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Limbona vs.

GR No. 80391 28 February 1989

Facts: Petitioner, Sultan Alimbusar Limbona, was elected Speaker of the

Regional Legislative Assembly or Batasang Pampook of Central Mindanao
(Assembly). On October 21, 1987 Congressman Datu Guimid Matalam,
Chairman of the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of
Representatives, invited petitioner in his capacity as Speaker of the
Assembly of Region XII in a consultation/dialogue with local government
officials. Petitioner accepted the invitation and informed the Assembly
members through the Assembly Secretary that there shall be no session in
November as his presence was needed in the house committee hearing of
Congress. However, on November 2, 1987, the Assembly held a session in
defiance of the Limbona's advice, where he was unseated from his position.
Petitioner prays that the session's proceedings be declared null and void and
be it declared that he was still the Speaker of the Assembly. Pending further
proceedings of the case, the SC received a resolution from the Assembly
expressly expelling petitioner's membership therefrom. Respondents argue
that petitioner had "filed a case before the Supreme Court against some
members of the Assembly on a question which should have been resolved
within the confines of the Assembly," for which the respondents now submit
that the petition had become "moot and academic" because its resolution.

Issue: Whether or not the courts of law have jurisdiction over the
autonomous governments or regions. What is the extent of self-government
given to the autonomous governments of Region XII?

Held: Autonomy is either decentralization of administration or

decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when
the central government delegates administrative powers to political
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the
process to make local governments "more responsive and accountable". At
the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing
local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The
President exercises "general supervision" over them, but only to "ensure
that local affairs are administered according to law." He has no control over
their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of
political power in the favor of local governments units declared to be
autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its
own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central

This case involves the application of a most important constitutional policy

and principle, that of local autonomy. We have to obey the clear mandate on
local autonomy.

Where a law is capable of two interpretations, one in favor of centralized

power in Malacañang and the other beneficial to local autonomy, the scales
must be weighed in favor of autonomy.

Upon the facts presented, we hold that the November 2 and 5, 1987
sessions were invalid. It is true that under Section 31 of the Region XII
Sanggunian Rules, "[s]essions shall not be suspended or adjourned except
by direction of the Sangguniang Pampook". But while this opinion is in
accord with the respondents' own, we still invalidate the twin sessions in
question, since at the time the petitioner called the "recess," it was not a
settled matter whether or not he could do so Also, assuming that a valid
recess could not be called, it does not appear that the respondents called his
attention to this mistake. What appears is that instead, they opened the
sessions themselves behind his back in an apparent act of mutiny. Under the
circumstances, we find equity on his side. For this reason, we uphold the
"recess" called on the ground of good faith.


In 1997, President Ramos issued AO 372 which: (1) required all government departments and
agencies, including SUCs, GOCCs and LGUs to identify and implement measures in FY 1998
that will reduce total expenditures for the year by at least 25% of authorized regular
appropriations for non-personal services items (Section 1) and (2) ordered the withholding of
10% of the IRA to LGUs (Section 4) . On 10 December 1998, President Estrada issued AO 43,
reducing to 5% the amount of IRA to be withheld from LGU.


1. Whether or not the president committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering all LGUS to
adopt a 25% cost reduction program in violation of the LGU'S fiscal autonomy

2. Whether Section 4 of the same issuance, which withholds 10 percent of their internal revenue
allotments, are valid exercises of the President's power of general supervision over local


1. Section 1 of AO 372 does not violate local fiscal autonomy. Local fiscal autonomy does not
rule out any manner of national government intervention by way of supervision, in order to
ensure that local programs, fiscal and otherwise, are consistent with national goals.
Significantly, the President, by constitutional fiat, is the head of the economic and planning
agency of the government, primarily responsible for formulating and implementing continuing,
coordinated and integrated social and economic policies, plans and programs for the entire
country. However, under the Constitution, the formulation and the implementation of such
policies and programs are subject to "consultations with the appropriate public agencies, various
private sectors, and local government units." The President cannot do so unilaterally.

AO 372, however, is merely directory and has been issued by the President consistent with his
power of supervision over local governments. It is intended only to advise all government
agencies and instrumentalities to undertake cost-reduction measures that will help maintain
economic stability in the country, which is facing economic difficulties. Besides, it does not
contain any sanction in case of noncompliance. Being merely an advisory, therefore, Section 1
of AO 372 is well within the powers of the President. Since it is not a mandatory imposition, the
directive cannot be characterized as an exercise of the power of control.

2. Section 4 of AO 372 cannot be upheld. A basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is

the automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the national internal revenue. This is mandated
by no less than the Constitution. The Local Government Code specifies further that the release
shall be made directly to the LGU concerned within five (5) days after every quarter of the year
and "shall not be subject to any lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national
government for whatever purpose." As a rule, the term "shall" is a word of command that must
be given a compulsory meaning. The provision is, therefore, imperative. (Pimentel vs.
Aguirre, G.R. No. 132988, July 19, 2000)