Rise in number of PH cities from 60 in 1987 to 146 in 2020 traced

By Severino Samonte

September 12, 2020, 2:01 pm

MANILA – When the present Constitution was promulgated in February 1987 during the term of then-president Corazon C. Aquino, there were only 60 chartered and highly-urbanized cities (HUC) or component cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metropolitan Manila and the country's 73 provinces. 

At present, the country has a total of 146 cities, reflecting an increase of 86 in the past three decades since 1987.

The 60 chartered, HUC, or component cities as of 1987 were specified in the Special Ordinance appended to the 33-year-old Charter by the 1986 Constitutional Commission headed by then-Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma.

The ordinance apportioned the seats of the House of Representatives of the then newly-restored Congress of the Philippines to the different legislative districts in provinces and cities and towns in Metro Manila.

The chartered and HUC-component cities as of 1987 are Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Pasay City in the NCR; Baguio City in Benguet and the Cordilleras; Laoag City in Ilocos Norte; Dagupan City and San Carlos City in Pangasinan; Cabanatuan, Palayan, and San Jose in Nueva Ecija; Angeles in Pampanga; Olongapo in Zambales; Batangas and Lipa in Batangas province; Tagaytay, Cavite, and Trese Martires in Cavite province; San Pablo City in Laguna; Puerto Princesa City in Palawan; Lucena City in Quezon; Legazpi City in Albay; Naga and Iriga in Camarines Sur;

Roxas City in Capiz; Iloilo City in Iloilo province; Bacolod, San Carlos, Cadiz, Bago, La Carlota, and Silay in Negros Occidental; Tagbilaran in Bohol; Cebu, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Toledo in Cebu province; Bais, Canlaon, and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental; Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte; Calbayog City in Samar;

Dapitan and Dipolog in Zamboanga del Norte; Zamboanga City and Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur; Butuan City in Agusan del Norte; Oroquieta, Ozamiz, and Tangub in Misamis Occidental; Cagayan de Oro City and Gingoog in Misamis Oriental; Surigao City in Surigao del Norte; Davao City in Davao del Sur; General Santos City in South Cotabato; Iligan City in Lanao del Norte; Marawi City in Lanao del Sur; and Cotabato City in Maguindanao.

Although not mandated by the Constitution, there was a virtual moratorium on the creation of new cities in the country during the six-a-half-year term of Aquino (Feb. 25, 1986 to June 30, 1992).

Upon the opening of the new Congress in July 1987, the people of the divided former town of Novaliches, now shared by Quezon City and Caloocan City, petitioned the House of Representatives to convert their former town into the 61st city of the country.

However, the attempt became futile due to the strong objections of officials of both cities.

The creation of new cities in the country resumed in the second year of the six-year term of former president Fidel V. Ramos, who succeeded Aquino on June 30, 1992.

Ramos spearheaded the creation of the 61st city in the country – Mandaluyong in Metro Manila – through Republic Act (RA) 7676 in 1994.

Not long afterward, at least seven other cities were created in the NCR by the Ramos administration. These were Pasig, Makati, Muntinlupa, Marikina, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Valenzuela.

The other five cities of Metro Manila at present – San Juan, Malabon, Navotas, Taguig, and Valenzuela – were created during the succeeding administrations of former presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III.

With the NCR now having a total of 16 cities, only Pateros in southern Metro Manila remains a town.

On Feb. 23, 1998, Ramos also signed RA 8535 creating the City of Novaliches, but the proposal was defeated in a plebiscite held throughout Quezon City on Oct. 23, 1999.

Aside from the creation of eight new cities in Metro Manila, Ramos was also credited with the birth of several other cities in the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has so far created the youngest city in the country at present – the city of Sto. Tomas in Batangas, which was established through RA 11086.

According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country now has 81 provinces, 146 cities, 1,488 municipalities, and 42,046 barangays in 17 regions.

Altogether, 86 cities have been created so far under the 1987 Constitution. These are (in alphabetical order):

Alaminos in Pangasinan; Antipolo, Rizal; Bacoor, Cavite; Balanga, Bataan; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Bayawan, Negros Oriental; Baybay, Leyte; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; Biñan, Laguna; Bislig, Surigao del Sur; Bogo, Cebu; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; Cabuyao, Laguna; Calamba, Laguna; Calapan, Oriental Mindoro; Candon, Ilocos Sur; Carcar, Cebu; Catbalogan, Samar; Cauayan, Isabela; Dasmariñas, Cavite; Digos, Davao del Sur; El Salvador, Misamis Oriental; Escalante, Negros Occidental; Gapan, Nueva Ecija; Gen. Trias, Cavite; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental; Himamaylan, Negros Occidental; Ilagan, Isabela; Imus, Cavite; Isabela, Basilan; Kabankalan, Negros Occidental; Kidapawan, North Cotabato; Koronadal, South Cotabato; Lamitan, Basilan; Las Piñas, National Capital Region; Ligao, Albay; Maasin, Southern Leyte; Mabalacat, Pampanga; Makati, NCR; Malabon, NCR; Malaybalay, Bukidnon; Malolos, Bulacan; Mandaluyong, NCR; Marikina, NCR; Masbate, Masbate; Mati, Davao Oriental; Meycauayan, Bulacan; Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; Muntinlupa, NCR; Naga, Cebu; Navotas, NCR; Panabo, Davao del Norte; Parañaque, NCR; Pasig, NCR; Passi, Iloilo; Sagay, Negros Occidental; Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte; San Fernando, La Union; San Fernando, Pampanga; San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; San Juan, NCR; San Pedro, Laguna; Sta. Rosa, Laguna; Sto. Tomas, Batangas; Santiago, Isabela; Sipalay, Negros Occidental; Sorsogon, Sorsogon; Tabaco, Albay; Tabuk, Kalinga; Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat; Taguig, NCR; Tagum, Davao del Norte; Talisay, Cebu; Talisay, Negros Occidental; Tanauan, Batangas; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Tanjay, Negros Oriental; Tarlac, Tarlac; Tayabas, Quezon; Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Urdaneta, Pangasinan; Valencia, Bukidnon; Valenzuela, NCR; Victorias, Negros Occidental; and Vigan, Ilocos Sur. (PNA)