Cities of the Philippines

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A city (Filipino: lungsod or siyudad) is a local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines. All Philippine cities are chartered cities, whose existence as corporate and administrative entities is governed by their own specific municipal charters in addition to the Local Government Code of 1991, which specifies their administrative structure and powers. As of December 31, 2013, there are 144 cities.[1]

Cities are entitled to at least one representative in the House of Representatives if its population reaches 250,000. They 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 on 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 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 headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. The vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which serves as the city's legislative body. Upon receiving their charters, cities also receive a full complement of executive departments to better serve their constituents. Some departments are established on a case-by-case basis, depending on the needs of the city.

Offices and officials common to all cities[edit]

Office Head Mandatory / Optional
City Government Mayor Mandatory
Sangguniang Panlungsod Vice-mayor as presiding officer Mandatory
Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian Secretary to the Sanggunian Mandatory
Treasury Office Treasurer Mandatory
Assessor's Office Assessor Mandatory
Accounting and Internal Audit Services Accountant Mandatory
Budget Office Budget Officer Mandatory
Planning and Development Office Planning and Development Coordinator Mandatory
Engineering Office Engineer 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 on Social Welfare and Development Services Social Welfare and Development Officer Mandatory
Office on General Services General Services Officer Mandatory
Office for Veterinary Services Veterinarian Mandatory
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 on Environment and Natural Resources Environment and Natural Resources Office Optional
Office of Agricultural Services Agriculturist Optional

Source: Local Government Code of 1991.[2]


Cities, like municipalities, are composed of barangays, which can range from urban neighborhoods (such as Brgy. 9 in Laoag), to rural communities (such as Brgy. Iwahig in Puerto Princesa). Barangays are sometimes grouped into officially-defined administrative (geographical) 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, geographic districts and zones are not political units; there are no elected city government officials in these city-specific administrative levels. Rather they only serve to make city planning, statistics-gathering other administrative tasks easier and more convenient.


Legal classification[edit]

The Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160) classifies all cities into one of three categories:[3]

  • Highly Urbanized Independent 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 (₱50,000,000) based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer.
There are currently 35 highly urbanized cities in the Philippines, 16 of which are located in Metro Manila.
  • Component Cities - Cities which do not meet the preceding requirements are deemed part of the province in which they are geographically located. If a component city is located along the boundaries of two or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality.
Majority of the remaining cities are considered component cities. The five exceptions are listed below.
  • Independent Component Cities - Cities of this type have charters that explicitly prohibit their residents to vote for provincial officials. These cities are considered independent from the province in which they are geographically located.
There are five such cities: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc and Santiago.

Income classification[edit]

Cities are classified according to average annual income based on the previous four calendar years. Effective July 28, 2008 the thresholds for the income classes for cities are:[4]

Class Average annual income
(₱ million)
First 400 or more
Second 320 or more but less than 400
Third 240 or more but less than 320
Fourth 160 or more but less than 240
Fifth 80 or more but less than 160
Sixth Below 80

Independent cities[edit]

There are 38 independent cities in the Philippines, all of which are classified as either "highly urbanized" or "independent component" cities. From a legal, administrative and fiscal standpoint, once a city is classified as such:

  • its Sangguniang Panlungsod legislation becomes no longer subject to review by any province's Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  • it stops sharing its tax revenue with any province
  • the President of the Philippines exercises direct supervising authority over the city government (i.e., the provincial government no longer exercises supervision over city officials), as stated in Section 29 of the Local Government Code.[2]

Before the enactment of Batas Pambansa Bilang 51 on December 22, 1979, all chartered cities were considered autonomous from the provinces from which they were created, although the eligibility of residents in chartered cities to vote for provincial officials was determined by their respective charters.[5] With the enactment of Batas Pambansa Blg. 51, 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.[6] As a result, the cities of Angeles, Cebu and Iloilo – all previously able to vote for provincial officials according to their charters – became ineligible to vote for officials of the provincial governments of Pampanga, Cebu and Iloilo respectively.

