Cities of the Philippines

Cities of the Philippines

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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.

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, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.[1]



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

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
Engineer 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 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.[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 and other administrative tasks easier and more convenient.


Map of all chartered cities in the Philippines, classified by status, as of August 28, 2010.

City classification

The Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 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.[3].

Income classification

Cities are classified according to average annual income based on the previous 3 calendar years. Effective July 28, 2008 the thresholds for the income classes for cities are:[4]

Class Average annual income
First PHP 400 million or more
Second PHP 320 million or more but less than PHP 400 million
Third PHP 240 million or more but less than PHP 320 million
Fourth PHP 160 million or more but less than PHP 240 million
Fifth PHP 80 million or more but less than PHP 160 million
Sixth below PHP 80 million

Independent cities

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,[2] although they and the government of the independent city can always cooperatively work together on matters of common interest.

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 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.[6] As a result, the cities of Angeles, 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:

  • 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, Mandaue
  • Independent component cities whose charters only allow residents to only run for provincial offices: Dagupan, Naga

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 City (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 various national legislatures 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 to present).

And while 24 independent cities have their own representative(s) in Congress, 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 (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.

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. 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),[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.

Creation of cities

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 PHP 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 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 City, Bacolod City, San Pablo and Zamboanga City. 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 No. 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)[2] 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.

Motivations for cityhood

Although some early cities were given charters because of their advantageous or strategic locations (Angeles, Baguio, Cotabato, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Zamboanga City) 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 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 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, 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 as of August 2010.

Changing city status

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.


  • Component city to independent component city: All that is needed is a congressional amendment to the city 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 PHP 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 Tarlac (2005) and Cabanatuan (1998) failed to become HUCs after majority of the votes cast in the plebiscites were against the conversion.
    • There are also several instances involving a direct conversion from 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,[10] as currently there is no provision in the LGC that allows this, nor are there any precedents. Some Cebu City politicians have 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 division of the province of Cebu.[10]
  • 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 altered after the enactment of Republic Act No. 8528 on February 14, 1998 which made it a regular component city.[11] 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.[12]

Changing city status before 1992

  • Chartered city to highly urbanized city: When Batas Pambansa Bilang 51 came into effect in 1980, all cities whose incomes at the time were PHP 40 million or higher became highly urbanized cities, whose political relations with their respective provinces were severed.[6] The cities of Angeles, Bacolod, 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 Caloocan, Davao, Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, and Zamboanga. In addition, Section 3 of BP 51 also made Baguio a highly urbanized city irrespective of its income, due to its importance as host to the official summer residences of the President and the Supreme Court.
  • Component city to highly urbanized city: When Batas Pambansa Bilang 337 (Local Government Code of 1983)[13] was in force from 1983 to 1991, a city that had at least 150,000 inhabitants and an income of at least PHP 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), General Santos (1988), Iligan (1983), Lucena (1991), Mandaue (1991), Olongapo (1983), and Zamboanga (1983) became HUCs in this manner.
  • Non-voting component city to voting component city: From 1980 to 1991, cities that were not considered as highly urbanized were considered component cities of their provinces, regardless of whether their city charters allowed them to vote for provincial officials or not. The cities of Oroquieta (Misamis Occidental) and San Carlos (Pangasinan) are special cases, in that because the Local Government Code was not yet in force at the time when Republic Acts No. 6726[14] and 6843[15] respectively enabled both cities to once again become eligible to participate in provincial elections, their conversion into voting component cities were not considered technically as a downgrading,[12] but rather a simple change that did not require a plebiscite, since under BP 51 they were not considered highly urbanized cities, but component cities, as the independent component city classification was only introduced through the LGC in 1991.
  • Non-voting chartered city to voting chartered city: Prior to 1980, all cities were just considered chartered cities, without any official category differentiating them aside from income levels. The city of Cabanatuan originally was excluded from electing and being elected into positions in the provincial government of Nueva Ecija until its city charter (Republic Act No. 526)[16] was amended by Republic Act No. 1445 in 1956, enabling it to once more vote for provincial officials.[17] In 1964, when Cebu City's old charter (Commonwealth Act No. 58)[18] was repealed and replaced with Republic Act No. 3857, its residents once more became eligible to vote for provincial officials.[19] However, when the city was among the first few to be classified as highly urbanized in 1980, it effectively became independent from the province of Cebu and its inhabitants have since remained ineligible to participate in the election of provincial officials.

League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP)

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) is a non-profit organization and is not a government agency. It has a membership of 122 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

For a full detailed sortable list, including population, area and density figures, please see List of cities in the Philippines.

