these places of both high-powered firearms and armed men sympathetic to
the two clans.[23] Thus, to pacify the peoples fears and stabilize the situation,
the President had to take preventive action. She called out the armed forces
to control the proliferation of loose firearms and dismantle the armed groups
that continuously threatened the peace and security in the affected places.

Notably, the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III has not
withdrawn the declaration of a state of emergency under Proclamation
1946. It has been reported[24] that the declaration would not be lifted soon
because there is still a need to disband private armies and confiscate loose
firearms. Apparently, the presence of troops in those places is still
necessary to ease fear and tension among the citizenry and prevent and
suppress any violence that may still erupt, despite the passage of more than
a year from the time of the Maguindanao massacre.

Since petitioners are not able to demonstrate that the proclamation


of state of emergency in the subject places and the calling out of the armed
forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence there have clearly no factual
bases, the Court must respect the Presidents actions.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

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Republic of the Philippines respondent Judge Felix L. Moya against the Municipality of Kapalong, for
SUPREME COURT settlement of the municipal boundary dispute, recovery of collected taxes
Manila and damages, docketed therein as Civil Case No. 475.

G.R. No. L-41322 September 29, 1988 On March 7, 1974, petitioner filed its Answer (Rollo, pp. 1417).

MUNICIPALITY OF KAPALONG, thru its Mayor, PORFIRIO F. ROYO On November 22, 1974, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground
Vice Mayor, TOMAS D. MANZANO, Municipal Councilors VALERIANO of lack of jurisdiction of the lower court and lack of legal personality of the
CLARO, CARIDAD A. DORONIO FELICULO ESTRADA, GEORGE Municipality of Santo Tomas (Ibid., pp. 18-22), which was opposed by
PEDRO JAIN, LIDO E. MONOY SALVADOR PASPE and AGUEDO private respondent (Ibid., pp. 23-26). On December 12, 1974, petitioner filed
ROTOL petitioners, its reply to the opposition (Ibid., pp. 27-30), after which respondent Judge,
vs. in an Order dated February 17, 1975, denied the motion to dismiss (Ibid.,
HON. FELIX L. MOYA, Presiding Judge of Court of First Instance of pp. 34-36).
Davao, Branch IX, and the MUNICIPALITY OF STO. TOMAS, thru its
Mayor, ANICETO SOLIS, Vice-Mayor LEOPOLDO RECTO, Municipal On March 3, 1975, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration (Ibid., pp.
Councilors DOMINGO CAGADAS, WENCESLAO CASTRO, WILDA 37-40), but in an Order dated March 17, 1975, the same was denied by
ESPIRITU, PASTOR FERNANDEZ, MACROSQUE PIMENTEL, respondent Judge and so was the Second Motion for Reconsideration (Ibid.,
DOMINADOR SOLIS, JOSE TAGHOY and ALFONSO VALDEZ, and pp. 42-43), in an Order dated July 10, 1975 (Ibid., p. 44). Hence, the instant
Municipal Treasurer JOSE AVENIDO, respondents. petition (Ibid., pp. 1-10).

Martin V. Delgra, Jr. for petitioners. The Second Division of this Court, in a Resolution dated September 10,
1975, resolved to require the respondents to answer and to issue a
Simeon N. Millan Jr. for respondent Santo Tomas. temporary restraining order (Ibid., p. 49). In compliance therewith, private
respondent filed its Answer on October 28, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 53-57). In the
Resolution dated November 3, 1975, the parties were required to file their
respective memoranda (Ibid., p. 65). Petitioner filed its Memorandum on
December 10, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 68-76), and private respondent on January
PARAS, J.:
5, 1975 (Ibid., pp. 77-85). Petitioner raised four (4) issues, to wit:
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
seeking: (a) the reversal (annulment) of the February 17, 1975 Order of the 1. WHETHER OR NOT PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS LEGAL
then Court of First Instance of Davao denying the motion to dismiss Civil PERSONALITY TO SUE;
Case No. 475; and the March 17, 1975 and July 10, 1975 Orders of the
same Court denying petitioner's motions for reconsideration; and (b) the 2. WHETHER OR NOT THE MATTER OF SETTLEMENT OF BOUNDARY
issuance of a writ of prohibition directing respondent Judge to desist from DISPUTE IS A POLITICAL QUESTION;
taking cognizance of Civil Case No. 475.
3. WHETHER OR NOT PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 242 SUPERSEDED
From portions of the Municipality of Kapalong, President Carlos P. Garcia REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6128; AND
created respondent Municipality of Santo Tomas, and the latter now asserts
jurisdiction over eight (8) barrios of petitioner. For many years and on 4. WHETHER OR NOT THE ACTION HAS ALREADY PRESCRIBED.
several occasions, this conflict of boundaries between the two municipalities
was brought, at the instance of private respondent, to the Provincial Board The instant petition is impressed with merit.
of Davao for it to consider and decide. However, it appears that no action
was taken on the same. Private respondent then filed a complaint with the
then Court of First Instance of Davao, presided over by herein public

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

Petitioner contends that the ruling of this Court in Pelaez v. Auditor


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

On the ground of jurisdiction, petitioner argues that the settlement of


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

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

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is GRANTED; the Orders of


February 17, 1975, March 17, 1975 and July 10, 1975 of respondent Judge
are SET ASIDE; and Civil Case No. 475 is DISMISSED. The restraining
order previously issued by this Court is made permanent.

Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ.,


concur.

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EN BANC SEC. 3. The seat of government of the new province shall


be the City of Cadiz.
G.R. No. 73155 July 11, 1986
SEC. 4. A plebiscite shall be conducted in the proposed
PATRICIO TAN, FELIX FERRER, JUAN M. HAGAD, SERGIO HILADO, new province which are the areas affected within a period
VIRGILIO GASTON, CONCHITA MINAYA, TERESITA ESTACIO, of one hundred and twenty days from the approval of this
DESIDERIO DEFERIA, ROMEO GAMBOA, ALBERTO LACSON, FE Act. After the ratification of the creation of the Province of
HOFILENA, EMILY JISON, NIEVES LOPEZ AND CECILIA Negros del Norte by a majority of the votes cast in such
MAGSAYSAY, petitioners, plebiscite, the President of the Philippines shall appoint the
vs. first officials of the province.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and THE PROVINCIAL
TREASURER OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, respondents. SEC. 5. The Commission on Elections shall conduct and
supervise the plebiscite herein provided, the expenses for
Gamboa & Hofileña Law Office for petitioners. which shall be charged to local funds.

SEC. 6. This Act shall takeeffect upon its approval.(Rollo,


pp. 23-24)
ALAMPAY, J.:
Petitioners contend that Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 is
Prompted by the enactment of Batas Pambansa Blg. 885-An Act Creating unconstitutional and it is not in complete accord with the
Local Government Code as in Article XI, Section 3 of our
a New Province in the Island of Negros to be known as the Province of
Constitution, it is expressly mandated that—
Negros del Norte, which took effect on December 3, 1985, Petitioners
herein, who are residents of the Province of Negros Occidental, in the
various cities and municipalities therein, on December 23, 1985, filed with See. 3. No province, city, municipality or barrio may be
this Court a case for Prohibition for the purpose of stopping respondents created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary
Commission on Elections from conducting the plebiscite which, pursuant to substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria
and in implementation of the aforesaid law, was scheduled for January 3, established in the local government code, and subject to
1986. Said law provides: the approval by a majority of the votes in a plebiscite in the
unit or units affected.
SECTION 1. The Cities of Silay, Cadiz, and San Carlos and
the municipalities of Calatrava, Taboso, Escalante, Sagay, Section 197 of the Local Government Code enumerates the conditions
Manapla, Victorias, E.R. Magalona; and Salvador which must exist to provide the legal basis for the creation of a provincial
Benedicto, all in the northern portion of the Island of unit and these requisites are:
Negros, are hereby separated from the province to be
known as the Province of Negros del Norte. SEC. 197. Requisites for Creation. A province may be
created if it has a territory of at least three thousand five
SEC. 2. The boundaries of the new province shall be the hundred square kilometers, a population of at least five
southern limits of the City of Silay, the Municipality of hundred thousand persons, an average estimated annual
Salvador Benedicto and the City of San Carlos on the south income, as certified by the Ministry of Finance, of not less
and the territorial limits of the northern portion to the Island than ten million pesos for the last three consecutive years,
of Negros on the west, north and east, comprising a and its creation shall not reduce the population and income
territory of 4,019.95 square kilometers more or less. of the mother province or provinces at the time of said
creation to less than the minimum requirements under this

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section. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises the holding of another plebiscite at which all the qualified
two or more islands. voters of the entire Province of Negros Occidental as now
existing shall participate, at the same time making
The average estimated annual income shall include the pronouncement that the plebiscite held on January 3, 1986
income alloted for both the general and infrastructural has no legal effect, being a patent legal nullity;
funds, exclusive of trust funds, transfers and nonrecurring
income. (Rollo, p. 6) And that a similar writ of Prohibition be issued, directed to
the respondent Provincial Treasurer, to desist from
Due to the constraints brought about by the supervening Christmas holidays ordering the release of any local funds to answer for
during which the Court was in recess and unable to timely consider the expenses incurred in the holding of such plebiscite until
petition, a supplemental pleading was filed by petitioners on January 4, ordered by the Court. (Rollo pp. 9-10).
1986, averring therein that the plebiscite sought to be restrained by them
was held on January 3, 1986 as scheduled but that there are still serious Petitioners further prayed that the respondent COMELEC
issues raised in the instant case affecting the legality, constitutionality and hold in abeyance the issuance of any official proclamation
validity of such exercise which should properly be passed upon and of the results of the aforestated plebiscite.
resolved by this Court.
During the pendency of this case, a motion that he be allowed to appear as
The plebiscite was confined only to the inhabitants of the territory of Negros amicus curiae in this case (dated December 27, 1985 and filed with the
del N•rte, namely: the Cities of Silay, Cadiz, and San Carlos, and the Court on January 2, 1986) was submitted by former Senator Ambrosio
municipalities of Calatrava, Taboso, Escalante, Sagay, Manapla, Victorias, Padilla. Said motion was granted in Our resolution of January 2, 1986.
E.B. Magalona and Don Salvador Benedicto. Because of the exclusions of
the voters from the rest of the province of Negros Occidental, petitioners Acting on the petition, as well as on the supplemental petition for prohibition
found need to change the prayer of their petition "to the end that the with preliminary injunction with prayer for restraining order, the Court, on
constitutional issues which they have raised in the action will be ventilated January 7, 1986 resolved, without giving due course to the same, to require
and given final resolution.'"At the same time, they asked that the effects of respondents to comment, not to file a motion to dismiss. Complying with
the plebiscite which they sought to stop be suspended until the Supreme said resolution, public respondents, represented by the Office of the
Court shall have rendered its decision on the very fundamental and far- Solicitor General, on January 14, 1986, filed their Comment, arguing therein
reaching questions that petitioners have brought out. that the challenged statute.-Batas Pambansa 885, should be accorded the
presumption of legality. They submit that the said law is not void on its face
Acknowledging in their supplemental petition that supervening events and that the petition does not show a clear, categorical and undeniable
rendered moot the prayer in their initial petition that the plebiscite scheduled demonstration of the supposed infringement of the Constitution.
for January 3, 1986, be enjoined, petitioners plead, nevertheless, that- Respondents state that the powers of the Batasang-Pambansa to enact the
assailed law is beyond question. They claim that Batas Pambansa Big. 885
... a writ of Prohibition be issued, directed to Respondent does not infringe the Constitution because the requisites of the Local
Commission on Elections to desist from issuing official Government Code have been complied with. Furthermore, they submit that
proclamation of the results of the plebiscite held on January this case has now become moot and academic with the proclamation of the
3, 1986. new Province of Negros del Norte.

Finding that the exclusion and non-participation of the Respondents argue that the remaining cities and municipalities of the
voters of the Province of Negros Occidental other than Province of Negros Occidental not included in the area of the new Province
those living within the territory of the new province of of Negros del Norte, de not fall within the meaning and scope of the term
Negros del Norte to be not in accordance with the "unit or units affected", as referred to in Section 3 of Art. XI of our
Constitution, that a writ of mandamus be issued, directed Constitution. On this reasoning, respondents maintain that Batas
to the respondent Commission on Elections, to schedule Pambansa Blg. 885 does not violate the Constitution, invoking and citing

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the case of Governor Zosimo Paredes versus the Honorable Executive Respondents submit that said ruling in the aforecited case applies equally
Secretary to the President, et al. (G.R. No. 55628, March 2, 1984 (128 with force in the case at bar. Respondents also maintain that the requisites
SCRA 61), particularly the pronouncements therein, hereunder quoted: under the Local Government Code (P.D. 337) for the creation of the new
province of Negros del Norte have all been duly complied with,
1. Admittedly,this is one of those cases where the Respondents discredit petitioners' allegations that the requisite area of
discretion of the Court is allowed considerable leeway. 3,500 square kilometers as so prescribed in the Local Government Code
There is indeed an element of ambiguity in the use of the for a new province to be created has not been satisfied. Petitioners insist
expression 'unit or units affected'. It is plausible to assert as that the area which would comprise the new province of Negros del Norte,
petitioners do that when certain Barangays are separated would only be about 2,856.56 square kilometers and which evidently would
from a parent municipality to form a new one, all the voters be lesser than the minimum area prescribed by the governing statute.
therein are affected. It is much more persuasive, however, Respondents, in this regard, point out and stress that Section 2 of Batas
to contend as respondents do that the acceptable Pambansa Blg. 885 creating said new province plainly declares that the
construction is for those voters, who are not from the territorial boundaries of Negros del Norte comprise an area of 4,019.95
barangays to be separated, should be excluded in the square kilometers, more or less.
plebiscite.
As a final argument, respondents insist that instant petition has been
2. For one thing, it is in accordance with the settled doctrine rendered moot and academic considering that a plebiscite has been already
that between two possible constructions, one avoiding a conducted on January 3, 1986; that as a result thereof, the corresponding
finding of unconstitutionality and the other yielding such a certificate of canvass indicated that out of 195,134 total votes cast in said
result, the former is to be preferred. That which will save, plebiscite, 164,734 were in favor of the creation of Negros del Norte and
not that which will destroy, commends itself for acceptance. 30,400 were against it; and because "the affirmative votes cast represented
After all, the basic presumption all these years is one of a majority of the total votes cast in said plebiscite, the Chairman of the Board
validity. ... of Canvassers proclaimed the new province which shall be known as
"Negros del Norte". Thus, respondents stress the fact that following the
proclamation of Negros del Norte province, the appointments of the officials
3. ... Adherence to such philosophy compels the conclusion
of said province created were announced. On these considerations,
that when there are indications that the inhabitants of
respondents urge that this case should be dismissed for having been
several barangays are inclined to separate from a parent
municipality they should be allowed to do so. What is more rendered moot and academic as the creation of the new province is now a
logical than to ascertain their will in a plebiscite called for "fait accompli."
that purpose. It is they, and they alone, who shall constitute
the new unit. New responsibilities will be assumed. New In resolving this case, it will be useful to note and emphasize the facts which
burdens will be imposed. A new municipal corporation will appear to be agreed to by the parties herein or stand unchallenged.
come into existence. Its birth will be a matter of choice-their
choice. They should be left alone then to decide for Firstly, there is no disagreement that the Provincial Treasurer of the
themselves. To allow other voters to participate will not Province of Negros Occidental has not disbursed, nor was required to
yield a true expression of their will. They may even frustrate disburse any public funds in connection with the plebiscite held on January
it, That certainly will be so if they vote against it for selfish 3, 1986 as so disclosed in the Comment to the Petition filed by the
reasons, and they constitute the majority. That is not to respondent Provincial Treasurer of Negros Occidental dated January 20,
abide by the fundamental principle of the Constitution to 1986 (Rollo, pp. 36-37). Thus, the prayer of the petitioners that said
promote local autonomy, the preference being for smaller Provincial Treasurer be directed by this Court to desist from ordering the
units. To rule as this Tribunal does is to follow an accepted release of any public funds on account of such plebiscite should not longer
principle of constitutional construction, that in ascertaining deserve further consideration.
the meaning of a particular provision that may give rise to
doubts, the intent of the framers and of the people may be
gleaned from provisions in pari materia.

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PoliRev/LGC

Secondly, in Parliamentary Bill No. 3644 which led to the enactment of Land Area
Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 and the creation of the new Province of Negros
del Norte, it expressly declared in Sec. 2 of the aforementioned (Sq. Km.)
Parliamentary Bill, the following:
1. Silay City
SEC. 2. The boundaries of the new province shall be the ...................................................................214.8
southern limits of the City of Silay, the Municipality of
Salvador Benedicto and the City of San Carlos on the
2. E.B.
South and the natural boundaries of the northern portion of
Magalona............................................................113.3
the Island of Negros on the West, North and
East, containing an area of 285,656 hectares more or less.
(Emphasis supplied). 3.
Victorias.....................................................................133.9
However, when said Parliamentary Bill No. 3644 was very quickly enacted
into Batas Pambansa Blg. 885, the boundaries of the new Province of 4.
Negros del Norte were defined therein and its boundaries then stated to be Manapla......................................................................112.9
as follows:
5. Cadiz City
SECTION 1. The Cities of Silay, Cadiz, and San Carlos and ..................................................................516.5
the municipalities of Calatrava, Toboso, Escalante, Sagay,
Manapla, Victorias, E.R. Magalona; and Salvador 6. Sagay
Benedicto, all in the northern portion of the Island of .........................................................................389.6
Negros, are hereby separated from the Province of Negros
Occidental and constituted into a new province to be known 7. Escalante
as the Province of Negros del Norte. ....................................................................124.0

SEC. 1. The boundaries of the new province shall be the 8.


southern limits of the City of Silay, the Municipality of Toboso.......................................................................123.4
Salvador Benedicto and the City of San Carlos on the south
and the territorial limits of the northern portion of the Island 9.
of Negros on the West, North and East, comprising a Calatrava.....................................................................504.
territory of 4,019.95 square kilometers more or less. 5

Equally accepted by the parties is the fact that under the certification issued 10. San Carlos
by Provincial Treasurer Julian L. Ramirez of the Province of Negros City...........................................................451.3
Occidental, dated July 16, 1985, it was therein certified as follows:
11. Don Salvador Benedicto.................................... (not
xxx xxx xxx available)

This is to certify that the following cities and municipalities This certification is issued upon the request of Dr. Patricio
of Negros Occidental have the land area as indicated Y. Tan for whatever purpose it may serve him.
hereunder based on the Special Report No. 3, Philippines
1980, Population, Land Area and Density: 1970, 1975 and
(SGD.) JULIAN L. RAMIREZ
1980 by the National Census and Statistics Office, Manila.

