Supreme Court Upholds Status of Taguig as City

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court affirmed yesterday the 2004 ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that ratified the plebiscite and approved the conversion of the town of Taguig as a highly urbanized city in Metro Manila.

In a unanimous full-court decision written by Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, the High Court dismissed two petitions of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano who challenged the results of the recount proceedings conducted by the Comelec on the plebiscite conducted in 1998.

"As an independent constitutional body exclusively charged with the power of enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, referendum, and recall, the Comelec has the indisputable expertise in the field of election and related laws. Its acts, therefore, enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties."

"Wherefore, the instant petitions are dismissed for lack of merit," the High Court ruled.

The decision was concurred in by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban and Justices Reynato S. Puno, Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio T. Carpio, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato C. Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo J. Callejo Sr., Adolfo S. Azcuna, Minita V. Chico-Nazario, and Cancio C. Garcia. Justice Dante O. Tinga did not take part in the deliberation of the two petitions.

In filing his petition, Congressman Cayetano pointed out that he was not against the conversion of his town into a highly urbanized city. However, he said, the conversion should happen "by a fair count of votes and not by twisting the electoral will."

On April 25, 1998, the town of Taguig conducted a plebiscite for the purpose of converting the municipality into a highly urbanized city under Republic Act No. 8487, the law converting the municipality into a city to be known as City of Taguig.

After the plebiscite, the Comelec proclaimed that majority of the residents rejected the conversion of Taguig into a city.

Two residents, Ma. Salvacion Buac and Antonio Bautista, asked the Comelec to revise and recount the ballots cast in the plebiscite because of alleged fraud.

Cayetano opposed the petition saying the plebiscite cannot be a subject of an election protest and claimed that Comelec has no jurisdiction over the issue.

Granting Cayetanoas petition, the poll body affirmed its earlier proclamation that majority of the residents rejected the cityhood of Taguig. …