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VOL.

200, AUGUST 5, 1991 271 272 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 93252. August 5, 1991. * Constitution places the local governments under the general supervision of
RODOLFO T. GANZON, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF the Executive. It is noteworthy finally, that the Charter allows Congress to
APPEALS, and LUIS T. SANTOS, respondents. include in the local government code provisions for removal of local officials,
G.R. No. 93746. August 5, 1991. *
which suggest that Congress may exercise removal powers, and as the existing
Local Government Code has done, delegate its exercise to the President.
MARY ANN RIVERA ARTIEDA, petitioner, vs. HON. LUIS SANTOS, in
Same; Same; Supervision and control, meaning of.—The petitioners are
his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Local Government, under the impression that the Constitution has left the President mere
NICANOR M. PATRICIO, in his capacity as Chief, Legal Service of the supervisory powers, which supposedly excludes the power of investigation, and
Department of Local Government, and SALVADOR CABALUNA, JR., denied her control, which allegedly embraces disciplinary authority. It is a
respondents. mistaken impression because legally, “supervision” is not incompatible with
G.R. No. 95245. August 5, 1991. *
disciplinary authority. x x x “Control” has been defined as “the power of an officer
RODOLFO T. GANZON, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in
APPEALS, and LUIS T. SANTOS, in his capacity as the Secretary of the the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for
Department of Local Government, respondents. test of the latter.” “Supervision” on the other hand means “overseeing or the
Local Governments; Power to discipline local officials.—It is the considered power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their
opinion of the Court that notwithstanding the change in the constitutional duties.”
language, the charter did not intend to divest the legislature of its right—or the Same; Same; Suspension.—The successive sixty-day suspensions imposed
President of her prerogative as conferred by existing legislation to provide on Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon is albeit another matter. What bothers the Court, and
administrative sanctions against local officials. It is our opinion that the what indeed looms very large, is the fact that since the Mayor is facing ten
omission (of “as may be provided by law”) signifies nothing more than to administrative charges, the Mayor is in fact facing the possibility of 600 days of
underscore local governments ‘autonomy from congress and to break Congress’ suspension, in the event that all ten cases yield prima faciefindings. The Court
“control” over local governments affairs. The Constitution did not, however, is not of course tolerating misfeasance in public office (assuming that Mayor
intend, for the sake of local autonomy, to deprive the legislature of all authority Ganzon is guilty of misfeasance) but it is certainly another question to make him
over municipal corporations, in particular, concerning discipline. serve 600 days of suspension, which is effectively, to suspend him out of office. x
Same; Same; Local autonomy explained.—It is noteworthy that under the x x.
Charter, “local autonomy” is not instantly self-executing, but subject to, among Same; Same; Same.—The plain truth is that this Court has been ill at ease
other things, the passage of a local government code, a local tax law, income with suspensions, x x x because it is out of the ordinary to have a vacancy in
distribution legislation, and a national representation law, and measures local government. The sole objective of a suspension, x x x is simply “to prevent
designed to realize autonomy at the local level. It is also noteworthy that in spite the accused from hampering the normal cause of the investigation with his
of autonomy, the influence and authority over possible witnesses” or to keep him off “the records
and other evidence.” It is a means, and no more, to assist prosecutors in firming
_______________ up a case, if any, against an erring local official. Under the Local Government
Code, it can not exceed sixty days, which is to say that it need not be exactly
* EN BANC. sixty days long if a shorter period is otherwise sufficient, and which is also to
say that it ought to be lifted if prosecutors have achieved their purpose in a
shorter span.
273

