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A city (lungsod, or sometimes siyudad in Filipino and Tagalog) is a tier of local government in the Philippines. All Philippine cities are chartered cities, whose existence as corporate and administrative entities is governed by their own specific charters in addition to the Local Government Code of 1991, which specifies the administrative structure and political powers of subnational government entities.
Cities are entitled to one congressional district and representative per 250,000 population count, and are legally provided their own police force and allowed to use a common seal. As corporate entities, cities have the power to take, purchase, receive, hold, lease, convey, and dispose of real and personal property for its general interests, condemn private property for public use (eminent domain), contract and be contracted with, sue and exercise all the powers conferred to it by Congress. Only an Act of Congress can create or amend a city charter, and with this city charter Congress confers to a city certain powers that regular municipalities or even other cities may not have. Despite the differences in the powers accorded to each city, all cities regardless of status are given special treatment in terms of being given a bigger share of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) compared to regular municipalities, as well as being generally more autonomous than regular municipalities.
A city's local government is composed of a Mayor as its Chief Executive, a Vice-Mayor which heads the city council, and a city council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) that serves as the city's legislative body. Cities, like municipalities, are composed of barangays, which may be grouped into officially-defined administrative districts. Examples of such are the cities of Manila (16 districts), Davao (11 districts), Iloilo (7 districts), and Samal (3 districts: Babak, Kaputian and Peñaplata). Some cities such as Caloocan, Manila and Pasay even have an intermediate level between the district and barangay levels, called a zone. However, city districts and zones mostly serve to make city planning and other administrative tasks easier and more convenient; there are no elected city government officials in these city-specific administrative levels.
There are twelve metropolitan areas in the Philippines as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Metro Manila is the largest conurbation or urban agglomeration in the country, and its official metropolitan area is composed of the city of Manila plus 15 neighboring cities and a municipality. Other metropolitan areas are centered around the cities of Baguio, Dagupan, Angeles, Olongapo, Batangas, Naga, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.
The Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) classifies all cities into one of three categories:
Highly Urbanized Cities - Cities with a minimum population of two hundred thousand (200,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office, and with the latest annual income of at least Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00) based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer. There are currently 33 highly urbanized cities in the Philippines, 16 of them located in Metro Manila.
Independent Component Cities - Cities whose charters prohibit their voters from voting for provincial elective officials. Independent component cities are independent of the province. There are five such cities: Dagupan, Cotabato, Naga, Ormoc and Santiago.
Component Cities - Cities which do not meet the above requirements are considered component cities of the province in which they are geographically located. If a component city is located within the boundaries of two (2) or more provinces, such city shall be considered a component of the province of which it used to be a municipality.
Note: Definitions taken from National Statistical Coordination Board..
Cities are classified according to average annual income based on the previous 3 calendar years. 
There are 38 independent cities in the Philippines, all of which are classified as either "highly-urbanized" or "independent component" cities. From a legal and fiscal standpoint, once a city is classified as such:
Consequently, the governor and the provincial government do not have administrative supervision over an independent city and its elected officials, as stated in Section 29 of the Local Government Code, although they and the government of the independent city can always cooperatively work together on matters of common interest.
Prior to 1980, the eligibility of cities to vote for provincial officials was determined by their respective charters. With the enactment of Batas Pambansa Bilang 51 on December 22, 1979, all cities that were classified as belonging to the newly-introduced "highly urbanized city" distinction lost their eligibility to participate in provincial elections regardless of what their charters indicated. As a result, the cities of Angeles, Bacolod, Cebu and Iloilo became ineligible to vote for provincial officials. The only independent cities that can still participate in the election of provincial officials (governor, vice governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members) are the following:
Registered voters of the cities of Cotabato, Ormoc, Santiago, as well as all other highly urbanized cities, including those to be converted or created in the future, are not eligible to participate in provincial elections.
In addition to the eligibility of some independent cities to vote in provincial elections, a few other factors become sources of confusion regarding their autonomy from provinces. Some independent cities still serve as the seat of government of the respective provinces in which they are geographically located: Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Butuan (Agusan del Norte), Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental), Cebu City (Cebu), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Lucena (Quezon), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), and Tacloban (Leyte). In such cases, the provincial government takes care of the expenses of maintaining its properties such as provincial government buildings and offices outside its jurisdiction by paying for the actual cost of running these facilities as well as providing the host city government with an annual amount (which the province determines at its discretion) to aid in relieving incidental costs incurred to the city.
