In Iligan, Philippine flag flown at half mast to protest IRA cut due to new cities

Cruz said there are many towns transformed into cities “without following the existing laws that mandate the creation of cities, such as Bayugan (Agusan del Sur) and El Salvador (Misamis Oriental).”

“Under the local government code, a municipality may be converted into a component city if it has an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least P20 million for the last two consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices; (i) a contiguous territory of at least one 100 square kilometers, as certified by the Lands Management Bureau; or (ii) a population of not less than 150,000 inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office provided, that the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population, and income of the original unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein,” he said.

Cruz said there are 16 towns converted by Congress into cities “despite the fact that they failed to meet the income and population requirements set by law.”

He said the protest will continue because there are still 27 municipalities applying for city status and seeking exception from existing laws so as to avail of bigger budgets.

Cruz said these strategies of other municipalities have greatly affected a number of cities because the internal revenue allotment (IRA) will be smaller because it will be shared by more cities.

He said the city has P68.8 million less in IRA because of the new cities.

“This will also affect the social services that we ought to provide to our communities,” he added.

The mayor urged the city councilors to also wear black arm bands as a symbol of protest.

Cruz said city officials should help improve the fiscal status of the city as it failed to reach the target revenue collection of P1 billion last year.

“Last year, the city had lower collection of real property tax by P41 million; the economic enterprise development and management office was short by P25.8 million; water system collection was P25 million less; business licenses collection lacked P23.8 million and so on and so forth that resulted to the shortfall of P173.9 million,” he said.

Cruz also acknowledged that the city failed to collect taxes from the National Steel Corporation (now called the Global Steel Corporation under the new Indian owners), Iligan Light and Power Inc (ILPI), Globe, Smart, and many others. (Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)