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VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 273 274 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
make matters worse, a utility worker in the office of the Public Services, whose
PETITIONS to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. duties are alien to the complainant’s duties and functions, has been detailed to
take her place. The petitioner’s act are pure harassments aimed at luring her
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. away from her permanent position or force her to resign.
Nicolas P. Sonalan for petitioner in 93252. In the case of Dra. Felicidad Ortigoza, she claims that the petitioner
Romeo A. Gerochi for petitioner in 93746. handpicked her to perform task not befitting her position as Assistant City
Eugenio Original for petitioner in 95245. Health Officer of Iloilo City; that her office was padlocked without any
explanation or justification; that her salary was withheld without cause since
SARMIENTO, J.: The petitioners take common issue on the power of April 1, 1988; that when she filed her vacation leave, she was given the run-
the President (acting through the Secretary of Local Government), to around treatment in the approval of her leave in connivance with Dr. Rodolfo
suspend and/or remove local officials. Villegas and that she was the object of a well-engineered trumped-up charge in
an administrative complaint filed by Dr. Rodolfo Villegas (Annex B).
The petitioners are the Mayor of Iloilo City (G.R. Nos. 93252 and On the other hand, Mansuelo Malabor is the duty elected ViceMayor of Iloilo
City and complainants Rolando Dabao, Dan Dalido, German Gonzales, Larry
95245) and a member of the Sangguniang Panglunsod thereof (G.R. No.
Ong and Eduardo Peña Redondo are members of the Sangguniang Panglunsod
93746), respectively. of the City of Iloilo. Their complaint arose out from the case where Councilor
The petitions of Mayor Ganzon originated from a series of Larry Ong, whose key to his office was unceremoniously and without previous
administrative complaints, ten in number, filed against him by various notice, taken by petitioner. Without an office, Councilor Ong had to hold office
city officials sometime in 1988, on various charges, among them, abuse at Plaza Libertad. The Vice-Mayor and the other complainants sympathized
of authority, oppression, grave misconduct, disgraceful and immoral with him and decided to do the same. However, the petitioner, together with his
conduct, intimidation, culpable violation of the Constitution, and fully-armed security men, forcefully drove them away from Plaza Libertad.
arbitrary detention. The personalities involved are Joceleehn Cabaluna,
1 Councilor Ong denounced the petitioner’s actuations the following day in the
a clerk at the city health office; Salvador Cabaluna, her husband; Dr. radio station and decided to hold office at the Freedom Grandstand at Iloilo City
Felicidad Ortigoza, Assistant City Health Officer; Mansueto Malabor, and there were so many people who gathered to witness the incident. However,
before the group could reach the area, the petitioner, together with his security
Vice-Mayor; Rolando Dabao, Dan Dalido, German Gonzales, Larry Ong,
men, led the firemen using a firetruck in dozing water to the people and the
and Eduardo Peña Redondo, members of the Sangguniang Panglunsod; bystanders.
and Pancho Erbite, a barangay tanod. The complaints against the Mayor Another administrative case was filed by Pancho Erbite, a barangay tanod,
are set forth in the opinion of the respondent Court of Appeals. We quote:
2
appointed by former mayor Rosa O. Caram. On March 13, 1988, without the
xxx xxx xxx benefit of charges filed against him and no warrant of arrest was issued, Erbite
In her verified complaint (Annex A), Mrs. Cabaluna, a clerk assigned to the was arrested and detained at the City Jail of Iloilo City upon orders of petitioner.
City Health, Office of Iloilo City charged that due to political reasons, having In jail, he was allegedly mauled by other detainees thereby causing injuries. He
supported the rival candidate, Mrs. Rosa O. Caram, the petitioner City Mayor, was released only the following day. 3

using as an excuse the exigency of the service and the interest of the public, The Mayor thereafter answered, and the cases were shortly
4

pulled her out from rightful office where her qualifications are best suited and
assigned her to a work that should be the function of a non-career service _______________
employee. To_______________
3Rollo, id., 76-77.
1 Rollo, G.R. No. 93252, 76; 77. 4Id., 77.
2 Hon. Bonifacio Cacdac, Jr., J.
275
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VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 275 276 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
set for hearing. The opinion of the Court of Appeals also set forth the The petitioner sought for another postponement on the ground that his
succeeding events: witnesses were sick or cannot attend the investigation due to lack of
xxx xxx xxx transportation. The motion was denied and the petitioner was given up to
The initial hearing in the Cabaluna and Ortigoza cases were set for hearing December 14, 1988 to present his evidence.
on June 20-21, 1988 at the Regional Office of the Department of Local On December 14, 1988, petitioner’s counsel insisted on his motion for
Government in Iloilo City. Notices, through telegrams, were sent to the parties postponement and the hearing officers gave petitioner up to December 15, 1988
(Annex L) and the parties received them, including the petitioner. The petitioner to present his evidence. On December 15, 1988, the petitioner failed to present
asked for a postponement before the scheduled date of hearing and was evidence and the cases were considered submitted for resolution.
represented by counsel, Atty. Samuel Castro. The hearing officers, Atty. In the meantime, a prima facie evidence was found to exist in the arbitrary
Salvador Quebral and Atty. Marino Bermudez had to come all the way from detention case filed by Pancho Erbite so the respondent ordered the petitioner’s
Manila for the two-day hearings but was actually held only on June 20, 1988 in second preventive suspension dated October 11, 1988 for another sixty (60) days.
view of the inability and unpreparedness of petitioner’s counsel. The petitioner was able to obtain a restraining order and a writ of preliminary
The next hearings were re-set to July 25, 26, 27, 1988 in the same venue— injunction in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 of Iloilo City. The second
Iloilo City. Again, the petitioner attempted to delay the proceedings and moved preventive suspension was not enforced. 5