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PoliRev/LGC

Provincial Treasurer (Exh. "C" of Petition, Rollo, p. 90). result of the consequent division of and substantial alteration of the
boundaries of the existing province. In this instance, the voters in the
Although in the above certification it is stated that the land area of the remaining areas of the province of Negros Occidental should have been
relatively new municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto is not available, it is allowed to participate in the questioned plebiscite.
an uncontradicted fact that the area comprising Don Salvador municipality,
one of the component units of the new province, was derived from the City Considering that the legality of the plebiscite itself is challenged for non-
of San Carlos and from the Municipality of Calatrava, Negros Occidental, compliance with constitutional requisites, the fact that such plebiscite had
and added thereto was a portion of about one-fourth the land area of the been held and a new province proclaimed and its officials appointed, the
town of Murcia, Negros Occidental. It is significant to note the case before Us cannot truly be viewed as already moot and academic.
uncontroverted submission of petitioners that the total land area of the entire Continuation of the existence of this newly proclaimed province which
municipality of Murcia, Negros Occidental is only 322.9 square petitioners strongly profess to have been illegally born, deserves to be
kilometers (Exh. "D", Rollo, p. 91). One-fourth of this total land area of inquired into by this Tribunal so that, if indeed, illegality attaches to its
Murcia that was added to the portions derived from the land area of creation, the commission of that error should not provide the very excuse
Calatrava, Negros Occidental and San Carlos City (Negros Occidental) for perpetuation of such wrong. For this Court to yield to the respondents'
would constitute, therefore, only 80.2 square kilometers. This area of 80.2 urging that, as there has been fait accompli then this Court should passively
square kilometers if then added to 2,685.2 square kilometers, representing accept and accede to the prevailing situation is an unacceptable
the total land area of the Cities of Silay, San Carlos and Cadiz and the suggestion. Dismissal of the instant petition, as respondents so propose is
Municipalities of E.R. Magalona, Victorias, Manapla, Sagay, Escalante, a proposition fraught with mischief. Respondents' submission will create a
Taboso and Calatrava, will result in approximately an area of only 2,765.4 dangerous precedent. Should this Court decline now to perform its duty of
square kilometers using as basis the Special Report, Philippines 1980, interpreting and indicating what the law is and should be, this might tempt
Population, Land Area and Density: 1970, 1975 and 1980 of the National again those who strut about in the corridors of power to recklessly and with
Census and Statistics Office, Manila (see Exhibit "C", Rollo, p. 90). ulterior motives, create, merge, divide and/or alter the boundaries of political
subdivisions, either brazenly or stealthily, confident that this Court will
No controversion has been made by respondent with respect to the abstain from entertaining future challenges to their acts if they manage to
allegations of petitioners that the original provision in the draft legislation, bring about a fait accompli.
Parliamentary Bill No. 3644, reads:
In the light of the facts and circumstances alluded to by petitioners as
SEC. 4. A plebiscite shall be conducted in the areas attending to the unusually rapid creation of the instant province of Negros
affected within a period of one hundred and twenty days del Norte after a swiftly scheduled plebiscite, this Tribunal has the duty to
from the approval of this Act. After the ratification of the repudiate and discourage the commission of acts which run counter to the
creation of the Province of Negros del Norte by a majority mandate of our fundamental law, done by whatever branch of our
of the votes cast in such plebiscite, the President shall government. This Court gives notice that it will not look with favor upon
appoint the first officials of the new province. those who may be hereafter inclined to ram through all sorts of legislative
measures and then implement the same with indecent haste, even if such
acts would violate the Constitution and the prevailing statutes of our land. It
However, when Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 was enacted, there was a
is illogical to ask that this Tribunal be blind and deaf to protests on the
significant change in the above provision. The statute, as modified, provides
ground that what is already done is done. To such untenable argument the
that the requisite plebiscite "shall be conducted in the proposed new
province which are the areas affected." reply would be that, be this so, the Court, nevertheless, still has the duty
and right to correct and rectify the wrong brought to its attention.
It is this legislative determination limiting the plebiscite exclusively to the
On the merits of the case.
cities and towns which would comprise the new province that is assailed by
the petitioners as violative of the provisions of our Constitution. Petitioners
submit that Sec. 3, ART XI thereof, contemplates a plebiscite that would be Aside from the simpler factual issue relative to the land area of the new
held in the unit or units affected by the creation of the new province as a province of Negros del Norte, the more significant and pivotal issue in the

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present case revolves around in the interpretation and application in the petitioners is not the wisdom and motive in enacting the law but the
case at bar of Article XI, Section 3 of the Constitution, which being brief and infringement of the Constitution which is a proper subject of judicial inquiry.
for convenience, We again quote:
Petitioners' discussion regarding the motives behind the enactment of B.P.
SEC. 3. No province, city, municipality or barrio may be Blg. 885 to say the least, are most enlightening and provoking but are
created, divided, merged abolished, or its boundary factual issues the Court cannot properly pass upon in this case. Mention by
substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria petitioners of the unexplained changes or differences in the proposed
established in the local government code, and subject to Parliamentary Bill No. 3644 and the enacted Batas Pambansa Blg. 885; the
the approval by a majority of the votes in a plebiscite in the swift and surreptitious manner of passage and approval of said law; the
unit or units affected. abrupt scheduling of the plebiscite; the reference to news articles regarding
the questionable conduct of the said plebiscite held on January 3, 1986; all
It can be plainly seen that the aforecited constitutional provision makes it serve as interesting reading but are not the decisive matters which should
imperative that there be first obtained "the approval of a majority of votes in be reckoned in the resolution of this case.
the plebiscite in the unit or units affected" whenever a province is created,
divided or merged and there is substantial alteration of the boundaries. It is What the Court considers the only significant submissions lending a little
thus inescapable to conclude that the boundaries of the existing province of support to respondents' case is their reliance on the rulings and
Negros Occidental would necessarily be substantially altered by the division pronouncements made by this Court in the case of Governor Zosimo
of its existing boundaries in order that there can be created the proposed Paredes versus The Honorable Executive Secretary to the President, et al.,
new province of Negros del Norte. Plain and simple logic will demonstrate G.R. No. 55628, March 2, 1984 (128 SCRA 6). In said case relating to a
than that two political units would be affected. The first would be the parent plebiscite held to ratify the creation of a new municipality from existing
province of Negros Occidental because its boundaries would be barangays, this Court upheld the legality of the plebiscite which was
substantially altered. The other affected entity would be composed of those participated in exclusively by the people of the barangay that would
in the area subtracted from the mother province to constitute the proposed constitute the new municipality.
province of Negros del Norte.
This Court is not unmindful of this solitary case alluded to by respondents.
We find no way to reconcile the holding of a plebiscite that should conform What is, however, highly significant are the prefatory statements therein
to said constitutional requirement but eliminates the participation of either stating that said case is "one of those cases where the discretion of the
of these two component political units. No amount of rhetorical flourishes Court is allowed considerable leeway" and that "there is indeed an element
can justify exclusion of the parent province in the plebiscite because of an of ambiguity in the use of the expression unit or units affected." The ruling
alleged intent on the part of the authors and implementors of the challenged rendered in said case was based on a claimed prerogative of the Court then
statute to carry out what is claimed to be a mandate to guarantee and to exercise its discretion on the matter. It did not resolve the question of how
promote autonomy of local government units. The alleged good intentions the pertinent provision of the Constitution should be correctly interpreted.
cannot prevail and overrule the cardinal precept that what our Constitution
categorically directs to be done or imposes as a requirement must first be The ruling in the aforestated case of Paredes vs. The Honorable Executive
observed, respected and complied with. No one should be allowed to pay Secretary, et al. (supra) should not be taken as a doctrinal or compelling
homage to a supposed fundamental policy intended to guarantee and precedent when it is acknowledged therein that "it is plausible to assert, as
promote autonomy of local government units but at the same time petitioners do, that when certain Barangays are separated from a parent
transgress, ignore and disregard what the Constitution commands in Article municipality to form a new one, all the voters therein are affected."
XI Section 3 thereof. Respondents would be no different from one who
hurries to pray at the temple but then spits at the Idol therein.
It is relevant and most proper to mention that in the aforecited case
of Paredes vs. Executive Secretary, invoked by respondents, We find very
We find no merit in the submission of the respondents that the petition lucidly expressed the strong dissenting view of Justice Vicente Abad
should be dismissed because the motive and wisdom in enacting the law Santos, a distinguished member of this Court, as he therein voiced his
may not be challenged by petitioners. The principal point raised by the opinion, which We hereunder quote:

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2. ... when the Constitution speaks of "the unit or units It is a well accepted rule that "in ascertaining the meaning of a particular
affected" it means all of the people of the municipality if the provision that may give rise to doubts, the intent of the framers and of the
municipality is to be divided such as in the case at bar or people, may be gleaned from the provisions in pari materia." Parliamentary
an of the people of two or more municipalities if there be a Bill No. 3644 which proposed the creation of the new province of Negros
merger. I see no ambiguity in the Constitutional provision. del Norte recites in Sec. 4 thereof that "the plebiscite shall be conducted in
the areas affected within a period of one hundred and twenty days from the
This dissenting opinion of Justice Vicente Abad Santos is the— forerunner approval of this Act." As this draft legislation speaks of "areas," what was
of the ruling which We now consider applicable to the case at bar, In the contemplated evidently are plurality of areas to participate in the plebiscite.
analogous case of Emilio C. Lopez, Jr., versus the Honorable Commission Logically, those to be included in such plebiscite would be the people living
on Elections, L-56022, May 31, 1985, 136 SCRA 633, this dissent was in the area of the proposed new province and those living in the parent
reiterated by Justice Abad Santos as he therein assailed as suffering from province. This assumption will be consistent with the requirements set forth
a constitutional infirmity a referendum which did not include all the people in the Constitution.
of Bulacan and Rizal, when such referendum was intended to ascertain if
the people of said provinces were willing to give up some of their towns to We fail to find any legal basis for the unexplained change made when
Metropolitan Manila. His dissenting opinion served as a useful guideline in Parliamentary Bill No. 3644 was enacted into Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 so
the instant case. that it is now provided in said enabling law that the plebiscite "shall be
conducted in the proposed new province which are the areas affected." We
Opportunity to re-examine the views formerly held in said cases is now are not disposed to agree that by mere legislative fiat the unit or units
afforded the present Court. The reasons in the mentioned cases invoked by affected referred in the fundamental law can be diminished or restricted by
respondents herein were formerly considered acceptable because of the the Batasang Pambansa to cities and municipalities comprising the new
views then taken that local autonomy would be better promoted However, province, thereby ignoring the evident reality that there are other people
even this consideration no longer retains persuasive value. necessarily affected.

The environmental facts in the case before Us readily disclose that the In the mind of the Court, the change made by those responsible for the
subject matter under consideration is of greater magnitude with concomitant enactment of Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 betrays their own misgivings. They
multifarious complicated problems. In the earlier case, what was involved must have entertained apprehensions that by holding the plebiscite only in
was a division of a barangay which is the smallest political unit in the Local the areas of the new proposed province, this tactic will be tainted with
Government Code. Understandably, few and lesser problems are involved. illegality. In anticipation of a possible strong challenge to the legality of such
In the case at bar, creation of a new province relates to the largest political a plebiscite there was, therefore, deliberately added in the enacted statute
unit contemplated in Section 3, Art. XI of the Constitution. To form the new a self-serving phrase that the new province constitutes the area affected.
province of Negros del Norte no less than three cities and eight Such additional statement serves no useful purpose for the same is
municipalities will be subtracted from the parent province of Negros misleading, erroneous and far from truth. The remaining portion of the
Occidental. This will result in the removal of approximately 2,768.4 square parent province is as much an area affected. The substantial alteration of
kilometers from the land area of an existing province whose boundaries will the boundaries of the parent province, not to mention the other adverse
be consequently substantially altered. It becomes easy to realize that the economic effects it might suffer, eloquently argue the points raised by the
consequent effects cf the division of the parent province necessarily will petitioners.
affect all the people living in the separate areas of Negros Occidental and
the proposed province of Negros del Norte. The economy of the parent Petitioners have averred without contradiction that after the creation of
province as well as that of the new province will be inevitably affected, either Negros del Norte, the province of Negros Occidental would be deprived of
for the better or for the worse. Whatever be the case, either or both of these the long established Cities of Silay, Cadiz, and San Carlos, as well as the
political groups will be affected and they are, therefore, the unit or units municipality of Victorias. No controversion has been made regarding
referred to in Section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution which must be petitioners' assertion that the areas of the Province of Negros Occidental
included in the plebiscite contemplated therein. will be diminished by about 285,656 hectares and it will lose seven of the
fifteen sugar mills which contribute to the economy of the whole province.
In the language of petitioners, "to create Negros del Norte, the existing

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territory and political subdivision known as Negros Occidental has to be The Court is prepared to declare the said plebiscite held on January 3, 1986
partitioned and dismembered. What was involved was no 'birth' but as null and void and violative of the provisions of Sec. 3, Article XI of the
"amputation." We agree with the petitioners that in the case of Negros what Constitution. The Court is not, however, disposed to direct the conduct of a
was involved was a division, a separation; and consequently, as Sec. 3 of new plebiscite, because We find no legal basis to do so. With constitutional
Article XI of the Constitution anticipates, a substantial alteration of infirmity attaching to the subject Batas Pambansa Big. 885 and also
boundary. because the creation of the new province of Negros del Norte is not in
accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code, the
As contended by petitioners,— factual and legal basis for the creation of such new province which should
justify the holding of another plebiscite does not exist.
Indeed, the terms 'created', 'divided', 'merged', 'abolished'
as used in the constitutional provision do not contemplate Whatever claim it has to validity and whatever recognition has been gained
distinct situation isolated from the mutually exclusive to by the new province of Negros del Norte because of the appointment of the
each other. A Province maybe created where an existing officials thereof, must now be erased. That Negros del Norte is but a legal
province is divided or two provinces merged. Such cases fiction should be announced. Its existence should be put to an end as
necessarily will involve existing unit or units abolished and quickly as possible, if only to settle the complications currently attending to
definitely the boundary being substantially altered. its creation. As has been manifested, the parent province of Negros del
Norte has been impleaded as the defendant in a suit filed by the new
Province of Negros del Norte, before the Regional Trial Court of Negros (del
It would thus be inaccurate to state that where an existing
Norte), docketed as Civil Case No. 169-C, for the immediate allocation,
political unit is divided or its boundary substantially altered,
distribution and transfer of funds by the parent province to the new province,
as the Constitution provides, only some and not all the
in an amount claimed to be at least P10,000,000.00.
voters in the whole unit which suffers dismemberment or
substantial alteration of its boundary are affected. Rather,
the contrary is true. The final nail that puts to rest whatever pretension there is to the legality of
the province of Negros del Norte is the significant fact that this created
province does not even satisfy the area requirement prescribed in Section
It is also Our considered view that even hypothetically assuming that the
197 of the Local Government Code, as earlier discussed.
merits of this case can depend on the mere discretion that this Court may
exercise, nevertheless, it is the petitioners' case that deserve to be favored.
It is of course claimed by the respondents in their Comment to the exhibits
submitted by the petitioners (Exhs. C and D, Rollo, pp. 19 and 91), that the
It is now time for this Court to set aside the equivocations and the indecisive
new province has a territory of 4,019.95 square kilometers, more or less.
pronouncements in the adverted case of Paredes vs. the Honorable
This assertion is made to negate the proofs submitted, disclosing that the
Executive Secretary, et al. (supra). For the reasons already here express,
We now state that the ruling in the two mentioned cases sanctioning the land area of the new province cannot be more than 3,500 square kilometers
exclusion of the voters belonging to an existing political unit from which the because its land area would, at most, be only about 2,856 square
kilometers, taking into account government statistics relative to the total
new political unit will be derived, from participating in the plebiscite
area of the cities and municipalities constituting Negros del Norte.
conducted for the purpose of determining the formation of another new
Respondents insist that when Section 197 of the Local Government Code
political unit, is hereby abandoned.
speaks of the territory of the province to be created and requires that such
territory be at least 3,500 square kilometers, what is contemplated is not
In their supplemental petition, dated January 4, 1986, it is prayed for by only the land area but also the land and water over which the said province
petitioners that a writ of mandamus be issued, directing the respondent has jurisdiction and control. It is even the submission of the respondents
Commission on Elections, to schedule the holding of another plebiscite at that in this regard the marginal sea within the three mile limit should be
which all the qualified voters of the entire province of Negros Occidental as considered in determining the extent of the territory of the new province.
now existing shall participate and that this Court make a pronouncement Such an interpretation is strained, incorrect, and fallacious.
that the plebiscite held on January 3, 1986 has no legal effect for being a
patent nullity.

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The last sentence of the first paragraph of Section 197 is most revealing. No. 3644 "in secret haste" pursuant to sinister designs to achieve "pure and
As so stated therein the "territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two simple gerrymandering; "that recent happenings more than amply
or more islands." The use of the word territory in this particular provision of demonstrate that far from guaranteeing its autonomy it (Negros del Norte)
the Local Government Code and in the very last sentence thereof, clearly has become the fiefdom of a local strongman" (Rollo, p. 43; emphasis
reflects that "territory" as therein used, has reference only to the mass of supplied).
land area and excludes the waters over which the political unit exercises
control. It is not for this Court to affirm or reject such matters not only because the
merits of this case can be resolved without need of ascertaining the real
Said sentence states that the "territory need not be contiguous." Contiguous motives and wisdom in the making of the questioned law. No proper
means (a) in physical contact; (b) touching along all or most of one side; (c) challenge on those grounds can also be made by petitioners in this
near, text, or adjacent (Webster's New World Dictionary, 1972 Ed., p. 307). proceeding. Neither may this Court venture to guess the motives or wisdom
"Contiguous", when employed as an adjective, as in the above sentence, is in the exercise of legislative powers. Repudiation of improper or unwise
only used when it describes physical contact, or a touching of sides of two actions taken by tools of a political machinery rests ultimately, as recent
solid masses of matter. The meaning of particular terms in a statute may be events have shown, on the electorate and the power of a vigilant people.
ascertained by reference to words associated with or related to them in the
statute (Animal Rescue League vs. Assessors, 138 A.L.R. p. 110). Petitioners herein deserve and should receive the gratitude of the people of
Therefore, in the context of the sentence above, what need not be the Province of Negros Occidental and even by our Nation. Commendable
"contiguous" is the "territory" the physical mass of land area. There would is the patriotism displayed by them in daring to institute this case in order to
arise no need for the legislators to use the word contiguous if they had preserve the continued existence of their historic province. They were
intended that the term "territory" embrace not only land area but also inspired undoubtedly by their faithful commitment to our Constitution which
territorial waters. It can be safely concluded that the word territory in the first they wish to be respected and obeyed. Despite the setbacks and the
paragraph of Section 197 is meant to be synonymous with "land area" only. hardships which petitioners aver confronted them, they valiantly and
The words and phrases used in a statute should be given the meaning unfalteringly pursued a worthy cause. A happy destiny for our Nation is
intended by the legislature (82 C.J.S., p. 636). The sense in which the words assured as long as among our people there would be exemplary citizens
are used furnished the rule of construction (In re Winton Lumber Co., 63 p. such as the petitioners herein.
2d., p. 664).
WHEREFORE, Batas Pambansa Blg. 885 is hereby declared
The distinction between "territory" and "land area" which respondents make unconstitutional. The proclamation of the new province of Negros del Norte,
is an artificial or strained construction of the disputed provision whereby the as well as the appointment of the officials thereof are also declared null and
words of the statute are arrested from their plain and obvious meaning and void.
made to bear an entirely different meaning to justify an absurd or unjust
result. The plain meaning in the language in a statute is the safest guide to
SO ORDERED.
follow in construing the statute. A construction based on a forced or artificial
meaning of its words and out of harmony of the statutory scheme is not to
be favored (Helvering vs. Hutchings, 85 L. Ed., p. 909). Abad Santos, Feria, Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz and Paras,
JJ., concur.
It would be rather preposterous to maintain that a province with a small land
area but which has a long, narrow, extended coast line, (such as La Union Melencio-Herrera, J., concurs in the result.
province) can be said to have a larger territory than a land-locked province
(such as Ifugao or Benguet) whose land area manifestly exceeds the
province first mentioned.

Allegations have been made that the enactment of the questioned state was
marred by "dirty tricks", in the introduction and passing of Parliamentary Bill

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EN BANC district, it is not part of the ARMM but of Region XII, having voted against
its inclusion in the ARMM in the plebiscite held in November 1989.

BAI SANDRA S. A. SEMA, G.R. No. 177597 On 28 August 2006, the ARMMs legislature, the ARMM Regional Assembly,
Petitioner, exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of RA
9054,[5]enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 (MMA Act 201)
creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan composed of the eight
- versus - municipalities in the first district of Maguindanao. MMA Act 201 provides:
Section 1. The Municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat,
and DIDAGEN P. DILANGALEN, Sultan Mastura, and Upi are hereby separated from
Respondents. the Province of Maguindanao and constituted into a
x------------------------x distinct and independent province, which is hereby created,
to be known as the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
PERFECTO F. MARQUEZ, G.R. No. 178628
Petitioner,
xxxx
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Promulgated:
Respondent. July 16, 2008 Sec. 5. The corporate existence of this province
shall commence upon the appointment by the Regional
x--------------------------------------------------x Governor or election of the governor and majority of the
regular members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
DECISION
The incumbent elective provincial officials of the Province
CARPIO, J.: of Maguindanao shall continue to serve their unexpired
terms in the province that they will choose or where they
are residents: Provided, that where an elective position in
The Case both provinces becomes vacant as a consequence of the
creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, all
incumbent elective provincial officials shall have
These consolidated petitions[1] seek to annul Resolution No. 7902, dated 10 preference for appointment to a higher elective vacant
May 2007, of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) treating Cotabato position and for the time being be appointed by the
City as part of the legislative district of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.[2] Regional Governor, and shall hold office until their
successors shall have been elected and qualified in the
The Facts next local elections; Provided, further, that they shall
continue to receive the salaries they are receiving at the
time of the approval of this Act until the new readjustment
The Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution apportioned two of salaries in accordance with law. Provided, furthermore,
legislative districts for the Province of Maguindanao. The first legislative that there shall be no diminution in the number of the
district consists of Cotabato City and eight municipalities.[3] Maguindanao members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the mother
forms part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), created province.
under its Organic Act, Republic Act No. 6734 (RA 6734), as amended by
Republic Act No. 9054 (RA 9054).[4] Although under the Except as may be provided by national law, the existing
Ordinance, Cotabato City forms part of Maguindanaos first legislative legislative district, which includes Cotabato as a part
thereof, shall remain.

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Sema contended that Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in


Congress under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution [10] and Section
Later, three new municipalities[6] were carved out of the original nine 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution.[11] Thus, Sema asserted
municipalities constituting Shariff Kabunsuan, bringing its total number of that the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing
municipalities to 11. Thus, what was left of Maguindanao were the Resolution No. 7902 which maintained the status quo in Maguindanaos first
municipalities constituting its second legislative district. Cotabato City, legislative district despite the COMELECs earlier directive in Resolution No.
although part of Maguindanaos first legislative district, is not part of 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of Maguindanaos
the Province of Maguindanao. reapportioned first legislative district.[12] Sema further claimed that in issuing
Resolution No. 7902, the COMELEC usurped Congress power to create or
The voters of Maguindanao ratified Shariff Kabunsuans creation in reapportion legislative districts.
a plebiscite held on 29 October 2006.
On 6 February 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato In its Comment, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General
City passed Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to clarify the (OSG), chose not to reach the merits of the case and merely contended that
status of Cotabato City in view of the conversion of the First District of (1) Sema wrongly availed of the writ of certiorari to nullify COMELEC
Maguindanao into a regular province under MMA Act 201. Resolution No. 7902 because the COMELEC issued the same in the
In answer to Cotabato Citys query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. exercise of its administrative, not quasi-judicial, power and (2) Semas
07-0407 on 6 March 2007 "maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as prayer for the writ of prohibition in G.R. No. 177597 became moot with the
part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao. proclamation of respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen (respondent Dilangalen)
Resolution No. 07-0407, which adopted the recommendation of the on 1 June 2007 as representative of the legislative district of Shariff
COMELECs Law Department under a Memorandum dated 27 February Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City.
2007,[7] provides in pertinent parts:
In his Comment, respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema is estopped
Considering the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, from questioning COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate
as it hereby resolves, to adopt the recommendation of the of candidacy filed on 29 March 2007, Sema indicated that she was seeking
Law Department that pending the enactment of the election as representative of Shariff Kabunsuan
appropriate law by Congress, to maintain the status quo including Cotabato City. Respondent Dilangalen added that COMELEC
with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Resolution No. 7902 is constitutional because it did not apportion a
Legislative District of Maguindanao. (Emphasis supplied) legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the legislative
districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanaos first legislative
district. Respondent Dilangalen further claimed that the COMELEC could
However, in preparation for the 14 May 2007 elections, the not reapportion Maguindanaos first legislative district to make Cotabato City
COMELEC promulgated on 29 March 2007 Resolution No. 7845 stating its sole component unit as the power to reapportion legislative districts lies
that Maguindanaos first legislative district is composed only exclusively with Congress, not to mention that Cotabato City does not meet
of Cotabato City because of the enactment of MMA Act 201.[8] the minimum population requirement under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
Constitution for the creation of a legislative district within a city. [13]
On 10 May 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902, subject of
these petitions, amending Resolution No. 07-0407 by renaming the Sema filed a Consolidated Reply controverting the matters raised in
legislative district in question respondents Comments and reiterating her claim that the COMELEC
as Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City (formerly First District of acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902.
Maguindanao with Cotabato City).[9]
In the Resolution of 4 September 2007, the Court required the
In G.R. No. 177597, Sema, who was a candidate in the 14 May parties in G.R. No. 177597 to comment on the issue of whether a province
2007 elections for Representative of Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City, created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under Section 19, Article VI of
prayed for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and the RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives
exclusion from canvassing of the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office.

