Limits of morality: case of Antipolo City

Legal scholars, perhaps, can tread back memory lane in search of new interesting research findings or at least to check whether ‘units of historicism’ in so far as Antipolo City is concerned are as hard as they should be, historically speaking.

There are prescribed constitutional routes in the conversion of municipalities into cities. History is replete with cases of conversion into provinces that resulted in the creation of legislative districts or the conversion of cities that resulted in the creation of new legislative districts, as the case may be. One classic instance is Antipolo City.

The Municipality of Antipolo used to be part of the Province of Rizal’s first district. But after it attained its cityhood, something rather more strange has been attained at the same time. It would be worth the scholar’s time to sift through the corpus of historical data available.

I submit of two steps to take by way of direction of study. First historical document to look into would be Republic Act No. 8508 or “An Act Converting the Municipality of Antipolo into a Component City to be known as the City of Antipolo”. This was signed into law by then President Fidel V. Ramos on February 13, 1998, one day before Valentine’s Day.

And secondly is to look into yet another document called Republic Act No. 9232 or “An Act Amending Section 2, 11 (A) and 55 of Republic Act No. 8508, entitled, ‘An Act Converting the Municipality of Antipolo into a Component City to be known as the City of Antipolo’ and Appropriating Funds Therefor”. This was approved December 22, 2003, or three days before Christmas Day.

In so far as RA 8508 is concerned, the provisions of Sections 2 and 55 are worth reflecting on. Section 2 in particular carries the following second paragraph and let me quote:

“Henceforth, the City of Antipolo shall be deemed as divided into two (2) districts: East Antipolo and West Antipolo for better supervision and a more efficient delivery of services”.

Very well said, I guess. This is a “rider” of a law violative of the constitutional principle that a bill shall embrace one subject matter and normally, substantive provisions such as a creation of new, for that matter, two legislative districts should be carried in the very title of the proposed law itself which the law is supposed to seek to create. Besides, what “nonsense” was that – “more efficient delivery of services”?

And what does Section 55 of RA 8508, a rather tail-end part of the law itself, tell us? Or, let me quote:

“Section 55. Legislative District – Upon its conversion into a component city, the City of Antipolo shall have its own legislative district with the first representative to be elected in the next national elections after the passage of this Act”.

Surely, what follows Section 55 are the usual clauses – applicability of laws clause, separability clause, repealing clause, and effectivity clause. At the very least, Section 2 and Section 55, each and separately, are purposively carried in RA 8508.

Perhaps in some unwitting effort to avoid adding insult to injury, RA 9232 has to be likewise legislated as some kind of an ‘afterthought’. So what does RA 9232 prescribe anew, if any? It, in effect, amends Sections 2, 11 (a) and 55 of RA 8508 in one master stroke. This means that at least three such sections of a supposedly newly-born law have to ‘cured’ for obvious ‘congenital defects’ or for constitutional infirmities, or how else should it be read?

In effect, RA 9232 improves upon RA 8508 at least as it aims to define more clearly and more officially the existence of a First District of Antipolo and a Second District of Antipolo.

Further, whereas in the first law, RA 8508, there is only the city’s own legislative district so provided, the first representative of which shall be elected in the first national elections after the effectivity of this law, in the second law, RA 9232, it now stipulates of two (2) legislative districts to commence at the next national elections following the effectivity of this law. With the latter law having been approved in December 22, 2003, it follows that in 2004, there were two legislative districts created and therefore two representatives should be elected accordingly.

In review, when the first law, RA 8508 was enacted in 1998, beginning in 2001, there is created the city’s own legislative district with the first represented elected accordingly. Thus, in the next election cycle under RA 9232, the one representative to a one legislative district increase to two to two legislative districts accordingly.

Now, it is worth contemplation to study these laws and their future impact in legislative proceedings and lawmaking.