Friday, April 17, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]
AT least 50,000 individuals are bound to lose their jobs besides the disruption of the delivery of basic services to the public once the Supreme Court finally decides to revert to the cityhood status of 16 cities to municipality.
Local officials of 16 cities that are mostly located in the Visayas and Mindanao are in danger of losing the cityhood status in line with the case filed by the League of Cities of the Philippine for the failure of local governments to meet the annual income requirement as stated by the law.
The Supreme Court is set to decide on the fate of the 16 cities next week after concerned local officials filed a motion of reconsideration on the earlier decision of the High Tribunal declaring as unconstitutional the laws converting 16 municipalities into cities because of its failure to meet the P100-million annual income requirement stated in Republic Act 9009 that took effect on 2001.
The 16 includes the cities of Baybay in Leyte; Bogo in Cebu; Catbalongan in Samar; Tandag in Surigao del Sur; Borongan in Eastern Samar; Tayabas in Quezon province; Lamitqan in Basilan; Tabuk in kalinga Apayao; Bayugan in Agusan del Sur; Batac in Ilocos Norte; Mati in Davao Oriental; Guihulgan in Negros Oriental; Cabadbarab in Agusan del Norte; Carcar in Cebu; El Salvador in Misamis Oriental and Naga in Cebu.
Originally municipalities are only required to have at least P20-million annual income for them to qualify as city but congress in 2001 enacted R.A. 9009 increasing the requirement to P100 million.
According to the affected local governments that call themselves the “Group of 16,” besides the 45,000 government employees that are in danger of losing their jobs, the delivery of basic services is also expected to deteriorate once they lose the cityhood status.
Once reverted back to municipality status, the 16 local governments said they would not be able to allot input subsidies, construct irrigation and fishing facilities, build farm to market roads, or provide agricultural mechanization, soft loans and technical support.
“The country with no less than President Gloria Arroyo, herself is actively soliciting employment offers for Filipinos all over the globe and yet here we are oblivious to the plight of 45,000 government workers who are about to lose employment,” the group said, adding that the number does not include the farmers, fishermen and businessmen that would be affected by the move.
The delivery of basic services like health and education among others will also be affected, as hospitals and schools would lose its personnel once the cities Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) is reverted back to municipality IRA because it would not be enough to pay for the salaries and wages of the personnel.
“While we respect the Supreme Court’s decision to declare as “unconstitutional” the creation of 16 new cities, we hope that the court would also consider the adverse and devastating effects of the said decision on the more than two million constituents of the affected cities,” the group added.
-- Jefferson Antiporda