The Supreme Court (SC) has recommended remedial measures that the Commission on Audit (COA) may adopt in cases where COA fails to act, within the mandatory 60-day review period, on government agencies’ requests for authority to hire private lawyers.
In a 31-page decision, the SC through Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier granted the petition for affirmative relief under Rule 65 filed by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. to overturn the COA’s denial of PSALM’s request to engage private lawyers for the privatization of generation assets of the National Power Corp. (NPC).
With the ruling, the SC also directed COA to allow payment of the total compensation due the private lawyers hired by PSALM.
The controversy stemmed from PSALM’s request on May 9, 2011 for approval from the COA and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) as prior requirements for the agency’s engagement of private legal advisors on the NPC privatization projects.
PSALM also asked that the request be released on or before May 30, 2011 as the hiring of the legal advisors was urgently needed. The OGCC approved the engagement on May 31, 2011. PSALM waited for notice from COA but to no avail. After more than three months with no word from COA, PSALM proceeded to hire the legal advisors on August 29, 2011.