GR No. 112497, August 4, 1994
Pursuant to Section 187 of the Local Government Code, the Secretary of Justice had, on appeal to him of four oil companies and a taxpayer, declared Ordinance No. 7794, otherwise known as the Manila Revenue Code, null and void for non-compliance with the prescribed procedure in the enactment of tax ordinances and for containing certain provisions contrary to law and public policy.
In a petition for certiorari filed by the City of Manila, the Regional Trial Court of Manila revoked the Secretary’s resolution and sustained the ordinance, holding inter alia that the procedural requirements had been observed. More importantly, it declared Section 187 of the Local Government Code as unconstitutional because of its vesture in the Secretary of Justice of the power of control over local governments in violation of the policy of local autonomy mandated in the Constitution and of the specific provision therein conferring on the President of the Philippines only the power of supervision over local governments. The court cited the familiar distinction between control and supervision, the first being “the power of an officer to alter or modify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for the latter,” while the second is “the power of a superior officer to see to it that lower officers perform their functions is accordance with law.”
The issues in this case are
(1) whether or not Section 187 of the Local Government Code is unconstitutional; and
(2) whether or not the Secretary of Justice can exercise control, rather than supervision, over the local government
The judgment of the lower court is reversed in so far as its declaration that Section 187 of the Local Government Code is unconstitutional but affirmed the said lower court’s finding that the procedural requirements in the enactment of the Manila Revenue Code have been observed.
Section 187 authorizes the Secretary of Justice to review only the constitutionality or legality of the tax ordinance and, if warranted, to revoke it on either or both of these grounds. When he alters or modifies or sets aside a tax ordinance, he is not also permitted to substitute his own judgment for the judgment of the local government that enacted the measure. Secretary Drilon did set aside the Manila Revenue Code, but he did not replace it with his own version of what the Code should be.
An officer in control lays down the rules in the doing of an act. It they are not followed, he may, in his discretion, order the act undone or re-done by his subordinate or he may even decide to do it himself. Supervision does not cover such authority. The supervisor or superintendent merely sees to it that the rules are followed, but he himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have the discretion to modify or replace them. In the opinion of the Court, Secretary Drilon did precisely this, and no more nor less than this, and so performed an act not of control but of mere supervision.
Regarding the issue on the non-compliance with the prescribed procedure in the enactment of the Manila Revenue Code, the Court carefully examined every exhibit and agree with the trial court that the procedural requirements have indeed been observed. The only exceptions are the posting of the ordinance as approved but this omission does not affect its validity, considering that its publication in three successive issues of a newspaper of general circulation will satisfy due process.