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Joson v. Executive Secretary

Joson v. Executive Secretary

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Published by Raymond Roque

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Published by: Raymond Roque on Oct 15, 2009
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 Joson v. Executive SecretaryFacts:On Sept. 17, 1996, some SB members of Nueva Ecija filed with the Office of thePresident a letter-complaint charging Edno Joson with grave misconduct and abuse of authority. They allege that in the morning of Sept. 12, 1996, they were at the session hallof the provincial capitol for a scheduled session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan when Joson belligerently barged in to the hall, kicked the door and chairs and utteredthreatening words at them; and that Edno was with several men with firearms whoencircled the area. They claim that this incident was an offshoot of their resistance to apending legislative measure supported by petitioner that the province of Nueva Ecijaobtain a loan of P150 M. The President acted on the complaint by noting on the margin that the “use of force, intimidation or armed followers” were unjustified and instructed Sec. Barbers of theDILG to take preemptive and investigative actions. Sec. Barbers directed the petitioner tosubmit an answer but Edno failed to submit even after several extensions granted by theDILG. On April 22, 1997, Usec Sanchez, then acting Sec., issued an order declaring Edno indefault and to have waived his right to present evidence. 2 days later, Edno’s counselentered appearance causing Usec Sanchez to reconsider his order and gave petitioner, forthe last time, 15 days to filed his answer. But still, Edno failed to file his answer. The orderof default was thus reinstated. Joson then filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging that the complaint was not verified andthat the DILG has no jurisdiction over the case.On July 11, 1997, on recommendation of Sec. Barbers, Exec. Sec.Torres issued anorder, by authority of the President, placing Edno Joson under preventive suspension for60 days pending investigation of the charges against him. Vice-Governor Tinio wasdesignated as Acting Governor. Edno, on the other hand, filed a petition for certiorari andprohibition with the Court of Appeals challenging the order of preventive suspension andthe order of default. Edno also filed, among others, a Motion to Conduct FormalInvestigation pursuant to the provisions of the LGC and Rule 7 of Administrative Order No.23. The petition for certiorari with the CA was later dismissed. The Motion to ConductFormal Investigation with the DILG was also denied. The DILG Secretary found theaffidavits of complainants’ witnesses to be “more natural, reasonable, and probable” thanthose of Edno Joson. The Exec. Secretary, by authority of the President, adopted thefinding and recommendation of the DILG and imposed on petitioner the penalty of suspension from office for 6 months without pay. The Supreme Court, however, issued a TRO enjoining the implementation of said order. That notwithstanding, Tinio was installedas Acting Governor.Issue:Whether the DILG Secretary had jurisdiction over the caseHeld: Yes. Jurisdiction over administrative disciplinary actions against elective localofficials is lodged in 2 authorities: the Disciplining Authority and the InvestigatingAuthority. Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 3 of A.O. No. 23, the Disciplining Authority is thePresident, whether acting by himself or through the Exec. Secretary. The Sec. of the DILGis the Investigating Authority, who may act by himself or constitute an Investigating
 
Committee. He is not, however, the exclusive Investigating Authority for the DILG Sec.may designate a Special Investigating Committee. The power of the President over administrative disciplinary cases against localofficials is derived from his power of general supervision over local governments asprovided under Sec. 4, Art. X, 1987 Constitution. And the power of supervision means“overseeing or the authority of an officer to see that the subordinate officers perform theirduties. If the subordinate officers fail or neglect to fulfill their duties, the official may takesuch action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. ThePresident’s power of general supervision means no more than the power of ensuring thatlaws are faithfully executed, or that subordinate officers act within the law. Supervision isnot incompatible with discipline. This power must be construed to authorize the Presidentto order an investigation of the act or conduct of local officials when in his opinion thegood of the public service requires.A.O. No. 23 delegates the power to investigate to the DILG or a SpecialInvestigating Committee, as may be constituted by the Disciplining Authority. This is notundue delegation, contrary to petitioner’s claim. The President remains the DiscipliningAuthority. And the power of the DILG to investigate administrative complaints is based onthe alter-ego principle or the doctrine of qualified political agency. Under this doctrine, allexecutive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Exec.Dept., the heads of which are assistants and agents of the President. And this doctrine is corollary to thecontrol power of the President as provided in the Constitution. The procedure under the LGC and A.O. No. 23, however, is that when anadministrative complaint is filed, the Disciplining Authority shall issue an order requiringthe respondent to submit his verified answer within 15 days from notice. And upon filingof the answer, the Disciplining Authority shall refer the case to the Investigating Authorityfor investigation.In the case at bar, the Office of the President did not comply with this requirementsince it should have first required petitioner to file his answer and this, together with thecomplaint, to be referred to the Investigating Authority. Be that as it may, this procedurallapse is not fatal. The filing of the answer is necessary merely to enable the President tomake a preliminary assessment of the case. The President found the complaint sufficientin form and substance to warrant its further investigation. The judgment of the Presidenton the matter is entitled to respect in the absence of grave abuse of discretion.Issue:Whether the DILG Sec. erred in recommending to the Discipling Authority thepreventive suspension of petitioner during the investigation.Held:No. Preventive suspension is authorized under Sec. 63 of the LGC. It may beimposed by the Disciplining Authority at any time (a) after the issues are joined; (b) whenthe evidence of guilt is strong; and (c) given the gravity of the offense, there is greatprobability that the respondent, who continues to hold office, could influence thewitnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence.Exec. Sec. Torres found that all requisites for the imposition of preventive suspension hadbeen complied with. Petitioner’s failure to file his answer despite several opportunitiesgiven him was construed as a waiver of his right to file answer and present evidence; andas a result of this waiver, the issues were deemed to have been joined. It was also foundthat the evidence of petitioner’s guilt was strong and that his continuance in office during

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