LEGAL NOTE 0026-C: EXCEPTION TO THE RULE THAT CONTRACTOR MUST FIRST COMPLY WITH PD 1445 (GOVT AUDITING CODE) BEFORE IT CAN BE PAID.

SOURCE: GREGORIO R. VIGILAR, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS (DPWH), DPWH UNDERSECRETARIES TEODORO E. ENCARNACION AND EDMUNDO E. ENCARNACION AND EDMUNDO V. MIR, DPWH ASSISTANT SECRETARY JOEL L. ALTEA, DPWH REGIONAL DIRECTOR VICENTE B. LOPEZ, DPWH DISTRICT ENGINEER ANGELITO M. TWAÑO, FELIX A. DESIERTO OF THE TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP VALIDATION AND AUDITING TEAM, AND LEONARDO ALVARO, ROMEO N. SUPAN, VICTORINO C. SANTOS OF THE DPWH PAMPANGA 2ND ENGINEERING DISTRICT VS. ARNULFO D. AQUINO (G.R. No. 180388, 18 JANUARY 2011, SERENO, J.) SUBJECTS: EXCEPTION TO EXHAUSTION OF ADMIN REMEDIES; GOVT IMMUNITY FROM SUIT NOT APPLIED. (BRIEF TITLE: VIGILAR ET AL VS. AQUINO)

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AQUINO FILED COLLECTION CASE AGAINST DPWH. DPWH  ARGUES THAT AQUINO FAILED TO COMPLY WITH PD 1445. IS DPWH CORRECT?

NO.

SC RULED THAT EVEN IF AQUINO  VIOLATED PD 1445, STILL EQUITY AND PUBLIC INTEREST DEMAND THAT AQUINO BE PAID.

 Said the Court:

Secondly, in ordering the payment of the obligation due respondent on a quantum meruit basis, the Court of Appeals correctly relied on Royal Trust Corporation v. COA,[2][10] Eslao v. COA,[3][11] Melchor v. COA,[4][12] EPG Construction Company v. Vigilar,[5][13] and Department of Health v. C.V. Canchela & Associates, Architects.[6][14] All these cases involved government projects undertaken in violation of the relevant laws, rules and regulations covering public bidding, budget appropriations, and release of funds for the projects. Consistently in these cases, this Court has held that the contracts were void for failing to meet the requirements mandated by law; public interest and equity, however, dictate that the contractor should be compensated for services rendered and work done.

Specifically, C.V. Canchela & Associates is similar to the case at bar, in that the contracts involved in both cases failed to comply with the relevant provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1445 and the Revised Administrative Code of 1987. Nevertheless, “(t)he illegality of the subject Agreements proceeds, it bears emphasis, from an express declaration or prohibition by law, not from any intrinsic illegality.  As such, the Agreements are not illegal per se, and the party claiming thereunder may recover what had been paid or delivered.”[7][15]

The government project involved in this case, the construction of a dike, was completed way back on 9 July 1992. For almost two decades, the public and the government benefitted from the work done by respondent. Thus, the Court of Appeals was correct in applying Eslao to the present case. In Eslao, this Court stated:

…the Court finds that the contractor should be duly compensated for services rendered, which were for the benefit of the general public. To deny the payment to the contractor of the two buildings which are almost fully completed and presently occupied by the university would be to allow the government to unjustly enrich itself at the expense of another. Justice and equity demand compensation on the basis of quantum meruit. (Emphasis supplied.)