Who between the Governor and Vice-Governor is authorized to approve purchase orders issued in connection with the procurement of supplies, materials, equipment, including fuel, repairs and maintenance of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

With these guideposts, the Court shall now address the issue on who between the Governor and Vice-Governor is authorized to approve purchase orders issued in connection with the procurement of supplies, materials, equipment, including fuel, repairs and maintenance of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

We hold that it is the Vice-Governor who has such authority.

Under Rep. Act No. 7160, local legislative power for the province is exercised by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan[13] and the Vice-Governor is its presiding officer.[14] Being vested with legislative powers, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan enacts ordinances, resolutions and appropriates funds for the general welfare of the province in accordance with the provisions of Rep. Act No. 7160.[15] The same statute vests upon the Vice-Governor the power to:

(1)     Be the presiding officer of the sangguniang panlalawigan and sign all warrants drawn on the provincial treasury for all expenditures appropriated for the operation of the sangguniang panlalawigan. [16]

Further, Section 344 provides:

Sec. 344. Certification on, and Approval of, Vouchers. – No money shall be disbursed unless the local budget officer certifies to the existence of appropriation that has been legally made for the purpose, the local accountant has obligated said appropriation, and the local treasurer certifies to the availability of funds for the purpose.  Vouchers and payrolls shall be certified to and approved by the head of the department or office who has administrative control of the fund concerned, as to validity, propriety and legality of the claim involved.  Except in cases of disbursements involving regularly recurring administrative expenses such as payrolls for regular or permanent employees, expenses for light, water, telephone and telegraph services, remittances to government creditor agencies such as the GSIS, SSS, LBP, DBP, National Printing Office, Procurement Service of the DBM and others, approval of the disbursement voucher by the local chief executive himself shall be required whenever local funds are disbursed.

In cases of special or trust funds, disbursements shall be approved by the administrator of the fund.

In case of temporary absence or incapacity of the department head or chief of office, the officer next-in-rank shall automatically perform his function and he shall be fully responsible therefor.

Reliance by the CA on the clause “approval of the disbursement voucher by the local chief executive himself shall be required whenever local funds are disbursed” of the above section (Section 344) to rule that it is the Governor who has the authority to approve purchase orders for the supplies, materials or equipment for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is misplaced.  This clause cannot prevail over the more specific clause of the same provision which provides that “vouchers and payrolls shall be certified to and approved by the head of the department or office who has administrative control of the fund concerned.”  The Vice-Governor, as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, has administrative control of the funds of the said body.  Accordingly, it is the Vice-Governor who has the authority to approve disbursement vouchers for expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

On this point, Section 39 of the Manual on the New Government Accounting System for Local Government Units, prepared by the Commission on Audit (COA), is instructive:

Sec. 39. Approval of Disbursements. – Approval of disbursements by the Local Chief Executive (LCE) himself shall be required whenever local funds are disbursed, except for regularly recurring administrative expenses such as: payrolls for regular or permanent employees, expenses for light, water, telephone and telegraph services, remittances to government creditor agencies such as GSIS, BIR, PHILHEALTH, LBP, DBP, NPO, PS of the DBM and others, where the authority to approve may be delegated.  Disbursement vouchers for expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sanggunian shall be approved by the provincial Vice Governor, the city Vice-Mayor or the municipal Vice-Mayor, as the case may be.[17]

While Rep. Act No. 7160 is silent as to the matter, the authority granted to the Vice-Governor to sign all warrants drawn on the provincial treasury for all expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as well as to approve disbursement vouchers relating thereto necessarily includes the authority to approve purchase orders covering the same applying the doctrine of necessary implication.  This doctrine is explained, thus:

No statute can be enacted that can provide all the details involved in its application.  There is always an omission that may not meet a particular situation.  What is thought, at the time of enactment, to be an all-embracing legislation may be inadequate to provide for the unfolding of events of the future.  So-called gaps in the law develop as the law is enforced.  One of the rules of statutory construction used to fill in the gap is the doctrine of necessary implication.  The doctrine states that what is implied in a statute is as much a part thereof as that which is expressed.  Every statute is understood, by implication, to contain all such provisions as may be necessary to effectuate its object and purpose, or to make effective rights, powers, privileges or jurisdiction which it grants, including all such collateral and subsidiary consequences as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms.  Ex necessitate legis.  And every statutory grant of power, right or privilege is deemed to include all incidental power, right or privilege.  This is so because the greater includes the lesser, expressed in the maxim, in eo plus sit, simper inest et minus.[18]

Warrants are “order[s] directing the treasurer of the municipality to pay money out of funds in city treasury which are or may become available for purpose specified to designated person[s].”[19] Warrants of a municipal corporation are generally orders payable when funds are found.  They are issued for the payment of general municipal debts and expenses subject to the rule that they shall be paid in the order of presentation.[20]

The ordinary meaning of “voucher” is a document which shows that services have been performed or expenses incurred.  It covers any acquittance or receipt discharging the person or evidencing payment by him.  When used in connection with disbursement of money, it implies some instrument that shows on what account or by what authority a particular payment has been made, or that services have been performed which entitle the party to whom it is issued to payment.[21]

Purchase order, on the other hand, is “an authorization by the issuing party for the recipient to provide materials or services for which issuing party agrees to pay; it is an offer to buy which becomes binding when those things ordered have been provided.”[22]

When an authorized person approves a disbursement voucher, he certifies to the correctness of the entries therein, among others: that the expenses incurred were necessary and lawful, the supporting documents are complete and the availability of cash therefor. Further, the person who performed the services or delivered the supplies, materials or equipment is entitled to payment.[23] On the other hand, the terms and conditions for the procurement of supplies, materials or equipment, in particular, are contained in a purchase order.  The tenor of a purchase order basically directs the supplier to deliver the articles enumerated and subject to the terms and conditions specified therein.[24] Hence, the express authority to approve disbursement vouchers and, in effect, authorize the payment of money claims for supplies, materials or equipment, necessarily includes the authority to approve purchase orders to cause the delivery of the said supplies, materials or equipment.