for a postponement under the excuse that he had just hired his counsel. Amidst the two successive suspensions, Mayor Ganzon instituted an
Nonetheless, the hearing officers denied the motion to postpone, in view of the action for prohibition against the respondent Secretary of Local
fact that the parties were notified by telegrams of the scheduled hearings (Annex Government (now, Interior) in the Regional Trial Court, Iloilo City,
M). where he succeeded in obtaining a writ of preliminary injunction.
In the said hearings, petitioner’s counsel cross-examined the complainants Presently, he instituted CA-G.R. SP No. 16417, an action for prohibition,
and their witnesses. in the respondent Court of Appeals.
Finding probable grounds and reasons, the respondent issued a preventive
Meanwhile, on May 3, 1990, the respondent Secretary issued another
suspension order on August 11, 1988 to last until October 11, 1988 for a period
of sixty (60) days.
order, preventively suspending Mayor Ganzon for another sixty days, the
Then the next investigation was set on September 21, 1988 and the petitioner third time in twenty months, and designating meantime Vice-Mayor
again asked for a postponement to September 26, 1988. On September 26, 1988, Mansueto Malabor as acting mayor. Undaunted, Mayor Ganzon
the complainants and petitioner were present, together with their respective commenced CA-G.R. SP No. 20736 of the Court of Appeals, a petition for
counsel. The petitioner sought for a postponement which was denied. In these prohibition, (Malabor, it is to be noted, is one of the complainants, and
6

hearings which were held in Manila, the petitioner testified in Adm. Case No. hence, he is interested in seeing Mayor Ganzon ousted.)
C-10298 and 10299. On September 7, 1989, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment,
The investigation was continued regarding the Malabor case and the dismissing CA-G.R. SP No. 16417. On July 5, 1990, it likewise
complainants testified including their witnesses. promulgated a decision, dismissing CA-G.R. SP No. 20736. In a
On October 10, 1988, petitioner’s counsel, Atty. Original moved for a
Resolution dated January 24, 1990, it issued a
postponement of the October 24, 1988 hearing to November 7 to 11, 1988 which
was granted. However, the motion for change of venue was denied due to lack of _______________
funds. At the hearing on November 7, 1988, the parties and counsel were
present. Petitioner reiterated his motion to change venue and moved for 5 Id., 77-78.
postponement anew. The counsel discussed a proposal to take the deposition of 6 Id., 78. The first suspension was on the Cabaluna and Ortigoza complaints. CA-G.R. No.
witnesses in Iloilo City so the hearing was indefinitely postponed. However, the 16417 was on the Erbite complaint. CA-G.R. No. 20736 was a challenge on the designation of
parties failed to come to terms and after the parties were notified of the hearing, Vice-Mayor Malabor.
the investigation was set to December 13 to 15, 1988. 277
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VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 277 278 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
Resolution certifying the petition of Mary Ann Artieda, who had been unduly denied his request. 17

similary charged by the respondent Secretary, to this Court. Mayor Ganzon’s primary argument (G.R. Nos. 93252 and 95245) is
On June 26, 1990, we issued a Temporary Restraining Order, barring that the Secretary of Local Government is devoid, in any event, of any
the respondent Secretary from implementing the suspension orders, and authority to suspend and remove local officials, an argument reiterated
restraining the enforcement of the Court of Appeals’ two decisions. by the petitioner Mary Ann Rivera Artieda (G.R. No. 93746).
In our Resolution of November 29, 1990, we consolidated all three As to Mayor Ganzon’s charges of denial of due process, the records do
cases. In our Resolutions of January 15, 1991, we gave due course not show very clearly in what manner the Mayor might have been
thereto. deprived of his rights by the respondent Secretary. His claims that he
Mayor Ganzon claims as a preliminary (G.R. No. 93252), that the and Secretary Luis Santos were (are) political rivals and that his
Department of Local Government in hearing the ten cases against him, “persecution” was politically motivated are pure speculation and
had denied him due process of law and that the respondent Secretary had although the latter does not appear to have denied these contentions (as
been “biased, prejudicial and hostile” towards him arising from his 7
he, Mayor Ganzon, claims), we can not take his word for it the way we
(Mayor Ganzon’s) alleged refusal to join the Laban ng Demokratikong would have under less political circumstances, considering furthermore
Pilipino party and the running political rivalry they maintained in the
8
that “political feud” has often been a good excuse in contesting
last congressional and local elections; and his alleged refusal to operate
9
complaints.
a lottery in Iloilo City. He also alleges that he requested the Secretary
10
The Mayor has failed furthermore to substantiate his say-so’s that
to life his suspension since it had come ninety days prior to an election Secretary Santos had attempted to seduce him to join the administration
(the barangay elections of November 14, 1988), notwithstanding which,
11
party and to operate a lottery in Iloilo City. Again, although the Secretary
the latter proceeded with the hearing—and meted out two more failed to rebut his allegations, we can not accept them at face value, much
suspension orders—of the aforementioned cases. He likewise contends
12
more, as judicial admissions as he would have us accept them, for the 18

