The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) is set to endorse the conversion into cities of 21 municipalities that have already met the requirements for cityhood set by Constitution and the Local Government Code.
But LCP President Oscar Rodriguez, mayor of San Fernando City, Pampanga, said their group would be firm in opposing the conversion into cities of 16 other municipalities recently granted cityhood status by the Supreme Court.
"The LCP has been consistent in its position: it endorses, and will continue to endorse, in Congress all cityhood application of municipalities that meet the requirements set by the Constitution and the Local Government Code," Rodriguez said.
Under Section 10, Article 10 of the Philippine Constitution, "No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code."
Under the Local Government Code, as amended by Republic Act 9009 that took effect on June 30, 2007, a municipality may be converted into a component city only if it meets two of three requirements: "locally generated average annual income of P100 million for the last two consecutive years and contiguous territory of at least 100 square kilometers or a population of not less than 150,000 inhabitants."
Rodriguez noted that data culled by LCP from government agencies show that 21 municipalities from various parts of the country have already qualified for cityhood based on the standards set by law.
These municipalities are Cabuyao and San Pedro in Laguna; Cainta, Taytay, and Binangonan in Rizal; Bacoor, Gen. Trias, Imus, Carmona, and Silang in Cavite; Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija; Calaca, Sto. Tomas, Bauan and Nasugbu in Batangas; Mauban in Quezon; Marilao, Sta. Maria and Norzagaray in Bulacan; and Limay in Bataan.
These municipalities, Rodriguez said, have met the most important criterion set by the Local Government Code: locally-generated income of P100 million. Imus, Bacoor and Cabuyao have pending cityhood application in Congress, but the 18 others are still waiting for their congressmen to file cityhood bills on their behalf.
"These 21 municipalities deserve cityhood status, unlike the 16 municipalities that circumvented the requirements set by law," Rodriguez said. He was referring to 16 municipalities granted cityhood by the Supreme despite the towns' failure to meet the P100-million minimum income requirement set by the Local Government Code.
These municipalities are Batac, Ilocos Norte; Tabuk, Kalinga; Tayabas, Quezon; Baybay, Leyte; Catbalogan, Samar; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental; Bogo, Naga, and Carcar in Cebu; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; El Salvador, Misamis Oriental; Mati, Davao Oriental; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; and Lamitan, Basilan.
One of these municipalities, El Salvador, fails to meet all the requirements for cityhood. El Salvador only has P17-million locally-generated income, 87 square kilometers of area and 41,905 inhabitants.
"We have nothing personal against the 16 municipalities. But applicants for cityhood must first meet the qualifications for cityhood, without resorting to legal shortcuts," said LCP Secretary General Hernani Braganza, mayor of Alaminos City, Pangasinan.
Braganza stressed that LCP members are "more than willing" to lose or forego their share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), but only to municipalities that would be converted into cities in accordance with the law."We in LCP maintain this position not out of greed or selfishness, but out of respect for the Constitution and the Local Government Code. This is not about money, but about upholding the rule of law," he pointed out.
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