Court decision ordering UP to pay private firm P16M annulledBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has annulled a decision by a lower court that ordered the University of the Philippines to pay a private corporation P16 million for a renovation job it did in the university.
In a 35-page decision released to the media on Monday, the high court, through Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, reminded lower courts that they should not immediately issue writs of execution or garnishment against the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities to enforce money judgments.
“They should bear in mind that the primary jurisdiction to examine, audit, and settle all claims of any sort from the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities pertains to the Commission on Audit pursuant to Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines,” the high court said.
The UP took the case to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 80 that ordered the use of UP funds to pay Stern Builders Corporation P16, 370,191.74 for the construction and renovation of the College of Arts and Sciences Building at UP Los Baños.
In its decision reversing the lower court’s and the appeals court’s ruling, the high court explained that UP is a government instrumentality…and all its funds including bank deposits are considered special trust fund the disbursement of which must be… subject to auditing by the COA.
It stressed that COA must rule on the claim of Stern Builders before payment should be made as stated under PD1445.
The high court added that the lower court’s ruling cannot be considered final because the copy of the decision denying the appeal of UP was not served to its counsel on record. As a result, the UP has been given another 15 days within which to appeal the lower court’s ruling.
The high court also ordered Stern Builders to redeposit the P16 million to UP within 10 days upon receipt of its decision.