Currently, the only independent cities that can still participate in the election of provincial officials (governor, vice governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members) are the following:

  • Cities declared as highly urbanized between 1987 and 1992, whose charters allow their residents to vote and run for elective positions in the provincial government, and therefore allowed by Section 452-c of the Local Government Code[2] to maintain these rights: Lucena (Quezon), Mandaue (Cebu)
  • Independent component cities whose charters only allow residents to only run for provincial offices: Dagupan (Pangasinan), Naga (Camarines Sur)

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 situations become sources of confusion regarding the complete autonomy of independent cities 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 City (Quezon), Puerto Princesa (Palawan), and Tacloban (Leyte). In such cases, the provincial government, apart from already taking care of the expenses of maintaining its properties such as provincial government buildings and offices, may also provide the government of the independent city with an annual amount (which the province determines at its discretion) to aid in relieving incidental costs incurred to the city such as road maintenance due to increased vehicular traffic in the vicinity of the provincial government complex.
  • Some independent cities are still grouped with their former provinces for the purposes of representation in the Congress of the Philippines. While 24 independent cities have their own representative(s) in Congress, some still remain part of the congressional representation of the province to which they previously belonged: Butuan, for example, still forms part of the 1st Congressional District of Agusan del Norte. In cases like this, independent cities that do not vote for provincial officials are excluded from Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial council) districts, and the allotment of SP members is adjusted accordingly by COMELEC with proper consideration of population. For example, Agusan del Norte (being a third income-class province) is entitled to elect eight members to its Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and belongs to two 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. Rather, the seats are distributed 1-7 to account for the small population of the province's 1st Sangguniang Panlalawigan district (consisting 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.
  • General lack of distinction for independent cities, for practical purposes: 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),[2] 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.

A component city, while enjoying relative autonomy compared to a regular municipality on some matters, are still considered part of a province. However, there are still sources of confusion:

  • Some component cities form their own congressional representation, separate from their province. 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 the national legislative body and is part of the 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 which severs their relations with their respective provincial governments.
  • Being part of an administrative region different from the province: 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 of Basilan with regard to provincially devolved services. However, by opting to not join the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Isabela City's residents are not eligible to elect and be elected to regional offices of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly, unlike 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 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. Regions are not the primary subnational administrative divisions of the Philippines, but rather the provinces.

Creation of cities[edit]

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 No. 9009, these requirements include:[7]

  • locally generated income of at least ₱ 100 million (based on constant prices in the year 2000) for the last two consecutive years, as certified by the Department of Finance, AND
  • a population of 150,000 or more, as certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO); OR a contiguous territory of 100 square kilometers, as certified by the Land Management Bureau, with contiguity not being a requisite for areas that are on two or more islands.

Members of Congress (usually the involving representative of the congressional 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.

The creation of cities before 1983 was solely at the discretion of the national legislature; there were no requirements for achieving 'city' status other than an approved city charter. No income, population or land area requirements had to be met in order to incorporate cities before Batas Pambansa Bilang 337 (Local Government Code of 1983) became law. 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 ₱ 20 million)[2] also allowed several municipalities, such as Sipalay and Muñoz, to become cities despite not being able to meet the current ₱ 100 million local income standard.

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 City, Bacolod, San Pablo and Zamboanga City. Only since 1987 has it been mandated under the Constitution 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. Therefore, all cities created after 1987 – after meeting the requirements for cityhood as laid out in the Local Government Code of 1991 and Republic Act No. 9009 of 2001 – only acquired their corporate status after the majority of their voting residents approved their respective charters.

Motivations for cityhood[edit]

Although some early cities were given charters because of their advantageous (Baguio, Tagaytay) or strategic (Angeles, Cotabato, Olongapo, Zamboanga) locations 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 has greatly increased and local economy has become more robust. 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 existing 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 cities in November 2009 and June 2012 respectively), 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 No. 9009 in June 2001 which sought to establish a more appropriate benchmark by which municipalities that wished to become cities were to be measured.[8] The income requirement was increased sharply from ₱ 20 million to ₱ 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, 16 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".[8] 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.[9] The resulting legal battles resulted in the nullification of the city charters of the 16 municipalities by the Supreme Court in August 2010. (See #"League of 16" and legal battles)

Changing city status[edit]

Throughout the years there have been instances of changes to the city's status with regard to eligibility for provincial elections, as a result of the passage of laws, both of general effectivity and specific to a city.