There are 138 cities in the Philippines as of February 15, 2011. Biñan is the newest city, after its charter was ratified on February 2, 2010.

Largest cities

Ten most populous cities in the Philippines
Rank City Population
Image Description
1. Quezon City 2,679,450 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 Novaliches Reservoir.
2. Manila 1,660,714 Manila by night.jpg 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 NLEx Balintawak Barrier.JPG Historic city where Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan held many of its meetings in secrecy. It is also the only divided city here in the Philippines. 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 third most densely populated city in the country, lying immediately north of the city of Manila. It serves as an industrial and residential area inside Metro Manila.
4. Davao City 1,363,337 Davao City.jpg 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 and outside Metro Manila.
5. Cebu City 798,809 Cebu City.jpg 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 Zamboanga City Satellite Towers.JPG 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.[21] Former capital of the Moro Province and of the undivided province of Zamboanga. The capital of the Regional Centre of Zamboanga Peninsula.
7. Antipolo 633,971 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 city in Luzon outside of Metro Manila.
8. Pasig 617,301 a Ortigas Tonight.jpg 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 Metro Manila. Formerly hosted the capitol and other government buildings of that province.
9. Taguig 613,343 b Fort Bonifacio 6.JPG 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 Metro Manila. Lies on the western shores of Laguna de Bay.
10. Valenzuela 568,928 Valenzuela-City-1.jpg 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.

Metropolitan areas

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has defined twelve metropolitan areas in the Philippines.[1] The official definition of each area does not necessarily follow the actual extent of continuous urbanization. For example, Metro Manila's urban development has long spilled out of its officially defined borders into the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite. Meanwhile the definition of Metro Cagayan de Oro includes some large municipalities in Bukidnon whose populations and economies are largely rural and agricultural, and are not in contiguity to the built-up urban area of the core city. In addition, not all the identified metropolitan areas have policy and management structures in place. If they do have them, the capacities of the structures, funding support, and degree of cooperation among member local governments can differ vastly between each metropolitan arrangement.[22]

Twelve metropolitan areas of the Philippines ranked by population
Rank Description Population Area Density Component cities/municipalities Website
1 Metro Manila 11,553,427 638.55 18,093 Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela[1] Metro Manila Development Authority
2 Metro Cebu 2,314,897 1,016.16 2,278 Cebu City, Carcar, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Liloan, Mandaue, Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando, Talisay[23] -
3 Metro Davao 2,046,181 3,798.95 539 Davao City, Digos, Panabo, Island Garden City of Samal, Santa Cruz, Carmen, Tagum[1] -
4 Metro Cagayan de Oro 1,121,561 4,343.34 258 Cagayan de Oro City, Alubijid, Claveria, El Salvador City, Gitagum, Jasaan, Laguindingan, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Baungon, Libona, Malitbog, Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Talakag[1] -
5 Metro Angeles 915,365 596.89 1,534 Angeles, Bacolor, Mabalacat, Porac, San Fernando[1] -
6 Metro Iloilo-Guimaras 789,080 972.83 811 Iloilo City, Guimaras Province, Leganes, Oton, Pavia, San Miguel, Santa Barbara[24] Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council
7 Metro Bacolod 716,306 578.65 1,238 Bacolod, Silay, Talisay[1] -
8 Metro Naga 685,005 1,242.20 551 Naga, Bombon, Bula, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Gainza, Magarao, Milaor, Minalabac, Ocampo, Pamplona, Pasacao, Pili, San Fernando[1] Metro Naga Development Council
9 Metro Baguio (BLIST) 499,412 978.88 511 Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba[1] -
10 Metro Batangas 432,262 386.97 1,117 Batangas City, Bauan, San Pascual[1] -
11 Metro Dagupan (CAMADA) 325,364 134.13 2,425 Calasiao, Mangaldan, Dagupan [1] -
12 Metro Olongapo 304,388 472.16 645 Olongapo, Subic[1] -

City facts

  • By population (2007 census figures):
  • By population density (calculated using 2007 census figures):
    • Most densely populated: Manila, with 43,079 people per square kilometer
    • Most sparsely populated: Puerto Princesa, with 81 people per square kilometer
  • By land area:
    • Smallest: San Juan City, with an area of 5.94 km2
    • Largest: Davao City, with an area of 2,433.61 km2.[25] However, while some sources[26] claim that Puerto Princesa covers an area of more than 2,500 km2, its officially recognized land area figure (according to IRA share calculation data)[27] is 2,381.02 km2. Contrary to popular belief within the Philippines,[28] Davao City does not hold the record of being the world's largest city in terms of land area.
  • By elevation:
    • Lowest: Most Philippine cities are located on sea level. However, some parts of Navotas, Caloocan and Malabon are below sea level, and continue to experience subsidence.[29]
    • Highest: much of Baguio is situated more than 1,300 meters above sea level. However, part of Mount Apo, the highest Philippine peak, is under Davao City's jurisdiction; the cities of Kidapawan and Digos both have claims on the territorial jurisdiction of the mountain too.
  • By number of (land-)bounding LGUs:
  • Most extreme points:

Defunct/dissolved cities

  • 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.[30]
  • 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.[31] Comprising the present-day territories of Legazpi City and Daraga, the city was dissolved on June 8, 1954[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] Finally abolished and annexed to the municipality of Isabela on November 7, 1975 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 824.[35]
  • Rajah Buayan City (1966) - under Republic Act No. 4413,[36] 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.[37] The municipality of General Santos would later be converted into a city under the same name in 1968.

"League of 16" and legal battles

  • The Supreme Court of the Philippines, by a highly divided vote of 6-5, on November 18, 2008, subsequently upheld with finality on May 6, 2009, declared unconstitutional cityhood laws converting 16 municipalities into cities. The 24-page judgment of Justice Antonio T. Carpio, adjudged that the following Cityhood Laws violate secs. 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution of the Philippines:
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 PHP 20 million to PHP 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."[38][39][40]
  • 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."[41] 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.[42]
  • 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 this week 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.[43]

Rejected cityhood

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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] However, majority of votes cast in the plebiscite held on March 14, 1999 rejected cityhood.
  • 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

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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Building Globally Competitive Metro Areas in the Philippines
  2. ^ a b c d e Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160)
  3. ^ National Statistical Coordination Board.
  4. ^ Income Classification for Provinces, Cities and Municipalities, National Statistics Coordination Board.
  5. ^ Teves v. COMELEC, Philippine Laws and Jurisprudence Databank.
  6. ^ a b 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. ^ a b Cuenco ready to work for it; del Mar wants to be sure
  11. ^ Republic Act No. 8528, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  12. ^ a b Supreme Court - Jurisprudence - Miranda vs Aguirre
  13. ^ Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  14. ^ Republic Act No. 6276, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  15. ^ Republic Act No. 6843, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  16. ^ Republic Act No. 526, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  17. ^ Republic Act No. 1445, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  18. ^ Commonwealth Act No. 58, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  19. ^ Republic Act No. 3857, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  20. ^ Final Results - 2007 Census of Population. National Statistics Office of the Philippines. .
  21. ^ "The Creole Spanish or Chabacano dialect of the Philippines" (Press release). September 10, 2002. 
  22. ^ Ruben G. Mercado; Rosario G. Manasan (1998). Metropolitan Arrangements in the Philippines: Passing Fancy or Future Megatrend?. Makati City: Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Retrieved 2010-10-08 (Discussion Paper Series No. 98-31) 
  23. ^ RDC enlarges Metro Cebu
  24. ^ Member Municipalities | Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council
  25. ^ CY 2008 FINAL INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENT FOR LGUs, Department of Budget and Management of the Philippines.
  26. ^ Puerto Princesa Board
  27. ^ CY 2008 FINAL INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENT FOR LGUs, Department of Budget and Management of the Philippines.
  28. ^ Henrylito D. Tacio, Davao: The world's largest city, Sun-Star Davao, January 14, 2006.
  29. ^ Discussion on CAMANAVA control project continues
  30. ^ Dagupan becomes a city
  31. ^ Republic Act No. 306, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  32. ^ History of Legazpi City
  33. ^ Republic Act No. 288, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  34. ^ Presidential Decree No. 356, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  35. ^ Presidential Decree No. 824, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  36. ^ Republic Act No. 4413
  38. ^ November 18, 2008 , G.R. No. 176951 / G.R. No. 177499 / G.R. No. 178056, November 18, 2008
  39. ^ SC Voids 16 Cityhood Laws
  40. ^ From city back to town: Officials to appeal reversal of status
  41. ^ SC reverses self, upholds creation of 16 cities
  42. ^ SC Reinstates 2008 Decision Voiding 16 Cityhood Laws
  43. ^ [1]
  44. ^ Republic Act No. 4586, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  45. ^ Republic Act No. 5907, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  46. ^ Republic Act No. 8474, Chan-Robles Law Library.
  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 the 24,789 persons residing in areas disputed between this city and the municipality of Cainta, Rizal.
^b Population figure for Taguig excludes the 56,966 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.
^c Population figure for Palayan City excludes the 716 persons residing in Brgy. Palale which was transferred in 2008 to the municipality of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija.

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