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Muntinlupa’s road to cityhood

 

bny bunye speaking out

YESTERDAY (March 1, 2020) Muntinlupa marked its 25th anniversary as a highly urbanised city. When I assumed office as OIC Mayor in June 1986, Muntinlupa was still classified as a fifth class municipality. It was earning ap­proximately P28 million per year which was hardly sufficient to pay for the salaries of municipal em­ployees. Thus, during my first two years (as OIC), I focused on grow­ing Muntinlupa’s income, employ­ing best practices to improve tax collection. We were among the very first LGUs to computerise, to adopt the One Stop Shop system for paying taxes, and the Real Property Tax Administation sys­tem (RPTA) recommended by the Department of Finance (DOF). Thereafter, for years in a row, the DOF rated Muntinlupa as Best in Realty Tax Collection Efficiency. Muntinlupa’s income grew rapidly so that by the time we applied for cityhood in 1994 our yearly in­come neared P400 million – way above the minimum requirement. At that time, the minimum income qualification to convert to a city was only P50 million for two con­secutive years. The threshold was raised later to P100 million.

With our qualification, we were able to aim for the status of a first-class highly urbanized city (HUC). As HUC, Muntinlupa would be entitled to more autonomy (compared to a component city (CC). A component city remains part of a larger government unit, like a province. On the other hand, Muntinlupa would have its own city charter, (thus independent of any province) and would also be entitled to its own legislative district.

Becoming a city has its advantages, in terms of added prestige, greater autonomy, better representation in Congress and, regardless of classification whether HUC or CC, a bigger share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). If memory serves, just by converting into a city, Muntinlupa’s share of the IRA immediately increased by P100 million yearly.

The process of applying for cityhood started with the passage of a resolution passed by the municipal council, accompanied by the municipal treasurer’s certification to Congress that Muntinlupa possessed the minimum qualification, as to income. A certification from the Statistics Office, regarding population (at least 150,000), was also needed. The resolution was immediately provided by the municipal council which was then headed by Vice Mayor Jimmy Fresnedi. The local political opposition, however, strongly opposed cityhood in the mistaken belief that cityhood would allow me to run as city mayor after 1998, when my third term as municipal mayor would have ended.

The proposed cityhood of Muntinlupa was actively supported in the House of Representatives by Congressman Ciriaco Alfelor (Catanduanes), Chair of the Local Government Committee, and Elias Lopez (Davao City) and Ceferino Padua (Agusan del Sur), members. Senator Raul Roco sponsored the counterpart bill in the Senate.

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