that he sought to bring the cases to Iloilo City (they were held in Manila) same reasons above-stated and furthermore, because his say-so’s were
in order to reduce the costs of proceeding, but the Secretary rejected his never corroborated by independent testimonies. As a responsible public
request. He states that he asked for postponement on “valid and
13
official, Secretary Santos, in pursuing an official function, is presumed to
justifiable” grounds, among them, that he was suffering from a heart
14
be performing his duties regularly and in the absence of contrary
ailment which required confinement; that his “vital” witness was also
15
evidence, no ill motive can be ascribed to him.
hospitalized but that the latter
16
As to Mayor Ganzon’s contention that he had requested the
respondent Secretary to defer the hearing on account of the ninety-day
_______________ ban prescribed by Section 62 of Batas Blg. 337, the Court finds the
7 Id., 21
question to be moot and academic since we have in fact restrained the
8 Id. Secretary from further hearing the complaints against the petitioners. 19

9 Id., 27.

10 Id., 28. _______________


11 Id., 30.

12 Id., 31-32.
17 Id., 38.
13 Id., 34-35.
18 Id.
14 Id., 36.
19 By virtue of the Temporary Restraining Order the Court issued on June 26, 1990.

15 Id.
279
16 Id.

278
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 279 280 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
As to his request, finally, for postponements, the Court is afraid that he Sec. 10. The President shall have control of all the executive departments,
has not given any compelling reason why we should overturn the Court bureaus, or offices, exercise general supervision over all local governments as
of Appeals, which found no convincing reason to overrule Secretary may be provided by law, and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. 23

Santos in denying his requests. Besides, postponements are a matter of The petitioners submit that the deletion (of “as may be provided by law”)
discretion on the part of the hearing officer, and based on Mayor is significant, as their argument goes, since: (1) the power of the
Ganzon’s above story, we are not convinced that the Secretary has been President is “provided by law” and (2) hence, no law may provide for it
guilty of a grave abuse of discretion. any longer. It is to be noted that in meting out the suspensions under
The Court can not say, under these circumstances, that Secretary question, the Secretary of Local Government acted in consonance with
Santos’ actuations deprived Mayor Ganzon of due process of law. the specific legal provisions of Batas Blg. 337, the Local Government
We come to the core question: Whether or not the Secretary of Local Code, we quote:
Government, as the President’s alter ego, can suspend and/or remove Sec. 62. Notice of Hearing.—Within seven days after the complaint is filed, the
Minister of Local Government, or thesanggunian concerned, as the case may be,
local officials.
shall require the respondent to submit his verified answer within seven days
It is the petitioners’ argument that the 1987 Constitution no longer 20

from receipt of said complaint, and commence the hearing and investigation of
allows the President, as the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions did, to exercise the case within ten days after receipt of such answer of the respondent. No
the power of suspension and/or removal over local officials. According to investigation shall be held within ninety days immediately prior to an election,
both petitioners, the Constitution is meant, first, to strengthen self-rule and no preventive suspension shall be imposed within the said period. If
by local government units and second, by deleting the phrase “as may be preventive suspension has been imposed prior to the aforesaid period, the
provided by law,” to strip the President of the power of control over local
21 preventive suspension shall be lifted.
24

governments. It is a view, so they contend, that finds support in the Sec. 63. Preventive Suspension.—(1) Preventive suspension may be imposed
debates of the Constitutional Commission. by the Minister of Local Government if the respondent is a provincial or city
The provision in question reads as follows: official, by the provincial governor if the respondent is an elective municipal
Sec. 4. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision over official, or by the city or municipal mayor if the respondent is an elective
local governments. Provinces with respect to component cities and barangay official.
municipalities, and cities and municipalities with respect to component (2) Preventive suspension may be imposed at any time after the issues are
barangays shall ensure that the acts of their component units are within the joined, when there is reasonable ground to believe that the respondent has
scope of their prescribed powers and functions. 22
committed the act or acts complained of, when the evidence of culpability is
strong, when the gravity of the offense so warrants, or when the continuance in
It modifies a counterpart provision appearing in the 1935 Constitution,
office of the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the
which we quote: safety and integrity of the records and other evidence. In all cases, preventive
suspension shall not extend beyond sixty days after the start of said suspension.
_______________
(3) At the expiration of sixty days, the suspended official shall be deemed
20 CONST., art. X, sec. 4. reinstated in office without prejudice to the continuation of
21 CONST. (1935), art. X, sec. 10(1). The 1973 Constitution contained no similar provision,
but see art. VII, sec. 18. _______________
22 CONST. (1987), supra.

