The Department of Justice issued an opinion that the Department of Public Works and Highways should enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Local Waterworks and Utilities Administration involving the road right-of-way (RROW) and cost of relocation for water district facilities affected by road widening projects.
In a four-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remullasaid that while LWUA is an attached agency of DPWH, the latter does not have control over the former.
The DOJ issued the legal opinion upon the request of DPWH SecretaryManuel Bonoan in order to settle the issue on the claim for compensation of local water districts (LWDs).
The DPWH said the LWUA and the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) initially drafted and proposed an MOA to the department to address the issue of RROW and the cost of relocation of water district facilities affected by road widening projects.
In particular, the DPWH asked the DOJ whether or not it is necessary for the department to enter into a MOA with LWUA considering that the latter is an attached agency of the DPWH.
It also asked the justice department whether or not local water district agencies are entitled to compensation in instances when a need for relocation of water pipelines occurs.
If local water districts should be compensated, the DPWH asked the DOJ about the necessary mode and means of payment under the existing rules of the Commission on Audit (COA).
Lastly, the DPWH asked the DOJ’s guidance on whether or not thecompensation for LWDs can be derived from the right-of-way funds of the department.
In response, the DOJ noted that in its Opinion No. 098 issued in 1988, it held that “DPWH shall bear the expenses only for serviceable pipes/sewers affected DPWH infra projects.”
“This opinion may serve as guidance that in the event of relocation of affected water and sewer facilities, the DPWH may bear the cost of relocation, and may therefore, accept the proposal from PAWD under Section 2 of the MOA,” it pointed out.
But the DOJ deferred to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as to DPWH’s queries pertaining to the allowable mode and means of payments and whether or not the compensation can be derived for ROW funds of the department.
“We regret that we cannot issue an opinion thereon as the matter falls within the ambit of the Department of Budget and Management,” the DOJ said.