Since it is the Vice-Governor who approves disbursement vouchers and approves the payment for the procurement of the supplies, materials and equipment needed for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, then he also has the authority to approve the purchase orders to cause the delivery of the said supplies, materials or equipment.

Indeed, the authority granted to the Vice-Governor to sign all warrants drawn on the provincial treasury for all expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as well as to approve disbursement vouchers relating thereto is greater and includes the authority to approve purchase orders for the procurement of the supplies, materials and equipment necessary for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Anent the second issue, the appellate court likewise committed reversible error in holding that the implementation of the Memorandum dated July 1, 2002 had rendered the petition moot and academic.  It is recognized that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is “capable of repetition yet evading review.”[25] Even if the employees whose contractual or job order employment had been terminated by the implementation of the July 1, 2002 Memorandum may no longer be reinstated, still, similar memoranda may be issued by other local chief executives.  Hence, it behooves the Court to resolve whether the Governor has the authority to terminate or cancel the appointments of casual/job order employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Office of the Vice-Governor.

We hold that the Governor, with respect to the appointment of the officials and employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, has no such authority.

Among the powers granted to the Governor under Section 465 of Rep. Act No. 7160 are:

Sec. 465. The Chief Executive: Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation.– (a) The provincial governor, as the chief executive of the provincial government, shall exercise such powers and perform such duties and functions as provided by this Code and other laws.

(b) For efficient, effective and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare of the province and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code, the provincial governor shall:

(v) Appoint all officials and employees whose salaries and wages are wholly or mainly paid out of provincial funds and whose appointments are not otherwise provided for in this Code, as well as those he may be authorized by law to appoint.

On the other hand, Section 466 vests on the Vice-Governor the power to, among others:

(2) Subject to civil service law, rules and regulations, appoint all officials and employees of the sangguniang panlalawigan, except those whose manner of appointment is specifically provided in this Code.

Thus, while the Governor has the authority to appoint officials and employees whose salaries are paid out of the provincial funds, this does not extend to the officials and employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan because such authority is lodged with the Vice-Governor.  In the same manner, the authority to appoint casual and job order employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan belongs to the Vice-Governor.

The authority of the Vice-Governor to appoint the officials and employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is anchored on the fact that the salaries of these employees are derived from the appropriation specifically for the said local legislative body.  Indeed, the budget source of their salaries is what sets the employees and officials of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan apart from the other employees and officials of the province.  Accordingly, the appointing power of the Vice-Governor is limited to those employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as well as those of the Office of the Vice-Governor, whose salaries are paid out of the funds appropriated for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  As a corollary, if the salary of an employee or official is charged against the provincial funds, even if this employee reports to the Vice-Governor or is assigned to his office, the Governor retains the authority to appoint the said employee pursuant to Section 465(b)(v) of Rep. Act No. 7160.

However, in this case, it does not appear whether the contractual/job order employees, whose appointments were terminated or cancelled by the Memorandum dated July 1, 2002 issued by the respondent Governor, were paid out of the provincial funds or the funds of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  Nonetheless, the validity of the said memorandum cannot be upheld because it absolutely prohibited the respondent Vice-Governor from exercising his authority to appoint the employees, whether regular or contractual/job order, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and restricted such authority to one of recommendatory nature only.[26] This clearly constituted an encroachment on the appointment power of the respondent Vice- Governor under Section 466(a)(2) of Rep. Act No. 7160.

At this juncture, it is well to note that under Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, the Local Government Code prior to Rep. Act No. 7160, the Governor was the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan:

Sec. 205. Composition. (1) Each provincial government shall have a provincial legislature hereinafter known as the sangguniang panlalawigan, upon which shall be vested the provincial legislative power.

(2) The sangguniang panlalawigan shall be composed of the governor, vice-governor, elective members of the said sanggunian, and the presidents of the katipunang panlalawigan and the kabataang barangay provincial federation who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines.

Sec. 206. Sessions. –

(3) The governor, who shall be the presiding officer of the sangguniang panlalawigan, shall not be entitled to vote except in case of a tie.

With Rep. Act No. 7160, the union of legislative and executive powers in the office of the local chief executive under the BP Blg. 337 has been disbanded, so that either department now comprises different and non-intermingling official personalities with the end in view of ensuring a better delivery of public service and provide a system of check and balance between the two.[27]

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, the principal author of Rep. Act No. 7160, explained that “the Vice-Governor is now the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The City Vice-Mayor presides at meetings of the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Municipal Vice-Mayor at the sessions of the Sangguniang BayanThe idea is to distribute powers among elective local officials so that the legislative, which is the Sanggunian, can properly check the executive, which is the Governor or the Mayor and vice versa and exercise their functions without any undue interference from one by the other.”[28]

The avowed intent of Rep. Act. No. 7160, therefore, is to vest on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan independence in the exercise of its legislative functions vis-a-vis the discharge by the Governor of the executive functions. The Memoranda dated June 25, 2002 and July 1, 2002 of the respondent Governor, which effectively excluded the petitioner Vice-Governor, the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, from signing the purchase orders for the procurement of supplies, materials or equipment needed for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as well as from appointing its casual and job order employees, constituted undue interference with the latter’s functions.  The assailed memoranda are clearly not in keeping with the intent of Rep. Act No. 7160 and their implementation should thus be permanently enjoined.

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2005/may2005/161081.htm

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About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Governor/SP, LGU, Mayor, Question and Answers and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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