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without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new In compliance with the Resolution dated 27 November 2007, the
province. The parties submitted their compliance as follows: parties in G.R. No. 177597 filed their respective Memoranda on the issues
raised in the oral arguments.[16] On the question of the constitutionality of
(1) Sema answered the issue in the affirmative on the following Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, the parties in G.R. No. 177597 adopted
grounds: (a) the Court in Felwa v. Salas[14] stated that when a province is the following positions:
created by statute, the corresponding representative district comes into
existence neither by authority of that statute which cannot provide otherwise (1) Sema contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is
nor by apportionment, but by operation of the Constitution, without a constitutional (a) as a valid delegation by Congress to the ARMM of the
reapportionment; (b) Section 462 of Republic Act No. 7160 (RA 7160) power to create provinces under Section 20 (9), Article X of the Constitution
affirms the apportionment of a legislative district incident to the creation of granting to the autonomous regions, through their organic acts, legislative
a province; and (c) Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section powers over other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion
3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution mandate theapportionment of the general welfare of the people of the region and (b) as an amendment
of a legislative district in newly created provinces. to Section 6 of RA 7160.[17] However, Sema concedes that, if taken literally,
the grant in Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional
(2) The COMELEC, again represented by the OSG, apparently Assembly of the power to prescribe standards lower than those mandated
abandoned its earlier stance on the propriety of issuing Resolution Nos. 07- in RA 7160 in the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10, Article X of
0407 and 7902 and joined causes with Sema, contending that Section 5 (3), the Constitution.[18] Thus, Sema proposed that Section 19 should be
Article VI of the Constitution is self-executing. Thus, every new province construed as prohibiting the Regional Assembly from prescribing standards
created by the ARMM Regional Assembly is ipso facto entitled to one x x x that do not comply with the minimum criteria under RA 7160.[19]
representative in the House of Representatives even in the absence of a
national law; and (2) Respondent Dilangalen contended that Section 19, Article VI of
RA 9054 is unconstitutional on the following grounds: (a) the power to
(3) Respondent Dilangalen answered the issue in the negative on create provinces was not among those granted to the autonomous regions
the following grounds: (a) the province contemplated in Section 5 (3), Article under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution and (b) the grant under
VI of the Constitution is one that is created by an act of Congress taking into Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the
account the provisions in RA 7160 on the creation of provinces; (b) Section power to prescribe standards lower than those mandated in Section 461 of
3, Article IV of RA 9054 withheld from the ARMM Regional Assembly the RA 7160 on the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10, Article X of
power to enact measures relating to national elections, which encompasses the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause; and
the apportionment of legislative districts for members of the House of
Representatives; (c) recognizing a legislative district in every province the (3) The COMELEC, through the OSG, joined causes with
ARMM Regional Assembly creates will lead to the disproportionate respondent Dilangalen (thus effectively abandoning the position the
representation of the ARMM in the House of Representatives as COMELEC adopted in its Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September
the Regional Assembly can create provinces without regard to the 2007) and contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is
requirements in Section 461 of RA 7160; and (d) Cotabato City, which has unconstitutional because (a) it contravenes Section 10 and Section
a population of less than 250,000, is not entitled to a representative in the 6,[20] Article X of the Constitution and (b) the power to create provinces was
House of Representatives. withheld from the autonomous regions under Section 20, Article X of the
Constitution.
On 27 November 2007, the Court heard the parties in G.R. No.
177597 in oral arguments on the following issues: (1) whether Section 19, On the question of whether a province created under Section 19,
Article VI of RA 9054, delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of
power to create provinces, is constitutional; and (2) if in the affirmative, Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district
whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is for such new province, Sema and respondent Dilangalen reiterated in their
entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need Memoranda the positions they adopted in their Compliance with the
of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. [15] Resolution of 4 September 2007. The COMELEC deemed it unnecessary

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to submit its position on this issue considering its stance that Section 19, City]), despite the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan out of such
Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional. district (excluding Cotabato City).

The pendency of the petition in G.R. No. 178628 was disclosed


during the oral arguments on 27 November 2007. Thus, in the Resolution The Ruling of the Court
of 19 February 2008, the Court ordered G.R. No. 178628 consolidated
with G.R. No. 177597. The petition in G.R. No. 178628 echoed Sema's The petitions have no merit. We rule that (1) Section 19, Article VI of RA
contention that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 9054 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional
7902 depriving the voters of Cotabato City of a representative in the House Assembly the power to create provinces and cities; (2) MMA Act 201
of Representatives. In its Comment to the petition in G.R.No. 178628, the creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan is void; and (3) COMELEC
COMELEC, through the OSG, maintained the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid.
Resolution No. 7902 as a temporary measure pending the enactment by
Congress of the appropriate law.

The Issues

The petitions raise the following issues:

I. In G.R. No. 177597: On the Preliminary Matters


(A) Preliminarily
(1) whether the writs of Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus are
proper to test the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902; and The Writ of Prohibition is Appropriate
(2) whether the proclamation of respondent Dilangalen as to Test the Constitutionality of
representative of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City mooted Election Laws, Rules and Regulations
the petition in G.R. No. 177597.
The purpose of the writ of Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of
discretion by any tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-
judicial functions.[21]On the other hand, the writ of Mandamus will issue to
compel a tribunal, corporation, board, officer, or person to perform an act
which the law specifically enjoins as a duty. [22] True, the COMELEC did not
(B) On the merits issue Resolution No. 7902 in the exercise of its judicial or quasi-judicial
(1) whether Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, delegating to the functions.[23] Nor is there a law which specifically enjoins the COMELEC to
ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, exclude from canvassing the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative
municipalities and barangays, is constitutional; and of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City. These, however, do not
(2) if in the affirmative, whether a province created by the ARMM justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 177597 because
Regional Assembly under MMA Act 201 pursuant to Section 19, Article VI Sema also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition and we have
of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives long recognized this writ as proper for testing the constitutionality of election
without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such laws, rules, and regulations.[24]
province.

II. In G.R No. 177597 and G.R No. 178628, whether Respondent Dilangalens Proclamation
COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid for maintaining the status quo in Does Not Moot the Petition
the first legislative district of Maguindanao (as Shariff Kabunsuan Province
with Cotabato City [formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato

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There is also no merit in the claim that respondent Dilangalens proclamation creation of a local government unit must follow the criteria fixed in the Local
as winner in the 14 May 2007 elections for representative Government Code. Second, such creation must not conflict with any
of Shariff Kabunsuan Provincewith Cotabato City mooted this petition. This provision of the Constitution. Third, there must be a plebiscite in the political
case does not concern respondent Dilangalens election. Rather, it involves units affected.
an inquiry into the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, as well as the
constitutionality of MMA Act 201 and Section 19, Article VI of RA
9054. Admittedly, the outcome of this petition, one way or another, There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in
determines whether the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of the the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative
district of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City will be included in bodies the power to create local government units. However, under its
the canvassing of ballots. However, this incidental consequence is no plenary legislative powers, Congress can delegate to local legislative bodies
reason for us not to proceed with the resolution of the novel issues raised the power to create local government units, subject to reasonable standards
here. The Courts ruling in these petitions affects not only the recently and provided no conflict arises with any provision of the Constitution. In fact,
concluded elections but also all the other succeeding elections for the office Congress has delegated to provincial boards, and city and municipal
in question, as well as the power of the ARMM Regional Assembly to create councils, the power to create barangays within their jurisdiction, [25] subject
in the future additional provinces. to compliance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code,
and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the
Constitution. However, under the Local Government Code, only x x x an Act
On the Main Issues of Congress can create provinces, cities or municipalities.[26]

Under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, Congress delegated to the ARMM


Whether the ARMM Regional Assembly Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and
barangays within the ARMM. Congress made the delegation under its
Can Create the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan plenary legislative powers because the power to create local government
units is not one of the express legislative powers granted by the Constitution
to regional legislative bodies.[27] In the present case, the question arises
whether the delegation to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to
create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays conflicts with any
The creation of local government units is governed by Section 10, Article X provision of the Constitution.
of the Constitution, which provides:

There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to


Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or regional legislative bodies of the power to create municipalities and
barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished or barangays, provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is
its boundary substantially altered except in accordance followed. However, the creation of provinces and cities is another
with the criteria established in the local government code matter. Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution provides, Each city with
and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall
plebiscite in the political units directly affected. have at least one representative in the House of Representatives. Similarly,
Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides, Any
province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may
hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled
in the immediately following election to at least one Member x x x.
Thus, the creation of any of the four local government units province, city,
municipality or barangay must comply with three conditions. First, the

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Clearly, a province cannot be created without a legislative district Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty
because it will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution as well as thousand, or each province, shall have at least one
Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. For the same representative.
reason, a city with a population of 250,000 or more cannot also be created
without a legislative district. Thus, the power to create a province, or a city (4) Within three years following the return of every
with a population of 250,000 or more, requires also the power to create a census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of
legislative district. Even the creation of a city with a population of less than legislative districts based on the standards provided in
250,000 involves the power to create a legislative district because once the this section. (Emphasis supplied)
citys population reaches 250,000, the city automatically becomes entitled to
one representative under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and
Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, the power
to create a province or city inherently involves the power to create a Section 5 (1), Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the
legislative district. power to increase, through a law, the allowable membership in the House
of Representatives.Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion
legislative districts. The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily
For Congress to delegate validly the power to create a province or includes the power to create legislative districts out of existing ones.
city, it must also validly delegate at the same time the power to create a Congress exercises these powers through a law that Congress itself enacts,
legislative district.The threshold issue then is, can Congress validly and not through a law that regional or local legislative bodies enact. The
delegate to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create legislative allowable membership of the House of Representatives can be increased,
districts for the House of Representatives?The answer is in the negative. and new legislative districts of Congress can be created, only through a
national law passed by Congress. In Montejo v. COMELEC,[29] we held that
the power of redistricting x x x is traditionally regarded as part of the power
(of Congress) to make laws, and thus is vested exclusively in Congress.
Legislative Districts are Created or Reapportioned
Only by an Act of Congress This textual commitment to Congress of the exclusive power to
create or reapportion legislative districts is logical. Congress is a national
Under the present Constitution, as well as in past[28] Constitutions, legislature and any increase in its allowable membership or in its incumbent
the power to increase the allowable membership in the House of membership through the creation of legislative districts must be embodied
Representatives, and to reapportion legislative districts, is vested in a national law. Only Congress can enact such a law. It would be
exclusively in Congress. Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution provides: anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies to create or reapportion
legislative districts for a national legislature like Congress. An inferior
SECTION 5. (1) The House of Representatives legislative body, created by a superior legislative body, cannot change the
shall be composed of not more than two hundred and membership of the superior legislative body.
fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall
be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the The creation of the ARMM, and the grant of legislative powers to its
provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in Regional Assembly under its organic act, did not divest Congress of its
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, exclusive authority to create legislative districts. This is clear from the
and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and Constitution and the ARMM Organic Act, as amended. Thus, Section 20,
those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a Article X of the Constitution provides:
party-list system of registered national, regional, and
sectoral parties or organizations. SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and
subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national
xxxx laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide
for legislative powers over:
(3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as (1) Administrative organization;
practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory.

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(2) Creation of sources of revenues; or reapportion legislative districts by abstaining from creating a legislative
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources; district for Shariff Kabunsuan. Section 5 of MMA Act 201 provides that:
(4) Personal, family, and property relations;
(5) Regional urban and rural planning Except as may be provided by national law, the
development; existing legislative district, which includes Cotabato City as
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development; a part thereof, shall remain. (Emphasis supplied)
(7) Educational policies;
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural However, a province cannot legally be created without a legislative district
heritage; and because the Constitution mandates that each province shall have at least
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by one representative.Thus, the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan
law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people without a legislative district is unconstitutional.
of the region.
Sema, petitioner in G.R. No. 177597, contends that Section 5 (3), Article VI
Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes of the Constitution, which provides:
autonomous regions, expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion
legislative districts for Congress. Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as
practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent
On the other hand, Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054 amending the territory. Each city with a population of at least two
ARMM Organic Act, provides, The Regional Assembly may exercise hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at
legislative power x x x except on the following matters: x x least one representative. (Emphasis supplied)
x (k) National elections. x x x. Since the ARMM Regional Assembly has
no legislative power to enact laws relating to national elections, it cannot and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution, which states:
create a legislative district whose representative is elected in national
elections. Whenever Congress enacts a law creating a legislative district, Any province that may hereafter be created, or
the first representative is always elected in the next national elections from any city whose population may hereafter increase to
the effectivity of the law.[30] more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled
Indeed, the office of a legislative district representative to Congress in the immediately following election to at least one
is a national office, and its occupant, a Member of the House of Member or such number of Members as it may be
Representatives, is a national official.[31] It would be incongruous for a entitled to on the basis of the number of its inhabitants
regional legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a and according to the standards set forth in paragraph
national office when its legislative powers extend only to its regional (3), Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution. The
territory. The office of a district representative is maintained by national number of Members apportioned to the province out of
funds and the salary of its occupant is paid out of national funds. It is a self- which such new province was created or where the city,
evident inherent limitation on the legislative powers of every local or regional whose population has so increased, is geographically
legislative body that it can only create local or regional offices, respectively, located shall be correspondingly adjusted by the
and it can never create a national office. Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be
made within one hundred and twenty days before the
To allow the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office election. (Emphasis supplied)
is to allow its legislative powers to operate outside the ARMMs territorial
jurisdiction. This violates Section 20, Article X of the Constitution which serve as bases for the conclusion that the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan,
expressly limits the coverage of the Regional Assemblys legislative created on 29 October 2006, is automatically entitled to one member in the
powers [w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction x x x. House of Representatives in the 14 May 2007 elections. As further support
for her stance, petitioner invokes the statement in Felwa that when a
The ARMM Regional Assembly itself, in creating Shariff province is created by statute, the corresponding representative district
Kabunsuan, recognized the exclusive nature of Congress power to create comes into existence neither by authority of that statute which cannot

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provide otherwise nor by apportionment, but by operation of the above quoted, but, also, from the fact that the
Constitution, without a reapportionment. apportionment therein alluded to refers to that which is
made by an Act of Congress. Indeed, when a province is
The contention has no merit. created by statute, the corresponding representative
district, comes into existence neither by authority of
First. The issue in Felwa, among others, was whether Republic Act No. that statute which cannot provide otherwise nor by
4695 (RA 4695), creating the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, apportionment, but by operation of the Constitution,
Ifugao, and Kalinga-Apayao and providing for congressional representation without a reapportionment.
in the old and new provinces, was unconstitutional for creati[ng] There is no constitutional limitation as to the time when,
congressional districts without the apportionment provided in the territory of, or other conditions under which a province may
Constitution. The Court answered in the negative, thus: be created, except, perhaps, if the consequence thereof
were to exceed the maximum of 120 representative
The Constitution ordains: districts prescribed in the Constitution, which is not the
effect of the legislation under consideration. As a matter of
The House of Representatives shall be fact, provinces have been created or subdivided into other
composed of not more than one hundred provinces, with the consequent creation of additional
and twenty Members who shall be representative districts, without complying with the
apportioned among the several provinces aforementioned requirements.[32] (Emphasis supplied)
as nearly as may be according to the
number of their respective inhabitants, but
each province shall have at least one Thus, the Court sustained the constitutionality of RA 4695 because (1) it
Member. The Congress shall by law make validly created legislative districts indirectly through a special law enacted
an apportionment within three years after by Congresscreating a province and (2) the creation of the legislative
the return of every enumeration, and not districts will not result in breaching the maximum number of legislative
otherwise. Until such apportionment shall districts provided under the 1935 Constitution. Felwa does not apply to the
have been made, the House of present case because in Felwa the new provinces were created by
Representatives shall have the same a national law enacted by Congress itself. Here, the new province was
number of Members as that fixed by law created merely by a regional law enacted by the ARMM Regional
for the National Assembly, who shall be Assembly.
elected by the qualified electors from the
present Assembly districts. Each What Felwa teaches is that the creation of a legislative district by
representative district shall comprise as far Congress does not emanate alone from Congress power to reapportion
as practicable, contiguous and compact legislative districts, but also from Congress power to create provinces which
territory. cannot be created without a legislative district. Thus, when a province is
Pursuant to this Section, a representative district may created, a legislative district is created by operation of the Constitution
come into existence: (a) indirectly, through the because the Constitution provides that each province shall have at
creation of a province for each province shall have at least one representative in the House of Representatives. This does not
least one member in the House of Representatives; or detract from the constitutional principle that the power to create legislative
(b) by direct creation of several representative districts districts belongs exclusively to Congress. It merely prevents any other
within a province. The requirements concerning the legislative body, except Congress, from creating provinces because for a
apportionment of representative districts and the territory legislative body to create a province such legislative body must have the
thereof refer only to the second method of creation of power to create legislative districts. In short, only an act of Congress can
representative districts, and do not apply to those incidental trigger the creation of a legislative district by operation of the Constitution.
to the creation of provinces, under the first method. This is Thus, only Congress has the power to create, or trigger the creation of, a
deducible, not only from the general tenor of the provision legislative district.

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Moreover, if as Sema claims MMA Act 201 apportioned a legislative Justice Carpio:
district to Shariff Kabunsuan upon its creation, this will leave Cotabato City So, you mean to say [a] Local Government can
as the lone component of the first legislative district of create legislative district[s] and pack Congress with
Maguindanao. However, Cotabato City cannot constitute a legislative their own representatives [?]
district by itself because as of the census taken in 2000, it had a population
of only 163,849. To constitute Cotabato City alone as the surviving first Atty. Vistan II:[35]
legislative district of Maguindanao will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Yes, Your Honor, because the Constitution allows that.
Constitution which requires that [E]ach city with a population of at least two Justice Carpio:
hundred fifty thousand x x x, shall have at least one representative. So, [the] Regional Assembly of [the] ARMM can
create and create x x x provinces x x x and,
Second. Semas theory also undermines the composition and therefore, they can have thirty-five (35) new
independence of the House of Representatives. Under Section 19,[33] Article representatives in the House of Representatives
VI of RA 9054, the ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces and without Congress agreeing to it, is that what you
cities within the ARMM with or without regard to the criteria fixed in are saying? That can be done, under your theory[?]
Section 461 of RA 7160, namely:minimum annual income of P20,000,000,
and minimum contiguous territory of 2,000 square kilometers or minimum Atty. Vistan II:
population of 250,000.[34] The following scenarios thus become distinct
possibilities: Yes, Your Honor, under the correct factual
circumstances.
(1) An inferior legislative body like the ARMM Justice Carpio:
Regional Assembly can create 100 or more provinces and Under your theory, the ARMM legislature can
thus increase the membership of a superior legislative create thirty-five (35) new provinces, there may be
body, the House of Representatives, beyond the maximum x x x [only] one hundred thousand (100,000)
limit of 250 fixed in the Constitution (unless a national law [population], x x x, and they will each have one
provides otherwise); representative x x x to Congress without any
national law, is that what you are saying?
(2) The proportional representation in the House
of Representatives based on one representative for at least Atty. Vistan II:
every 250,000 residents will be negated because the
ARMM Regional Assembly need not comply with the Without law passed by Congress, yes, Your Honor,
requirement in Section 461(a)(ii) of RA 7160 that every that is what we are saying.
province created must have a population of at least
250,000; and xxxx
Justice Carpio:
(3) Representatives from the ARMM provinces can So, they can also create one thousand (1000)
become the majority in the House of Representatives new provinces, sen[d] one thousand (1000)
through the ARMM Regional Assemblys continuous representatives to the House of
creation of provinces or cities within the ARMM. Representatives without a national law[,] that is
legally possible, correct?
The following exchange during the oral arguments of the petition in Atty. Vistan II:
G.R. No. 177597 highlights the absurdity of Semas position that the ARMM
Regional Assembly can create provinces: Yes, Your Honor.[36] (Emphasis supplied)

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the creation of legislative districts. We leave the resolution of this issue to


an appropriate case.
Neither the framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting the
provisions in Article X on regional autonomy, [37] nor Congress in enacting In summary, we rule that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, insofar as it
RA 9054, envisioned or intended these disastrous consequences that grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and
certainly would wreck the tri-branch system of government under our cities, is void for being contrary to Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of
Constitution. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion legislative districts Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended
cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by Congress to the Constitution. Only Congress can create provinces and cities because
itself. Even the ARMM Regional Assembly recognizes this. the creation of provinces and cities necessarily includes the creation of
legislative districts, a power only Congress can exercise under Section 5,
The Constitution empowered Congress to create or reapportion legislative Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to
districts, not the regional assemblies. Section 3 of the Ordinance to the the Constitution. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a province
Constitution which states, [A]ny province that may hereafter be created x x without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every
x shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional
Member, refers to a province created by Congress itself through a national Assembly cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a
law. The reason is that the creation of a province increases the actual district representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the
membership of the House of Representatives, an increase that only ARMM Regional Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as
Congress can decide. Incidentally, in the present 14th Congress, there are provided in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA
219[38] district representatives out of the maximum 250 seats in the House Act 201, enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the
of Representatives. Since party-list members shall constitute 20 percent of Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void.
total membership of the House, there should at least be 50 party-list seats
available in every election in case 50 party-list candidates are proclaimed Resolution No. 7902 Complies with the Constitution
winners. This leaves only 200 seats for district representatives, much less
than the 219 incumbent district representatives. Thus, there is a need now Consequently, we hold that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902,
for Congress to increase by law the allowable membership of the House, preserving the geographic and legislative district of the First District of
even before Congress can create new provinces. Maguindanao with Cotabato City, is valid as it merely complies with Section
5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as
It is axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over Section 1 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution.
the Constitution. Section 20, Article X of the Constitution expressly provides
that the legislative powers of regional assemblies are limited [w]ithin its
territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution WHEREFORE, we declare Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No.
and national laws, x x x.The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054 UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly
9054) itself states that the ARMM Government is established within the of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create
framework of the Constitution. This follows Section 15, Article X of the provinces and cities. Thus, we declare VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy
Constitution which mandates that the ARMM shall be created x x x within Act No. 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, we
the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as rule that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is VALID.
well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

The present case involves the creation of a local government unit


that necessarily involves also the creation of a legislative district. The Court
will not pass upon the constitutionality of the creation of municipalities and
barangays that does not comply with the criteria established in Section 461 Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President of the Senate
of RA 7160, as mandated in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
because the creation of such municipalities and barangays does not involve
SO ORDERED.