Before 1979[edit]

Prior to 1979, all cities were just considered chartered cities, without any official category differentiating them aside from income levels. All cities were considered autonomous from their mother provinces — the only differences being whether or not each city's voters were allowed to participate in provincial elections. Regarding participation in provincial affairs, there were three types of city charters: 1) those which explicitly allowed their respective residents to elect provincial officials, 2) those which explicitly prohibited participation in provincial elections, 3) and those which are silent regarding voter participation in provincial elections. The 1951 Supreme Court decision on Teves, et al. v. Commission on Elections[5] finally resolved the ambiguity surrounding this last category of cities, by confirming that the residents of cities with such charters (such as Dumaguete and Davao City) are ineligible to participate in provincial elections.

Prior to 1979, there has only been two cases in which the eligibility of city residents in the election of provincial officials were altered. Both changes were undertaken through specific acts of Congress:

  • The city of Cabanatuan was originally explicitly excluded from electing and being elected into positions in the provincial government of Nueva Ecija until its original city charter (Republic Act No. 526)[10] was amended by Republic Act No. 1445 in 1956, enabling it to once more vote for provincial officials.[11]
  • Cebu City's old charter (Commonwealth Act No. 58)[12] was repealed, and replaced with Republic Act No. 3857 in 1964. The law allowed its residents to once more become eligible to vote for officials in the provincial government of Cebu.[13] However, when the city was among the first few to be classified as highly urbanized in 1979 under BP 51, Cebu City effectively became independent from the province of Cebu again, and its inhabitants have since remained ineligible to participate in the election of provincial officials.


Batas Pambansa Bilang 51, approved on December 22, 1979, introduced two legal categories of cities: highly urbanized cities and component cities.[6] Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, approved on February 10, 1983, further refined the criteria for highly urbanized cities.[14]

  • When Batas Pambansa Bilang 51 came into effect in December 1979, all cities whose incomes at the time were ₱ 40 million or higher became highly urbanized cities.[6] Cities that were eligible under this category, regardless of whether their charters allowed them to vote for provincial officials or not, were forced to sever political ties with their respective provinces. The cities of Angeles, Cebu, and Iloilo became HUCs in this manner, and their residents effectively lost their eligibility to vote for provincial officials because of this new status. Also classified to this new city status were the cities of Bacolod, Caloocan, Davao, Manila, Pasay and Quezon City, all of which have not participated in any provincial election since achieving cityhood. In addition, Section 3 of BP 51 also made Baguio a highly urbanized city irrespective of its income, due to its importance as the host to the official summer residences of the President and the Supreme Court.
  • When Batas Pambansa Bilang 337 (Local Government Code of 1983)[14] was in force, a city that had at least 150,000 inhabitants and an income of at least ₱ 30 million was declared highly urbanized by the Minister of Local Government within thirty days of the city having met the requirement. The cities of Butuan (1985), Cagayan de Oro (1983), Iligan (1983), Olongapo (1983), and Zamboanga (1983) became HUCs in this manner.
  • From 1979 to 1986, all other cities which were not considered highly urbanized were considered component cities of their former/surrounding provinces, regardless of whether their city charters allowed them to vote for provincial officials or not. The legal term "independent component city" was not yet in official use during this period. As before, whether residents of a city could participate in elections were governed by each city's charter; the only difference this time is that BP 51 effectively allowed cities with charters that were silent on the matter to once again vote for provincial officials, thereby overriding the 1951 Supreme Court decision on the Teves, et al. v. Commission on Elections case.[5] By 1980, only six component cities had explicit language in their charters prohibiting their residents from voting for provincial officials: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, Oroquieta (and San Carlos (Pangasinan). In all other component cities, residents were allowed to vote in provincial elections.


The period between ratification of the new Constitution (in 1987) and the effectivity of the Local Government Code of 1991 (in 1992) was one of transition. During this time, both BP 51 and BP 337 were still in force.

