The Commission on Audit recently issued a notice of disallowance to the grant of educational/financialÂ assistance of P5,000 each to barangay personnel, which was intended to assist them in paying tuition fees.
The CoA cited this as not allowable being one for private purpose, a violation of the local government code that prohibits money to be spent for private purposes.
Not comfortable with this CoA position, I was asked to give a contrary position.
We beg to the disagree to the CoA disallowance.
The 1987 constitution has accorded great emphasis in promoting the rights of our youth to education, stating that the state shall protect and promote the rights of all citizens to quality education at all levels (Article XIV, Section 1).
The grant of educational allowances to government personnel in the barangayÂ is a measure of police power to promote the general welfare,Â not only to advance the goals of our Constitution on education, but also to allow our government servants some breathing space in their economic concerns, to assist them as they struggle to provide quality education for their children. With this assistance, it would translate to making barangay personnel for effective and efficient in their service.
There is nothing privateÂ in the purpose of giving assistance in order to promote the goals of our Constitution, particularly in seeking to provide quality education among our children.
The fact that it was an assistance merely to government personnel does not convert the purpose into a private one, in the same manner that government personnel are granted regular economic and financial assistanceÂ to alleviate their economic situation, and to enhance their productivity levels at work.
We are aware of the long standingÂ â€œchild-benefitâ€ theory where public money can legally be used to benefit school children.
Under this â€œchild-benefitâ€ theory the use of public money has been upheld when used to support transportation of school children to schools, enabling students to buy textbooks, buying textbooks to be lent free of charge, purchase textbooks, provide standard tests, among others.
TheseÂ and other benefits to school childrenÂ have been firmly validated by jurisprudence such as Everson v Board of Education (330 US 1, 1947), Cochran v Board of Education (282 US 370, 1930), and Wolman v Walter (433 US 229, 1971), among others.
The passing of such resolution granting economic assistance to government personnel in the barangay is firmly sanctioned under the general welfare clause of R.A. 7160, the local government code, which grants in Section 16 that â€œevery local government unit shall exercise powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to theÂ promotion of the general welfare.â€
Granting economic assistance to support the education of children, in the hope that these children would become productive citizens in the future, does not,Â by a long stretch of a mile, constitute a purpose that is private.