Batac, Other New Cities Face Legal Challenge in Courts

BATAC, Ilocos Norte (15 August) -- The League of Cities of the Philippines will challenge the status of newly converted cities and stop the plebiscites scheduled to ratify the laws that would create more cities in the country.

According to Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, the LCP has engaged the services of a law firm that would seek a court injunction to stop scheduled plebiscites.

The newly created cities are Tabuk in Kalinga, Borongan in Eastern Samar, Lamitan in Basilan, Mati in Davao Oriental, Tandag in Surigao Del Sur and Batac.

The LCP had tried to get President Macapagal-Arroyo to veto the cityhood initiatives of at least 19 towns in February after the Senate waived some of the requirements that these towns must first satisfy before they were officially recognized as cities.

Bautista said Ms Arroyo did not veto the initiatives because it was passed before the May 14 elections.

For his part, Batac Mayor Jeffrey Nalupta said the LCP move was a rehash of an earlier petition that the group had aired to block towns from obtaining their rightful position as cities.

Nalupta said Batac, just as other newly created cities, met all the requirements that the law had provided before their towns went through the process of ratification or the plebiscite.

He said the cityhood bill of Batac was filed in 1998 when its annual income was pegged at P29 million or way above the income requirement then of P20 million.In 2001, however, the income requirement was amended requiring towns desiring to become a city to reach an income requirement of P100 million.

Nalupta said the law provided that the amount pf P100 million should be derived from locally-generated funds.

"The bills became pending for a long time because they were overtaken by the amendments set by Congress," Nalupta said.

He said the Senate then made another amendment that the P100 million income requirement should be derived not only from local sources but would include the internal revenue allotment share of towns.

Nalupta said Batac later met the requirement after it reached an income of more than P100 million since 2006. The income was generated from both local sources and its IRA share.

"We will deal with the new petition through our lawyers," he said.

Batac's cityhood was ratified on June 23 when residents endorsed its conversion with 11,750 votes out of 25,642 registered voters. Only 1,433 residents rejected Batac's conversion to a city. - From Phillipine Information Agency by Cristina Arzadon (PIA)

Leave us your thoughts