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EN BANC the next national elections after the effectivity of this Act.
Henceforth, barangays Bonbon, Bayabas, Kauswagan,
Carmen, Patag, Bulua, Iponan, Baikingon, San Simon,
ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, G.R. No. 176970 Pagatpat, Canitoan, Balulang, Lumbia, Pagalungan,
Petitioner, Tagpangi, Taglimao, Tuburan, Pigsag-an, Tumpagon,
Bayanga, Mambuaya, Dansulihon, Tignapoloan and
- versus - Promulgated: Bisigan shall comprise the first district while barangays
Macabalan, Puntod, Consolacion, Camaman-an,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Nazareth, Macasandig, Indahag, Lapasan, Gusa, Cugman,
FS Catanico, Tablon, Agusan, Puerto, Bugo, and Balubal
Respondent. December 8, 2008 and all urban barangays from Barangay 1 to Barangay 40
shall comprise the second district.[5]
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

BRION, J.: On March 13, 2007, the COMELEC en Banc promulgated Resolution No.
7837[6] implementing R.A. No. 9371.
Petitioner Rogelio Bagabuyo filed the present petition against the
Before us is the petition for certiorari, prohibition, and COMELEC on March 27, 2007.[7] On 10 April 2008, the petitioner amended
mandamus,[1] with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order the petition to include the following as respondents: Executive Secretary
and a writ of preliminary injunction, filed by Rogelio Bagabuyo (petitioner) Eduardo Ermita; the Secretary of the Department of Budget and
to prevent the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from implementing Management; the Chairman of the Commission on Audit; the Mayor and the
Resolution No. 7837 on the ground that Republic Act No. 9371[2] the law members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cagayan de Oro City; and its
that Resolution No. 7837 implements is unconstitutional. Board of Canvassers.[8]
In asking for the nullification of R.A. No. 9371 and Resolution No. 7837 on
constitutional grounds, the petitioner argued that the COMELEC cannot
BACKGROUND FACTS implement R.A. No. 9371 without providing for the rules, regulations and
guidelines for the conduct of a plebiscite which is indispensable for the
On October 10, 2006, Cagayan de Oros then Congressman division or conversion of a local government unit. He prayed for the
Constantino G. Jaraula filed and sponsored House Bill No. 5859: An Act issuance of an order directing the respondents to cease and desist from
Providing for the Apportionment of the Lone Legislative District of the City implementing R.A. No. 9371 and COMELEC Resolution No. 7837, and to
of Cagayan De Oro.[3] This law eventually became Republic Act (R.A.) No. revert instead to COMELEC Resolution No. 7801 which provided for a
9371.[4] It increased Cagayan de Oros legislative district from one to two. single legislative district for Cagayan de Oro.
For the election of May 2007, Cagayan de Oros voters would be classified
as belonging to either the first or the second district, depending on their Since the Court did not grant the petitioners prayer for a temporary
place of residence. The constituents of each district would elect their own restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction, the May 14 National and
representative to Congress as well as eight members of the Sangguniang Local Elections proceeded according to R.A. No. 9371 and Resolution No.
Panglungsod. 7837.

Section 1 of R.A. No. 9371 apportioned the Citys barangays as The respondents Comment on the petition, filed through the Office of the
follows: Solicitor General, argued that: 1) the petitioner did not respect the hierarchy
of courts, as the Regional Trial Court (RTC) is vested with concurrent
Legislative Districts The lone legislative district of the City jurisdiction over cases assailing the constitutionality of a statute; 2) R.A. No.
of Cagayan De Oro is hereby apportioned to commence in

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9371 merely increased the representation of Cagayan de Oro City in the 3) Does R.A. No. 9371 violate the equality of representation
House of Representatives and Sangguniang Panglungsod pursuant to doctrine?
Section 5, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution; 3) the criteria established
under Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution only apply when there
is a creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of
OUR RULING
boundaries of a province, city, municipality, or barangay; in this case, no
such creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of a
local government unit took place; and 4) R.A. No. 9371 did not bring about
any change in Cagayan de Oros territory, population and income Except for the issue of the hierarchy of courts rule, we find the petition
classification; hence, no plebiscite is required. totally without merit.

The petitioner argued in his reply that: 1) pursuant to the Courts ruling in Del
Mar v. PAGCOR,[9] the Court may take cognizance of this petition if
compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, The hierarchy of
warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction; 2) Cagayan de Oro Citys courts principle.
reapportionment under R.A. No. 9371 falls within the meaning of creation,
division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of cities
under Section 10, Article X of the Constitution; 3) the creation, division, The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over petitions for
merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.[11] It
units involve a common denominator the material change in the political and was pursuant to this original jurisdiction that the petitioner filed the present
economic rights of the local government units directly affected, as well as petition.
of the people therein; 4) a voters sovereign power to decide on who should
be elected as the entire citys Congressman was arbitrarily reduced by at
least one half because the questioned law and resolution only allowed him
While this jurisdiction is shared with the Court of Appeals[12] and the
to vote and be voted for in the district designated by the COMELEC; 5) a RTCs,[13] a direct invocation of the Supreme Courts jurisdiction is allowed
voter was also arbitrarily denied his right to elect the Congressman and the only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and
members of the city council for the other legislative district, and 6) especially set out in the petition. Reasons of practicality, dictated by an
government funds were illegally disbursed without prior approval by the increasingly overcrowded docket and the need to prioritize in favor
sovereign electorate of Cagayan De Oro City.[10] of matters within our exclusive jurisdiction, justify the existence of this rule
otherwise known as the principle of hierarchy of courts.More generally
stated, the principle requires that recourse must first be made to the lower-
THE ISSUES ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher court.[14]

The core issues, based on the petition and the parties memoranda, can be Among the cases we have considered sufficiently special and
limited to the following contentious points: important to be exceptions to the rule, are petitions
for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus andquo warranto against our nations
lawmakers when the validity of their enactments is assailed.[15] The present
1) Did the petitioner violate the hierarchy of courts rule; if so, should petition is of this nature; its subject matter and the nature of the issues
the instant petition be dismissed on this ground? raised among them, whether legislative reapportionment involves a division
of Cagayan de Oro City as a local government unit are reasons enough for
2) Does R.A. No. 9371 merely provide for the legislative considering it an exception to the principle of hierarchy of
reapportionment of Cagayan de Oro City, or does it involve the courts. Additionally, the petition assails as well a resolution of the
division and conversion of a local government unit? COMELEC en banc issued to implement the legislative apportionment that
R.A. No. 9371 decrees. As an action against a COMELEC en

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banc resolution, the case falls under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court that in xxx
turn requires a review by this Court via a Rule 65 petition
for certiorari.[16] For these reasons, we do not see the principle of hierarchy
of courts to be a stumbling block in our consideration of the present case. (3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as
practicable, continuous, compact, and adjacent
territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred
The Plebiscite fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one
Requirement. representative.

(4) Within three years following the return of every


census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of
The petitioner insists that R.A. No. 9371 converts and divides the City of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this
Cagayan de Oro as a local government unit, and does not merely provide section.
for the Citys legislative apportionment. This argument essentially proceeds
from a misunderstanding of the constitutional concepts of apportionment of
legislative districts and division of local government units.
Separately from the legislative districts that legal apportionment or
reapportionment speaks of, are the local government units (historically and
generically referred to as municipal corporations) that the Constitution itself
Legislative apportionment is defined by Blacks Law Dictionary as the classified into provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.[20] In its strict
determination of the number of representatives which a State, county or and proper sense, a municipality has been defined as a body politic and
other subdivision may send to a legislative body.[17] It is the allocation of corporate constituted by the incorporation of the inhabitants of a city or town
seats in a legislative body in proportion to the population; the drawing of for the purpose of local government thereof.[21] The creation, division,
voting district lines so as to equalize population and voting power among merger, abolition or alteration of boundary of local government units, i.e., of
the districts.[18] Reapportionment, on the other hand, is the realignment or provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays, are covered by the Article
change in legislative districts brought about by changes in population and on Local Government (Article X). Section 10 of this Article provides:
mandated by the constitutional requirement of equality of representation.[19]

Article VI (entitled Legislative Department) of the 1987 Constitution


lays down the rules on legislative apportionment under its Section 5 which No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be
provides: created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary
substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria
Sec. 5(1). (1) The House of Representatives shall established in the local government code and subject to
be composed of not more than two hundred fifty members approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in
unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from the political unit directly affected.
legislative districts apportioned among the provinces,
cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with
the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis
of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as
provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list Under both Article VI, Section 5, and Article X, Section 10 of the
system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties Constitution, the authority to act has been vested in the Legislature. The
or organizations. Legislature undertakes the apportionment and reapportionment of
legislative districts,[22] and likewise acts on local government units by setting

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the standards for their creation, division, merger, abolition and alteration Local Government Code expressly require a plebiscite to carry out any
of boundaries and by actually creating, dividing, merging, abolishing local creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundary of a local
government units and altering their boundaries through legislation. Other government unit.[26] In contrast, no plebiscite requirement exists under the
than this, not much commonality exists between the two provisions since apportionment or reapportionment provision. In Tobias v. Abalos,[27] a case
they are inherently different although they interface and relate with one that arose from the division of the congressional district formerly
another. covering San Juan and Mandaluyong into separate districts, we confirmed
this distinction and the fact that no plebiscite is needed in a legislative
The concern that leaps from the text of Article VI, Section 5 is reapportionment. The plebiscite issue came up because one was ordered
political representation and the means to make a legislative district and held for Mandaluyong in the course of its conversion into a highly
sufficiently represented so that the people can be effectively heard. As urbanized city, while none was held for San Juan. In explaining why this
above stated, the aim of legislative apportionment is to equalize population happened, the Court ruled that no plebiscite was necessary for San
and voting power among districts.[23] Hence, emphasis is given to the Juan because the objective of the plebiscite was the conversion of
number of people represented; the uniform and progressive ratio to be Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city as required by Article X, Section
observed among the representative districts; and accessibility and 10 the Local Government Code; the creation of a new legislative district only
commonality of interests in terms of each district being, as far as followed as a consequence. In other words, the apportionment alone and
practicable, continuous, compact and adjacent territory. In terms of the by itself did not call for a plebiscite, so that none was needed for San
people represented, every city with at least 250,000 people and every Juan where only a reapportionment took place.
province (irrespective of population) is entitled to one representative. In this
sense, legislative districts, on the one hand, and provinces and cities, on
the other, relate and interface with each other. To ensure continued
adherence to the required standards of apportionment, Section 5(4) The need for a plebiscite under Article X, Section 10 and the lack of
specifically mandates reapportionment as soon as the given standards are requirement for one under Article VI, Section 5 can best be appreciated by
met. a consideration of the historical roots of these two provisions, the nature of
the concepts they embody as heretofore discussed, and their areas of
application.
In contrast with the equal representation objective of Article VI,
Section 5, Article X, Section 10 expressly speaks of how local government
units may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary A Bit of History.
substantially altered. Its concern is the commencement, the termination,
and the modification of local government units corporate existence and
territorial coverage; and it speaks of two specific standards that must be In Macias v. COMELEC,[28] we first jurisprudentially acknowledged the
observed in implementing this concern, namely, the criteria established in American roots of our apportionment provision, noting its roots from the
the local government code and the approval by a majority of the votes cast Fourteenth Amendment[29] of the U.S. Constitution and from the
in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. Under the Local constitutions of some American states. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902
Government Code (R.A. No. 7160) passed in 1991, the criteria of income, created the Philippine Assembly,[30] the body that acted as the lower house
population and land area are specified as verifiable indicators of viability of the bicameral legislature under the Americans, with the Philippine
and capacity to provide services.[24] The division or merger of existing units Commission acting as the upper house.While the members of the Philippine
must comply with the same requirements (since a new local government Commission were appointed by the U.S. President with the conformity of
unit will come into being), provided that a division shall not reduce the the U.S. Senate, the members of the Philippine Assembly were elected by
income, population, or land area of the unit affected to less than the representative districts previously delineated under the Philippine Organic
minimum requirement prescribed in the Code.[25] Act of 1902 pursuant to the mandate to apportion the seats of the Philippine
Assembly among the provinces as nearly as practicable according to
population. Thus, legislative apportionment first started in our country.
A pronounced distinction between Article VI, Section 5 and, Article
X, Section 10 is on the requirement of a plebiscite. The Constitution and the

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The Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 maintained or reapportionment.After it became constitutionally entrenched, a plebiscite
the apportionment provision, dividing the country into 12 senate districts and was also always identified with the creation, division, merger, abolition and
90 representative districts electing one delegate each to the House of alteration of boundaries of local government units, never with the concept
Representatives. Section 16 of the Act specifically vested the Philippine of legislative apportionment.
Legislature with the authority to redistrict the Philippine Islands.

Nature and Areas of Application.


Under the 1935 Constitution, Article VI, Section 5 retained the
concept of legislative apportionment together with district as the basic unit
of apportionment; the concern was equality of representation . . . as an The legislative district that Article VI, Section 5 speaks of may, in
essential feature of republican institutions as expressed in the leading case a sense, be called a political unit because it is the basis for the election of a
of Macias v. COMELEC.[31] The case ruled that inequality of representation member of the House of Representatives and members of the local
is a justiciable, not a political issue, which ruling was reiterated in Montejo legislative body. It is not, however, a political subdivision through which
v. COMELEC.[32] Notably, no issue regarding the holding of a plebiscite ever functions of government are carried out.It can more appropriately be
came up in these cases and the others that followed, as no plebiscite was described as a representative unit that may or may not encompass the
required. whole of a city or a province, but unlike the latter, it is not a corporate
unit. Not being a corporate unit, a district does not act for and in behalf of
the people comprising the district; it merely delineates the areas occupied
Article VIII, Section 2 of the 1973 Constitution retained the concept of equal by the people who will choose a representative in their national
representation in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants affairs. Unlike a province, which has a governor; a city or a municipality,
and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio with each district being, which has a mayor; and a barangay, which has a punong barangay, a
as far as practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory. This district does not have its own chief executive. The role of the congressman
formulation was essentially carried over to the 1987 Constitution, that it elects is to ensure that the voice of the people of the district is heard
distinguished only from the previous one by the presence of party-list in Congress, not to oversee the affairs of the legislative district. Not being a
representatives. In neither Constitution was a plebiscite required. corporate unit also signifies that it has no legal personality that must be
created or dissolved and has no capacity to act. Hence, there is no need for
any plebiscite in the creation, dissolution or any other similar action on a
The need for a plebiscite in the creation, division, merger, or legislative district.
abolition of local government units was not constitutionally enshrined until
the 1973 Constitution.However, as early as 1959, R.A. No.
2264[33] required, in the creation of barrios by Provincial Boards, that the The local government units, on the other hand, are political
creation and definition of boundaries be upon petition of a majority of the and corporate units. They are the territorial and political subdivisions of the
voters in the areas affected. In 1961, the Charter of the City of Caloocan state.[35] They possess legal personality on the authority of the Constitution
(R.A. No. 3278) carried this further by requiring that the Act shall take effect and by action of the Legislature. The Constitution defines them as entities
after a majority of voters of the Municipality of Caloocan vote in favor of the that Congress can, by law, create, divide, abolish, merge; or whose
conversion of their municipality into a city in a plebiscite. This was followed boundaries can be altered based on standards again established by both
up to 1972 by other legislative enactments requiring a plebiscite as a the Constitution and the Legislature.[36] A local government units corporate
condition for the creation and conversion of local government units as well existence begins upon the election and qualification of its chief executive
as the transfer of sitiosfrom one legislative unit to another.[34] In 1973, the and a majority of the members of its Sanggunian.[37]
plebiscite requirement was accorded constitutional status.

As a political subdivision, a local government unit is an


Under these separate historical tracks, it can be seen that the instrumentality of the state in carrying out the functions of government.[38] As
holding of a plebiscite was never a requirement in legislative apportionment a corporate entity with a distinct and separate juridical personality from the

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State, it exercises special functions for the sole benefit of its constituents. It Agusan, Puerto, Bugo and Balubal and all urban barangays
acts as an agency of the community in the administration of local from Barangay 1 to Barangay 40 shall comprise the second
affairs[39] and the mediums through which the people act in their corporate district.
capacity on local concerns.[40] In light of these roles, the Constitution saw it
fit to expressly secure the consent of the people affected by the creation,
division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of local government Under these wordings, no division of Cagayan de Oro City as a
units through a plebiscite. political and corporate entity takes place or is mandated. Cagayan de Oro
City politically remains a single unit and its administration is not divided
along territorial lines. Its territory remains completely whole and intact; there
These considerations clearly show the distinctions between a legislative is only the addition of another legislative district and the delineation of the
apportionment or reapportionment and the division of a local government city into two districts for purposes of representation in the House of
unit. Historically and by its intrinsic nature, a legislative apportionment does Representatives. Thus, Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution does not
not mean, and does not even imply, a division of a local government unit come into play and no plebiscite is necessary to validly apportion Cagayan
where the apportionment takes place. Thus, the plebiscite requirement that de Oro City into two districts.
applies to the division of a province, city, municipality or barangay under the
Local Government Code should not apply to and be a requisite for the
validity of a legislative apportionment or reapportionment. Admittedly, the legislative reapportionment carries effects beyond
the creation of another congressional district in the city by providing, as
reflected in COMELEC Resolution No. 7837, for additional Sangguniang
Panglunsod seats to be voted for along the lines of the congressional
apportionment made. The effect on the Sangguniang Panglunsod,
however, is not directly traceable to R.A. No. 9371 but to another law R.A.
R.A. No. 9371 and COMELEC Res. No. 7837 No. 6636[41] whose Section 3 provides:

R.A. No. 9371 is, on its face, purely and simply a reapportionment SECTION 3. Other Cities. The provision of any law to the
legislation passed in accordance with the authority granted to Congress contrary notwithstanding the City of Cebu, City of Davao,
under Article VI, Section 5(4) of the Constitution. Its core provision Section and any other city with more than one representative
1 provides: district shall have eight (8) councilors for each district who
shall be residents thereof to be elected by the qualified
voters therein, provided that the cities of Cagayan de Oro,
Zamboanga, Bacolod, Iloilo and other cities comprising a
SECTION 1. Legislative Districts. The lone representative district shall have twelve (12) councilors
legislative district of the City of Cagayan de Oro is hereby each and all other cities shall have ten (10) councilors each
apportioned to commence in the next national elections to be elected at large by the qualified voters of the said
after the effectivity of this Act. Henceforth, barangays cities: Provided, That in no case shall the present number
Bonbon, Bayabas, Kauswagan, Carmen, Patag, Bulua, of councilors according to their charters be reduced.
Iponan, Baikingon, San Simon, Pagatpat, Canitoan,
Balulang, Lumbia, Pagalungan, Tagpangi, Taglimao,
Tuburan, Pigsag-an, Tumpagon, Bayanga, Mambuaya,
Dansulihon, Tignapoloan and Bisigan shall comprise the However, neither does this law have the effect of dividing the City
first district while barangays Macabalan, Puntod, of Cagayan de Oro into two political and corporate units and
Consolacion, Camaman-an, Nazareth, Macansandig, territories. Rather than divide the city either territorially or as a corporate
Indahag, Lapasan, Gusa, Cugman, FS Catanico, Tablon, entity, the effect is merely to enhance voter representation by giving each

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city voter more and greater say, both in Congress and in the Sangguniang as certified to by Tomas P. Africa, Administrator of the National Statistics
Panglunsod. Office.

