Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Agusan solon sad over SC ruling on cityhood laws

Contributing editor

BUTUAN CITY—Agusan del Sur’s lone Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza expressed sadness over the Supreme Court ruling which declares the series of laws passed last year converting 16 towns into new cities as “unconstitutional.”

The SC on Tuesday ruled that the so-called “Cityhood Laws” violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Plaza feared that all three pending “new cities” in Caraga Region, namely Bayugan in Agusan del Sur, Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte and Tandag in Surigao del Sur will go back to its townhood status should the high court finally decide on its ruling.

“This would deprive the affected cities from the much needed funds to augment for developments like infrastructure,” Plaza told MINDANAO MONITOR.

Plaza author of the law creating then Bayugan town into city, then the biggest municipality in Caraga Region in terms of land area, income and population

He also supported and co-authored the creationg Tandag and Cabadbaran into new cities.

Earlier, the regional office of the Department of Budget and Management claimed the allotted budget for the three new cities in Caraga “have been already released in a phase-by-phase basis.”

On the other hand, Cabadbaran Mayor Dale Corvera told this paper in a text message the SC decision “was just a temporary setback.”

“We will file motion for reconsideration,” he said.

Last March 11, the League of Cities of the Philippines asked the SC to declare unconstitutional the conversion of 16 municipalities into cities.

Those towns were Baybay, Leyte; Bogo, Cebu; Naga, Cebu; Catbalogan, Samar; Lamitan, Basilan; Mati, Davao Oriental; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Tabuk, Kalinga; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; El Salvador, Misamis Oriental; Carcar, Cebu; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental; Tayabas, Quezon; and Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte.

In its petition, the LCP said the laws creating the new cities are void for violating the provision of RA 7160, the Local Government Code, requiring the municipalities to have a generated income of at least P100 million each for the last two consecutive years.

The law also required a municipality to have at least a population of 150,000 and a land area of 100 square kilometers before it can be converted into a city, the petition added.

The LCP said these requirements were not met when the representatives in Congress of these towns pushed for their conversion into cities.