Press Statement of the City Government
of Catbalogan on cityhood issue
December 22, 2008
This is to formally
inform the public that on November 14, the Supreme Court (SC) released
a decision declaring the cityhood of 16 LGUs including Catbalogan as
unconstitutional. In view of this ill-timed and unfortunate news, we
wish to reassure our fellow Catbaloganons that the City Government is
doing everything in its power to properly address this problem and
with God’s grace, Catbalogan, shall and will remain as a component
Upon receiving this
news, the first step we made was to meet with the other affected LGUs.
Last November 17, Vice Mayor Van Torrevillas, Councilor Art Gabon and
I met with other concerned Mayors and their legal counsels, to discuss
the next proper course of action. We were joined by Congresswoman
Carmen Cari and other Congressmen, at the Speaker’s Lounge of the
House of Representatives for this meeting.
During our stay in
Manila, we had also consulted with other key persons including
Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera on November 18, House Speaker
Prospero Nograles on November 19 and Senate President Juan Ponce
Enrile on November 22.
It was during the
meeting with Solicitor General Devanadera that we were advised to
prepare a briefer specifying our justifications on why our cityhood
statuses should be retained. I promptly instructed my department and
office heads to prepare and come up with a detailed outline/summary on
the possible impact and effect, should the rewind from a city into a
municipality become final and executory.
statistics, facts and updated data on the number of new
offices/departments, number of new plantillas, promotions, positions
that were filled up, contracts entered into by the City Government,
status of the various implemented and on-going programs and projects,
adopted city ordinances, collection of Real Property Tax (RPT),
potential investments and other similar data.
We also explained that
reverting back to a municipality will lead to the deterioration of the
social and health services. Performance of the existing offices will
be adversely affected while the newly created agencies or offices will
be dissolved, further affecting the quality and delivery of basic
services. The resulting lay-off of workers will also deprive 100
families or 800 individuals of a decent source of living and quality
way of life.
This briefer was
submitted to the Solicitor General, to Congress, to our Legal Counsel
and to the Office of Atty. Estelito Mendoza last November 26 in
support of our Motion for Reconsideration. Alongside this, the
Congress, both houses, were supposed to file a Motion for Intervention
and Reconsideration to support our claims. The legal details, updates
and defenses of our motion are all being handled by Atty. Estelito
Mendoza as our over-all legal representative.
Our present situation
comes as a result of the legal maneuvers made by the League of Cities
of the Philippines (LCP) starting with the petitions for prohibition
filed in the dates March 27, 2007, May 4, 2007 and June 14, 2007. With
the City of Iloilo and the City of Calbayog at the forefront of this
legal campaign, the LCP and other member cities as
petitioners-in-intervention have sought that the court either block
the respondent municipalities from conducting plebiscites or compel
the COMELEC not to proclaim the plebiscite results. They also appealed
that the cityhood laws be struck down as unconstitutional.
The prayer for the
issuance for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was not granted by
the court which prompted the COMELEC to proceed with the plebiscite
last June 16, 2007. Catbalogan’s conversion into a component city was
ratified at that same day.
In view of this, my
administration stands firm in its conviction that our cityhood was
obtained lawfully. We went through the required processes and have
overcome all the difficulties and obstacles that were thrown in its
path. Most importantly, it emanated from the people of Catbalogan with
a resounding majority of 25,426 votes cast in its favor. These
justifications increased our confidence in the constitutionality of
our cityhood and our strength to defend it before the Supreme Court.
As things stand now,
Catbalogan remains and still is a city. No more less than the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Reynato S. Puno, clearly and
categorically declared that the decision of the Supreme Court is not
yet final and executory. Just recently, on December 10, we filed our
Motion for Reconsideration (MR) before the SC.
Pending the resolution
of the MR, the City of
Catbalogan shall continue to receive the same IRA allocation and other
privileges with other cities. All created offices/departments of the
city shall remain to exist and function as such.
We earnestly ask the
public to display the same faith and courage in this most trying time
in our City’s history. Never lose hope for the law is on our side. GOD
be with us!
We are also
thankful for the outpouring of support and concern that we received
when the news first broke out. We especially want to thank the
individuals who helped in preparing the briefer which was an important
part of the documents submitted for the Motion for Reconsideration.
They are: DR. DEBORAH MARCO, ATTY. AILEEN FORTEZA, ATTY. CARLOS DAIZ,
ATTY. GERARDO TEVES, ATTY. ERNESTO ARCALES, EDGARDO T. GUYA, DOLORES
Q. TENEDERO, LAIMINH MABULAY, ROXANNE D. LAURETA, AARON PLANAS, ADOR
HURTADO, ARBEE MON, LYNOR ABOTOG, JASMINE MACASPAG, CHEREL TAMAYO,
CARLOTA RODRIGUEZ, ERLINDA ABUGUIN, ALFIE LEE, RECHELLE OCENAR,
MERCEDES PACAYRA and all concerned DEPARTMENT HEADS.
Tekwa Uy, Vice-mayor Van Torrevillas, Councilor Art Gabon and
Atty. Gerry Teves alternately answer queries from the media
during a Press Conference cum Forum on the Catbalogan cityhood
issue at the SSU audio-visual room on December 22.