280 23 CONST. (1935), supra.


24 Batas Blg. 337, sec. 62.
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VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 281 282 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
the proceedings against him until its termination. However, if the delay in the the passage of a local government code, a local tax law, income
27 28

proceedings of the case is due to his fault, neglect or request, the time of the distribution legislation, and a national representation law, and
29 30

delay shall not be counted in computing the time of suspension.25


measures designed to realize autonomy at the local level. It is also
31

The issue, as the Court understands it, consists of three questions: (1) noteworthy that in spite of autonomy, the Constitution places the local
Did the 1987 Constitution, in deleting the phrase “as may be provided by government under the general supervision of the Executive. It is
law” intend to divest the President of the power to investigate, suspend, noteworthy finally, that the Charter allows Congress to include in the
discipline, and/or remove local officials? (2) Has the Constitution local government code provisions for removal of local officials, which
repealed Sections 62 and 63 of the Local Government Code? (3) What is suggest that Congress may exercise removal powers, and as the existing
the significance of the change in the constitutional language? Local Government Code has done, delegate its exercise to the President.
It is the considered opinion of the Court that notwithstanding the Thus:
change in the constitutional language, the charter did not intend to Sec. 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for
divest the legislature of its right—or the President of her prerogative as a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted
conferred by existing legislation to provide administrative sanctions through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall,
against local officials. It is our opinion that the omission (of “as may be initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units
provided by law”) signifies nothing more than to underscore local their powers, responsibilities and resources, and provide for the qualifications,
governments’ autonomy from congress and to break Congress’ “control” election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and
over local government affairs. The Constitution did not, however, intend, duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and
operation of the local units.
for the sake of local autonomy, to deprive the legislature of all authority
32

As hereinabove indicated, the deletion of “as may be provided by law”


over municipal corporations, in particular, concerning discipline.
was meant to stress, sub silencio, the objective of the framers to
Autonomy does not, after all, contemplate making mini-states out of
strengthen local autonomy by severing congressional control of its
local government units, as in the federal governments of the United
affairs, as observed by the Court of Appeals, like the power of local
States of America (or Brazil or Germany), although Jefferson is said to
legislation. The Constitution did nothing more, however, and insofar as
have compared municipal corporations euphemistically to “small
33

existing legislation authorizes the President (through the Secretary of


republics”. Autonomy, in the constitutional sense, is subject to the
26

Local Government) to proceed against local officials administratively, the


guiding star, though not control, of the legislature, albeit the legislative
Constitution contains no prohibition.
responsibility under the Constitution—and as the “supervision clause”
itself suggest—is to wean local government units from overdependence _______________
on the central government.
It is noteworthy that under the Charter, “local autonomy” is not 27 CONST., supra, art. X, sec. 3.
instantly self-executing, but subject to, among other things, 28 Supra, secs. 5, 6.
29 Supra, sec. 7.

30 Supra, sec. 9.

_______________ 31 See supra, sec. 14, providing for regional development councils to be organized by the

President.
Supra, sec. 63.
25
32 Supra, sec. 3.

CRUZ, PHILIPPINE POLITICAL LAW 64 (1987 ed.)


26
33 G.R. No. 95245, id., 53; see Mendoza, J., Concurring.

282 283
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 283 284 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
The petitioners are under the impression that the Constitution has left an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties.” As we 37

the President mere supervisory powers, which supposedly excludes the held, however, “investigating” is not inconsistent with “overseeing”,
38

power of investigation, and denied her control, which allegedly embraces although it is a lesser power than “altering”.
disciplinary authority. It is a mistaken impression because legally, The impression is apparently exacerbated by the Court’s
“supervision” is not incompatible with disciplinary authority as this pronouncements in at least three cases, Lacson v. Roque, Hebron v. 39

Court has held, thus:


34
Reyes, and Mondano v. Silvosa, and possibly, a fourth one, Pelaez v.
40 41

xxx xxx xxx Auditor General. In Lacson, this Court said that the President enjoyed
42

