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Noblejas v.


Plaintif: Antonio Noblejas, as Commissioner of Land Registration

Respondents: Claudio Teehankee, as Secretary of Justice and Rafael Salas, as Executive


Concept: Separation of Powers


March 7 1968: Teehankee, in his office as the Secretary of Justice, sent a letter to Noblejas
asking him to explain anomalies in the approval of subdivision plans, noting that the same
had approved plans had greater land areas than the deeds covered by their titles.

In his response, Noblejas cited RA 1151, which created the position he was then holding
(that of Commissioner of Land Registration). Section 2 of said law declared that the
Commissioner is entitled to the same compensation, emoluments and privileges as a
Judge of the CFI. He further cited the appropriation laws (RA 4642, 4356 and 5170), which
likewise declared the Commissioner enjoys the rank and privileges of a district judge.
Noblejas reasoned that since the above laws show his position should be treated as a
judges would, the Judiciary Acts declaration that district judges can only be investigated
and sanctioned by the Supreme Court extends to his position. In sum, he argues that his
office is outside the purview of the Executive, and therefore he need not respond to
Teehankees investigation

On March 17, the Executive Secretary, by the authority of the President, suspended him.
(yowch) Noblejas now turns to the Supreme Court to defend his claim.


WON the Office of the Commissioner of Land Registration may only be

investigated by the Supreme Court. (NO)


1. Sec. 67 of the Judiciary Act, which places District Judges solely under the
investigative powers of the SC, uses very specific language in doing so No District
Judge shall be separated or removed from office Nowhere does it mention the
office of the Commissioner of Land Registration, and Noblejas likewise failed to
prove that his office was under the judiciary at all.
2. To allow his argument to stand would be to confer the same right to many other
offices that use similar language in determining the salary and privileges of its
members. Allowing it would place all these offices under the disciplinary purview of
the SC alone. This creates an absurdity since the offices are mostly executive, and
expressly under the control of the President.
3. There are some offices that expressly provide that the removal must follow the
same vein as that of a District Judge, such as Judges in the Court of Agrarian
Relations and Court of Tax Appeals. Thus, when the legislative intent is to include
an office under the supervision of the SC, it must be expressly provided.
4. (This is the main one) Even if the legislative intended to include in the general
grant of privileges the exclusive control of the SC, the same would have to be
struck down for being unconstitutional for violating the separation of powers
doctrine. This is because doing so charges this court with the administrative
function of supervisory control over executive officials, and simultaneously
reducing pro tanto the control of the Chief Executive over such officials.
5. Noblejas cites a function of his office that allows him to arbitrate disputes in the
Registry of Deeds. He notes that his decision is appealable to the SC, as such; his
office can be considered judiciary in nature. However, this function is only a
minimal portion of his office.