THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has advised the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Local Waterworks and Utilities Administration (LWUA) on the road right of way (RROW) and cost of relocation affected by road widening projects.
In his 4-page legal opinion issued on May 18, 2023, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said while the LWUA is an attached agency of DPWH, the latter doesn’t have control over the former.
“We advise that DPWH has to enter into a MOA with LWUA on the RROW and the cost of relocation, among others… Stated differently, any party may enter into a MOA, regardless of whether a party is an attached agency of another party,” the DOJ said.
The DOJ issued the legal opinion upon the request of DPWH Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan in order to settle the issue on the claim for compensation of local water districts (LWDs).
The DPWH noted that the LWUA and the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) initially drafted and proposed a MOA to the department to address the issue of RROW and cost of relocation of water district facilities affected by widening projects.
Specifically, the DPWH is asking 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.
Serve as guidance
LIKEWISE, the DPWH asked the justice department whether or not local water district agencies are entitled to compensation in instances when a need for a relocation of water pipelines occurs.
If local water districts (LWDs) should be compensated, the DPWH asked the DOJ on the necessary mode and means of payments under the existing rules of the Commission on Audit (COA).
Lastly, the DPWH asked the DOJ’s guidance on whether or not the compensation for LWDs can be derived from the right of way funds of the department.
The DPWH noted that the LWUA and the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) initially drafted and proposed a MOA to the department to address the issue of RROW and cost of relocation of water district facilities affected by road widening projects.
In response, the DOJ noted that in its Opinion 098 issued in 1988, it held that the “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 added.
However, 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 on 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. Pursuant to its mandate the DBM shall be responsible for the efficient and effective utilization of government funds and revenues,” the DOJ said.