ArchivesAugust 2010Guihulngan back to a town

Guihulngan back to a town

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To be or not to be.

After hemming and hawing, the Supreme Court finally decided to revert the City of Guihulngan back to the status of a municipality, along with 15 other cities, citing that the law which made it a city was unconstitutional.{{more}}

The Supreme Court made the pronouncement in a 16-page decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio dated Aug. 24.

Voting 7-6 with two justices abstaining, the SC reversed itself for the second time and this time reinstated its Nov. 18, 2008 decision that declared these laws unconstitutional.

Aside from Carpio, those who voted in favor of reinstating the 2008 decision were Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Mendoza and Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The Justices also said Congress exceeded and abused its law-making power.

Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., who penned the 2009 ruling that reversed the 2008 decision, wrote a dissenting opinion, which was concurred by Chief Justice Renato Corona and Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad and Jose Perez.
Those who abstained were Justices Antonio Nachura and Mariano del Castillo.

Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes was not immediately available for comment but Rep. Josy Limkaichong said while she respects the decision of the Supreme Court, she feels sad for Guihulngan and the first district.

“The increase in the Internal Revenue Allotment could have helped develop economic activity in Guihulngan. Guihulngan used to get an IRA of 80 to 90 million a year but with cityhood, it became P340 million. This will undoubtedly have an effect on the entire District,” she said.

On the other hand, Limkaichong said this should be an eye-opener for people who take shortcuts, which many people feel was how Guihulngan’s cityhood came about.

The 16 affected local government units are asking the Supreme Court that they be allowed to present oral arguments, considering that the composition of the Justices has changed. “But there’s a reason for everything so if it will not be granted their request to present oral arguments, Guihulngan will have to prove what it is worth and resort to local initiatives to raise money.”

The reversion of Guihulngan back to a municipality will also have an impact on the salary scale of its employees as well as the status of additional positions created like the schools division of Guihulngan, and the fate of its ninth and tenth councilors. Cities require ten councilors while municipalities only need eight.

“I hope the Department of Interior and Local Government will allow them to continue serving the people because they were elected by the people,” Limkaichong said.

She also said that a Representative, she will revisit the law creating cities as embodied in the Local Government Code. “I’m looking at the possibility of sharing the IRA between cities and municipalities so that only a local government unit’s population and land area will be the basis for the determination of cityhood.
With the drop in IRA, Guihulngan as a municipality should come up with innovative ways to earn funds. “I will be there to help them,” Limkaichong assured.

Apart from Guihulngan, the other cities which were reverted to towns are Baybay in Leyte, Bogo in Cebu, Catbalogan in Samar, Tandag in Surigao del Sur, Lamitan in Basilan, Borongan in Samar, Tayabas in Quezon, Tabuk in Kalinga, Bayugan in Agusan del Sur, Batac in Ilocos Norte, Mati in Davao Oriental, Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte, El Salvador in Misamis Oriental, Carcar in Cebu and Naga in Cebu.




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