[G.R. No. 155773. November 26, 2002]


En Banc


Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court dated NOV. 26, 2002

G.R. No. 155773 (Hon. Jose L. Atienza, in his capacity as Mayor of the City of em>Manila vs. The Commission on Audit)

In a memorandum, dated May 11, 2002, the City Auditor of Manila called the attention of petitioner, Mayor Jose L. Atienza, Jr. of Manila, to the provision in � 345 of R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which states:

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 memorandum was prompted by the issuance of checks in settlement of the city's obligations which had been countersigned by the Secretary to the Mayor and not by the City Administrator as required by � 345.

In reply, petitioner said that the countersigning of the checks by his Secretary was justified under � 12 of R.A. No. 409, the Revised Charter of the City of Manila, which provides that -

Secretary to the Mayor. - The Mayor shall appoint one secretary who shall have charge and custody of all records and documents of the City and of any office or department thereof for which provision is not otherwise made; shall keep the corporate seal and affix the same with his signature to all ordinances and resolutions signed by the Mayor and all other official documents and papers of the government as may be required by custom in the discretion of the Mayor; shall attest all executive orders, proclamations, ordinances and resolutions signed by the Mayor and shall perform such other duties as the Mayor may require of him;...

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 appealed to respondent Commission, which on March 12, 2002 denied his appeal. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was likewise denied on October 10, 2002. Hence, this petition for certiorari. Petitioner contends that -

a) The Commission gravely erred in its finding that only the assistants of the local treasurer and the local administrator can sign and countersign checks, respectively, in the settlement of obligations of the local government.

b) The Commission gravely erred in its finding that Republic Act No. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 prevails over Republic Act No. 409 otherwise known as the City Charter of Manila.

c) The Commission gravely erred in applying the principle of ejusdem generis in the instant case,

d) The Commission gravely erred in holding that the City Mayor is not allowed to countersign checks under Section 345 of R.A. No. 7160.

e) The Commission gravely erred in disallowing the Secretary to the Mayor of the City of Manila to countersign checks in the settlement of obligations of the City despite the authority pursuant to Section 12 of Republic Act No. 409 given by the City Mayor.

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.

The petition fails to state the date of receipt by petitioner of COA Decision No. 2002-057 from which he has appealed as required by Rule 64, � 5, with the result that the timeliness of the present petition cannot be determined. Such failure to state a material date is a ground for dismissal of a petition.

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.

Corona, J., no part due to close personal relation to one of the parties. Davide, Jr., C J., and Puno, J., are abroad on official business.

Very truly yours,


Acting Clerk of Court

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