The representation of a city in the House of Representatives (or lack thereof) is not a criterion for its independence from a province, as Congress is for national legislation and is part of national (central) government. Despite Antipolo, Dasmariñas and San Jose del Monte having their own representatives in Congress, they are still component cities of Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan respectively, as their respective charters specifically converted them into component cities and do not contain any provision that severs their relations with their respective provincial governments. Conversely, the city of Cotabato has, since its incorporation in 1959, been autonomously governed from the provinces which surrounded it. Although for the purposes of representation in the national legislature the city has been grouped with the province of Cotabato (until 1972), Region XII (1978 to 1984), Maguindanao (1984 to 2007; 2008 to present), and Shariff Kabunsuan (2007-2008).
And while 21 independent cities have their own representative(s) in Congress—24 when Iligan, Lapu-Lapu City and Navotas get their own seats in 2010—some still remain as part of the partial representation of the province to which they previously belonged. In this case, independent cities that do not vote for provincial officials are excluded in Sangguniang Panlalawigan districts, and the allotment of SP members is adjusted accordingly by COMELEC with proper consideration of population. For example, Agusan del Norte is entitled to have eight members in its Sangguniang Panlalawigan (being a third income class province), and belongs to 2 congressional districts. The seats of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan are not evenly distributed (4-4) between the province's first and second congressional districts because its 1st Congressional district contains Butuan, an independent city which does not vote for provincial officials. The seats are distributed 1-7 to account for the small population of the province's 1st Sangguniang Panlalawigan district (comprised only of Las Nieves) and the bulk of the province's population being in the second district. On the other hand, the city of Lucena, which is eligible to vote for provincial officials, still forms part of the province of Quezon's 2nd Sangguniang Panlalawigan district, which is coterminous with the 2nd congressional district of Quezon.
Being part of an administrative region different from the province's own does not make a city independent. The city of Isabela functions as a component city of Basilan: its tax revenues are shared with the provincial government, its residents are eligible to vote and run for provincial offices, and it is served by the provincial government and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan with regard to provincially-devolved services. However, by opting to remain within Region IX, Isabela City's residents are not eligible to elect and be elected to regional offices of the expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which now includes the rest of Basilan. Services that are administered regionally are provided to Isabela City through the offices of Region IX based in Pagadian; the rest of Basilan is served by the ARMM and the regional government based in Cotabato City. Isabela City is not independent from its province, rather it is simply outside the jurisdiction of the ARMM, the region to which the other component units of Basilan belongs. It must be noted that regions are not the primary subnational administrative divisions of the Philippines, but rather the provinces.
Many government agencies, as well as Philippine society in general, still continue to classify many independent cities outside Metro Manila as part of provinces due to historical and cultural ties, especially if these cities were, and are still, important economic, cultural and social activity centers within the geographic bounds of the provinces to which they previously belonged. Furthermore, most maps of the Philippines showing provincial boundaries almost always never separate independent cities from the provinces in which they are geographically located for cartographic convenience. Despite being first-level administrative divisions (on the same level as provinces, as stated in Section 25 of the LGC), independent cities are still treated by many to be on the same level as municipalities and component cities (second-level administrative divisions) for educational convenience and reduced complexity.
Congress is the lone legislative entity that can incorporate cities. provincial and municipal councils can pass resolutions indicating a desire to have a certain area (usually an already-existing municipality or a cluster of barangays) declared a city after the requirements for becoming a city are met. As per Republic Act 9009, these requirements include:
Members of Congress (usually the representatives of the district to which the proposed city belongs) then draft the legislation that will convert or create the city. After the bill passes through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and becomes an Act of Congress, the President signs the Act into law. If the Act goes unsigned after 30 days it still becomes law despite the absence of the President's signature.
Before 1987 many cities were created without any plebiscites conducted for the residents to ratify the city charter, most notable of which were cities that were incorporated during the early American colonial period (Manila and Baguio), and during the Commonwealth Era (1935-1946) such as Cavite City, Dansalan (now Marawi), Iloilo, San Pablo and Zamboanga. In addition, the creation of cities before the enactment of the Local Government Code was solely at the discretion of Congress; no requirements had to be met in order to incorporate cities before the LGC became law. But since 1987 it has been constitutionally mandated that any change to the legal status of any local government unit requires the ratification by the residents that would be affected by such changes, thus all cities created after 1987, after meeting the requirements for cityhood as laid out in the Local Government Code of 1991 and Republic Act 9009 of 2001, acquired their corporate status only after the majority of its voting residents approved the charter.
It is also important to note that before 1983, there were no requirements for achieving 'city' status other than an approved city charter. This is what made it possible for several current cities such as Tangub or Canlaon to be conferred such a status despite their small population and locally-generated income, which do not meet current standards. The relatively low income standard between 1992 and 2001 (which was PHP 20 million) also allowed several municipalities, such as Sipalay and Muñoz, to become cities despite not being able to meet the current PHP 100 million local income standard.