To illustrate this effect, before the reapportionment, Cagayan de The petitioner, unfortunately, did not provide information about the actual
Oro had only one congressman and 12 city council members citywide for its population of Cagayan de Oro City. However, we take judicial notice of the
population of approximately 500,000.[42] By having two legislative districts, August 2007 census of the National Statistics Office which shows
each of them with one congressman, Cagayan de Oro now effectively has that barangays comprising Cagayan de Oros first district have a total
two congressmen, each one representing 250,000 of the citys population. In population of 254,644, while the second district has 299,322 residents.
terms of services for city residents, this easily means better access to their Undeniably, these figures show a disparity in the population sizes of the
congressman since each one now services only 250,000 constituents as districts.[45] The Constitution, however, does not require mathematical
against the 500,000 he used to represent. The same goes true for exactitude or rigid equality as a standard in gauging equality of
the Sangguniang Panglungsod with its ranks increased from 12 to 16 since representation.[46] In fact, for cities, all it asks is that each city with a
each legislative district now has 8 councilors. In representation terms, the population of at least two hundred fifty thousand shall have one
fewer constituents represented translate to a greater voice for each representative, while ensuring representation for every province regardless
individual city resident in Congress and in the Sanggunian; each of the size of its population. To ensure quality representation through
congressman and each councilor represents both a smaller area and fewer commonality of interests and ease of access by the representative to the
constituents whose fewer numbers are now concentrated in each constituents, all that the Constitution requires is that every legislative district
representative. The City, for its part, now has twice the number of should comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent
congressmen speaking for it and voting in the halls of Congress. Since the territory. Thus, the Constitution leaves the local government units as they
total number of congressmen in the country has not increased to the point are found and does not require their division, merger or transfer to satisfy
of doubling its numbers, the presence of two congressman (instead of one) the numerical standard it imposes. Its requirements are satisfied despite
from the same city cannot but be a quantitative and proportional some numerical disparity if the units are contiguous, compact and adjacent
improvement in the representation of Cagayan de Oro City in Congress. as far as practicable.
The petitioners contention that there is a resulting inequality in the division
of Cagayan de Oro City into two districts because the barangays in the first
Equality of representation. district are mostly rural barangays while the second district is mostly urban,
The petitioner argues that the distribution of the legislative districts is largely unsubstantiated. But even if backed up by proper proof, we cannot
is unequal. District 1 has only 93,719 registered voters while District 2 has question the division on the basis of the difference in the barangays levels
127,071. District 1 is composed mostly of rural barangays while District 2 is of development or developmental focus as these are not part of the
composed mostly of urban barangays.[43] Thus, R.A. No. 9371 violates the constitutional standards for legislative apportionment or
principle of equality of representation. reapportionment. What the components of the two districts of Cagayan de
Oro would be is a matter for the lawmakers to determine as a matter of
policy. In the absence of any grave abuse of discretion or violation of the
established legal parameters, this Court cannot intrude into the wisdom of
A clarification must be made. The law clearly provides that the basis for these policies.[47]
districting shall be the number of the inhabitants of a city or a province, not
the number of registered voters therein. We settled this very same question
in Herrera v. COMELEC[44] when we interpreted a provision in R.A. No. WHEREFORE, we hereby DISMISS the petition for lack of
7166 and COMELECResolution No. 2313 that applied to merit. Costs against the petitioner.
the Province of Guimaras. We categorically ruled
that the basis for districting is the number of inhabitants of the Province of SO ORDERED.
Guimaras by municipality based on the official 1995 Census of Population

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EN BANC RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:
RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, VICTOR F. G.R. No. 180050
BERNAL, and
RENE O. MEDINA,
Petitioners, For consideration of the Court is the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry
of Judgment dated October 20, 2010 filed by Movant-Intervenors[1] dated
and filed on October 29, 2010, praying that the Court (a) recall the entry of
- versus - judgment, and (b) resolve their motion for reconsideration of the July 20,
2010 Resolution.

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO


ERMITA, representing the President of the To provide a clear perspective of the instant motion, we present
Philippines; Senate of the Philippines, hereunder a brief background of the relevant antecedents
represented by the SENATE PRESIDENT;
House of Representatives, represented by
the HOUSE SPEAKER; GOVERNOR On October 2, 2006, the President of the Republic approved into
ROBERT ACE S. BARBERS, representing law Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9355 (An Act Creating the Province of Dinagat
the mother province of Surigao del Norte; Islands).[2] On December 3, 2006, the Commission on Elections
GOVERNOR GERALDINE ECLEO (COMELEC) conducted the mandatory plebiscite for the ratification of the
VILLAROMAN, representing the new creation of the province under the Local Government Code (LGC). [3] The
Province of Dinagat Islands, plebiscite yielded 69,943 affirmative votes and 63,502 negative
Promulgated: votes.[4] With the approval of the people from both the mother province of
Respondents, Surigao del
Norte and the Province of Dinagat Islands (Dinagat), the President
April 12, 2011
CONGRESSMAN FRANCISCO T. appointed the interim set of provincial officials who took their oath of office
MATUGAS, HON. SOL T. MATUGAS, HON. on January 26, 2007.Later, during the May 14, 2007 synchronized
ARTURO CARLOS A. EGAY, JR., HON. elections, the Dinagatnons elected their new set of provincial officials who
SIMEON VICENTE G. CASTRENCE, HON. assumed office on July 1, 2007.[5]
MAMERTO D. GALANIDA, HON.
MARGARITO M. LONGOS, and HON. CESAR
M. BAGUNDOL, On November 10, 2006, petitioners Rodolfo G. Navarro, Victor F.
Bernal and Rene O. Medina, former political leaders of Surigao del Norte,
Intervenors. filed before this Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition (G.R. No.
175158) challenging the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9355. [6] The Court
dismissed the petition on technical grounds. Their motion for
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x reconsideration was also denied.[7]

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Undaunted, petitioners, as taxpayers and residents of (ii) a population of not less than two
the Province of Surigao del Norte, filed another petition hundred fifty thousand (250,000)
for certiorari[8] seeking to nullify R.A. No. 9355 for being inhabitants as certified by the National
unconstitutional. They alleged that the creation of Dinagat as a new Statistics Office:
province, if uncorrected, would perpetuate an illegal act of Congress, and
would unjustly deprive the people of Surigao del Norte of a large chunk of
the provincial territory, Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA), and rich Provided, That, the creation thereof shall not
resources from the area. They pointed out that when the law was passed, reduce the land area, population, and income of the original
Dinagat had unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the
a land area of 802.12 square kilometers only and a population of only minimum requirements prescribed herein.
106,951, failing to comply with Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and
of Section 461 of the LGC, on both counts, viz.

(b) The territory need not be contiguous if it


comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by a
Constitution, Article X Local Government chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the
income of the province.

Section 10. No province, city, municipality,


or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, (c) The average annual income shall include the
or its boundary substantially altered, except in income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special
accordance with the criteria established in the local funds, trust funds, transfers, and non-recurring income.
government code and subject to the approval by a (Emphasis supplied.)
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units
directly affected.

On February 10, 2010, the Court rendered its Decision[9] granting


the petition.[10] The Decision declared R.A. No. 9355 unconstitutional for
failure to comply with the requirements on population and land area in the
LGC, Title IV, Chapter I creation of a province under the LGC. Consequently, it declared the
proclamation of Dinagat and the election of its officials as null and void. The
Decision likewise declared as null and void the provision on Article 9(2) of
the Rules and Regulations Implementing the LGC (LGC-IRR), stating that,
Section 461. Requisites for Creation. (a) A [t]he land
province may be created if it has an average annual
income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of not area requirement shall not apply where the proposed province is composed
less than Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on of one (1) or more islands for being beyond the ambit of Article 461 of the
1991 constant prices and either of the following requisites: LGC, inasmuch as such exemption is not expressly provided in the law.[11]
The Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General,
and Dinagat filed their respective motions for reconsideration of the
(i) a continuous territory of at least Decision. In its Resolution[12] dated May 12, 2010,[13] the Court denied the
two thousand (2,000) square said motions.[14]
kilometers, as certified by the Lands
Management Bureau; or

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Unperturbed, the Republic and Dinagat both filed their respective creation of a province prescribed in Sec. 461 of the Local
motions for leave of court to admit their second motions for reconsideration, Government Code in relation to Sec. 10, Art. X, of the 1987
accompanied by their second motions for reconsideration. These motions Constitution;
were eventually noted without action by this Court in its June 29,
2010 Resolution.[15]
WHEREAS, respondents intend to file Motion[s] for
Reconsideration on the above decision of the Supreme
Meanwhile, the movants-intervenors filed on June 18, 2010 a Court;
Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion
for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010. They alleged
that the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8790, relevant to this case, which WHEREAS, the electoral data relative to the: (1) position
provides for Member, House of Representatives representing the
lone congressional district of Dinagat Islands, (2) names
of the candidates for the aforementioned position, (3)
RESOLUTION NO. 8790 position for Governor, Dinagat Islands, (4) names of the
candidates for the said position, (5) position of the Vice
Governor, (6) the names of the candidates for the said
WHEREAS, Dinagat Islands, consisting of seven (7) position, (7) positions for the ten (10) Sangguniang
municipalities, were previously components of the First Panlalawigan Members and, [8] all the names of the
Legislative District of the Province of Surigao del Norte. In candidates for Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, have
December 2006 pursuant to Republic Act No. 9355, the already been configured into the system and can no longer
Province of Dinagat Island[s] was created and its creation be revised within the remaining period before the elections
was ratified on 02 December 2006 in the Plebiscite for this on May 10, 2010.
purpose;

NOW, THEREFORE, with the current system


WHEREAS, as a province, Dinagat Islands was, for configuration, and depending on whether the Decision of
purposes of the May 10, 2010 National and Local the Supreme Court in Navarro vs. Ermita is reconsidered
Elections, allocated one (1) seat for Governor, one (1) seat or not, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby
for Vice Governor, one (1) for congressional seat, and ten RESOLVES, to declare that:
(10) Sangguniang Panlalawigan seats pursuant to
Resolution No. 8670 dated 16 September 2009;
a. If the Decision is reversed, there will be no
problem since the current system
configuration is in line with the reconsidered
Decision, meaning that the Province of
Dinagat Islands and the Province of Surigao
del Norte remain as two (2) separate
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 180050 provinces;
entitled Rodolfo Navarro, et al., vs. Executive Secretary
Eduardo Ermita, as representative of the President of b. If the Decision becomes final and executory
the Philippines, et al. rendered a Decision, dated 10 before the election, the Province of Dinagat
February 2010, declaring Republic Act No. 9355 Islands will revert to its previous status as part
unconstitutional for failure to comply with the criteria for the

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of the First Legislative District, Surigao del the elections for Governor, Vice Governor,
Norte. Member, House of Representatives, First
Legislative District, Surigao del Norte, and
Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First
But because of the current system Legislative District, Surigao del Norte,
configuration, the ballots for the Province of because the election will result in [a] failure to
Dinagat Islands will, for the positions of elect, since, in actuality, there are no
Member, House of Representatives, candidates for Governor, Vice Governor,
Governor, Vice Governor and Members, Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First
Sangguniang Panlalawigan, bear only the Legislative District, and Member, House of
names of the candidates for the said positions. Representatives, First Legislative District (with
Dinagat Islands) of Surigao del Norte.

Conversely, the ballots for the First Legislative


District of Surigao del Norte, will, for the c. If the Decision becomes final and executory
position of Governor, Vice Governor, Member, after the election, the Province of Dinagat
House of Representatives, First District of Islands will revert to its previous status as part
Surigao del Norte and Members, of the First Legislative District of Surigao del
Sangguniang Panlalawigan, show only Norte. The result of the election will have to be
candidates for the said position. Likewise, the nullified for the same reasons given in Item b
whole Province of Surigao del Norte, will, for above. A special election for Governor, Vice
the position of Governor and Vice Governor, Governor, Member, House of
bear only the names of the candidates for the Representatives, First Legislative District of
said position[s]. Surigao del Norte, and Members,
Sangguniang Panlalawigan, First District,
Surigao del Norte (with Dinagat Islands) will
have to be conducted.
xxxx
Consequently, the voters of the Province of
Dinagat Islands will not be able to vote for the
candidates of Members, Sangguniang
Panlalawigan, and Member, House [of] SO ORDERED.
Representatives, First Legislative District,
Surigao del Norte, and candidates for
Governor and Vice Governor for Surigao del
Norte. Meanwhile, voters of the First
Legislative District of Surigao del Norte, will They further alleged that, because they are the duly elected officials
not be able to vote for Members, Sangguniang of Surigao del Norte whose positions will be affected by the nullification of
Panlalawigan and Member, House of the election results in the event that the May 12, 2010 Resolution is not
Representatives, Dinagat Islands.Also, the reversed, they have a legal interest in the instant case and would be directly
voters of the whole Province of Surigao del affected by the declaration of nullity of R.A. No. 9355. Simply put, movants-
Norte, will not be able to vote for the Governor intervenors election to their respective offices would necessarily be annulled
and Vice Governor, Dinagat Islands. Given since Dinagat Islands will revert to its previous status as part of the First
this situation, the Commission will postpone Legislative District of Surigao del Norte and a special election will have to
be conducted for governor, vice governor, and House of Representatives

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member and Sangguniang Panlalawigan member for the First Legislative Norte, and that, pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 8790, it was only
District of Surigao del Norte. Moreover, as residents of Surigao del Norte after they were elected as Governor of Surigao del Norte, Vice Governor of
and as public servants representing the interests of their constituents, they Surigao del Norte and Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member of the First
have a clear and strong interest in the outcome of this case inasmuch as District of Surigao del Norte, respectively, that they became possessed with
the reversion of Dinagat as part of the First Legislative District of Surigao legal interest in this controversy.
del Norte will affect the latter province such that: (1) the whole administrative
set-up of the province will have to be restructured; (2) the services of many
employees will have to be terminated; (3) contracts will have to be On October 5, 2010, the Court issued an order for Entry of Judgment,
invalidated; and (4) projects and other developments will have to be stating that the decision in this case had become final and executory on
discontinued. In addition, they claim that their rights cannot be adequately May 18, 2010. Hence, the above motion.
pursued and protected in any other proceeding since their rights would be
foreclosed if the May 12, 2010 Resolution would attain finality.

At the outset, it must be clarified that this Resolution delves solely on the
instant Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment of movants-intervenors,
In their motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution, movants- not on the second motions for reconsideration of the original
intervenors raised three (3) main arguments to challenge the above parties, and neither on Dinagats Urgent Omnibus Motion, which our
Resolution, namely:(1) that the passage of R.A. No. 9355 operates as an
act of Congress amending Section 461 of the LGC; (2) that the exemption
from territorial contiguity, when the intended province consists of two or
more islands, includes the exemption from the application of the minimum
land area requirement; and (3) that the Operative Fact Doctrine is applicable esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Arturo D. Brion considers as Dinagats third
in the instant case. motion for reconsideration. Inasmuch as the motions for leave to admit their
respective motions for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution and
the aforesaid motions for reconsideration were already noted without action
by the Court, there is no reason to treat Dinagats Urgent Omnibus Motion
In the Resolution dated July 20, 2010,[16] the Court denied the differently. In relation to this, the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment
Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit Intervenors Motion of movants-intervenors could not be considered as a second motion for
for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May 12, 2010 on the ground reconsideration to warrant the application of Section 3, Rule 15 of
that the allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is addressed to the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court.[18] It should be noted that this
the sound discretion of the Court, and that the appropriate time to file the motion prays for the recall of the entry of judgment and for the resolution of
said motion was before and not after the resolution of this case. their motion for reconsideration of the July 20, 2010 Resolution which
remained unresolved. The denial of their motion for leave to intervene and
to admit motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution did not
On September 7, 2010, movants-intervenors filed a Motion for rule on the merits of the motion for reconsideration of the May 12, 2010
Reconsideration of the July 20, 2010 Resolution, citing several rulings [17] of Resolution, but only on the timeliness of the intended intervention. Their
the Court, allowing intervention as an exception to Section 2, Rule 19 of the motion for reconsideration of this denial elaborated on movants-intervenors
Rules of Court that it should be filed at any time before the rendition of interest in this case which existed only after judgment had been
judgment. They alleged that, prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, their legal rendered. As such, their motion for intervention and their motion for
interest in this case was not yet existent. They averred that prior to the May reconsideration of the May 12, 2010 Resolution merely stand as an initial
10, 2010 elections, they were unaware of the proceedings in this case. Even reconsideration of the said resolution.
for the sake of argument that they had notice of the pendency of the case,
they pointed out that prior to the said elections, Sol T. Matugas was a simple
resident of Surigao del Norte, Arturo Carlos A. Egay, Jr. was a member of With due deference to Mr. Justice Brion, there appears nothing in
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Second District of Surigao del Norte, the records to support the claim that this was a ploy of respondents legal
and Mamerto D. Galanida was the Municipal Mayor of Socorro, Surigao del tactician to reopen the case despite an entry of judgment. To be sure, it is

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actually COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 that set this controversy into
motion anew. To reiterate, the pertinent portion of the Resolution reads:
For a party to have locus standi, one must allege such a personal stake in
the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness
c. If the Decision becomes final and executory after which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely
the election, the Province of Dinagat Islands will depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. Because
revert to its previous status as part of the First constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is
Legislative District of Surigao del Norte. The result of likely to affect other persons, a preliminary question frequently arises as to
the election will have to be nullified for the same this interest in the constitutional question raised.[19]
reasons given in Item b above. A special election for
Governor, Vice Governor, Member, House of
Representatives, First Legislative District of Surigao
del Norte, and Members, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, It cannot be denied that movants-intervenors will suffer direct injury in the
First District, Surigao del Norte (with Dinagat Islands) event their Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment dated October 29,
will have to be conducted. (Emphasis supplied.) 2010 is denied and their Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to
Admit Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated May
12, 2010 is denied with finality.Indeed, they have sufficiently shown that
they have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that if the
May 12, 2010 Resolution be not reconsidered, their election to their
Indeed, COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 spawned the peculiar respective positions during the May 10, 2010 polls and its concomitant
circumstance of proper party interest for movants-intervenors only with the effects would all be nullified and be put to naught. Given their unique
specter of the decision in the main case becoming final and executory. More circumstances, movants-intervenors should not be left without any remedy
importantly, if the intervention be not entertained, the movants-intervenors before this Court simply because their interest in this case became manifest
would be left with no other remedy as regards to the impending nullification only after the case had already been decided. The consequences of such a
of their election to their respective positions. Thus, to the Courts mind, there decision would definitely work to their disadvantage, nay, to their utmost
is an imperative to grant the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment by prejudice, without even them being parties to the dispute. Such decision
movants-intervenors. would also violate their right to due process, a right that cries out for
protection. Thus, it is imperative that the movants-intervenors be heard on
the merits of their cause. We are not only a court of law, but also of justice
and equity, such that our position and the dire repercussions of this
It should be remembered that this case was initiated upon the filing controversy should be weighed on the scales of justice, rather than
of the petition for certiorari way back on October 30, 2007. At that time, dismissed on account of mootness.
movants-intervenors had nothing at stake in the outcome of this case. While
it may be argued that their interest in this case should have commenced
upon the issuance of COMELEC Resolution No. 8790, it is obvious that their
interest in this case then was more imaginary than real. This is because
COMELEC Resolution No. 8790 provides that should the decision in this The moot and academic principle is not a magical formula that can
case attain finality prior to the May 10, 2010 elections, the election of the automatically dissuade the courts from resolving a case. Courts will decide
local government officials stated therein would only have to be cases, otherwise moot and academic, if: (1) there is a grave violation of the
postponed. Given such a scenario, movants-intervenors would not have Constitution; (2) there is an exceptional character of the situation and the
suffered any injury or adverse effect with respect to the reversion of Dinagat paramount public interest is involved; (3) the constitutional issue raised
as part of Surigao del Norte since they would simply have remained requires formation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and
candidates for the respective positions they have vied for and to which they the public; and (4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading
have been elected. review.[20] The second exception attends this case.

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This Court had taken a liberal attitude in the case of David v. Macapagal- designed to accomplish these results.In this light, Congress, in its collective
Arroyo,[21] where technicalities of procedure on locus standi were brushed wisdom, has debated on the relative weight of each of these three criteria,
aside, because the constitutional issues raised were of paramount public placing emphasis on which of them should enjoy preferential consideration.
interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the
Court. Along parallel lines, the motion for intervention should be given due
course since movants-intervenors have shown their substantial legal
interest in the outcome of this case, even much more than petitioners Without doubt, the primordial criterion in the creation of local government
themselves, and because of the novelty, gravity, and weight of the issues units, particularly of a province, is economic viability. This is the clear intent
involved. of the framers of the LGC. In this connection, the following excerpts from
congressional debates are quoted hereunder

Undeniably, the motion for intervention and the motion for reconsideration
of the May 12, 2010 Resolution of movants-intervenors is akin to the right
to appeal the judgment of a case, which, though merely a statutory right that
must comply with the requirements of the rules, is an essential part of our HON. ALFELOR. Income is mandatory. We can even have
judicial system, such that courts should proceed with caution not to deprive this doubled because we thought
a party of the right to question the judgment and its effects, and ensure that
every party-litigant, including those who would be directly affected, would
have the amplest opportunity for the proper and just disposition of their
CHAIRMAN CUENCO. In other words, the primordial
cause, freed from the constraints of technicalities. [22]
consideration here is the economic viability of the new
local government unit, the new province?

