DOJ backs creation of Metropolitan Manila Regional Administration
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice has expressed a bid for the creation of a special metropolitan political subdivision in the National Capital Region to be called the Metropolitan Manila Regional Administration or MMRA.
In a two-page legal opinion dated Sept. 3, 2014 but made public Wednesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the department “manifests no constitutional or legal objection” to the enactment of House Bill 712 or the Act Creating A Special Metropolitan Political Subdivision to be called the Metropolitan Manila Regional Administration, Defining its Structures of Government, Enumerating its Powers and Functions, Providing Funding Purposes Therefore, and For Other Purposes authored by Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice.
De Lima said the creation of such political subdivision is within the authority and power of Congress under the 1987 Constitution.
“As enunciated in Section 11 of Article X (Local Government) of the 1987 Constitution, the Congress may, by law, create special metropolitan political subdivisions, subject to a plebiscite as set forth in Section 10.”
De Lima said “the component cities and municipalities shall retain their basic autonomy and shall be entitled to their own local executive and legislative assemblies.”
But De Lima said the jurisdiction of the metropolitan authority that will thereby be created shall be limited to basic services requiring coordination.
“Clearly, it leaves to Congress the option of providing for a supramunicipal council or authority, while vesting basic autonomy in the cities and municipalities themselves, and limiting the jurisdiction of that council or authority to several basic services requiring area-wide coordination and supervision,” it added.
The services that the council or authority may render according to de Lima includes in the area of drainage and flood control, zoning and land use, traffic and transport management, garbage collection and dump sites, health and peace and order.
De Lima issued the opinion in response to a letter from General Santos City Representative Pedro Acharon, the chairman of the House Committee on Local Government.
The DOJ chief further explained that with the proposed bill, the MMRA is a political unit of government and that there is a grant of authority to enact ordinances and regulations for the general welfare of the inhabitants of the metropolis.
But de Lima said that the creation of such special metropolitan political subdivision required the approval of a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite on the political units directly affected.
She also stressed that while the DOJ has no objection to the passage of HB 712, the DOJ will “defer to the comments of the other relevant government agencies insofar as the other provisions which are relevant to their respective mandates are concerned.”
Erice has justified the creation of the MMRA saying that the “time has come for the establishment of a metropolitan entity that will not be a mere administrative coordinating body like the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority but a regional political subdivision more akin to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”
He added that unlike the MMDA which is confined only to planning, monitoring and coordinative functions as well as regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within the NCR, the proposed MMRA will be “vested with the police powers and other typical municipal powers, in addition to the administrative and coordinative functions of the MMDA.
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