G.R. No. 176951 : February 15, 2011 | LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treñas; CITY OF CALBAYOG, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and JERRY P. TREÑAS, in his personal capacity as Taxpayer, Petitioners, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, et al., Respondents.
FACTS: These cases were initiated by the consolidated petitions for prohibition filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treñas, assailing the constitutionality of the sixteen (16) laws, each converting the municipality covered thereby into a component city (Cityhood Laws), and seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting plebiscites pursuant to the subject laws.

In the Decision dated November 18, 2008, the Court En Banc, by a 6-5 vote, granted the petitions and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional for violating Sections 10 and 6, Article X, and the equal protection clause. In another Decision dated December 21, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a vote of 6-4, declared the Cityhood Laws as constitutional. On August 24, 2010, the Court En Banc, through a Resolution, by a vote of 7-6, resolved the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Annul the Decision of December 21, 2009.ISSUE: FIRST ISSUE -- Whether or not the Cityhood Bills violate Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution

SECOND ISSUE -- Whether or not the Cityhood Bills violate Article X, Section 6 and the equal protection clause of the Constitution

HELD: The petition is meritorious.

First issue:

The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its legislative power.  Legislative power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them. The Constitution, as the expression of the will of the people in their original, sovereign, and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines.

The LGC is a creation of Congress through its law-making powers.  Congress has the power to alter or modify it as it did when it enacted R.A. No. 9009.  Such power of amendment of laws was again exercised when Congress enacted the Cityhood Laws.  When Congress enacted the LGC in 1991, it provided for quantifiable indicators of economic viability for the creation of local government units—income, population, and land area.

However, Congress deemed it wiser to exempt respondent municipalities from such a belatedly imposed modified income requirement in order to uphold its higher calling of putting flesh and blood to the very intent and thrust of the LGC, which is countryside development and autonomy, especially accounting for these municipalities as engines for economic growth in their respective provinces.

R.A. No. 9009 amended the LGC.  But the Cityhood Laws amended R.A. No. 9009 through the exemption clauses found therein.  Since the Cityhood Laws explicitly exempted the concerned municipalities from the amendatory R.A. No. 9009, such Cityhood Laws are, therefore, also amendments to the LGC itself.

Second Issue: 

Substantial distinction lies in the capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to become component cities of their respective provinces.  Congress, by enacting the Cityhood Laws, recognized this capacity and viability of respondent municipalities to become the State’s partners in accelerating economic growth and development in the provincial regions, which is the very thrust of the LGC, manifested by the pendency of their cityhood bills during the 11th Congress and their relentless pursuit for cityhood up to the present.

The Resolution dated August 24, 2010 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Cityhood Laws are declared CONSTITUTIONAL.