OPINION: Forget Sto. Tomas and Nabunturan cityhood

BLOGISTA
By Cha Monforte

nov 20

There was that buzz last week that the cityhoood in Nabunturan is forthcoming. Was it another diversionary stuff for the P90-million bond flotation that the town’s administration pushes to be implemented? (The bond float pushers are now respondents to an injunction case filed by representatives of people initiative petitioners in town. We’ll not touch this for now at the risk of being held in contempt of court). But sadly, for Nabunturan, the cityhood isn’t really coming (so with Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte) since the Supreme Court the other day struck out the 16 new cities including the near Mati in Davao Oriental, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte and Tandag, Surigao del Sur. They’re now back as municipalities!

Forget the costly hoopla and celebrations when these towns became cities via Congress and not via the requirements of the New Local Government Code. What now magistrates, when the “city” officials have been already called as city mayores, city vice mayores and city konsehales? Throw into the garbage cans their calling cards, stationeries, and discard the new  “city” logo and seal, or put white-outs to the word “city” in the birth and marriage certificates of those who were born and who married during the time when Mati, Bayugan, Cabadbaran and Tandag were still called as “cities”?

In declaring the 16 cityhoood laws unconstitutional, the High Couirt pointed out: “The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code. The Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write such criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws.” It’s really a big sorry for our four neighboring towns.

The trouble with their city conversion was that they had their congressmen sponsored their respective cityhood bills when their annual income had not yet hit the P100-million mark. They asked for exemption for it and the Congress granted. That’s via legislative fiat.

Really, forget the congressmen unless they sponsor for the further revision of the New Local Government Code (LGC) and not file bill through the short-cut, backdoor route. You see there’s that ultra-resistence from the cities as the SC’s nullification came from the court case filed by the the league of cities. They, like Tagum City, just don’t want more towns to become cities to eat with them the big IRA allocation for the cities.

But now the real route to cityhood is the New Local Government Code, as amended. Through this, the 3 requirements are needed: 100 square kilometer land area, 150,000 population based on the latest 2007 census and P100 million annual income. Nabunturan has 245.26 sq. kms land area, check. In 2007 census, it has only 67,365 population, fail. By next month, the town’s real income is still less than P100 million as the P40-50 million is still a planned borrowing for the bond float. I said it before, at the very least, the town could only hit the 150,000 population mark in 15 years.

Monkayo is more dejado since it already has the land and income requirements. If Mayor Manuel Brillantes is wise enough, he’ll have to lobby for the correction of the wrong boundary line of Comval’s north and Monkayo gets big chunks of population of Laak, and the Agusan del Sur towns of Santa Josefa and Veruela, and presto, it immediately qualifies to become a city. In 2007 census, Monkayo has 90,971 population.

What’s in a name? Nabunturan town can still function like a city without a city tag if has all the amenities, facilites and services well in place for its residents to live in comfort and convenience. Unfortunately, the town administration of Mayor Macario Humol has apparently been lacking of efforts in delivering good, potable water for the poblacion residents. This, for one gauge alone. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com, for comments and reactions, e-mail: chamonforte@yahoo.com, or ruralurbanews@yahoo.com)

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