Although some early cities were given charters because of their advantageous or strategic locations (Angeles, Baguio, Cotabato, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Zamboanga) or in order to especially establish new government centers in otherwise sparsely populated areas (Palayan, Trece Martires, Quezon City), most Philippine cities were originally incorporated to provide a form of localized civil government to an area that is primarily urban, which, due to its compact nature and different demography and local economy, cannot be necessarily handled more efficiently by more rural-oriented provincial and municipal governments. However, not all cities are purely areas of dense urban settlement. To date there are still cities with huge expanses of rural or wilderness areas and considerable non-urban populations, such as Calbayog, Davao, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga as they were deliberately incorporated with increased future resource needs and urban expansion, as well as strategic considerations in mind.
With the enactment of the 1991 Local Government Code, municipalities and cities have both become more empowered to deal with local issues. Regular municipalities now share many of the same powers and responsibilities as chartered cities, but its citizens and/or leaders may feel that it might be to their best interest to get a larger share of internal revenue allotment (IRA) and acquire additional powers by becoming a city, especially if the population and local economy has grown enough. On the other hand, due to the higher property taxes that would be imposed after cityhood, many citizens have become wary of their town's conversion into a city, even if the municipality had already achieved a high degree of urbanization and has an annual income that already exceeds that of many lower-income cities. This has been among the cases made against the cityhood bids of many high-income and populous municipalities surrounding Metro Manila, most notably Bacoor and Dasmariñas (which finally became a city in November 2009), which for many years have been more qualified to become cities than others.
In response to the rapid increase in the number of municipalities being converted into cities since the enactment of the Local Government Code in 1991, Senator Aquilino Pimentel authored what became Republic Act 9009 in June 2001 which sought to establish a more appropriate benchmark by which municipalities that wished to become cities were to be measured. The income requirement was increased sharply from PHP 20 million to PHP 100 million in a bid to curb the spate of conversions into cities of municipalities that were perceived to have not become urbanized or economically developed enough to be able to properly function as a city.
Despite the passage of RA 9009, sixteen municipalities not meeting the required locally-generated income were converted into cities in 2007 by seeking exemption from the income requirement. This led to vocal opposition from the League of Cities of the Philippines against the cityhood of these municipalities, with the League arguing that by letting these municipalities become cities, Congress will set "a dangerous precedent" that would not prevent others from seeking the same "special treatment."  More importantly, the LCP argued that with the recent surge in the conversion of towns that did not meet the requirements set by RA 9009 for becoming cities, the allocation received by existing cities would only drastically decrease because more cities will have to share the amount allotted by the national government, which is equal to 23% of the IRA, which in turn is 40% of all the revenues collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The resulting legal battles resulted in the nullification of the city charters of the 16 municipalities by the Supreme Court in November 2008.
Most cities in the Philippines have essentially remained in their status since their charters were first given to them. However, a city's classification can be upgraded or downgraded depending on enacted laws, or the wishes of the residents and/or leaders of the city.
|Office||Head||Mandatory / Optional|
|Sangguniang Panlungsod||Vice-mayor as presiding officer||Mandatory|
|Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian||Secretary to the Sanggunian||Mandatory|
|Accounting and Internal Audit Services||Accountant||Mandatory|
|Budget Office||Budget Officer||Mandatory|
|Planning and Development Office||Planning and Development Coordinator||Mandatory|
|Health Office||Health Officer||Mandatory|
|Office of Civil Registry||Civil Registrar||Mandatory|
|Office of the Administrator||Administrator||Mandatory|
|Office of Legal Services||Legal Officer||Mandatory|
|Office of Agricultural Services||Agriculturist||Optional|
|Office on Social Welfare and Development Services||Social Welfare and Development Officer||Mandatory|
|Office on Environment and Natural Resources||Environment and Natural Resources Officer||Optional|
|Office on Architectural Planning and Design||Architect||Optional|
|Office on Public Information||Information Officer||Optional|
|Office for the Development of Cooperatives||Cooperative Officer||Optional|
|Office on Population Development||Population Officer||Optional|
|Office for Veterinary Services||Veterinarian||Mandatory|
|Office on General Services||General Services Officer||Mandatory|
Source: Local Government Code of 1991.
