Montejo - Bagabuyo vs Comelec

September 13, 2017 | Author: Margreth Rizzini Avila Montejo | Category: Apportionment (Politics), Legal Documents, Constitutional Law, Public Sphere, Common Law
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Digest Author: Margreth Rizzini A. Montejo   Bagabuyo  vs.  Commission  On  Elections     GR  NO.  115844 Petitioner:  Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo   Respondent:  Solicitor General Petition:  Certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a tempororary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injuction filed to prevent COMELEC from implementing Resolution No. 7837 on the ground that RA 9371 is unconstitutional Ponente:  J. Brion   Date:  December 8, 2008 Facts:   On October 10, 2006, Cagayan De Oro’s Constantino G. Jaraula filed and sponsored House Bill No. 5859: An Act Providing for the Apportionment of the Lone Legislative District of the City of Cagayan De Oro which eventually became RA 9371. It increased Cagayan De Oro’s legislative district from one to two. On March 13, 2007, COMELEC EN BANC promulgated Resolution 7837 implementing RA 9371. Petitioner contends: 1. That RA 9371 is unconstitutional because it did not explicitly provide rules, regulations and guidelines for the conduct of a plebiscite, which is indispensable for the division or conversion of a local government unit. 2. That Cagayan De Oro City’s reapportionment falls under the meaning of creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration which is governed by Sec. 10 Article X of the Constitution 3. That creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries involve material change in political and economic rights of the local government unit 4. That voter’s right to elect a Congressman was arbitrarily reduce at least one half 5. That voter’s right to elect a Congressman and members of the city council of other legislative district was arbitrarily denied 6. That government funds were illegally disbursed without prior approval Hence, petitioner brought this action to nullify RA 9371 and COMELEC Resolution No. 7837. Issues:   1. 2. 3.

Did the petitioner violate hierarchy of courts rule? Does RA 9371 provide for legislative reapportionment? Does RA 9371 violate equality of representation doctrine?

Ruling:   1. No. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over said matter because the present petition is of the nature of a certiorari, prohibition, madamus and quo warranto,

which is within its “direct invocation” pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 129. Also, the petition is considered an exception to the principle of hierarchy because it raises an important subject matter and issues of public interest. Moreover, the petition assails the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No. 7837 issued by Comelec En Banc. 2.

Yes. RA 9371 is a legislative reapportionment1 because the perusal wording of the main provisions in sec. 1 of RA9371 mentions legislative districts2 and no division of Cagayan De Oro city as a political and corporate entity. Its territory remains completely whole and intact. There is only the addition of another legislative district that takes effect. Thus, RA9371, is on its face, purely and simply reapportionment passed in accordance with the authority granted to Congress under sec. 5(4) under Article VI of the constitution. So, sec. 10 Article X of the Constitution is not applicable.

3. No. RA 9371 does not divide Cagayan De Oro City in political and corporate units. It does not affect the membership in the local government unity but increases only the number of House of Representatives, which it is entitled to. The law clearly provides that the basis for districting shall be the number of the inhabitants of a city or province and not the number of registered vote as held by the court in the jurisprudence of Herrera vs. Comelec. Also, based on the judicial notice of the NSO 2007 statistics, Cagayan de Oro’s 1st District has 254,644 while the 2nd District has 299,322 total population. The population requirement is therefore met. Despite the disparity, the Constitution does not require mathematical exactitude or rigid equality as a standard in gauging equality of representation. The court cannot question the division and must refer to the lawmakers to determine the components of the two districts. Dispositive:  Petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.  

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As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, legislative reapportionment is “ realignment or change in legislative districts brought about by changes in population and madated by the constitutional requirement of equality of representation.” According to the history of affected laws, Art VI, Sec. 5(1) and Art X, Sec. 10 of the 1987 Constitution, holding a plebiscite was never a requirement for apportionment or reapportionment. 2 Pursuant to Art VI section 5, a legislative district may be in a sense a political unit since it is a basis for the election of a Representative. However, it is not a political subdivision through which government functions are carried out through local government units that possess legal personality. It is not a corporate unit, unlike a province, a city, municipality or barangay. The latter is governed under Art X, Sec. 10 of the 1987 Constitution which clearly endows power to Congress and requires plebiscite.  

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