Press Release
August 14, 2020

Drilon to designated 'Big Brother' of LGUs: Observe constitutional principles of local and fiscal autonomy

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon reminded cabinet members, who are designated as "Big Brother" to select local government units, to observe constitutional principles of local and fiscal autonomy.

The phrase "Big Brother" was coined by author George Orwell in his 1949 fiction novel titled "1984".

"Is the 'Big Brother is watching us' the new normal?" Drilon said in a statement on Friday. The term "Big Brother" in the fiction novel "1984" refersthe supreme authority in a totalitarian society.

Drilon stressed that the Constitution vests the President with the power of supervision, not control, over LGUs.

"We cannot take away some powers or freedom in the name of war against COVID-19. The LGUs should be allowed to perform its functions with full autonomy," Drilon stressed.

"What we want to prevent here is overstepping of authority. There is a thin line that separates supervision and control. It is always a subject of overreach by the national government," he added.

In Pimentel v. Aguirre, Drilon said the Supreme Court explained that "(s)uch power enables (the President) to see to it that LGUs and their officials execute their tasks in accordance with law. While he may issue advisories and seek their cooperation in solving economic difficulties, he cannot prevent them from performing their tasks and using available resources to achieve their goals."

According to Drilon, a former justice secretary, supervision, as defined in administrative law, means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. Whereas, control means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter.

Section 4, Article X, of the Constitution states that "the President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision over local governments."

Section 17, Article VII, of the Constitution also provides that "the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices and ensure that the laws be faithfully executed."

Under these constitutional provisions, the President has been invested with the power of control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices, but not of all local governments over which he has been granted only the power of general supervision as may be provided by law, Drilon emphasized citing the decision of the Supreme Court in Mondaño v. Silvosa.

Drilon said that in accordance with Supreme Court rulings, cabinet secretaries as agent of the President does not have the same control of local governments as that exercised by them over bureaus and offices under their jurisdiction as provided for in the Revised Administrative Code.

"What they need is the full and timely support from the government so they can respond to the pandemic. Some LGUs, such as Pasig and Marikina, showed they can do that and I do not think they need a 'Big Brother' from the government to show them the best way to respond to the crisis. It might only slow the decision-making process," he concluded.

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