House OKs bill easing cityhood requirements

Published January 2, 2021, 4:26 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives has moved to relax the rules in converting municipalities into cities.

Under a bill passed on third and final reading before it adjourned for the holidays last month, a municipality can become a city despite failing to meet the legal requirements on population and territorial area.

House Bill 8207 provides that a municipality or a cluster of barangay units needs only to reach an annual income of P250 million to qualify as a city.

Filed by Cavite Rep. Dahlia A. Loyola, HB 8207 drew strong support in the House, garnering 221 affirmative and zero negative votes when called on third and final reading last month.

HB 8207 provides that a municipality or cluster of barangays may be converted into a city if it has either a population of at least 100,000  inhabitants as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) or a contiguous territory of at least 100 square kilometers as certified by the Land Management Bureau.

However, under either circumstances, the locality seeking cityhood must also generate an income of at least P250 million in the past two consecutive years as certified by the Department of Finance.

Further, the bill mandates that the income requirement of P250 million shall be increased by five percent three years after the bill has been approved into law.

Currently, the Local Government Code provides that a city can be created if it has an annual income of P100 million and a territory of at least 100 square kilometers or a population of not less than 150,000.

Loyola noted that there are a number of municipalities that may not be compliant with the population and income requirement of the Local Government Code but “have nevertheless unquestionable capacity to provide essential government facilities, social services to its inhabitants, comparable or even superior to that of existing cities.”

The lady solon stressed that living in the city has “its corresponding economic advantage.”

“Thus, it would be utterly unfair to the inhabitants of municipalities to foreclose their right to the benefits of cityhood simply because such municipalities’ land area and population is less than that required under the Local Government Code,” said Loyola.

She pointed out that there are a number of countries such as Monaco and Nauru that have become independent states despite the small population and land area.