QC court dismisses civil case vs. Coloma, his Undersecretary

June 16, 2012 1:06 am 

By Lilybeth G. Izon

MANILA, June 15 — A Quezon City judge dismissed recently the civil case filed against Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. and his undersecretary by a taxpayer who asked the court to halt the operations of a government-owned and managed printing company.

Judge Evangeline C. Castillo-Marigomen of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 101, dismissed the petition on May 9, 2012.

Judge Castillo-Marigomen said the petition filed by Richard G. Oderon has no ground to convince the court to resolve the case against Secretary Coloma and his co-respondent Undersecretary Eduardo C. Visperas.

In filing the petition for prohibition and mandamus in Civil Case No. Q-11-69389, Oderon represented himself as a taxpayer and not as an employee of the National Printing Office (NPO).

He claimed in his suit that the Filipino taxpayer is the loser with the continued operations of APO Production Unit, which has been printing security and accountable forms for government.

APO is explicitly categorized as a government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) by virtue of Republic Act No. 10147, otherwise known as "An Act to Promote Financial Viability and Fiscal Discipline in Government-Owned or Controlled Corporation and to Strengthen the Role of the State in its Governance and Management to Make Them Responsive to the Needs of Public Interest and for Other Purposes." The said Act was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III last June 6, 2011.

On December 7, 2010, Republic Act No. 10147 of the 2011 General Appropriation Act (GAA) was signed into law by President Aquino, recognizing and including APO, along with NPO and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as one of the government's printing unit.

The petitioner said that APO is a private corporation since it was organized under Philippine Laws (Corporate Code of the Philippines). He further said it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, the respondents countered that the APO is a GOCC.

The court agreed with the argument of the respondents who claimed that APO, a non-stock corporation, is vested with the functions of printing security and accountable forms for government. As stipulated by the parties, APO is presently and directly under the control and supervision of the PCOO which is under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

"The APO is categorized and recognized as GOCC and as such is publicly accountable by being subjected to audit by the Commission on Audit," the court said.

The APO can legally solicit and accept jobs to print government accountable forms and sensitive high quality/volume printing requirements of the government, the court said in the decision.

"The petitioner has no legal standing to assail the constitutionality of RA 10147 as he has not established any direct injury that he has sustained or may sustain by reason of the assailed law. Neither has the petitioner established that public funds (derived from taxation) are being misspent or illegally disbursed," the court said.

"Although the instant petition is styled as a petition for certiorari, in essence, it seeks the declaration by the court of the unconstitutionality or illegality of the GAA. It thus partakes of the nature of a petition for declaratory relief," the court said. (PNA)

/CTB/PCOO/ssc

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