Verily, the Court had, on several occasions, sanctioned the recall entries of
judgment in light of attendant extraordinary circumstances.[23] The power to
xxxx
suspend or even disregard rules of procedure can be so pervasive and
compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself had already declared
final.[24] In this case, the compelling concern is not only to afford the
movants-intervenors the right to be heard since they would be adversely HON. LAGUDA. The reason why we are willing to increase
affected by the judgment in this case despite not being original parties the income, double than the House version, because we
thereto, but also to arrive at the correct interpretation of the provisions of also believe that economic viability is really a
the LGC with respect to the creation of local government units. In this minimum.Land area and population are functions really of
manner, the thrust of the Constitution with respect to local autonomy and of the viability of the area, because you have an income level
the LGC with respect to decentralization and the attainment of national which would be the trigger point for economic
goals, as hereafter elucidated, will effectively be realized. development, population will naturally increase because
there will be an immigration. However, if you disallow the
On the merits of the motion for intervention, after taking a long and particular area from being converted into a province
intent look, the Court finds that the first and second arguments raised by because of the population problems in the beginning, it will
movants-intervenors deserve affirmative consideration. never be able to reach the point where it could become a
province simply because it will never have the economic
take off for it to trigger off that economic development.
It must be borne in mind that the central policy considerations in the creation
of local government units are economic viability, efficient administration,
and capability to deliver basic services to their constituents. The criteria Now, were saying that maybe Fourteen Million Pesos is a
prescribed by the LGC, i.e., income, population and land area, are all floor area where it could pay for overhead and provide a

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minimum of basic services to the population. Over and CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay.
above that, the provincial officials should be able to trigger
off economic development which will attract immigration,
which will attract new investments from the private HON. LAGUDA. Now, what were seeing now is that the
sector. This is now the concern of the local officials. But if administrative efficiency is no longer there precisely
we are going to tie the hands of the proponents, simply by because the land areas that we are giving to our governors
telling them, Sorry, you are now at 150 thousand or 200 is so wide that no one man can possibly administer all of
thousand, you will never be able to become a province the complex machineries that are needed.
because nobody wants to go to your place. Why? Because
you never have any reason for economic viability.

Secondly, when you say delivery of basic services, as


pointed out by Cong. Alfelor, there are sections of the
xxxx province which have never been visited by public officials,
precisely because they dont have the time nor the energy
anymore to do that because its so wide. Now, by
CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay, what about land area? compressing the land area and by reducing the population
requirement, we are, in effect, trying to follow the basic
policy of why we are creating provinces, which is to deliver
HON. LUMAUIG. 1,500 square kilometers basic services and to make it more efficient in
administration.

HON. ANGARA. Walang problema yon, in fact thats not


very critical, yong land area because CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Yeah, thats correct, but on the
assumption that the province is able to do it without being
a burden to the national government. Thats the
assumption.
CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Okay, ya, our, the Senate
version is 3.5, 3,500 square meters, ah, square kilometers.
HON. LAGUDA. Thats why were going into the minimum
income level. As we said, if we go on a minimum income
HON. LAGUDA. Ne, Ne. A province is constituted for the level, then we say, this is the trigger point at which this
purpose of administrative efficiency and delivery of basic administration can take place.[25]
services.
CHAIRMAN PIMENTEL. Right.
Also worthy of note are the requisites in the creation of a barangay, a
municipality, a city, and a province as provided both in the LGC and the
LGC-IRR, viz.
HON. LAGUDA. Actually, when you come down to it, when
government was instituted, there is only one central
government and then everybody falls under that. But it was
later on subdivided into provinces for purposes of For a Barangay:
administrative efficiency.

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LGC: SEC. 386. Requisites for Creation. (a) A barangay


may be created out of a contiguous territory which has a
population of at least two thousand (2,000) inhabitants as (c) Notwithstanding the population requirement, a
certified by the National Statistics Office except in cities barangay may be created in the indigenous cultural
and municipalities within Metro Manila and other communities by Act of Congress upon recommendation of
metropolitan political subdivisions or in highly urbanized the LGU or LGUs where the cultural community is located.
cities where such territory shall have a certified population
of at least five thousand (5,000) inhabitants: Provided,
That the creation thereof shall not reduce the population of (d) A barangay shall not be created unless the following
the original barangay or barangays to less than the requisites are present:
minimum requirement prescribed herein.
To enhance the delivery of basic services in the
indigenous cultural communities, barangays may be (1) Population which shall not be less than two thousand
created in such communities by an Act of Congress, (2,000) inhabitants, except in municipalities and cities
notwithstanding the above requirement. within MMA and other metropolitan political
subdivisions as may be created by law, or in highly-
urbanized cities where such territory shall have a
population of at least five thousand (5,000)
(b) The territorial jurisdiction of the new barangay shall be inhabitants, as certified by the NSO. The creation of a
properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less barangay shall not reduce the population of the
permanent natural boundaries. The territory need not be original barangay or barangays to less than the
contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands. prescribed minimum/
(2) Land Area which must be contiguous, unless
(c) The governor or city mayor may prepare a comprised by two (2) or more islands. The territorial
consolidation plan for barangays, based on the criteria jurisdiction of a barangay sought to be created shall be
prescribed in this Section, within his territorial properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or
jurisdiction. The plan shall be submitted to the less permanent natural boundaries.
sangguniang panlalawigan or sangguniang panlungsod
concerned for appropriate action. In the case of
municipalities within the Metropolitan Manila area and
other metropolitan political subdivisions, the barangay
consolidation plan can be prepared and approved by the Municipality:
sangguniang bayan concerned.

LGC: SEC. 442. Requisites for Creation. (a) A


LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 14. Barangays. (a) Creation of municipality may be created if it has an average annual
barangays by the sangguniang panlalawigan shall require income, as certified by the provincial treasurer, or at least
prior recommendation of the sangguniang bayan. Two million five hundred thousand pesos (P2,500,000.00)
for the last two (2) consecutive years based on the 1991
constant prices; a population of at least twenty-five
thousand (25,000) inhabitants as certified by the National
(b) New barangays in the municipalities within MMA shall Statistics Office; and a contiguous territory of at least fifty
be created only by Act of Congress, subject to the (50) square kilometers as certified by the Lands
limitations and requirements prescribed in this Article.

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Management Bureau: Provided, That the creation thereof funds, special accounts, transfers, and
shall not reduce the land area, population or income of the nonrecurring income;
original municipality or municipalities at the time of said
creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed (ii) Population which shall not be less than twenty
herein. five thousand (25,000) inhabitants, as certified by
NSO; and

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created


municipality shall be properly identified by metes and (iii) Land area which must be contiguous with an
bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply area of at least fifty (50) square kilometers, as
where the municipality proposed to be created is certified by LMB. The territory need not be
composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory need contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more
not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands. islands. The requirement on land area shall not
apply where the proposed municipality is
composed of one (1) or more islands. The
territorial jurisdiction of a municipality sought to be
(c) The average annual income shall include the income created shall be properly identified by metes and
accruing to the general fund of the municipality concerned, bounds.
exclusive of special funds, transfers and non-recurring
income.
The creation of a new municipality shall not reduce the
land area, population, and income of the original LGU or
(d) Municipalities existing as of the date of effectivity of this LGUs at the time of said creation to less than the
Code shall continue to exist and operate as such. Existing prescribed minimum requirements. All expenses
municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential incidental to the creation shall be borne by the petitioners.
issuances or executive orders and which have their
respective set of elective municipal officials holding office
at the time of the effectivity of this Code shall henceforth
be considered regular municipalities.

LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 13. Municipalities. (a) Requisites for


Creation A municipality shall not be created unless the City:
following requisites are present:

LGC: SEC. 450. Requisites for Creation. (a) A


(i) Income An average annual income of not less municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted
than Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos into a component city if it has an average annual income,
(P2,500,000.00), for the immediately preceding as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least
two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for the last two (2)
prices, as certified by the provincial treasurer. The consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices, and if it
average annual income shall include the income has either of the following requisities:
accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special

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PoliRev/LGC

(i) a contiguous territory of at least one hundred hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by
(100) square kilometers, as certified by the Lands LMB. The territory need not be contiguous if it
Management Bureau; or, comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by
a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the
(ii) a population of not less than one hundred fifty income of the province. The land area requirement
thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the shall not apply where the proposed city is
National Statistics Office: Provided, That, the composed of one (1) or more islands. The territorial
creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, jurisdiction of a city sought to be created shall be
population, and income of the original unit or units properly identified by metes and bounds.
at the time of said creation to less than the
minimum requirements prescribed herein.

The creation of a new city shall not reduce the land area,
(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall population, and income of the original LGU or LGUs at the
be properly identified by metes and bounds. The time of said creation to less than the prescribed minimum
requirement on land area shall not apply where the requirements. All expenses incidental to the creation shall
city proposed to be created is composed of one (1) or be borne by the petitioners.
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 Provinces:
accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds,
transfers, and non-recurring income.
LGC: SEC. 461. Requisites for Creation. (a) A province
may be created if it has an average annual income, as
LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 11. Cities. (a) Requisites for creation certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than
A city shall not be created unless the following requisites Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) based on 1991
on income and either population or land area are present: prices and either of the following requisites:

(1) Income An average annual income of not less than (i) a contiguous territory of at least two thousand
Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00), for the (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by the
immediately preceding two (2) consecutive years Lands Management Bureau; or,
based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by
DOF. The average annual income shall include the (ii) a population of not less than two hundred fifty
income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of thousand (250,000) inhabitants as certified by the
special funds, special accounts, transfers, and National Statistics Office:
nonrecurring income; and
(2) Population or land area Population which shall not be Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the
less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) land area, population, and income of the original unit or
inhabitants, as certified by the NSO; or land area units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum
which must be contiguous with an area of at least one requirements prescribed herein.

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PoliRev/LGC

The creation of a new province shall not reduce the land


area, population, and income of the original LGU or LGUs
(b) The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two at the time of said creation to less than the prescribed
(2) or more islands or is separated by a chartered city or minimum requirements. All expenses incidental to the
cities which do not contribute to the income of the creation shall be borne by the petitioners. (Emphasis
province. supplied.)

(c) The average annual income shall include the income It bears scrupulous notice that from the above cited provisions, with respect
accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, to the creation of barangays, land area is not a requisite indicator of
trust funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. viability. However, with respect to the creation of municipalities, component
cities, and provinces, the three (3) indicators of viability and projected
capacity to provide services, i.e., income, population, and land area, are
LGC-IRR: ARTICLE 9. Provinces. (a) Requisites for provided for.
creation A province shall not be created unless the
following requisites on income and either population or
land area are present: But it must be pointed out that when the local government unit to be created
consists of one (1) or more islands, it is exempt from the land area
requirement as expressly provided in Section 442 and Section 450 of the
(1) Income An average annual income of not less than LGC if the local government unit to be created is a municipality or a
Twenty Million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for the component city, respectively. This exemption is absent in the enumeration
immediately preceding two (2) consecutive years of the requisites for the creation of a province under Section 461 of the LGC,
based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by although it is expressly stated under Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR.
DOF. The average annual income shall include the
income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of
special funds, special accounts, transfers, and non- There appears neither rhyme nor reason why this exemption should apply
recurring income; and to cities and municipalities, but not to provinces. In fact, considering the
(2) Population or land area Population which shall not be physical configuration of the Philippine archipelago, there is a greater
less than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) likelihood that islands or group of islands would form part of the land area
inhabitants, as certified by NSO; or land area which of a newly-created province than in most cities or municipalities. It is,
must be contiguous with an area of at least two therefore, logical to infer that the genuine legislative policy decision was
thousand (2,000) square kilometers, as certified by expressed in Section 442 (for municipalities) and Section 450 (for
LMB. The territory need not be contiguous if it component cities) of the LGC, but was inadvertently omitted in Section 461
comprises two (2) or more islands or is separated by (for provinces). Thus, when the exemption was expressly provided in Article
a chartered city or cities which do not contribute to the 9(2) of the LGC-IRR, the inclusion was intended to correct the
income of the province. The land area requirement congressional oversight in Section 461 of the LGC and to reflect the true
shall not apply where the proposed province is legislative intent. It would, then, be in order for the Court to uphold the
composed of one (1) or more islands. The territorial validity of Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR.
jurisdiction of a province sought to be created shall be This interpretation finds merit when we consider the basic policy
properly identified by metes and bounds. considerations underpinning the principle of local autonomy.

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Section 2 of the LGC, of which paragraph (a) is pertinent to this case, and effective implementation of all the provisions of the
provides said Code; and

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. (a) It is hereby


declared the policy of the State that the territorial and WHEREAS, the Oversight Committee, after due
political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and deliberations and consultations with all the concerned
meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their sectors of society and consideration of the operative
fullest development as self-reliant communities and make principles of local autonomy as provided in the Local
them more effective partners in the attainment of national Government Code of 1991, has completed the formulation
goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more of the implementing rules and regulations; x x x
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 Consistent with the declared policy to provide local government units
government to the local government units. genuine and meaningful local autonomy, contiguity and minimum land area
requirements for prospective local government units should be liberally
construed in order to achieve the desired results. The strict interpretation
adopted by the February 10, 2010 Decision could prove to be counter-
productive, if not outright absurd, awkward, and impractical. Picture an
This declaration of policy is echoed in Article 3(a) of the LGC-IRR[26] and in intended province that consists of several municipalities and component
the Whereas clauses of Administrative Order No. 270,[27] which read cities which, in themselves, also consist of islands. The component cities
and municipalities which consist of islands are exempt from the minimum
land area requirement, pursuant to Sections 450 and 442, respectively, of
WHEREAS, Section 25, Article II of the Constitution the LGC. Yet, the province would be made to comply with the minimum land
mandates that the State shall ensure the autonomy of local area criterion of 2,000 square kilometers, even if it consists of several
governments; islands. This would mean that Congress has opted to assign a distinctive
preference to create a province with contiguous land area over one
composed of islands and negate the greater imperative of development of
self-reliant communities, rural progress, and the delivery of basic services
WHEREAS, pursuant to this declared policy, Republic Act to the constituency. This preferential option would prove more difficult and
No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code burdensome if the 2,000-square-kilometer territory of a province is scattered
of 1991, affirms, among others, that the territorial and because the islands are separated by bodies of water, as compared to one
political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and with a contiguous land mass.
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; Moreover, such a very restrictive construction could trench on the equal
protection clause, as it actually defeats the purpose of local autonomy and
decentralization as enshrined in the Constitution. Hence, the land area
requirement should be read together with territorial contiguity.
WHEREAS, Section 533 of the Local Government Code of
1991 requires the President to convene an Oversight
Committee for the purpose of formulating and issuing the
appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient

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Another look at the transcript of the deliberations of Congress Now, insofar as the constitutional provision is concerned,
should prove enlightening: there is nothing to stop the mother province from voting
against the bill, if a province is going to be created.

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Can we give time to Congressman


Chiongbian,[28] with respect to his So, we are talking about devolution of powers here. Why is
the province not willing to create another province, when it
can be justified. Even Speaker Mitra says, what will happen
CHAIRMAN LINA. Okay. to Palawan? We wont have one million people there, and if
you look at Palawan, there will be about three or four
provinces that will comprise that island. So, the
development will be hampered.
HON. CHIONGBIAN. At the outset, Chairman Lina, we
would like to apprise the distinguished Senator about the
action taken by the House, on House Bill No. 7166. This
was passed about two years ago and has been pending in Now, I would like to read into the record the letter of Sen.
the Senate for consideration. This is a bill that I am not the Pimentel, dated November 2, 1989. This was practically
only one involved, including our distinguished Chairman about a year after 7166 was approved by the House, House
here. But then we did want to sponsor the bill, being the Bill 7166.
Chairman then of the Local Government.

So, I took the cudgels for the rest of the Congressmen, who
were more or less interested in the creation of the new
provinces, because of the vastness of the areas that were
involved.

At any rate, this bill was passed by the House unanimously


without any objection. And as I have said a while ago, that On November 2, 1989, the Senator wrote me:
this has been pending in the Senate for the last two
years.And Sen. Pimentel himself was just in South
Cotabato and he delivered a speech that he will support Dear Congressman Chiongbian:
this bill, and he says, that he will incorporate this in the
Local Government Code, which I have in writing from him. I
showed you the letter that he wrote, and naturally, we in
We are in receipt of your letter of 17
the House got hold of the Senate version. It becomes an
October. Please be informed that your House No.
impossibility for the whole Philippines to create a new
7166 was incorporated in the proposed Local
province, and that is quite the concern of the respective
Government Code, Senate Bill No. 155, which is
Congressmen.
pending for second reading.

Thank you and warm regards.

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wants to create a new province, as if they are left in the


devolution of powers, when they feel that they are far away
Very truly yours, from civilization.

That is the very context of the letter of the Senator, and we Now, I am not talking about other provinces, because I am
are quite surprised that the Senate has adopted another unaware, not aware of their situation. But
position. the province of South Cotabato has a very unique
geographical territorial conglomerations. One side is in the
other side of the Bay, of Sarangani Bay. The capital town
So, we would like because this is a unanimously approved is in the North; while these other municipalities are in the
bill in the House, thats the only bill that is involving the East and in the West. And if they have to travel from the
present Local Government Code that we are practically last town in the eastern part of the province, it is about one
considering; and this will be a slap on the House, if we do hundred forty kilometers to the capital town. And from the
not approve it, as approved by the lower House. This can West side, it is the same distance. And from the North side,
be [an] irritant in the approval of the Conference Committee it is about one hundred kilometers. So that is the problem
Report. And I just want to manifest that insofar as the there. And besides, they have enough resources and I feel
creation of the province, not only in my province, but the that, not because I am interested in the province, I am after
other provinces. That the mother province will participate in their welfare in the future. Who am I to dictate on those
the plebiscite, they can defeat the province, lets say, on the people? I have no interest but then I am looking at the
basis of the result, the province cannot be created if they future development of these areas.
lose in the plebiscite, and I dont see why, we should put
this stringent conditions to the private people of the
devolution that they are seeking. As a matter of fact, if I am in politics, its incidental; I do not
need to be there, but I can foresee what the creation of a
new province will bring to these people. It will bring them
So, Mr. Senator, I think we should consider the situation prosperity; it will bring them more income, and it will
seriously, because, this is an approved version of the encourage even foreign investors. Like the PAP now,
House, and I will not be the one to raise up and question they are concentrating in South Cotabato, especially in the
the Conference Committee Report, but the rest of the City of
House that are interested in this bill. And they have been
approaching the Speaker about this. So, the Speaker General Santos and the neighboring municipalities, and
reminded me to make sure that it takes the cudgel of the they are quite interested and even the AID people are
House approved version. asking me, What is holding the creation of a new province
when practically you need it? Its not 20 or 30 kilometers
from the capital town; its about 140 kilometers. And
imagine those people have to travel that far and our road is
So, thats all what I can say, Mr. Senator, and I dont believe not like Metropolitan Manila. That is as far as from here to
that it is not, because its the wish of the House, but because Tarlac. And there are municipalities there that are just one
the mother province will participate anyhow, you vote them municipality is bigger than the province of La Union. They
down; and that is provided for in the Constitution. As a have the income. Of course, they dont have the population
matter of fact, I have seen the amendment with regards to because thats a part of the land of promise and people
the creation of the city to be urbanized, subject to the from Luzon are migrating everyday because they feel that
plebiscite.And why should we not allow that to happen in there are more opportunities here.
the provinces! In other words, we dont want the people who

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So, by creating the new provinces, not only in my case, in


the other cases, it will enhance the development of
the Philippines, not because I am interested in my CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Kanino yan?
province. Well, as far as I am concerned, you know, I am in
the twilight years of my life to serve and I would like to serve
my people well. No personal or political interest here. I CHAIRMAN LINA. Book III.
hope the distinguished Chairman of the Committee will
appreciate the House Bill 7166, which the House has
already approved because we dont want them to throw the
CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Title?
Conference Committee Report after we have worked that
the house Bill has been, you know, drawn over board and
not even considered by the Senate. And on top of that, we
are considering a bill that has not yet been passed. So I CHAIRMAN LINA. Title IV.
hope the Senator will take that into account.

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. I have been pondering on the case


Thank you for giving me this time to explain. of James, especially on economic stimulation of a certain
area. Like our case, because I put myself on our province,
our province is quite very big. Its composed of four (4)
congressional districts and I feel it should be five now. But
CHAIRMAN LINA. Thank you very much, Congressman
during the Batasan time, four of us talked and conversed
James. We will look into the legislative history of the
proposing to divide the province into two.
Senate version on this matter of creation of provinces. I am
sure there was an amendment. As I said, Ill look into
it. Maybe the House version was incorporated in toto, but
maybe during the discussion, their amendments were There are areas then, when since time immemorial, very
introduced and, therefore, Senator Pimentel could not hold few governors ever tread on those areas. That is, maybe
on to the original version and as a result new criteria were youre acquainted with the Bondoc Peninsula of Quezon,
introduced. fronting that is Ragay Gulf. From Ragay there is a long
stretch of coastal area. From Albay going to Ragay, very
few governors ever tread [there] before, even today. That
area now is infested with NPA. That is the area of
But because of the manifestation that you just made, we
Congressman Andaya.
will definitely, when we reach a book, Title IV, on the matter
of provinces, we will look at it sympathetically from your end
so that the objective that you want [to] achieve can be
realized. So we will look at it with sympathy. We will review Now, we thought that in order to stimulate growth, maybe
our position on the matter, how we arrived at the Senate provincial aid can be extended to these areas. With a big
version and we will adopt an open mind definitely when we or a large area of a province, a certain administrator or
come into it. provincial governor definitely will have no sufficient
time. For me, if we really would like to stimulate growth, I
believe that an area where there is physical or geographical
impossibilities, where administrators can penetrate, I think
we have to create certain provisions in the law where
maybe we can treat it with special considerations.

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tumaas in 1982. Camiguin, that is Region 9. Wala


dito.Nagtataka nga ako ngayon.
Now, we went over the graduate scale of the Philipppine
Local Government Data as far as provinces are
concerned. It is very surprising that there are provinces
here which only composed of six municipalities, eight CHAIRMAN LINA. Camiguin, Camiguin.
municipalities, seven municipalities. Like in Cagayan,
Tuguegarao, there are six municipalities. Ah, excuse me,
Batanes. CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. That is region? Camiguin has five
municipalities, with a population of 63 thousand. But we do
not hold it against the province because maybe thats one
CHAIRMAN LINA. Will you look at the case of --- how many stimulant where growth can grow, can start. The land area
municipalities are there in Batanes province? for Camiguin is only 229 square kilometers. So if we hard
fast on requirements of, we set a minimum for every
province, palagay ko we just leave it to legislation,
eh. Anyway, the Constitution is very clear that in case we
CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Batanes is only six. would like to divide, we submit it to a plebiscite. Pabayaan
natin ang tao. Kung maglalagay tayo ng set ng minimum,
tila yata mahihirapan tayo, eh. Because what is really the
CHAIRMAN LINA. Six town. Siquijor? thrust of the Local Government Code? Growth. To devolve
powers in order for the community to have its own idea how
they will stimulate growth in their respective areas.
CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Siquijor. It is region?