  • Under the same criteria set in BP 337 (Local Government Code of 1983), the cities of General Santos (1988), Lucena (1991) and Mandaue (1991) became highly urbanized cities. Lucena and Mandaue were special cases, in that because their re-classification into HUC status took place after the ratification of the Constitution (in 1987) but before the effectivity of the Local Government Code of 1991 (in 1992), their residents were allowed to continue to participate in provincial officials as per their respective charters, by virtue of Sec. 452-c of the LGC.[2] Residents of General Santos were already excluded from voting for provincial officials of South Cotabato since achieving cityhood in 1968; they were therefore unaffected by this exemption.
  • Despite the 1987 Constitution mandating that a plebiscite be held every time the status of a local government unit is altered, no plebiscites were held in connection with the passage of Republic Acts No. 6726 (in 1989)[15] and 6843 (in 1990),[16] which allowed the residents of Oroquieta and San Carlos to once again vote for provincial officials of Misamis Occidental and Pangasinan respectively. Misamis Occidental. Since BP 51 — which only considered cities as being either "highly urbanized" or "component" — was still in force at the time, the changes were not considered as switching between legal categories,[17] but rather a simple change that did not require a plebiscite, given that the "independent component city" classification was only introduced through the Local Government Code in 1991.


The Local Government Code of 1991 came into effect on January 1, 1992, and has remained in force ever since, though some amendments have been made.[2] New requirements for creating cities and upgrading cities to highly urbanized status were instituted under this Act. The LGC of 1991 was also the first time the "independent component" city category was introduced. Previously, all non-highly urbanized cities were classified as component cities; beginning in 1992, component cities whose charters explicitly prohibited city residents to vote in provincial elections began to share many of the legal privileges and responsibilities accorded to highly urbanized cities.


  • Component city to independent component city: All that is needed is a congressional amendment to a component city's charter, prohibiting city residents to vote for provincial officials. So far no city has been upgraded this way.
  • Component/independent component city to highly urbanized city:
    • Since 1992, once a city has a population of 200,000 persons as certified by the NSO and an income of ₱ 50 million (based on 1991 constant prices) as certified by the city treasurer, the city government can submit a request to the President to have their city declared as highly urbanized within 30 days. Upon the President's declaration, a plebiscite will be held within a specific timeframe to ratify this conversion. Lapu-Lapu City (2007), Puerto Princesa (2007) and Tacloban (2008) became HUCs in this manner. However, the cities of Cabanatuan (1998) and Tarlac (2005) failed to become HUCs after majority of the votes cast in the plebiscites were against the conversion. The city of Antipolo was also declared a highly urbanized city on March 24, 2011 but the planned plebiscite to confirm the conversion of the city to highly urbanized status was put on indefinite hold;[18] Antipolo remains a component city of Rizal for now.
    • There are also several instances involving a direct conversion from independent municipality to highly urbanized city, as in the case of twelve cities in Metro Manila, starting with Mandaluyong in 1995 up to 2007 with San Juan and Navotas.


  • Highly urbanized city to component city: Reclassifying an HUC as a component city likely involves not only amending the concerned city's charter, but also the Local Government Code,[19] as currently there is no provision in the LGC that allows this, nor are there any precedents. Some Cebu City politicians have previously indicated that they wish to bring back the city under the province's control, in order to bring in more votes against the Sugbuak, the proposed partition of Cebu Province.[19]
  • Independent component city to component city: A congressional amendment to the city charter enabling city residents to vote for provincial officials is required, followed by a plebiscite. Santiago City's status as an independent component city was briefly in question after the enactment of Republic Act No. 8528 on February 14, 1998 which sought to make it a regular component city.[20] The Supreme Court on September 16, 1999 however ruled in favor of the city's mayor who contended that such a change in the status of the city required a plebiscite just like any other merger, division, abolition or alteration in boundaries of any political unit. And due to the lack of a plebiscite to affirm such a change, RA 8528 was therefore unconstitutional.[17]

League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP)[edit]

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) is a non-profit organization and is not a government agency. It has a membership of 143 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.