The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) is a non-profit organization and is not a government agency. It has a membership of 121 cities and was founded in 1988. The organization was formed to help coordinate efforts to improve governance and local autonomy and to tackle issues such as preserving the environment and improving public works.
|1.||Quezon City||2,679,450||Former capital of the country (1948-1976). Largest city in Metro Manila in population and land area. Hosts the House of Representatives of the Philippines at Batasan Hills and the metropolis' largest source of water, the Novaliches Reservoir.|
|2.||Manila||1,660,714||Capital of the country (from 1571-1948 and 1976-present). Historically centered around the walled city of Intramuros, by the mouth of the Pasig River. Host to the seat of the chief executive, the Malacañang Palace. By far the most densely populated city in the country.|
|3.||Caloocan||1,378,856||Historic city where Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan held many of its meetings in secrecy. Most of its territory was ceded to form Quezon City, resulting in the formation of two non-contiguous sections under the city's jurisdiction. The third-most densely-populated city in the country, lying immediately north of the city of Manila.|
|4.||Davao City||1,363,337||Touted as country's largest city based on land area, a distinction that Puerto Princesa also claims. Regional center of Region XI and former capital of the undivided province of Davao. Most populous city in Mindanao.|
|5.||Cebu City||798,809||Popularly nicknamed as "The Queen City of the South." First capital of the country. Capital of the province of Cebu and regional center of Region VII. Most populous city in the Visayas. Core of Metro Cebu.|
|6.||Zamboanga City||774,407||Nicknamed "City of Flowers" and marketed by its city government as "Asia's Latin City" for its substantial Spanish-derived creole-speaking population, the largest in the world. Former capital of the Moro Province and of the undivided province of Zamboanga.|
|7.||Antipolo||633,971||Nicknamed "City in the Sky" for its location on the hills immediately east of Metro Manila. Well-known pilgrimage and tourist center, being host to a Marian shrine and the Hinulugang Taktak National Park. Most populous city in Luzon outside of Metro Manila.|
|8.||Pasig||617,301 [a]||Hosts most of the Ortigas Center, one of the top business districts in the country. Was part of the province of Rizal until 1975, when it was incorporated into Metropolitan Manila. Formerly hosted the capitol and other government buildings of that province.|
|9.||Taguig||613,343 [b]||Currently exercises fiscal jurisdiction over Fort Bonifacio (whose two barangay governments still answer to Makati City), home to the Bonifacio Global City which is being developed as the country's new premier business district. Was part of Rizal Province until 1975, when it was incorporated into Metropolitan Manila. Lies on the western shores of Laguna de Bay.|
|10.||Valenzuela||568,928||Originally called Polo, renamed after a local son who was a figure in the Philippine Revolution. Was part of the province of Bulacan until 1975. Formerly a primarily agricultural town, it now hosts many of the industrial enterprises of northern Metro Manila.|
|Rank||Metro area||Population (2007)||Component LGUs:||Official website:|
|1||Metro Manila||11,553,427||Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela||Metro Manila Development Authority|
|2||Metro Cebu||2,314,897||Cebu City, Carcar City, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Liloan, Mandaue City, Minglanilla, Naga City, San Fernando, Talisay City|
|3||Metro Davao||2,046,181||Davao City, Digos City, Panabo City, Island Garden City of Samal, Santa Cruz, Tagum City|
|4||Metro Cagayan de Oro||1,121,561||Cagayan de Oro City, Alubijid, Claveria, El Salvador City, Gitagum, Jasaan, Laguindingan, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Baungon, Libona, Malitbog, Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Talakag|
|5||Metro Angeles||915,365||Angeles City, Bacolor, Mabalacat, Porac, San Fernando City|
|6||Metro Iloilo-Guimaras||789,080||Iloilo City, Guimaras Province, Leganes, Oton, Pavia, San Miguel, Santa Barbara||Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council|
|7||Metro Bacolod||716,306||Bacolod City, Silay City, Talisay City|
|8||Metro Naga||685,005||Naga City, Bombon, Bula, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Gainza, Magarao, Milaor, Minalabac, Ocampo, Pamplona, Pasacao, Pili, San Fernando||Metro Naga Development Council|
|9||BLIST||499,412||Baguio City, Itogon, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tuba|
|10||Metro Batangas||432,262||Batangas City, Bauan, San Pascual|
|11||CAMADA||325,364||Dagupan City, Calasiao, Mangaldan|
|12||Metro Olongapo||304,388||Olongapo City, Subic|
The Court held that the foregoing Cityhood Laws, all enacted after RA 9009's effectivity, "explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement from PhP20 million to PhP 100 million in sec. 450 of the Local Government Code (LGC), as amended by RA 9009."
Note: This section only lists attempts that reached the stage where a Republic Act was enacted for the purpose of achieving cityhood.
Note: This section only lists name changes made upon or since cityhood.