It is true that in the case of Mondano vs. Silvosa, 51 Off. Gaz., No. 6 p. 2884, no control powers but only supervision “as may be provided by law,” a 43

this Court had occasion to discuss the scope and extent of the power of rule we reiterated in Hebron, and Mondano. In Pelaez, we stated that
supervision by the President over local government officials in contrast to the the President “may not . . . suspend an elective official of a regular
power of control given to him over executive officials of our government wherein
municipality or take any disciplinary action against him, except on
it was emphasized that the two terms, control and supervision, are two different
things which differ one from the other in meaning and extent. Thus in that case
appeal from a decision of the corresponding provincial board.” However,
44

the Court has made the following digression: “In administration law supervision neither Lacsonnor Hebron nor Mondano categorically banned the Chief
means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate Executive from exercising acts of disciplinary authority because she did
officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them the former not exercise control powers, but because no law allowed her to exercise
may take such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their disciplinary authority. Thus, according to Lacson:
duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or The contention that the President has inherent power to remove or suspend
modify or nullify of set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the municipal officers is without doubt not well taken. Removal and suspension of
performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that public officers are always controlled by the particular law applicable and its
of the latter.” But from this pronouncement it cannot be reasonably inferred that proper construction subject to constitutional limitations.
45

the power of supervision of the President over local government officials does In Hebron, we stated:
not include the power of investigation when in his opinion the good of the public Accordingly, when the procedure for the suspension of an officer is specified by
service so requires, as postulated in Section 64(c) of the Revised Administrative law, the same must be deemed mandatory and adhered to strictly, in the absence
Code. xxx 35
of express or clear provision to the
xxx xxx xxx
“Control” has been defined as “the power of an officer to alter or modify _______________
or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the 37 Supra, 147.
performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former 38 Ganzon v. Kayanan, supra.
for test of the latter.” “Supervision” on the other hand means “overseeing
36 39 92 Phil. 456 (1953).

40 104 Phil. 175 (1958).


or the power or authority of 41 Supra.

42 No. L-23825, December 24, 1965, 15 SCRA 569.

_______________ 43 Lacson v. Roque, supra, 463.

44 Pelaez v. Auditor General, supra, 583.

34 Ganzon 45 Lacson v. Roque, supra, 462.


v. Kayanan, 104 Phil. 484 (1985). In this concurrence (id.,48-61), Justice
Mendoza cited this case. 285
35 Supra, 489-490.

36 Mondano v. Silvosa, 97 Phil. 143, 148 (1955).

284
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 285 286 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
contrary—which does not exist with respect to municipal officers ... 46
The Court does not believe that the petitioners can rightfully point to the
In Mondano, the Court held: debates of the Constitutional Commission to defeat the President’s
x x x The Congress has expressly and specifically lodged the provincial powers. The Court believes that the deliberations are by themselves
supervision over municipal officials in the provincial governor who is authorized inconclusive, because although Commissioner Jose Nolledo would
to “receive and investigate complaints made under oath against municipal exclude the power of removal from the President, Commissioner Blas 50

officers for neglect of duty, oppression, corruption or other form of


Ople would not. 51

maladministration of office, and conviction by final judgment of any crime


involving moral turpitude.” And if the charges are serious, “he shall submit
The Court is consequently reluctant to say that the new Constitution
written charges touching the matter to the provincial board, furnishing a copy has repealed the Local Government Code, Batas Blg. 37. As we said,
of such charges to the accused either personally or by registered mail, and he “supervision” and “removal” are not incompatible terms and one may
may in such case suspend the officer (not being the municipal treasurer) pending stand with the other notwithstanding the stronger expression of local
action by the board, if in his opinion the charge by one affecting the official autonomy under the new Charter. We have indeed held that in spite of
integrity of the officer in question.” Section 86 of the Revised Administration the approval of the Charter, Batas Blg. 337 is still in force and effect. 52

Code adds nothing to the power of supervision to be exercised by the Department As the Constitution itself declares, local autonomy means “a more
Head over the administration of x x x municipalities x x x. If it be construed that responsive and accountable local government structure instituted
it does and such additional power is the same authority as that vested in the through a system of decentralization.” The Constitution, as we observed,
53

Department Head by section 79(c) of the Revised Administrative Code, then


does nothing more than to break up the monopoly of the national
such additional power must be deemed to have been abrogated by Section 110(1),
Article VII, of the Constitution. 47
government over the affairs of local governments and as put by political
xxx xxx xxx adherents, to “liberate the local governments from the imperialism of
In Pelaez, we stated that the President can not impose disciplinary Manila.” Autonomy, however, is not meant to end the relation of
measures on local officials except on appeal from the provincial board partnership and interdependence between the central administration
pursuant to the Administrative Code. 48
and local government units, or otherwise, to usher in a regime of
Thus, in those case that this Court denied the President the power (to federalism. The Charter has not taken such a radical step. Local
suspend/remove) it was not because we did not think that the President governments, under the Constitution, are subject to regulation, however
can not exercise it on account of his limited power, but because the law limited, and for no other purpose than precisely, albeit paradoxically, to
lodged the power elsewhere. But in those cases in which the law gave enhance self-government.
him the power, the Court, as in Ganzon v. Kayanan, found little difficulty As we observed in one case, decentralization means devolution of
54

in sustaining him. 49
national administration—but not power—to the local levels. Thus:
Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization
_______________ of power. There is decentralization of administration

