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Joson v. Executive Secretary [G.R. No. 131255. May 20, 1998]

08 Aug

FACTS

Petitioner Governor Joson was filed a complaint before the Office of the President for barging violently into the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in the company of armed men. The case was endorsed to the DILG. For failure to file an answer after three (3) extensions, petitioner was declared in default and ordered the petitioner 60-day preventive suspension. Petitioner later “Motion to Conduct Formal Investigation”. DILG denied the motion declaring that the submission of position papers substantially complies with the requirements of procedural due process in administrative proceedings. Later, the Executive Secretary, by authority of the President, adopted the findings and recommendation of the DILG Secretary.  The former imposed on petitioner the penalty of suspension from office for six (6) months without pay.

ISSUES

Whether or not:

  • (a) Preventive suspension is proper;
  • (b) Procedural due process is violated;
  • (c) The resolution of DILG Secretary is invalid on the ground of undue delegation; that it is the President who is the Disciplining Authority, not the Secretary of DILG;

RULING

“(a) Yes. Preventive suspension may be imposed by the Disciplining Authority at any time (a) after the issues are joined; (b) when the evidence of guilt is strong; and (c) given the gravity of the offense, there is great probability that the respondent, who continues to hold office, could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence. The act of respondent in allegedly barging violently into the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in the company of armed men constitutes grave misconduct.  The allegations of complainants are bolstered by the joint-affidavit of two (2) employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  Respondent who is the chief executive of the province is in a position to influence the witnesses.  Further, the history of violent confrontational politics in the province dictates that extreme precautionary measures be taken.

“(b) Yes. The rejection of petitioner’s right to a formal investigation denied him procedural due process.  Section 5 of A. O. No. 23 provides that at the preliminary conference, the  Investigating Authority shall summon the parties to consider whether they desire a formal investigation.  This provision does not give the Investigating Authority the discretion to determine whether a formal investigation would be conducted.  The records show that petitioner filed a motion for formal investigation. There is nothing in the Local Government Code and its Implementing Rules and Regulations nor in A.O. No. 23 that provide that administrative cases against elective local officials can be decided on the basis of position papers.  A.O. No. 23 states that the Investigating Authority may require the parties to submit their respective memoranda but this is only after formal investigation and hearing.

“(c) No. The DILG resolution is valid. The President remains the Disciplining Authority.  What is delegated is the power to investigate, not the power to discipline. The power to discipline evidently includes the power to investigate.   As the Disciplining Authority, the President has the power derived from the Constitution itself to investigate complaints against local government officials.  A. O. No. 23, however, delegates the power to investigate to the DILG or a Special Investigating Committee, as may be constituted by the Disciplining Authority.  This is not undue delegation, contrary to petitioner Joson’s claim.

Under the doctrine of qualified political agency “…which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive.”

This doctrine is corollary to the control power of the President provided in the Constitution. Control is said to be the very heart of the power of the presidency. As head of the Executive Department, the President, however, may delegate some of his powers to the Cabinet members except when he is required by the Constitution to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he acts personally. The members of Cabinet may act for and in behalf of the President in certain matters because the President cannot be expected to exercise his control (and supervisory) powers personally all the time.   Each head of a department is, and must be, the President’s alter ego in the matters of that department where the President is required by law to exercise authority.

 

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