Congress approves bill converting uncrowded but rich municipalities into cities

Congress has made it easier for a municipality with small population to be converted into a new component city as long as it has the financial capacity to maintain this urban status.

Cavite Rep. Dahlia Loyola

In a recent regular session, the House of Representatives decided to adopt Senate Bill 255 as its version of the measure that seeks to amend Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 providing for the conversion qualifications of municipalities into component cities.

The bill proposes the conversion of a municipality or a city if it either has a population of at least 100,000 inhabitants or a contiguous territory of at least 100 square meters.

However, under the consolidated bill, an aspiring city must also be able to raise P400 million average annual income to qualify. The income component should be certified by the Department of Finance, according to the office of Sen. Francis "Tol" Tolentino.

Under Section 450 of RA 7160, financial qualification for conversion should be at least P100 million annual income in the last two consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices.

The current law requires higher population at 150,000 inhabitants but the same territorial requisite of 100 square kilometers.

Cavite Fifth District Rep. Dahlia Loyola, principal author of one of the two bills in the Lower House, said economic viability should be the primordial reason in conversion.

She cited the case of tiny states such as Nauru and Monaco. Nauru has a land area of just 22 square kilometers and 13,000 population while Monaco has 1.81 square kilometer and a population of 32,000.

“If the above political entities have attained their status as an independent state despite its small population and land area, all the more reason for municipalities which have time and again demonstrated their capacity to thrive despite their small population and land area to be allowed to upgrade its status to that of a city,” Loyola explained.