G.R. No. 80391
February 28, 1989
Limbona was elected Speaker of the Regional Assembly of Central Mindanao. On October 21, 1987, Congressman Matalam invited Limbona in a consultation/dialogue with local government officials. Limbona accepted the invitation and informed the Assembly Members through the Assembly Secretary that there shall be no session in November as his presence was needed in the House Committee hearing of Congress.
However, the Assembly held a meeting on November 2, 1987, and unseated Limbona from his position. Limbona prays for the session to be declared null and void and that he still be declared Speaker of the Regional Assembly.
Pending the case, the SC also received a resolution from the Assembly expelling Limbona’s membership.
What is the extent of self-government given to the autonomous regions of Region XII?
Decentralization of Administration is the delegation by the central government of administrative powers to political subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and, in the process, to make local governments more responsive and accountable and “ensure their development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and progress”.
It also relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. An autonomous government under this category is under the supervision of the national government through the President. The President exercises “supervision” but has no control over them and does so only to ensure “local affairs are administered according to law”.
Decentralization of Power, on the other hand, involves the abdication of power in favor of autonomous local governments. The autonomous government is free to manage its affairs with minimum intervention from central authorities. An autonomous government enjoying autonomy under this category is only subject to the organic act creating it and accepted principles on the effects & limits of “autonomy”.
PD 1618 mandates that “the President shall have the power of general supervision and control over autonomous regions”. Hence, courts of law can assume jurisdiction. The courts can validly review the removal of Limbona as Speaker.
Where a law is capable of 2 interpretations, one in favor of centralized power in Malacañang and the other beneficial to local autonomy, the scales must be weighed in favor of autonomy.
Under Sec. 31 of Region XII Sanggunian Rules, “sessions shall not be suspended or adjourned except by direction of the Sangguniang Pampook.”
However, the November 2 and 5, 1987 sessions are declared invalid since at the time Limbona called the “recess”, it was not a settled matter whether or not he could do so. Secondly, the invitation by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Muslim Affairs provides a plausible reason for the intermission sought. Also, assuming that a valid recess could not be called, it does not appear that respondents called his attention to his mistake. What appears is they opened the sessions themselves behind his back in an apparent act of mutiny. Under these circumstances, equity is on his side. The “recess” was called on the ground of good faith.