So, in every geographical condition, mayroon sariling


id[i]osyncracies eh, we cannot make a generalization.
CHAIRMAN LINA. Seven.

CHAIRMAN LINA. Will the creation of a province, carved


CHAIRMAN ALFELOR.L Seven. Anim.
out of the existing province because of some geographical
id[i]osyncracies, as you called it, stimulate the economic
growth in the area or will substantial aid coming from the
CHAIRMAN LINA. Six also. national government to a particular area, say, to a
municipality, achieve the same purpose?

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Six also.


CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. Ano tayo dito sa budget. All right,
here is a province. Usually, tinitingnan lang yun, provision
CHAIRMAN LINA. It seems with a minimum number of eh, hindi na yung composition eh. You are entitled to, say,
towns? 20% of the area.

CHAIRMAN ALFELOR. The population of Siquijor is only


70 thousand, not even one congressional district. But Theres a province of Camarines Sur which have the same
share with that of Camiguin and Siquijor, but Camiguin is

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composed only of five municipalities; in Siquijor, its defined under the Constitution. It was also mandated by the Constitution
composed of six, but the share of Siquijor is the same share that a local government code shall be enacted by Congress, to wit
with that of the province of Camarines Sur, having a bigger
area, very much bigger.

That is the budget in process. Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local
government code which shall provide for a more
responsive and accountable local government
structure instituted through a system of
CHAIRMAN LINA. Well, as I said, we are going to consider decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall,
this very seriously and even with sympathy because of the initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different
explanation given and we will study this very carefully.[29] local government units their powers, responsibilities,
and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election,
appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and
The matters raised during the said Bicameral Conference Committee functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters
meeting clearly show the manifest intention of Congress to promote relating to the organization and operation of the local
development in the previously underdeveloped and uninhabited land areas units. (Emphasis supplied.)
by allowing them to directly share in the allocation of funds under the

national budget. It should be remembered that, under Sections 284 and 285 These State policies are the very reason for the enactment of the
LGC, with the view to attain decentralization and countryside
of the LGC, the IRA is given back to local governments, and the sharing is development. Congress saw that the old LGC, Batas Pambansa Bilang 337,
based on land area, population, and local revenue.[30] had to be replaced with a new law, now the LGC of 1991, which is more
dynamic and cognizant of the needs of the Philippines as an archipelagic
country. This accounts for the exemption from the land area requirement of
local government units composed of one or more islands, as expressly
Elementary is the principle that, if the literal application of the law results in
stated under Sections 442 and 450 of the LGC, with respect to the creation
absurdity, impossibility, or injustice, then courts may resort to extrinsic aids
of municipalities and cities, but inadvertently omitted from Section 461 with
of statutory construction, such as the legislative history of the law,[31] or may
respect to the creation of provinces. Hence, the void or missing detail was
consider the implementing rules and regulations and pertinent executive
filled in by the Oversight Committee in the LGC-IRR.
issuances in the nature of executive and/or legislative
construction. Pursuant to this principle, Article 9(2) of the LGC-IRR should
be deemed incorporated in the basic law, the LGC.
With three (3) members each from both the Senate and the House
of Representatives, particularly the chairpersons of their respective
Committees on Local Government, it cannot be gainsaid that the inclusion
It is well to remember that the LGC-IRR was formulated by the
by the Oversight Committee of the exemption from the land area
Oversight Committee consisting of members of both the Executive and
requirement with respect to the creation of provinces consisting of one (1)
Legislative departments, pursuant to Section 533[32] of the LGC. As Section
or more islands was intended by Congress, but unfortunately not expressly
533 provides, the Oversight Committee shall formulate and issue
stated in Section 461 of the LGC, and this intent was echoed through an
the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient and
express provision in the LGC-IRR. To be sure, the Oversight Committee did
effective implementation of any and all provisions of this Code,
not just arbitrarily and whimsically insert such an exemption in Article 9(2)
thereby ensuring compliance with the principles of local autonomy as
of the LGC-IRR. The Oversight Committee evidently conducted due

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deliberation and consultations with all the concerned sectors of society and province. This Court should not be instrumental in stunting such
considered the operative principles of local autonomy as provided in the capacity. As we have held in League of Cities of the Philippines v.
LGC when the IRR was formulated.[33] Undoubtedly, this amounts not only Commission on Elections[35]
to an executive construction, entitled to great weight and respect from this
Court,[34] but to legislative construction as well, especially with the inclusion Ratio legis est anima. The spirit rather than the
of representatives from the four leagues of local government units as letter of the law. A statute must be read according to its
members of the Oversight Committee. spirit or intent, 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. Put a bit differently, that which is within the intent
With the formulation of the LGC-IRR, which amounted to both of the lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within
executive and legislative construction of the LGC, the many details to the letter, and that which is within the letter of the statute is
implement the LGC had already been put in place, which Congress not within the statute unless within the intent of the
understood to be impractical and not too urgent to immediately translate lawmakers.Withal, courts ought not to interpret and should
into direct amendments to the LGC. But Congress, recognizing the capacity not accept an interpretation that would defeat the intent of
and viability of Dinagat to become a full-fledged province, enacted R.A. No. the law and its legislators.
9355, following the exemption from the land area requirement, which, with
respect to the creation of provinces, can only be found as an express So as it is exhorted to pass on a challenge against the
provision in the LGC-IRR. In effect, pursuant to its plenary legislative validity of an act of Congress, a co-equal branch of
powers, Congress breathed flesh and blood into that exemption in Article government, it behooves the Court to have at once one
9(2) of the LGC-IRR and transformed it into law when it enacted R.A. No. principle in mind: the presumption of constitutionality of
9355 creating the Island Province of Dinagat. statutes. 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
Further, the bill that eventually became R.A. No. 9355 was filed and government to accord a becoming courtesy for each others
favorably voted upon in both Chambers of Congress. Such acts of both acts, and not to interfere inordinately with the exercise by
Chambers of Congress definitively show the clear legislative intent to one of its official functions.Towards this end, courts ought
incorporate into the LGC that exemption from the land area requirement, to reject assaults against the validity of statutes, barring of
with respect to the creation of a province when it consists of one or more course their clear unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain,
islands, as expressly provided only in the LGC-IRR. Thereby, and by the theory in context being that the law is the product of
necessity, the LGC was amended by way of the enactment of R.A. No. earnest studies by Congress to ensure that no
9355. constitutional prescription or concept is
infringed. 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
What is more, the land area, while considered as an indicator of one, must be demonstrated in such a manner as to leave
viability of a local government unit, is not conclusive in showing that Dinagat no doubt in the mind of the Court.
cannot become a province, taking into account its average annual income
of P82,696,433.23 at the time of its creation, as certified by the Bureau of
Local Government Finance, which is four times more than the minimum
requirement of P20,000,000.00 for the creation of a province. The delivery
of basic services to its constituents has been proven possible and
sustainable. Rather than looking at the results of the plebiscite and the May
10, 2010 elections as mere fait accompli circumstances which cannot WHEREFORE, the Court resolved to:
operate in favor of Dinagats existence as a province, they must be seen
from the perspective that Dinagat is ready and capable of becoming a

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1. GRANT the Urgent Motion to Recall Entry of Judgment by


movants-intervenors, dated and filed on October 29, 2010;

2. RECONSIDER and SET ASIDE the July 20, 2010 Resolution,


and GRANT the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and to Admit
Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated July 20,
2010;

3. GRANT the Intervenors Motion for Reconsideration of the


Resolution dated May 12, 2010. The May 12, 2010 Resolution
is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. The provision in Article 9(2) of the
Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991
stating, The land area requirement shall not apply where the proposed
province is composed of one (1) or more islands, is
declared VALID. Accordingly, Republic Act No. 9355 (An Act Creating the
Province of Dinagat Islands) is declared
as VALID and CONSTITUTIONAL, and the proclamation of the Province of
Dinagat Islands and the election of the officials thereof are
declared VALID; and

4. The petition is DISMISSED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

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EN BANC WHEREFORE, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES,


that for purposes of the plebiscite for the conversion of Cabanatuan City
G.R. No. 203974 April 22, 2014 from component city to highly-urbanized city, only those registered
residents of Cabanatuan City should participate in the said plebiscite.
AURELIO M. UMALI, Petitioner,
vs. The COMELEC based this resolution on Sec. 453 of the Local Government
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JULIUS CESAR V. VERGARA, and THE Code of 1991 (LGC), citing conversion cases involving Puerto Princesa City
CITY GOVERNMENT OF CABANATUAN, Respondents. in Palawan, Tacloban City in Southern Leyte, and Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu,
where only the residents of the city proposed to be converted were allowed
to vote in the corresponding plebiscite.
x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 204371 In due time, petitioner Aurelio M. Umali, Governor of Nueva Ecija, filed a
Verified Motion for Reconsideration, maintaining that the proposed
conversion in question will necessarily and directly affect the mother
J.V. BAUTISTA, Petitioner, province of Nueva Ecija. His main argument is that Section 453 of the LGC
vs. should be interpreted in conjunction with Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent. He argues that while the conversion in question does not involve the
creation of a new or the dissolution of an existing city, the spirit of the
DECISION Constitutional provision calls for the people of the local government unit
(LGU) directly affected to vote in a plebiscite whenever there is a material
VELASCO, JR., J.: change in their rights and responsibilities. The phrase "qualified voters
therein" used in Sec. 453 of the LGC should then be interpreted to refer to
Before the Court is the consolidated case for Petition for Certiorari and the qualified voters of the units directly affected by the conversion and not
Prohibition with prayer for injunctive relief, docket as G.R. No. 203974, just those in the component city proposed to be upgraded. Petitioner Umali
assailing Minute Resolution No. 12-07971 and Minute Resolution No. 12- justified his position by enumerating the various adverse effects of the
09252 dated September 11, 2012 and October 16, 2012, respectively, both Cabanatuan City’s conversion and how it will cause material change not
promulgated by public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC), only in the political and economic rights of the city and its residents but also
and Petition for Mandamus, docketed G.R. No. 204371, seeking to compel of the province as a whole.
public respondent to implement the same.
To the Verified Motion for Reconsideration, private respondent Julius Cesar
The Facts Vergara, city mayor of Cabanatuan, interposed an opposition on the ground
that Sec. 10, Art. X does not apply to conversions, which is the meat of the
matter. He likewise argues that a specific provision of the LGC, Sec. 453,
On July 11, 2011, the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cabanatuan City
as couched, allows only the qualified voters of Cabanatuan City to vote in
passed Resolution No. 183-2011, requesting the President to declare the
the plebiscite. Lastly, private respondent pointed out that when Santiago
conversion of Cabanatuan City from a component city of the province of
City was converted in 1994 from a municipality to an independent
Nueva Ecija into a highly urbanized city (HUC). Acceding to the request, the
component city pursuant to Republic Act No. (RA) 7720, the plebiscite held
President issued Presidential Proclamation No. 418, Series of 2012,
was limited to the registered voters of the then municipality of Santiago.
proclaiming the City of Cabanatuan as an HUC subject to "ratification in a
plebiscite by the qualified voters therein, as provided for in Section 453 of
the Local Government Code of 1991." Following a hearing conducted on October 4, 2012,3 the COMELEC En
Banc on October 16, 2012, in E.M No. 12-045 (PLEB), by a vote of 5-
24 ruled in favor of respondent Vergara through the assailed Minute
Respondent COMELEC, acting on the proclamation, issued the assailed
Resolution 12-0925. The dispositive portion reads:
Minute Resolution No. 12-0797 which reads:

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The Commission, taking into consideration the arguments of counsels enjoining public respondent from implementing the questioned resolution.
including the Reply-memorandum of Oppositor, after due deliberation, On October 19, 2012, the RTC granted the prayer for a TRO.
RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, as follows:
On November 6, 2012, public respondent through Minute Resolution No.
1) To DENY the Motion for Reconsideration of oppositor Governor 12-0989 suspended the preparations for the event in view of the TRO
Aurelio M. Umali; and issued by the RTC. On November 27, 2012, the plebiscite was once again
rescheduled to give way to the May 13, 2013 national, local and ARMM
2) To SCHEDULE the conduct of Plebiscite for the conversion of regional elections as per Resolution No. 9563.
Cabanatuan City from component city into highly-urbanized city
with registered residents only of Cabanatuan City to participate in After this development, petitioner J.V. Bautista, on December 3, 2012, filed
said plebiscite. a case before this Court for Mandamus, docketed as G.R. No. 204371,
praying that public respondent be ordered to schedule the plebiscite either
Let the Deputy Executive Director for Operations implement this resolution. on December 15 or 22, 2012. Petitioner Bautista argued that since the TRO
issued by the RTC has already expired, the duty of the public respondent
to hold the plebiscite has become mandatory and ministerial. Petitioner
SO ORDERED.
Bautista also alleged that the delay in holding the plebiscite is inexcusable
given the requirement that it should be held within a period of 120 days form
Hence, the Petition for Certiorari with prayer for injunctive relief, docketed the date of the President’s declaration.
as G.R. No. 203974, on substantially the same arguments earlier taken by
petitioner Umali before the poll body. On the other hand, public respondent
COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General, maintained in its In its Comment to the Bautista petition, public respondent justified its
Comment that Cabanatuan City is merely being converted from a position by arguing that mandamus will not issue to enforce a right which is
in substantial dispute. With all the legal conflicts surrounding the case, it
component city into an HUC and that the political unit directly affected by
cannot be said that there is a clear showing of petitioner Bautista’s
the conversion will only be the city itself. It argues that in this instance, no
entitlement to the relief sought. Respondent COMELEC likewise relied on
political unit will be created, merged with another, or will be removed from
Sec. 5 of the Omnibus Election Code to justify the postponements, citing
another LGU, and that no boundaries will be altered. The conversion would
merely reinforce the powers and prerogatives already being exercised by incidents of violence that ensued in the locality during the plebiscite period.
the city, with the political unit’s probable elevation to that of an HUC as
demanded by its compliance with the criteria established under the LGC. After the conclusion of the 2013 elections, public respondent issued
Thus, the participation of the voters of the entire province in the plebiscite Resolution No. 1353 scheduling the plebiscite to January 25, 2014.
will not be necessary. However, a TRO was issued by this Court on January 15, 2014 in G.R. No.
203974 to suspend the conduct of the plebiscite for Cabanatuan City’s
Private respondent will later manifest that it is adopting the Comment of the conversion. Given the intertwining factual milieu of the two petitions before
the Court, both cases were consolidated on March 18, 2014.
COMELEC.

The Issue
Meanwhile, on October 25, 2012, respondent COMELEC promulgated
Resolution No. 9543, which adopted a calendar of activities and periods of
prohibited acts in connection with the conversion of Cabanatuan City into The bone of contention in the present controversy boils down to whether
an HUC. The Resolution set the conduct of the plebiscite on December 1, the qualified registered voters of the entire province of Nueva Ecija or only
2012. Thereafter, a certain Dr. Rodolfo B. Punzalan filed a Petition for those in Cabanatuan City can participate in the plebiscite called for the
Declaratory Relief which was raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), conversion of Cabanatuan City from a component city into an HUC.
Branch 40 in Palayan City. In the said case, Punzalan prayed that Minute
Resolution No. 12-0797 be declared unconstitutional, that the trial court Resolving the Petition for Certiorari either way will necessarily render the
decree that all qualified voters of the province of Nueva Ecija be included in Petition for Mandamus moot and academic for ultimately, the public
the plebiscite, and that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) be issued

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respondent will be ordered to hold the plebiscite. The only variation will be First of all, we have to restate the general principle that legislative power
as regards its participants. cannot be delegated. Nonetheless, the general rule barring delegation is
subject to certain exceptions allowed in the Constitution, namely:
The Court’s Ruling
(1) Delegation by Congress to the President of the power to fix "tariff
The Petition for Certiorari is meritorious. rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and
other duties or imposts within the framework of the national
development program of the Government" under Section 28(2) of
Sec. 453 of the LGC should be interpreted in accordance with Sec. 10, Art.
Article VI of the Constitution; and
X of the Constitution

Petitioner Umali asseverates that Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution should (2) Delegation of emergency powers by Congress to the President
"to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared
be the basis for determining the qualified voters who will participate in the
national policy" in times of war and other national emergency under
plebiscite to resolve the issue. Sec. 10, Art. X reads:
Section 23(2) of Article VI of the Constitution.
Section 10, Article X. – No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be
The power to create, divide, merge, abolish or substantially alter boundaries
created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered,
of provinces, cities, municipalities or barangays, which is pertinent in the
except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government
case at bar, is essentially legislative in nature.5 The framers of the
code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite
Constitution have, however, allowed for the delegation of such power in
in the political units directly affected. (emphasis supplied)
Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution as long as (1) the criteria prescribed in
the LGC is met and (2) the creation, division, merger, abolition or the
Petitioner Umali elucidates that the phrase "political units directly affected" substantial alteration of the boundaries is subject to the approval by a
necessarily encompasses not only Cabanatuan City but the entire province majority vote in a plebiscite.
of Nueva Ecija. Hence, all the registered voters in the province are qualified
to cast their votes in resolving the proposed conversion of Cabanatuan City.
True enough, Congress delegated such power to the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan or Sangguniang Panlungsod to create barangays pursuant to
On the other hand, respondents invoke Sec. 453 of the LGC to support their Sec. 6 of the LGC, which provides:
claim that only the City of Cabanatuan should be allowed to take part in the
voting. Sec. 453 states:
Section 6. Authority to Create Local Government Units. - A local
government unit may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its
Section 453. Duty to Declare Highly Urbanized Status. – It shall be the duty boundaries substantially altered either by law enacted by Congress in the
of the President to declare a city as highly urbanized within thirty (30) days case of a province, city, municipality, or any other political subdivision, or by
after it shall have met the minimum requirements prescribed in the ordinance passed by the sangguniang panlalawigan or sangguniang
immediately preceding Section, upon proper application therefor and panlungsod concerned in the case of a barangay located within its territorial
ratification in a plebiscite by the qualified voters therein. (emphasis jurisdiction, subject to such limitations and requirements prescribed in this
supplied) Code." (emphasis supplied)

Respondents take the phrase "registered voters therein" in Sec. 453 as The guidelines for the exercise of this authority have sufficiently been
referring only to the registered voters in the city being converted, excluding outlined by the various LGC provisions detailing the requirements for the
in the process the voters in the remaining towns and cities of Nueva Ecija. creation of barangays6, municipalities7, cities8, and provinces9. Moreover,
compliance with the plebiscite requirement under the Constitution has also
Before proceeding to unravel the seeming conflict between the two been directed by the LGC under its Sec. 10, which reads:
provisions, it is but proper that we ascertain first the relationship between
Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution and Sec. 453 of the LGC.

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Section 10. Plebiscite Requirement. – No creation, division, merger, This proposition is bereft of merit.
abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units
shall take effect unless approved by a majority of the votes cast in a First, the Court’s pronouncement in Miranda vs. Aguirre11 is apropos and
plebiscite called for the purpose in the political unit or units directly affected." may be applied by analogy. While Miranda involves the downgrading,
(emphasis supplied) instead of upgrading, as here, of an independent component city into a
component city, its application to the case at bar is nonetheless material in
With the twin criteria of standard and plebiscite satisfied, the delegation to ascertaining the proper treatment of conversions. In that seminal case, the
LGUs of the power to create, divide, merge, abolish or substantially alter Court held that the downgrading of an independent component city into a
boundaries has become a recognized exception to the doctrine of non- component city comes within the purview of Sec. 10, Art. X of the
delegation of legislative powers. Constitution.

Likewise, legislative power was delegated to the President under Sec. 453 In Miranda, the rationale behind the afore-quoted constitutional provision
of the LGC quoted earlier, which states: and its application to cases of conversion were discussed thusly:

Section 453. Duty to Declare Highly Urbanized Status. – It shall be the duty A close analysis of the said constitutional provision will reveal that the
of the President to declare a city as highly urbanized within thirty (30) days creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries
after it shall have met the minimum requirements prescribed in the of local government units involve a common denominator - - - material
immediately preceding Section, upon proper application therefor and change in the political and economic rights of the local government units
ratification in a plebiscite by the qualified voters therein. directly affected as well as the people therein. It is precisely for this reason
that the Constitution requires the approval of the people "in the political units
In this case, the provision merely authorized the President to make a directly affected." It is not difficult to appreciate the rationale of this
determination on whether or not the requirements under Sec. 452 10 of the constitutional requirement. The 1987 Constitution, more than any of our
LGC are complied with. The provision makes it ministerial for the President, previous Constitutions, gave more reality to the sovereignty of our people
upon proper application, to declare a component city as highly urbanized for it was borne out of the people power in the 1986 EDSA revolution. Its
once the minimum requirements, which are based on certifiable and Section 10, Article X addressed the undesirable practice in the past
measurable indices under Sec. 452, are satisfied. The mandatory language whereby local government units were created, abolished, merged or divided
"shall" used in the provision leaves the President with no room for discretion. on the basis of the vagaries of politics and not of the welfare of the people.
Thus, the consent of the people of the local government unit directly
affected was required to serve as a checking mechanism to any exercise of
In so doing, Sec. 453, in effect, automatically calls for the conduct of a
legislative power creating, dividing, abolishing, merging or altering the
plebiscite for purposes of conversions once the requirements are met. No
boundaries of local government units. It is one instance where the people
further legislation is necessary before the city proposed to be converted
becomes eligible to become an HUC through ratification, as the basis for in their sovereign capacity decide on a matter that affects them - - - direct
the delegation of the legislative authority is the very LGC. democracy of the people as opposed to democracy thru people’s
representatives. This plebiscite requirement is also in accord with the
philosophy of the Constitution granting more autonomy to local government
In view of the foregoing considerations, the Court concludes that the source units.12
of the delegation of power to the LGUs under Sec. 6 of the LGC and to the
President under Sec. 453 of the same code is none other than Sec. 10, Art.
It was determined in the case that the changes that will result from the
X of the Constitution.
conversion are too substantial that there is a necessity for the plurality of
those that will be affected to approve it. Similar to the enumerated acts in
Respondents, however, posit that Sec. 453 of the LGC is actually outside the constitutional provision, conversions were found to result in material
the ambit of Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution, considering that the changes in the economic and political rights of the people and LGUs
conversion of a component city to an HUC is not "creation, division, merge, affected. Given the far-reaching ramifications of converting the status of a
abolition or substantial alternation of boundaries" encompassed by the said city, we held that the plebiscite requirement under the constitutional
constitutional provision.

