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G.R. No. 176970 – 573 SCRA 290 – Political Law – Municipal Corporations – Reapportionment – Plebiscite not required in reapportionment statutes
Cagayan de Oro used to have only one legislative district. But in 2006, CdO Congressman Constantino Jaraula sponsored a bill to have two legislative districts in CdO instead. The law was passed (RA 9371) hence two legislative districts were created. Rogelio Bagabuyo assailed the validity of the said law and he went immediately to the Supreme Court to enjoin the COMELEC from enforcing the law in the upcoming elections. Bagabuyo was contending that the 2nd district was created without a plebiscite which he averred was required by the Constitution.
ISSUE: Whether or not a plebiscite was required in the case at bar.
HELD: No, a plebiscite is not required in the case at bar. RA 9371 merely increased the representation of Cagayan de Oro City in the House of Representatives and Sangguniang Panglungsod pursuant to Section 5, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution; the criteria established under Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution only apply when there is a creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of a province, city, municipality, or barangay; in this case, no such creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of a local government unit took place; and R.A. No. 9371 did not bring about any change in Cagayan de Oro’s territory, population and income classification; hence, no plebiscite is required. What happened here was a reapportionment of a single legislative district into two legislative districts. Reapportionment is the realignment or change in legislative districts brought about by changes in population and mandated by the constitutional requirement of equality of representation.
Before, Cagayan de Oro had only one congressman and 12 city council members citywide for its population of approximately 500,000. By having two legislative districts, each of them with one congressman, Cagayan de Oro now effectively has two congressmen, each one representing 250,000 of the city’s population. This easily means better access to their congressman since each one now services only 250,000 constituents as against the 500,000.