Members of the 122-strong League of City Mayors in the Philippines marched last March 9, 2011 to the Supreme Court after it flipped flopped on the city hood bids of the 16 towns in the country
by Mortz C. Ortigoza
In the special general assembly of the 122-strong League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) held recently at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel in Manila, its secretary general Hernani Braganza (Mayor of Alaminos City) thundered before the hundreds of saber-rattling mayors and their supporters that the entry of the 16 towns to cityhood would gnaw at P3.7 billion of the yearly Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government.
“11,000 employees’ ang matatangal, housing, PhilHealth, kalsada, farm-to-market roads, proteksiyon sa kalikasan...” Braganza rabble roused.
According to Pueto Princesa Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn, his city would lose P100 million a year if the 16 unwelcomed towns entered the LCP.
Thanks to the flip-flopping of the Supreme Court that for the third time about the cityhood status of 16 towns that according to the furious members of the LCP do not met the P100 million annual local income requirement.
“I’m ashamed to be a lawyer,” Atty. Cris Diokno emphatically told the LCP and their supporters.
He enthused that it is only in the Philippines that a final and executed case was resurrected by the Supreme Court because of a secret letter from Atty. Estelito Mendoza, counsel for the 16 towns, to the high court.
“Patay na nga, binuhay pa!”
Mayor Nani told me that he just “obliged” his friend Diokno in the last hour to be the resource speaker to explain the nuances of the flip-flops.
In that forum, some mayors want blood against the “bumbling” justices of the Supreme Court.
Caloocan City Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri, a lawyer, declared in the Special General Assembly that they do not have any new argument in case they file their Motion for Reconsideration asking the Court to reverse itself on its February 15, 2011 ponencia (decision) that favors the cityhood of the 16 towns.
He said it is a practice in futility.
But the majority led by LCP president Oscar Samson Rodriguez (mayor of San Fernando City) ask their livid colleagues to give the MR another chance.
The march to the Supreme Court last March 15 in Padre Faura in Manila was “historic.”
Clad in various colors of red, blue, and white tees with an embossed slogan of “SPUR“ ( for Stop illegal conversion of municipalities into cities, Protect the Local Government Code, Uphold the rule of law, Respect the Philippine Constitution)the LCP and its supporters marched to the high court with a band and a rock and roll band that put a fiesta atmosphere to the event.
Holly Molly, the hauler truck that ferried the rock band was decorated with two giant slippers as big as the door of the Supreme Court that symbolized its flip flopping decision.
MayorNani himself, who used to be a dyed-in-the –wool fire-breathing “proletariat” activist in his much younger days, was zealously shouting slogans against the justices at the top of the hauler truck as he rubbed elbows with the mostly “bourgeois” members of the LCP.
Oh before I forgot, at the press conference the day before the rally I should be asking a different question to the members of the LCP when I spotted former Senator Aquilino Pimentel who sat with the city mayors.
“Susmariosep, was this the guy responsible for the harrowing dilemma experienced by the LCP?” I asked myself.
Pimentel (who by the way begged the crowd to stop calling him the father of the Local Government Code as it causes jealousy and suspicion among his wife and kids) has an exchange with former Senate President Franklin Drilon when R.A 9009 (An act amending Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, by increasing the average annual income requirement for a municipality or cluster of barangays to be converted into a component city) in the Senate and was used by the Supreme Court as one of its basis on its February 15, 2011 decision penned by Justice Lucas Bersamin in reversing itself for the third time.
In that interpellation, Drilon asked Pimentel if R.A 9009 (then Senate Bill 2157) if its P100 million requirement retroacts to the pending cityhood bills that include the 16 towns.
“Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill, on the assumption that it is approved, retroact to the bills that are pending in the Senate conversion from municipalities to cities,” Pimentel answered.
“So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber (those 24 bills that include the 16 towns) will not be affected?” Drilon asked Pimentel again.
“These will not be affected, Mr. President,” Pimentel retorted.
“Do you still stand today on your answers to Drilon?” This lowly columnist asked Senator Pimentel at that press conference.
His answer was not clear. But he told me that he agreed with the argument of Justice Antonio Carpio (the ponente of the August 2010 decision that favored the LCP) that amendment should be directly done on the Local Government Code (RA 7160), and not with RA 9009.