League of Cities Wants Veto on City Hood of 12 Towns

ILOILO City: The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) will ask President Arroyo to veto the bill on the conversion of 12 municipalities into cities. LCP President Mayor Jerry Treñas said he was dismayed by the Senate’s approval on third reading of the bill.

Earlier, Treñas said the LCP would be campaigning against reelectionist senators who would vote for the conversion of the 12 towns into cities.

The LCP will hold its 30th National Executive Board Meeting on Thursday, February 9, at the CSB Hotel in Malate, Manila. Treñas said they would discuss their next moves.

The Senate on third and final reading on February 8, 2007 approved the 12 city hood bills of municipalities seeking exemption from the income requirement provide for in Republic Act 9009.

Nineteen senators favored and none voted against or abstained against the city hood of the 12 municipalities, out of the 13 that applied. Only the municipality of El Salvador in Misamis Oriental was not approved for city hood.

Last month, during the first LCP national convention at the Manila Hotel, the city mayors drew up a position paper expressing fear that exemptions from requirements for city hood would set a precedent for other municipalities aspiring to be cities.

Treñas said the creation of new cities would drastically reduce the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shares of 118 existing cities.

“We are going to make a strong opposition before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.

Treñas said the municipalities that applied for city hood asked exemptions from the requirements set by the amended provision of the Local Government Code of 1991 for a town to become a full-fledged city.

The Local Government Code of 1991 provides that for a town to become a city, it should meet the standard of P100-million annual income, 10,000-hectare land area, and at least a population of 150,000.

All the towns applying to become cities, Treñas said, did not meet the P100 million-income requirement.

The 13 municipalities’ locally generated income ranged from P5 million to P34 million only. Also, they did not reach the minimum requirement for population (150,000) and land area (100 square kilometers) provided by the Local Government Code of 1991. The emergence of new cities would mean a big slash in the IRA allocation of existing cities, Treñas said. The IRA share of cities for 2008 would be shared by 130 cities.

The IRA, equivalent to 40 percent of the revenue collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the third preceding fiscal year, is divided among provinces (23 percent), cities (23 percent), towns (34 percent) and villages (20 percent), according to Alfonso Bedonia, Department of Budget and Management director in charge here.

For this year, the estimated share of the local government units from the IRA would be P183,937,599,000, Bedonia said.

The 12 towns approved by the Senate for city hood are Batac, Ilocos Norte; Baybay, Leyte; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; Bogo, Cebu; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; Carcar, Cebu; Catbalogan, Samar; Lamitan, Basilan; Tabuk, Kalinga; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; and Tayabas, Quezon. - From The Manila Bulletin - Friday, February 9, 2007

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