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Supreme Court cityhood ruling on 16 towns welcomed

DAVAO City, Philippines  — Mayor Michelle Rabat of the capital city of Mati in Davao Oriental welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) ruling Tuesday that the 16 towns can be declared as cities without complying with the P100-million annual income requirement imposed by the Local Government Code.

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) questioned the granting of cityhood status three years ago to 16 towns that failed to comply with the income requirement.

The High Tribunal has also reversed several times its decisions regarding the status of the 16 towns wanting to become cities.

“This is a very welcome development,” Rabat, who has been one of those in the forefront of the cityhood move, said yesterday.

Aside from Mati, the 15 other new cities are Lamitan in Basilan, Baybay in Leyte, Bogo in Cebu, Catbalogan in Samar, Tandag in Surigao del Sur, Borongan in Samar, Tayabas in Quezon, Tabuk in Kalinga, Bayugan in Agusan del Sur, Batac in Ilocos Norte, Guihulngan in Negros Oriental, Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte, El Salvador in Misamis Oriental, Carcar in Cebu, and Naga also in Cebu.

Tabuk City and Batac City also lauded the SC decision and their respective local government officials vowed to improve their respective turfs.

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“For one, we could allocate more funds to peace and order programs which hopefully, would improve our peace and order situation,” Tabuk Vice Mayor Darwin Estraneo said.

The ruling on the status of the 16 towns came while the SC was holding its summer sessions in Baguio City.

Reports showed that a majority of SC justices denied with finality the appeal of the LCP over the Feb. 15, 2011 decision of the SC declaring the cityhood laws of the 16 new cities as constitutional.

“With the closure of the issue, the people of Mati can now move on and face their future with much better perspective,” Rabat said.

She said the increase in their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of about P240 million annually will greatly help their local economy and the delivery of basic services to their people.

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