List of cities[edit]

As of December 29, 2013, there are 144 cities in the Philippines. San Pedro in Laguna is the newest city, after its charter was ratified on December 28, 2013.[21]

Largest cities[edit]

Ten most populous cities in the Philippines
Rank City Population
Image Description
1. Quezon City 2,761,720 Eastwood1.JPG 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 the Batasang Pambansa Complex and the metropolis' largest source of water, the La Mesa Reservoir.
2. Manila 1,652,171 Pic geo photos - ph=mm=manila - aerial view from world trade exchange tower binondo -philippines--2015-0615--ls-.JPG Capital of the country (from 1571-1948 and 1976–present). Historically centered on 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 1,489,040
Historic city where Andrés Bonifacio and the Katipunan held many of its meetings in secrecy. Much of its territory was ceded to form Quezon City, resulting in the formation of two non-contiguous sections under the city's jurisdiction. The city mainly encompasses residential areas, with significant industrial and commercial sections.
4. Davao City 1,449,296
Quezon Boulevard Davao-c.JPG
The largest city in Mindanao by population. Historically centered near where the Davao River exits into the Davao Gulf, the city also encompasses expanses of wilderness, including part of the Mount Apo Natural Park, making it the largest city in the Philippines by land area. Regional center of the Region XI, and core of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country, Metro Davao.
5. Cebu City 866,171 Cebu City.jpg Popularly nicknamed "The Queen City of the South". Site of the first Spanish settlement in the country. Capital of the province of Cebu and regional center of Region VII. Most populous city in the Visayas and core of the country's second-largest metropolitan area, Metro Cebu.
6. Zamboanga City 807,129 ZAMBOANGA CITY Asia's Latin City City Hall and Plaza Rizal (Ayunamiento y Plaza Rizal).jpg Nicknamed "City of Flowers" and marketed by its city government as "Asia's Latin City" for its substantial Spanish-derived Creole-speaking population. Former capital of the Moro Province and of the undivided province of Zamboanga. Former regional center of Zamboanga Peninsula, but remains the largest city in western Mindanao.
7. Antipolo 677,741 Ortigas Skyline sunset.jpg 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 component city in the country, and comprises more than a quarter of the total population of the province of Rizal.
8. Pasig 669,773 a Ortigas Tonight.jpg Hosts most of the Ortigas Center, one of Metro Manila's prime business districts. Located where Laguna de Bay empties into the Pasig River. Part of the province of Rizal until 1975, when it was incorporated into Metro Manila. Formerly hosted the capitol and other government buildings of that province.
9. Taguig 644,473 b Fort Bonifacio 6.JPG Lying on the western shore of Laguna de Bay, the city encompasses significant industrial, commercial and residential areas, including the disputed area of Fort Bonifacio, a former American military base that has been in development as the country's new premier business district. Was part of Rizal Province until 1975, when it was incorporated into Metro Manila.
10. Cagayan de Oro 602,088 Cagayan De Oro street scene.jpg Nicknamed the "City of Golden Friendship" and formerly known as Cagayan de Misamis. Located at the mouth of the swift-flowing Cagayan de Oro River, which has become a tourist draw.[23] Regional center of Northern Mindanao and capital of the province of Misamis Oriental.

City facts[edit]

Defunct/dissolved cities[edit]

  • Dagu-cala City (1947) - President Roxas issued Executive Order No. 96 fixing the city limits of Dagupan to include the towns of San Fabian and Calasiao but the residents of Calasiao rejected inclusion into the new city, causing controversy over the election that was held on Nov. 10, 1947. The Dagu-cala dispute was brought before the Supreme Court of the Philippines which subsequently validated the election and ruled that Dagupan became a city on June 20, 1947, when Roxas signed the charter into law.[29]
  • Legazpi City (1948–1954) - Legazpi's cityhood was approved on June 18, 1948. Under Republic Act No. 306, Legazpi became a city after the President of the Philippines proclaimed its cityhood.[30] Comprising the present-day territories of Legazpi City and Daraga, the city was dissolved on June 8, 1954[31] when Legazpi and Daraga were made into separate municipalities. Legazpi eventually became a city on its own on June 12, 1959.
  • Basilan City (1948–1973) - formerly part of the city of Zamboanga until it was made a city on its own in 1948 through.[32] Delimited to only the downtown area of what is now Isabela City upon the creation of the province of Basilan in 1973 through Presidential Decree No. 356 by President Ferdinand Marcos.[33] Finally abolished and annexed to the municipality of Isabela on November 7, 1975 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 824.[34]
  • Rajah Buayan City (1966) - under Republic Act No. 4413,[35] the then-municipality of General Santos in what was then the unified province of Cotabato was to be formally converted into a city named after a historical ruler in Mindanao on January 1, 1966, provided that majority of qualified voters in the municipality vote in favor of cityhood in a plebiscite. In December 1965 the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) proclaimed the cityhood of Rajah Buayan, with 4,422 people voting for and 3,066 voting against. However, two residents of the new city challenged this by arguing in the courts that the number of people who voted in favor of cityhood did not form a majority in light of the fact that there were 15,727 voters in the city. The court issued an injunction on January 4, 1966 restraining city officers from performing any acts authorized by or pursuant to provisions in RA 4413. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld this decision on October 29, 1966 and declared that the city charter was not accepted by majority of voters, thus rendering RA4413 null and void.[36] The municipality of General Santos would later be converted into a city under the same name in 1968.