46 Hebron v. Reyes, supra, 185. _______________


47 Mondano v. Silvosa, supra, 148.
48 Pelaez v. Auditor General, supra, 583. 50 Id., 23.
49 G.R. No. 95245, id., 50-51; see Mendoza, J., Concurring.
51 Id., 53.
52 Bagabuyo v. Davide, G.R. No. 87233, September 21, 1989.
286
53 CONST., supra, art. X, sec. 3.

54 Limbona v. Mangelin, G.R. No. 80391, February 28, 1989, 170 SCRA 786.

287
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 287 288 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
when the central government delegates administrative powers to political 1983, he has been unable to. It is a basic assumption of the electoral process
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the implicit in the right of suffrage that the people are entitled to the services of
process to make local governments “more responsive and accountable,” and elective officials of their choice. For misfeasance or malfeasance, any of them
“ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them could, of course, be proceeded against administratively or, as in this instance,
more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social criminally. In either case, his culpability must be established. Moreover, if there
progress.” At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of be a criminal action, he is entitled to the constitutional presumption of
managing local affairs and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The innocence. A preventive suspension may be justified. Its continuance, however,
President exercises “general supervision” over them, but only to “ensure that for an unreasonable length of time raises a due process question. For even if
local affairs are administered according to law.” He has no control over their acts thereafter he were acquitted, in the meanwhile his right to hold office had been
in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own. nullified. Clearly, there would be in such a case an injustice suffered by him. Nor
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of is he the only victim. There is injustice inflicted likewise on the people of Lianga.
political power in the favor of local governments units declared to be They were deprived of the services of the man they had elected to serve as mayor.
autonomous, In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its own In that sense, to paraphrase Justice Cardozo, the protracted continuance of this
destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central preventive suspension had outrun the bounds of reason and resulted in sheer
authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power oppression. A denial of due process is thus quite manifest. It is to avoid such an
amounts to “self-immolation,” since in that event, the autonomous government unconstitutional application that the order of suspension should be lifted. 57

becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency. 55


The plain truth is that this Court has been ill at ease with suspensions,
The successive sixty-day suspensions imposed on Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon for the above reasons, and so also, because it is out of the ordinary to
58

is albeit another matter. What bothers the Court, and what indeed looms have a vacancy in local government. The sole objective of a suspension,
very large, is the fact that since the Mayor is facing ten administrative as we have held, is simply “to prevent the accused from hampering the
59

charges, the Mayor is in fact facing the possibility of 600 days of normal cause of the investigation with his influence and authority over
suspension, in the event that all ten cases yield prima faciefindings. The possible witnesses” or to keep him off “the records and other
60

Court is not of course tolerating misfeasance in public office (assuming evidence.” It is a means, and no more, to assist prosecutors in firming
61

that Mayor Ganzon is guilty of misfeasance) but it is certainly another up a case, if any, against an erring local official. Under the Local
question to make him serve 600 days of suspension, which is effectively, Government Code, it can not exceed sixty days, which is to say that it
62

to suspend him out of office. As we held: 56


need not be exactly sixty days long if a shorter period is otherwise
2. Petitioner is a duly elected municipal mayor of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. His sufficient, and which is also to say that it ought to be lifted if prosecutors
term of office does not expire until 1986. Were it not for this information and the have achieved their purpose in a shorter span.
suspension decreed by the Sandiganbayan according to the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, he would have been all this while in the full discharge of _______________
his functions as such municipal mayor. He was elected precisely to do so. As of
October 26, 57 Supra, 541.
58 See supra.
59 Lacson v. Roque, supra.
_______________
60 Supra, 469.

