DOJ OPINION NO. 081, s. 1991
May 7, 1991
Secretary Benjamin T. Leong
Department of Agrarian Reform
Diliman, Quezon City
S i r :
This has reference to you request for opinion regarding the "Land Asset Swap Scheme" as a new mode of payment for lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program ("CARP").
You state that the aforesaid scheme involves the exchange of private lands with government assets administered by the Asset Privatization Trust; and that this method, which is based upon Section 18 of R.A. No. 6657, would be advantageous to the government as it will hasten land acquisition, while minimizing cash outlay.
You further state that Commission on Audit Circular No. 89-296 prescribes the audit guidelines as to the divestment or disposal of government assets, and which. among others, prescribes public auction as a mode for disposal/divestment thereof; that landowners have clamored that the public auction requirement enter the said circular be dispense with to make the scheme effective; and that you Office intends to formulate guidelines to this effect, subject to PARC approval.
You now wish opinion, we take it, on the legal propriety of adopting the abovementioned guidelines on the "Land Asset Swap Scheme", in the light of their "perceived conflict" with the abovecited COA Circular on the need of public bidding.
We deeply regret our inability to express our views on this matter. Any opinion herein would require an interpretation of the subject COA circular or even pass upon its validity. Pursuant to settled precedents however, this Department has consistently declined opinions on issues regarding the application or interpretation of the administrative circulars or registrations of another office or agency (Secretary of Justice Opn. No. 160, s. 1988) or on queries involving the examination of the legal propriety of such issuance, unless upon the request of said office or agency (Secretary of Justice Opn. No. 22, s. 1977; No. 96, s. 1981; and Nos. 9 and 11, s. 1987). This is especially true in this case where the circular involved was issued by the COA, which is an independent constitutional body and over the official actuations of which this Department has no revisory authority (Id., No. 21, s. 1974; No. 32., s. 1978; No. 28, s. 1981; and No. 141, s. 1987).
We suggest that the instant matter be taken up with the Commission on Audit.
Very truly yours,
FRANKLIN M. DRILON