Power to Review

The local councils, just like its national counterpart, have the power to formulate law or ordinances. This power was granted by the Local Government Code of 1991 with limitations. The Sanggunian may enact ordinances for the good of its constituents but it cannot go beyond the limits stated in the Code. Conflicts between local ordinances and national laws have become common as local sanggunians assert their powers to enact legislation for the good of their people. Unfortunately, although their zeal is highly commendable national laws are still supreme and take precedence over local ordinances. How can it be known whether these local ordinances do not contravene national laws or even the Constitution? The Local Government Code provides for a mechanism to keep local laws in check: review by higher sanggunian. When a local ordinance is referred to a higher body, the latter reviews and makes a declaration whether the legislation is in harmony with existing laws.

Review of Ordinances

The Local Government Code of 1991 vests upon the sangguniang bayan, among others, the power to: Review all ordinances approved by the sangguniang barangay and executive orders issued by the punong barangay to determine whether these are within the scope of the prescribed powers of the sanggunian and of the punong barangay (LGC, Sec. 447, a,1,i). The same is provided in Sec. 468, a,1,i with respect to the power of the sangguniang panlalawigan. The ordinances of the sangguniang barangay are reviewed by the sangguniang bayan or panlungsod of where it is located. The ordinances of municipalities and component cities are also reviewed by the sangguniang panlalawigan. The review does not stop the implementation of the ordinance. In fact it can be imposed or implemented by the local executive while it is being reviewed by the higher sanggunian. If after the review, the higher sanggunian finds and declares that the ordinance enacted is not within the scope of the prescribed powers of the lower sanggunian, the local executive must immediately stop the implementation of the same otherwise he may be administratively liable.

Scope of the Review

Can the higher sanggunian disapprove the ordinance because it disagrees with the lower sanggunian? The review power is only to determine if the ordinance is within the scope of the prescribed powers of the lower sanggunian such as when it imposes a penalty which is higher than the maximum allowed by the local government code. In Moday vs Court of Appeals (24 June 2011) the municipality enacted a resolution authorising the mayor to initiate expropriation proceedings for a lot for the use of the municipal government. When it was reviewed by the sangguniang panlalawigan it was disapproved because it found that there are other lots of the land owner that can be purchased or expropriated. The mayor pursued the proceedings and owner set up the defence that the resolution was disapproved therefore the expropriation is invalid. The High Court ruled that the expropriation is valid because the sanggunian panlalawigan in reviewing the resolution cannot substitute its own wisdom with respect to what lot should be expropriated. Clearly, expropriating land is one of the powers granted to local government units by the Local Government Code of 1991 and the decision to expropriate is clearly within the prerogative of the sangguniang bayan. If the higher sanggunian will be allowed to substitute its own wisdom over that of the lower sanggunian then the latter will be deprived of its powers granted by the local government code.

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