61 Batas Blg. 337, sec. 63.


55 Supra, 794-795.
62 Supra.
56 Layno, Sr. v. Sandiganbayan, No. 65848, May 24, 1985, 136 SCRA 536.
288 289
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 289 290 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals
Suspension is not a penalty and is not unlike preventive imprisonment possibility of sixty days more is arguably around the corner (which
in which the accused is held to insure his presence at the trial. In both amounts to a violation of the Local Government Code)—which brings to
cases, the accused (the respondent) enjoys a presumption of innocence light a pattern of suspensions intended to suspend the Mayor the rest of
unless and until found guilty. his natural tenure. The Court is simply foreclosing what appears to us as
Suspension finally is temporary, and as the Local Government Code a concerted effort of the State to perpetuate an arbitrary act.
provides, it may be imposed for no more than sixty days. As we held, a 63
As we said, we can not tolerate such a state of affairs. We are therefore
longer suspension is unjust and unreasonable, and we might add, allowing Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon to suffer the duration of his third
nothing less than tyranny. suspension and lifting, for the purpose, the Temporary Restraining Order
As we observed earlier, imposing 600 days of suspension—which is earlier issued. Insofar as the seven remaining charges are concerned, we
not a remote possibility—on Mayor Ganzon is to all intents and purposes, are urging the Department of Local Government, upon the finality of this
to make him spend the rest of his term in inactivity. It is also to make, to Decision, to undertake steps to expedite the same, subject to Mayor
all intents and purposes, his suspension permanent. Ganzon’s usual remedies of appeal, judicial or administrative, or
It is also, in fact, to mete out punishment in spite of the fact that the certiorari, if warranted, and meanwhile, we are precluding the Secretary
Mayor’s guilt has not been proven. Worse, any absolution will be for from meting out further suspensions based on those remaining
naught because needless to say, the length of his suspension would have, complaints, notwithstanding findings of prima facieevidence.
by the time he is reinstated, wiped out his tenure considerably. In resumé, the Court is laying down the following rules:
The Court is not to be mistaken for obstructing the efforts of the
respondent Secretary to see that justice is done in Iloilo City, yet it is 1. 1.Local autonomy, under the Constitution, involves a mere
hardly any argument to inflict on Mayor Ganzon successive suspensions decentralization of administration, not of power, in which local officials
when apparently, the respondent Secretary has had sufficient time to remain accountable to the central government in the manner the law
gather the necessary evidence to build a case against the Mayor-without may provide;
2. 2.The new Constitution does not prescribe federalism;
suspending him a day longer. What is intriguing is that the respondent
3. 3.The change in constitutional language (with respect to the supervision
Secretary has been cracking down, so to speak, on the Mayor piecemeal—
clause) was meant but to deny legislative control over local
apparently, to pin him down ten times the pain, when he, the respondent governments; it did not exempt the latter from legislative regulations
Secretary, could have pursued a consolidated effort. provided regulation is consistent with the fundamental premise of
We reiterate that we are not precluding the President, through the autonomy;
Secretary of Interior from exercising a legal power, yet we are of the 4. 4.Since local governments remain accountable to the national authority,
opinion that the Secretary of Interior is exercising that power the latter may, by law, and in the manner set forth therein, impose
oppressively, and needless to say, with a grave abuse of discretion. disciplinary action against local officials;
The Court is aware that only the third suspension is under questions, 5. 5.“Supervision” and “investigation” are not inconsistent terms;
and that any talk of future suspensions is in fact premature. The fact “investigation” does not signify “control” (which the President does not
have);
remains, however, that Mayor Ganzon has been made to serve a total of
6. 6.The petitioner, Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon, may serve the suspension so
120 days of suspension and the
far ordered, but may no longer be suspended for the offenses he was
charged originally; provided:
_______________

Layno, Sr. v. Sandiganbayan, supra.


63 291
290
VOL. 200, AUGUST 5, 1991 291
Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals

1. a)that delays in the investigation of those charges “due to his fault,


neglect or request, (the time of the delay) shall not be counted in
computing the time of suspension.” [Supra, sec. 63(3)]
2. b)that if during, or after the expiration of, his preventive suspension, the
petitioner commits another or other crimes and abuses for which
proper charges are filed against him by the aggrieved party or parties,
his previous suspension shall not be a bar to his being preventively
suspended again, if warranted under subpar. (2), Section 63 of the
Local Government Code.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions are DISMISSED. The


Temporary Restraining Order issued is LIFTED. The suspensions of the
petitioners are AFFIRMED, provided that the petitioner, Mayor Rodolfo
Ganzon, may not be made to serve future suspensions on account of any
of the remaining administrative charges pending against him for acts
committed prior to August 11, 1988. The Secretary of Interior is
ORDERED to consolidate all such administrative cases pending against
Mayor Ganzon.
The sixty-day suspension against the petitioner, Mary Ann Rivera
Artieda, is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera,Gutierrez,
Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,Bidin, Griño-
Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
Petitions dismissed. Suspension of petitioners affirmed.
Note.—Complaints against elective provincial or city officials should
be filed before the Minister of Local Government. (Regidor, Jr. vs.
Chiongbian, 173 SCRA 507.)

——o0o——

292