DOJ OPINION NO. 080, s. 1992
June 18, 1992
Atty. Juan W. Moran
Associate Executive Trustee
Asset Privatization Trust
Makati, Metro Manila
S i r :
This has reference to your request for opinion on whether or not the rule on public bidding may be waived in favor of direct negotiation in the course of implementing land-asset swap deals under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
It appears that the land-asset swap scheme will be used in the disposition of the assets of the Bicolandia Sugar Development Corporation, of which there are several Bicol landowners who are interested in acquiring; and that in his letter to DAR Assistant Secretary Virgilio Cabezon dated April 1, 1992, Chairman Eufemio Domingo of the Commission on Audit stated, in relation to land-asset exchange transactions, that "since public bidding is a requirement of law, this Commission cannot waive the same".
It is informed that DAR Secretary Benjamin Leong has previously requested this Department its views on the guidelines of the land-asset swap scheme vis-a-vis the COA Circular No. 89-296 which, inter-alia, prescribes public bidding in the disposal of government assets. In Opn. No. 81, s. 1991, this Office said —
"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 regulations of another office or agency (Secretary of Justice Opn. No. 160, s. 19 88) or on queries involving the examination of the legal propriety of such issuances, unless upon the request of said office or agency (Secretary of Justice Opns. 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)."
There is now even more reason for this Department to desist from rendering any opinion on the abovesaid issue. As previously observed, the COA Chairman has definitely ruled that the requirement of public auction cannot be waived in the process of affecting land-asset swap transactions.
Accordingly, this Office deeply regrets its inability to favorably act on the instant request.
Very truly yours,
EDUARDO G. MONTENEGRO