Checks in settlement of obligations shall be drawn by the local treasurer and countersigned by the local administrator

Officials Authorized to Draw Checks in Settlement of Obligations. – Checks in settlement of obligations shall be drawn by the local treasurer and countersigned by the local administrator.

In case of temporary absence or incapacity of the foregoing officials, these duties shall devolve upon their immediate assistants.

….The matter was referred to the General Counsel of the Commission on Audit (COA), who opined that “the grant of authority to the Secretary of the Mayor [to countersign checks in settlement of the City’s obligations] is an invalid delegation of authority as it directly contravenes an express provision of law [R.A. No. 7160, § 345] and must be discontinued”.  Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but his motion was denied.  The General Counsel stated that under the law, it is not the Mayor but the City Administrator and, in the latter’s absence, his immediate assistants, who have authority to countersign checks…..

Petitioner argues that under COA Circular No. 94-004, par. 7.1, as head of the city government, he has authority to “define or delineate the duties and responsibilities of its officials and employees involved in financial transactions.”  He cites an opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG Opinion No. 182-93, dated July 2, 1993) that he is the local administrator referred to in § 345 considering that under § 455(b)(l)(vi) of R.A. No. 7160, the City Mayor shall

Represent the City in all its business transactions and sign in its behalf all bonds, contracts, and obligations, and such other documents upon authority of the sangguniang panlungsod or pursuant to law or ordinance.

Consequently, he contends he can delegate the countersigning of checks to his Secretary.

After due consideration of the present petition, the Court RESOLVED to dismiss the same for lack of merit.

More importantly, the respondent Commission on Audit correctly denied petitioner’s appeal.  Under § 345 of the LGC, it is the City Administrator, not the Secretary to the Mayor, who is authorized to countersign checks issued in settlement of the City’s obligations.  The language of this provision is unambiguous and precludes a different interpretation.  It is settled that when the language of the law is clear, it must be given its literal meaning without any attempted interpretation.  (Osea v. Malaya, G.R. No. 139821, Jan. 30, 2002; Del Mar v. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, 358 SCRA 768 (2001); Basbacio v. Office of the Secretary, Department of Justice, 238 SCRA 5 (1994); Globe-Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. NLRC, 206 SCRA 701 (1992))

Indeed, § 345 of the LGC is a specific provision which prevails .over § 12 of the City Charter of Manila which deals in general with the authority of the Secretary to the Mayor to keep records and documents pertaining to the City.  This authority cannot be expanded by the Mayor not only because, as already stated, § 345 of the LGC expressly vests this authority in the City Administrator but also because this provision impliedly denies this authority to the City Mayor himself by providing for the exercise of the authority by the City Administrator or, in the absence of the latter, by his immediate assistants.  There is therefore no authority which the City Mayor can delegate to his Secretary.



About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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