G. R. No. 141386 - November 29, 2001
THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT OF THE PROVINCE OF CEBU, Represented by Provincial Auditor ROY L. URSAL, Petitioner, v. PROVINCE OF CEBU, Represented by Governor PABLO P. GARCIA, Respondent.
May the salaries and personnel-related benefits of public school teachers appointed by local chief executives in Connection with the establishment and maintenance of extension classes; as well as the expenses for college scholarship grants, be charged to the Special Education Fund (SEF) of the local government unit concerned?
The instant petition for review, which raises a pure question of law, seeks to annul and set aside the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 20, in a petition for declaratory relief, docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-24422.
The provincial governor of the province of Cebu, as chairman of the local school board, under Section 98 of the Local Government Code, appointed classroom teachers who have no items in the DECS plantilla to handle extension classes that would accommodate students in the public schools.
In the audit of accounts conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) of the Province of Cebu, for the period January to June 1998, it appeared that the salaries and personnel-related benefits of the teachers appointed by the province for the extension classes were charged against the provincial SEF. Likewise charged to the SEF were the college scholarship grants of the province. Consequently, the COA issued Notices of Suspension to the province of Cebu,2 saying that disbursements for the salaries of teachers and scholarship grants are not chargeable to the provincial SEF.
Faced with the Notices of Suspension issued by the COA, the province of Cebu, represented by its governor, filed a petition for declaratory relief with the trial court.
On December 13, 1999, the court a quo rendered a decision declaring the questioned expenses as authorized expenditures of the SEF. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
Hence, the instant petition by the Commission on Audit.
The Special Education Fund was created by virtue of R.A. No. 5447, which is An act creating a special education fund to be constituted from the proceeds of an additional real property tax and a certain portion of the taxes on Virginia-type cigarettes and duties on imported leaf tobacco, defining the activities to be financed, creating school boards for the purpose, and appropriating funds therefrom, which took effect on January 1, 1969. Pursuant thereto, P.D. No. 464, also known as the Real Property Tax Code of the Philippines, imposed an annual tax of 1% on real property which shall accrue to the SEF.4
Under R.A. No. 5447, the SEF may be expended exclusively for the following activities of the DECS
With the effectivity of the Local Government Code of 1991, petitioner contends that R.A. No. 5447 was repealed, leaving Sections 235, 272 and 100 (c) of the Code to govern the disposition of the SEF, to wit:
Invoking the legal maxim "expressio unius est exclusio alterius," petitioner alleges that since salaries, personnel-related benefits and scholarship grants are not among those authorized as lawful expenditures of the SEF under the Local Government Code, they should be deemed excluded therefrom.
Moreover, petitioner claims that since what is allowed for local school boards to determine under Section 995 of the Local Government Code is only the "annual supplementary budgetary needs; for the operation and maintenance of public schools," as well as the "supplementary local cost to meet such needs," the budget of the local school boards for the establishment and maintenance of extension classes should be construed to refer only to the upkeep and maintenance of public school building, facilities and similar expenses other than personnel-related benefits. This is because, petitioner argued, the maintenance and operation of public schools pertain principally to the DECS.
The contentions are without merit. It is a basic precept in statutory construction that the intent of the legislature is the controlling factor in the interpretation of a statute.6 In this connection, the following portions of the deliberations of the Senate on the second reading of the Local Government Code on July 30, 1990 are significant:
Similarly instructive are the foregoing deliberations in the House of Representatives on August 16, 1990:
Undoubtedly, the aforecited exchange of views clearly demonstrates that the legislature intended the SEF to answer for the compensation of teachers handling extension classes.
Furthermore, the pertinent portion of the repealing clause of the Local Government Code, provides:
Evidently, what was expressly repealed by the Local Government Code was only Section 3, of R.A. No. 5447, which deals with the "Allocation of taxes on Virginia type cigarettes and duties on imported leaf tobacco." The legislature is presumed to know the existing laws, such that whenever it intends to repeal a particular or specific provision of law, it does so expressly. The failure to add a specific repealing clause particularly mentioning the statute to be repealed indicates that the intent was not to repeal any existing law on the matter, unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exists in the terms of the new and the old laws.7 Hence, the provisions allocating funds for the salaries of teachers under Section 1, of R.A. No. 5447, which are not inconsistent with Sections 272 and 100 (c) of the Local Government Code, remain in force and effect.
Even under the doctrine of necessary implication, the allocation of the SEF for the establishment and maintenance of extension classes logically implies the hiring of teachers who should, as a matter of course be compensated for their services. 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.8 Verily, the services and the corresponding compensation of these teachers are necessary and indispensable to the establishment and maintenance of extension classes.
Indeed, the operation and maintenance of public schools is lodged principally with the DECS. This is the reason why only salaries of public school teachers appointed in connection with the establishment and maintenance of extension classes, inter alia, pertain to the supplementary budget of the local school boards. Thus, it should be made clear that not every kind of personnel-related benefits of public school teachers may be charged to the SEF. The SEF may be expended only for the salaries and personnel-related benefits of teachers appointed by the local school boards in connection with the establishment and maintenance of extension classes. Extension classes as referred to mean additional classes needed to accommodate all children of school age desiring to enter in public schools to acquire basic education.9
With respect, however, to college scholarship grants, a reading of the pertinent laws of the Local Government Code reveals that said grants are not among the projects for which the proceeds of the SEF may be appropriated. It should be noted that Sections 100 (c) and 272 of the Local Government Code substantially reproduced Section 1, of R.A. No. 5447. But, unlike payment of salaries of teachers which falls within the ambit of "establishment and maintenance of extension classes" and "operation and maintenance of public schools," the "granting of government scholarship to poor but deserving students" was omitted in Sections 100 (c) and 272 of the Local Government Code. Casus omissus pro omisso habendus est. A person, object, or thing omitted from an enumeration in a statute must be held to have been omitted intentionally. It is not for this Court to supply such grant of scholarship where the legislature has omitted it.10
In the same vein, however noble the intention of the province in extending said scholarship to deserving students, we cannot apply the doctrine of necessary implication inasmuch as the grant of scholarship is neither necessary nor indispensable to the operation and maintenance of public schools. Instead, such scholarship grants may be charged to the General Funds of the province.
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 6311 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a petition for declaratory relief may be filed before there is a breach or violation. The Solicitor General claims that the Notices of Suspension issued by the COA to the respondent province amounted to a breach or violation, and therefore, the petition for declaratory relief should have been denied by the trial court.
We are not convinced. As held in Shell Company of the Philippines, Ltd. v. Municipality of Sipocot,12 my breach of the statute subject of the controversy will not affect the case; the action for declaratory relief will prosper because the applicability of the statute in question to future transactions still remains to be resolved. Absent a definite ruling in the instant case for declaratory relief, doubts as to the disposition of the SEF will persist. Hence, the trial court did not err in giving due course to the petition for declaratory relief filed by the province of Cebu.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 20, in Civil Case No. CEB-24422, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The salaries and personnel-related benefits of the teachers appointed by the provincial school board of Cebu in connection with the establishment and maintenance of extension classes, are declared chargeable against the Special Education Fund of the province. However, the expenses incurred by the provincial government for the college scholarship grants should not be charged against the Special Education Fund, but against the General Funds of the province of Cebu.
Davide, Jr., C. J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, De Leon, Jr., Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio, JJ., concur.
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