"League of 16" and legal battles[edit]

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 ₱ 20 million to ₱ 100 million in sec. 450 of the Local Government Code (LGC), as amended by RA 9009. Such exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local Government Code and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws."[37][38][39]
  • However, more than a year later, on December 22, 2009, acting on the appeal of the so-called "League of 16 Cities" (an informal group consisting of the sixteen local government units whose cityhood status had been reversed), the Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling as it ruled that "at the end of the day, the passage of the amendatory law (regarding the criteria for cityhood as set by Congress) is no different from the enactment of a law, i.e., the cityhood laws specifically exempting a particular political subdivision from the criteria earlier mentioned. Congress, in enacting the exempting law/s, effectively decreased the already codified indicators."[40] As such, the cityhood status of the said 16 LGUs was effectively restored.
  • August 24, 2010. In a 16-page resolution, the Supreme Court reinstated its November 18, 2008 decision striking down the cityhood laws, reducing once more the sixteen LGUs to the status of regular municipalities.[41]
  • The most recent development in the legal battles surrounding the "League of 16" came on February 15, 2011. Voting 7-6, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that 16 towns that became cities in 2007 can stay as cities. It's the fourth time the SC has ruled on the case, and the third reversal. It said the conversion of the 16 towns into cities met all legal requirements.[42]

Rejected cityhood[edit]

Note: This section only lists attempts that reached the stage where a Republic Act was enacted for the purpose of achieving cityhood.

  • Batangas (1965) - A majority of the votes cast in the then-municipality of Batangas rejected cityhood in a plebiscite conducted on the same day as the 1965 Philippine general elections, as mandated by Republic Act No. 4586.[43] The city would have been named Laurel City in honor of Jose P. Laurel, the president of the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic. The municipality of Batangas would later be converted into a city under the same name in 1969.
  • Tarlac (1969) - The city charter of Tarlac (Republic Act No. 5907) was approved on June 21, 1969.[44] Cityhood was rejected in a plebiscite held on November 11, 1969 by a majority of the ballots cast. Tarlac became a city 29 years after, in 1998.
  • Ilagan (1999) - Republic Act No. 8474, which converted Ilagan to a component city of Isabela, was approved on February 2, 1998.[45] However, majority of votes cast in the plebiscite held on March 14, 1999 rejected cityhood. Ilagan finally became a city after majority of votes cast in the August 11, 2012 plebiscite approved.[46]
  • Novaliches (1999) - On February 23, 1998 the controversial City Charter of Novaliches (Republic Act No. 8535) was approved, which sought to create a new city out of the 15 northern barangays of Quezon City.[47] Historically a separate town, Novaliches was distributed between Quezon City and northern Caloocan in 1948. In a plebiscite held on October 23, 1999, the majority of ballots cast rejected the cityhood of Novaliches.
  • Meycauayan (2001) - Cityhood was rejected by majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held on March 30, 2001 to ratify Republic Act No. 9021.[48] Meycauayan became a city five years later with the enactment of Republic Act No. 9356[49] and its ratification through a plebiscite on December 10, 2006.[50]

Former names[edit]

Note: This section only lists name changes made upon or since cityhood.