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provision should equally apply to conversions as well. Thus, RA 852813 was Needless to stress, the alteration of boundaries would necessarily follow
declared unconstitutional in Miranda on the ground that the law downgraded Cabanatuan City’s conversion in the same way that creations, divisions,
Santiago City in Isabela without submitting it for ratification in a plebiscite, mergers, and abolitions generally cannot take place without entailing the
in contravention of Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution. alteration. The enumerated acts, after all, are not mutually exclusive, and
more often than not, a combination of these acts attends the reconfiguration
Second, while conversion to an HUC is not explicitly provided in Sec. 10, of LGUs.
Art. X of the Constitution we nevertheless observe that the conversion of a
component city into an HUC is substantial alteration of boundaries. In light of the foregoing disquisitions, the Court rules that conversion to an
HUC is substantial alternation of boundaries governed by Sec. 10, Art. X
As the phrase implies, "substantial alteration of boundaries" involves and and resultantly, said provision applies, governs and prevails over Sec. 453
necessarily entails a change in the geographical configuration of a local of the LGC.
government unit or units. However, the phrase "boundaries" should not be
limited to the mere physical one, referring to the metes and bounds of the Moreover, the rules of statutory construction dictate that a particular
LGU, but also to its political boundaries. It also connotes a modification of provision should be interpreted with the other relevant provisions in the law
the demarcation lines between political subdivisions, where the LGU’s The Court finds that it is actually Sec. 10 of the LGC which is undeniably
exercise of corporate power ends and that of the other begins. And as a the applicable provision on the conduct of plebiscites. The title of the
qualifier, the alteration must be "substantial" for it to be within the ambit of provision itself, "Plebiscite Requirement", makes this obvious. It requires a
the constitutional provision. majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose in the political
unit or units directly affected. On the other hand, Sec. 453 of the LGC,
Pertinent is Art. 12(c) of the LGC’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, entitled "Duty to Declare Highly Urbanized Status", is only on the duty to
which reads: declare a city as highly urbanized. It mandates the Office of the President
to make the declaration after the city has met the requirements under Sec.
452, and upon proper application and ratification in a plebiscite. The
Art. 12. Conversion of a Component City into a Highly Urbanized City. –
conduct of a plebiscite is then a requirement before a declaration can be
made. Thus, the Court finds that Sec. 10 of the LGC prevails over Sec. 453
xxxx of the LGC on the plebiscite requirement.

(c) Effect of Conversion – The conversion of a component city into a highly- We now take the bull by the horns and resolve the issue whether Sec. 453
urbanized city shall make it independent of the province where it is of the LGC trenches on Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution.
geographically located. (emphasis added)
Hornbook doctrine is that neither the legislative, the executive, nor the
Verily, the upward conversion of a component city, in this case Cabanatuan judiciary has the power to act beyond the Constitution’s mandate. The
City, into an HUC will come at a steep price. It can be gleaned from the Constitution is supreme; any exercise of power beyond what is
above-cited rule that the province will inevitably suffer a corresponding circumscribed by the Constitution is ultra vires and a nullity. As elucidated
decrease in territory brought about by Cabanatuan City’s gain of by former Chief Justice Enrique Fernando in Fernandez v. Cuerva:14
independence. With the city’s newfound autonomy, it will be free from the
oversight powers of the province, which, in effect, reduces the territorial
Where the assailed legislative or executive act is found by the judiciary to
jurisdiction of the latter. What once formed part of Nueva Ecija will no longer
be contrary to the Constitution, it is null and void. As the new Civil Code
be subject to supervision by the province. In more concrete terms, Nueva
puts it: "When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the
Ecija stands to lose 282.75 sq. km. of its territorial jurisdiction with
Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern."
Cabanatuan City’s severance from its mother province. This is equivalent
to carving out almost 5% of Nueva Ecija’s 5,751.3 sq. km. area. This Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only
sufficiently satisfies the requirement that the alteration be "substantial." when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution. The above
provision of the civil Code reflects the orthodox view that an unconstitutional

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act, whether legislative or executive, is not a law, confers no rights, imposes fact and may have consequences which cannot always be erased by a new
no duties, and affords no protection. x x x judicial declaration.”18

Applying this orthodox view, a law should be construed in harmony with and The entire province of Nueva Ecija will be directly
not in violation of the Constitution.15 In a long line of cases, the cardinal affected by Cabanatuan City’s conversion
principle of construction established is that a statute should be interpreted
to assure its being in consonance with, rather than repugnant to, any After the Court has resolved the seeming irreconcilability of Sec. 10, Art. X
constitutional command or prescription.16 If there is doubt or uncertainty as of the Constitution and Sec. 453 of the LGC, it is now time to elucidate the
to the meaning of the legislative, if the words or provisions are obscure or if meaning of the phrase "political units directly affected" under Sec. 10, Art.
the enactment is fairly susceptible of two or more constitution, that X.
interpretation which will avoid the effect of unconstitutionality will be
adopted, even though it may be necessary, for this purpose, to disregard a. "Political units directly affected" defined
the more usual or apparent import of the language used.17
In identifying the LGU or LGUs that should be allowed to take part in the
Pursuant to established jurisprudence, the phrase "by the qualified voters
plebiscite, what should primarily be determined is whether or not the unit or
therein" in Sec. 453 should be construed in a manner that will avoid conflict units that desire to participate will be "directly affected" by the change. To
with the Constitution. If one takes the plain meaning of the phrase in relation
interpret the phrase, Tan v. COMELEC19 and Padilla v. COMELEC20 are
to the declaration by the President that a city is an HUC, then, Sec. 453 of
worth revisiting.
the LGC will clash with the explicit provision under Sec. 10, Art. X that the
voters in the "political units directly affected" shall participate in the
plebiscite. Such construction should be avoided in view of the supremacy We have ruled in Tan, involving the division of Negros Occidental for the
of the Constitution. Thus, the Court treats the phrase "by the qualified voters creation of the new province of Negros del Norte, that the LGUs whose
therein" in Sec. 453 to mean the qualified voters not only in the city boundaries are to be altered and whose economy would be affected are
proposed to be converted to an HUC but also the voters of the political units entitled to participate in the plebiscite. As held:
directly affected by such conversion in order to harmonize Sec. 453 with
Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution. It can be plainly seen that the aforecited constitutional provision makes it
imperative that there be first obtained "the approval of a majority of votes in
The Court finds that respondents are mistaken in construing Sec. 453 in a the plebiscite in the unit or units affected" whenever a province is created,
vacuum. Their interpretation of Sec. 453 of the LGC runs afoul of Sec. 10, divided or merged and there is substantial alteration of the boundaries. It is
Art. X of the Constitution which explicitly requires that all residents in the thus inescapable to conclude that the boundaries of the existing province of
"political units directly affected" should be made to vote. Negros Occidental would necessarily be substantially altered by the division
of its existing boundaries in order that there can be created the proposed
new province of Negros del Norte. Plain and simple logic will demonstrate
Respondents make much of the plebiscites conducted in connection with
than that two political units would be affected.
the conversion of Puerto Princesa City, Tacloban City and Lapu-Lapu City
where the ratification was made by the registered voters in said cities alone.
It is clear, however, that the issue of who are entitled to vote in said The first would be the parent province of Negros Occidental because its
plebiscites was not properly raised or brought up in an actual controversy. boundaries would be substantially altered. The other affected entity would
The issue on who will vote in a plebiscite involving a conversion into an HUC be composed of those in the area subtracted from the mother province to
is a novel issue, and this is the first time that the Court is asked to resolve constitute the proposed province of Negros del Norte. 21
the question. As such, the past plebiscites in the aforementioned cities have
no materiality or relevance to the instant petition. Suffice it to say that xxxx
conversion of said cities prior to this judicial declaration will not be affected
or prejudiced in any manner following the operative fact doctrine―that “the To form the new province of Negros del Norte no less than three cities and
actual existence of a statute prior to such a determination is an operative eight municipalities will be subtracted from the parent province of Negros

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Occidental. This will result in the removal of approximately 2,768.4 square Senator Guingona. Can we make that clearer by example? Let us assume
kilometers from the land area of an existing province whose boundaries will that a province has municipalities and there is a merger of two
be consequently substantially altered. It becomes easy to realize that the municipalities. Would this therefore mean that the plebiscite will be
consequent effects of the division of the parent province necessarily will conducted within the two merged municipalities and not in the eight other
affect all the people living in the separate areas of Negros Occidental and municipalities?
the proposed province of Negros del Norte. The economy of the parent
province as well as that of the new province will be inevitably affected, either Senator Pimentel. The whole province, Mr. President, will be affected, and
for the better or for the worse. Whatever be the case, either or both of these that is the reason we probably have to involve the entire province.
political groups will be affected and they are, therefore, the unit or units
referred to in Section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution which must be
Senator Guingona. So the plebiscite will not be held only in the two
included in the plebiscite contemplated therein. 22 (emphasis added)
municipalities which are being merged, but the entire province will now have
to undergo.
Sec. 3, Art. XI of the 1973 Constitution, as invoked in Tan, states:
Senator Pimentel. I suppose that was the ruling in the Negros del Norte
SEC. 3. No province, city, municipality or barrio may be created, divided, case.
merged abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in
accordance with the criteria established in the local government code, and
Senator Guingona. Supposing it refers to barangays, will the entire
subject to the approval by a majority of the votes in a plebiscite in the unit
municipality have to vote? There are two barangays being merged, say, out
or units affected. (emphasis added)
of 100 barangays. Would the entire municipality have to participate in the
plebiscite?
Despite the change in phraseology compared to what is now Sec. 10, Art.
X, we affirmed our ruling in Tan in the latter case of Padilla. As held, the
Senator Pimentel. Yes, Mr. President, because the municipality is affected
removal of the phrase "unit or" only served to sustain the earlier finding that
directly by the merger of two of its barangay.
what is contemplated by the phase "political units directly affected" is the
plurality of political units which would participate in the plebiscite. As
reflected in the journal of the Constitutional Commission:23 Senator Guingona. And, if, out of 100 barangay, 51 are being merged,
abolished, whatever, would the rest of the municipality not participate in the
plebiscite?
Mr. Maambong: While we have already approved the deletion of "unit or," I
would like to inform the Committee that under the formulation in the present
Local Government Code, the words used are actually "political unit or units." Senator Pimentel. Do all the 51 barangay that the Gentleman mentioned,
However, I do not know the implication of the use of these words. Maybe Mr. President, belong to one municipality?
there will be no substantial difference, but I just want to inform the
Committee about this. Senator Guingona. Yes.

Mr. Nolledo: Can we not adhere to the original "unit or units"? Will there be Senator Pimentel. Then it will only involve the municipality where the 51
no objection on the part of the two Gentlemen from the floor? barangays belong.

Mr. Davide: I would object. I precisely asked for the deletion of the words Senator Guingona. Yes. So, the entire municipality will now have to undergo
"unit or" because in the plebiscite to be conducted, it must involve all the a plebiscite.
units affected. If it is the creation of a barangay plebiscite because it is
affected. It would mean a loss of a territory. (emphasis added) Senator Pimentel. That is correct, Mr. President.

The same sentiment was shared by the Senate during its deliberations on Senator Guingona. In the earlier example, if it is only a merger of two
Senate Bill No. 155––the predecessor of the LGC––thus: municipalities, let us say, in a province with 10 municipalities – the entire

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province – will the other municipalities although not affected also have to (a) Population - Fifty percent (50%);
participate in the plebiscite?
(b) Land Area - Twenty-five percent (25%); and
Senator Pimentel. Yes. The reason is that the municipalities are within the
territorial boundaries of the province itself, it will have to be altered as a (c) Equal sharing - Twenty-five percent (25%)
result of the two municipalities that the Gentleman mentioned.24
In our earlier disquisitions, we have explained that the conversion into an
In the more recent case of Miranda, the interpretation in Tan and Padilla HUC carries the accessory of substantial alteration of boundaries and that
was modified to include not only changes in economic but also political the province of Nueva Ecija will, without a doubt, suffer a reduction in
rights in the criteria for determining whether or not an LGU shall be territory because of the severance of Cabanatuan City. The residents of the
considered "directly affected." Nevertheless, the requirement that the city will cease to be political constituencies of the province, effectively
plebiscite be participated in by the plurality of political units directly affected reducing the latter’s population. Taking this decrease in territory and
remained. population in connection with the above formula, it is conceded that Nueva
Ecija will indeed suffer a reduction in IRA given the decrease of its
b. Impact on Economic Rights multipliers’ values. As assessed by the Regional Director of the Department
of Budget and Management (DBM) for Region III:25
To recall, it was held in Miranda that the changes that will result in the
downgrading of an LGU from an independent component city Basis to a for IRA Province of Cabanatuan Province
component city cannot be categorized as insubstantial, thereby Computation Nueva Ecija City Nueva Ecija N
necessitating the conduct of a plebiscite for its ratification. In a similar of Cabanatu
fashion, herein petitioner Umali itemized the adverse effects of Cabanatuan City
City’s conversion to the province of Nueva Ecija to justify the province’s
participation in the plebiscite to be conducted. No. of Population 1,843,853 259,267 259,267
CY 2007 Census
Often raised is that Cabanatuan City’s conversion into an HUC and Land
its Area 5,751.33 282.75 5,468.58
severance from Nueva Ecija will result in the reduction of the Internal(sq. km.)
Revenue Allotment (IRA) to the province based on Sec. 285 of the LGC.
The law states: IRA Share of Actual IRA Estimated IRA Reduction
Nueva Ecija Share share excluding
Section 285. Allocation to Local Government Units. - The share of local Cabanatuan
government units in the internal revenue allotment shall be collected in the City
following manner:
Based on ₱800,772,618.45 ₱688,174,751.66 ₱112,597,866.79
Population
(a) Provinces - Twenty-three percent (23%);
Based on Land ₱263,470,472.62 ₱250,517,594.56 P 12,952,878.06
Area
(b) Cities - Twenty-three percent (23%);
Total ₱125,550,744.85
(c) Municipalities - Thirty-four percent (34%); and
Clear as crystal is that the province of Nueva Ecija will suffer a substantial
(d) Barangays - Twenty percent (20%) reduction of its share in IRA once Cabanatuan City attains autonomy. In
view of the economic impact of Cabanatuan City’s conversion, petitioner
Provided, however, That the share of each province, city, and municipality Umali’s contention, that its effect on the province is not only direct but also
shall be determined on the basis of the following formula: adverse, deserves merit.

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Moreover, his claim that the province will lose shares in provincial taxes (ii) a population of not less than two hundred fifty thousand
imposed in Cabanatuan City is well-founded. This is based on Sec. 151 of (250,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office:
the LGC, which states:
Provided, That, the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area,
SECTION 151. Scope of Taxing Powers. – Except as otherwise provided in population, and income of the original unit or units at the time of said
this Code, the city, may levy the taxes, fees, and charges which the province creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.
or municipality may impose: Provided, however, That the taxes, fees and
charges levied and collected by highly urbanized and independent A component city’s conversion into an HUC and its resultant autonomy from
component cities shall accrue to them and distributed in accordance with the province is a threat to the latter’s economic viability. Noteworthy is that
the provisions of this Code. (emphasis added) the income criterion for a component city to be converted into an HUC is
higher than the income requirement for the creation of a province. The
Once converted, the taxes imposed by the HUC will accrue to itself. Prior to ensuing reduction in income upon separation would clearly leave a crippling
this, the province enjoys the prerogative to impose and collect taxes such effect on the province’s operations as there would be less funding to finance
as those on sand, gravel and other quarry resources, 26 professional infrastructure projects and to defray overhead costs. Moreover, the quality
taxes,27 and amusement taxes28 over the component city. While, it may be of services being offered by the province may suffer because of looming
argued that this is not a derogation of the province’s taxing power because austerity measures. These are but a few of the social costs of the decline in
it is in no way deprived of its right to collect the mentioned taxes from the the province’s economic performance, which Nueva Ecija is bound to
rest of its territory, the conversion will still reduce the province’s taxing experience once its most progressive city of Cabanatuan attains
jurisdiction, and corollary to this, it will experience a corresponding decrease independence.
in shares in local tax collections. This reduction in both taxing jurisdiction
and shares poses a material and substantial change to the province’s c. Impact on Political Rights
economic rights, warranting its participation in the plebiscite.
Aside from the alteration of economic rights, the political rights of Nueva
To further exemplify the impact of these changes, a perusal of Secs. 452(a) Ecija and those of its residents will also be affected by Cabanatuan’s
and 461(a) of the LGC is in order, viz: conversion into an HUC. Notably, the administrative supervision of the
province over the city will effectively be revoked upon conversion. Secs. 4
Section 452. Highly Urbanized Cities. and 12, Art. X of the Constitution read:

(a) Cities with a minimum population of two hundred thousand Sec. 4. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision
(200,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office, over local governments. Provinces with respect to component cities and
and within the latest annual income of at least Fifty Million Pesos municipalities, and cities and municipalities with respect to component
(₱50,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by barangays shall ensure that the acts of their component units are within the
the city treasurer, shall be classified as highly urbanized cities. scope of their prescribed powers and functions.

Section 461. Requisites for Creation. Sec 12. Cities that are highly urbanized, as determined by law, and
component cities whose charters prohibit their voters from voting for
(a) A province may be created if it has an average annual income, as provincial elective officials, shall be independent of the province. The voters
certified by the Department of Finance, of not less than Twenty million of component cities within a province, whose charters contain no such
pesos (₱20,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices and either of the prohibition, shall not be deprived of their right to vote for elective provincial
following requisites: officials.

(i) a contiguous territory of at least two thousand (2,000) square Duties, privileges and obligations appertaining to HUCs will attach to
kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or Cabanatuan City if it is converted into an HUC. This includes the right to be
outside the general supervision of the province and be under the direct

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supervision of the President. An HUC is not subject to provincial oversight secession that they demanded against the wishes of the majority and to
because the complex and varied problems in an HUC due to a bigger nullify the basic principle of majority rule.34
population and greater economic activity require greater autonomy. 29 The
provincial government stands to lose the power to ensure that the local WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Certiorari, docketed
government officials of Cabanatuan City act within the scope of its as G.R. No. 203974, is hereby GRANTED. COMELEC Minute Resolution
prescribed powers and functions,30 to review executive orders issued by the No. 12-0797 dated September 11, 2012 and Minute Resolution No. 12-0925
city mayor, and to approve resolutions and ordinances enacted by the city dated October 16, 2012 are hereby declared NULL and VOID. Public
council.31 The province will also be divested of jurisdiction over disciplinary respondent COMELEC is hereby enjoined from implementing the said
cases concerning the elected city officials of the new HUC, and the appeal Resolutions. Additionally, COMELEC is hereby ordered to conduct a
process for administrative case decisions against barangay officials of the plebiscite for the purpose of converting Cabanatuan City into a Highly
city will also be modified accordingly.32 Likewise, the registered voters of Urbanized City to be participated in by the qualified registered voters of
the city will no longer be entitled to vote for and be voted upon as provincial Nueva Ecij a within 120 days from the finality of this Decision. The Petition
officials.33 for Mandamus, docketed as G.R. No. 204371, is hereby DISMISSED.

In cutting the umbilical cord between Cabanatuan City and the province of SO ORDERED.
Nueva Ecija, the city will be separated from the territorial jurisdiction of the
province, as earlier explained. The provincial government will no longer be
responsible for delivering basic services for the city residents’ benefit.
Ordinances and resolutions passed by the provincial council will no longer
cover the city. Projects queued by the provincial government to be executed
in the city will also be suspended if not scrapped to prevent the LGU from
performing functions outside the bounds of its territorial jurisdiction, and
from expending its limited resources for ventures that do not cater to its
constituents.1âwphi1

In view of these changes in the economic and political rights of the province
of Nueva Ecija and its residents, the entire province certainly stands to be
directly affected by the conversion of Cabanatuan City into an HUC.
Following the doctrines in Tan and Padilla, all the qualified registered voters
of Nueva Ecija should then be allowed to participate in the plebiscite called
for that purpose.

Respondents’ apprehension that requiring the entire province to participate


in the plebiscite will set a dangerous precedent leading to the failure of cities
to convert is unfounded. Their fear that provinces will always be expected
to oppose the conversion in order to retain the city’s dependence is
speculative at best. In any event, any vote of disapproval cast by those
directly affected by the conversion is a valid exercise of their right to
suffrage, and our democratic processes are designed to uphold the decision
of the majority, regardless of the motive behind the vote. It is unfathomable
how the province can be deprived of the opportunity to exercise the right of
suffrage in a matter that is potentially deleterious to its economic viability
and could diminish the rights of its constituents. To limit the plebiscite to
only the voters of the areas to be partitioned and seceded from the province
is as absurd and illogical as allowing only the secessionists to vote for the

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