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President Benigno Aquino III on Monday reiterated the primacy of national laws over local laws and ordinances, as local officials brace themselves for a forthcoming executive order (EO) redefining mining policies in the Philippines.
The President made his remarks after around 40 governors last week threatened to challenge the EO expected to be signed by the President, saying it would undermine local governments' wisdom and control over their own respective areas and resources therein.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a member of Aquino's Liberal Party, said the EO would allow the national government to override anti- or pro-mining policies of local executives.
Aquino, prompted to respond to Salceda's position, said:
"I would like to talk to him (Salceda) but I think the premise of your question is wrong. Where did that happen? I don’t think Joey Salceda would come up with a statement that says the opposite - that a municipal order or provincial ordinance takes precedence over our national law," he said.
"The Constitution is very, very clear on that. First, ordinance making powers of local governments are limited. Second, they have limited territorial scope. But more than all of these, there is a clause that says local ordinances should be consistent with our national laws," the President added.
Aquino said for as long as the Philippines is not a federated government and remains to be a unitary government, national laws would always take precedence.
If Salceda was quoted correctly, Aquino said it was "premature" for the governor to be issuing such statements.
"I have not yet signed it. There is still some language I am not comfortable with," Aquino said.
"But if they feel that their rights are being trampled upon, by allmeans they can go to the appropriate courts. But I am very confident that he (Salceda) would not say that the ordinances that they have promulgated on a local basis will supplant national laws," the President added. InterAksyon.com