  • Cagayan de Oro - the municipality of Cagayan de Misamis was converted to the city of Cagayan de Oro in 1950 by virtue of Republic Act No. 521.[51]
  • Lapu-Lapu - the municipality of Opon was converted to a city named after Lapu-Lapu, hero of the Battle of Mactan in 1961 by virtue of Republic Act No. 3134.[52]
  • Marawi - inaugurated as the City of Dansalan in 1950, renamed to Marawi on June 16, 1956 by virtue of Republic Act No. 1552.[53]
  • Ozamiz - the municipality of Misamis was converted to a city named after José Ozámiz, the first governor of Misamis Occidental, in 1948 by virtue of Republic Act No. 321.[54]
  • Pasay - inaugurated as Rizal City in 1947, reverted to Pasay on June 7, 1950 by virtue of Republic Act No. 437.[55]
  • Roxas - in 1951 the municipality of Capiz was converted to a city named after Manuel Roxas, the first president of the Third Philippine Republic and town native by virtue of Republic Act No. 603.[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Website". National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160)
  3. ^ Republic Act No. 7160 of 10 October 1991 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE
  4. ^ "DEPARTMENT ORDER No. 23-08" (PDF). 29 July 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Teves, et al. v. Commission on Elections, Philippine Laws and Jurisprudence Databank.
  6. ^ a b c Batas Pambansa Bilang 51, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  7. ^ Republic Act No. 9009, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  8. ^ a b LCP Policy Blog
  9. ^ League of Cities wants veto on cityhood of 12 towns
  10. ^ Republic Act No. 526, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  11. ^ Republic Act No. 1445, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  12. ^ Commonwealth Act No. 58, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  13. ^ Republic Act No. 3857, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  14. ^ a b Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  15. ^ Republic Act No. 6726, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  16. ^ Republic Act No. 6843, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  17. ^ a b Supreme Court - Jurisprudence - Miranda vs Aguirre
  18. ^ "Antipolo City's urbanization put on hold temporarily". Manila Bulletin. 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  19. ^ a b Cuenco ready to work for it; del Mar wants to be sure
  20. ^ Republic Act No. 8528, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  21. ^ San Pedro now a component city of Laguna -
  22. ^ "Final Results - 2010 Census of Population". National Statistics Office of the Philippines. .
  23. ^ "Cagayan de Oro’s White Water Rafting". Philippine Postal Corporation. June 18, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  24. ^ CY 2008 Final Internal Revenue Allotment for LGUs, Department of Budget and Management of the Philippines.
  25. ^ Puerto Princesa Board
  26. ^ CY 2008 Final Internal Revenue Allotment for LGUs, Department of Budget and Management of the Philippines.
  27. ^ Henrylito D. Tacio, Davao: The world's largest city, Sun-Star Davao, January 14, 2006.
  28. ^ Discussion on CAMANAVA control project continues
  29. ^ Dagupan becomes a city
  30. ^ Republic Act No. 306, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  31. ^ History of Legazpi City
  32. ^ Republic Act No. 288, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  33. ^ Presidential Decree No. 356, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  34. ^ Presidential Decree No. 824, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  35. ^ Republic Act No. 4413
  37. ^ November 18, 2008 , G.R. No. 176951 / G.R. No. 177499 / G.R. No. 178056, November 18, 2008
  38. ^ SC Voids 16 Cityhood Laws
  39. ^ From city back to town: Officials to appeal reversal of status
  40. ^ SC reverses self, upholds creation of 16 cities
  41. ^ SC Reinstates 2008 Decision Voiding 16 Cityhood Laws
  42. ^ [1]
  43. ^ Republic Act No. 4586, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  44. ^ Republic Act No. 5907, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  45. ^ Republic Act No. 8474, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  46. ^ Republic Act No. 10169
  47. ^ Republic Act No. 8535, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  48. ^ Republic Act No. 9021, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  49. ^ Republic Act No. 9356, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  50. ^ Bulacan Now Has 3 Cities,, December 12, 2006.
  51. ^ Republic Act No. 521, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  52. ^ Republic Act No. 3134, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  53. ^ Republic Act No. 1552, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  54. ^ Republic Act No. 321, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  55. ^ Republic Act No. 437, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  56. ^ Republic Act No. 603, Chan-Robles Law Library.
^a Population figure for Pasig City excludes persons residing in areas disputed between this city and the municipality of Cainta, Rizal.
^b Population figure for Taguig excludes the 51,320 persons residing in Brgys. Post Proper Northside and Post Proper Southside, which are still administered by the City of Makati, but ruled in court to be part of Taguig in 2003.

External links[edit]