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petitions of Mayor Ganzon originated from a series of administrative complaints, ten in number, filed against him by various city officials sometime in 1988, on various charges, among them, abuse of authority, oppression, grave misconduct, disgraceful and immoral conduct, intimidation, culpable violation of the Constitution, and arbitrary detention. Finding probable grounds and reasons, the respondent (Sec of Local Government) issued a preventive suspension order for a period of sixty days. In the other case, respondent ordered petitioner's second preventive suspension for another sixty (60) days. The petitioner was able to obtain a restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction in the RTC. The second preventive suspension was not enforced. Amidst the two successive suspensions, Mayor Ganzon instituted an action for prohibition against the respondent in the RTC. Presently, he instituted an action for prohibition, in the respondent CA. Meanwhile, the respondent issued another order, preventively suspending Mayor Ganzon for another sixty days, the third time in twenty months, and designating meantime Vice-Mayor Mansueto Malabor as acting mayor. Undaunted, Mayor Ganzon commenced before the CA, a petition for prohibition. The CA rendered judgment dismissing the cases. Issue: WON the Secretary of Local Government, as the President's alter ego, can suspend and or remove local officials. Issue: Yes Ratio: It is the petitioners' argument that the 1987 Constitution no longer allows the President, as the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions did, to exercise the power of suspension and/or removal over local officials. According to both petitioners, the Constitution is meant, first, to strengthen self-rule by local government units and second, by deleting the phrase "as may be provided by law," to strip the President of the power of control over local governments. It is a view, so they contend, that finds support in the debates of the Constitutional Commission. The issue consists of three questions: (1) Did the 1987 Constitution, in deleting the phrase "as may be provided by law" intend to divest the President of the power to investigate, suspend, discipline, and or remove local officials? (2) Has the Constitution repealed Sections 62 and 63 of the Local Government Code? (3) What is the significance of the change in the constitutional language? It is the considered opinion of the Court that notwithstanding the change in the constitutional language, the charter did not intend to divest the legislature of its right - or the President of her prerogative as conferred by existing legislation to provide administrative sanctions against local officials. It is our opinion that the omission (of "as may be provided by law") signifies nothing more than to underscore local governments' autonomy from congress and to break Congress' "control" over local government affairs. The Constitution did not, however, intend, for the sake of local autonomy, to deprive the legislature of all authority over municipal corporations, in particular, concerning discipline. Autonomy does not, after all, contemplate making mini-states out of local government units, as in the federal governments of the USA. Autonomy, in the constitutional sense, is subject to the guiding star, though not control, of the legislature, albeit the legislative responsibility under the Constitution - and as the "supervision clause" itself suggest - is to wean local government units from over dependence on the central government. It is noteworthy that under the Charter, "local autonomy" is not instantly self-executing, but subject to, among other things, the passage of a local government code, a local tax law, income distribution legislation, and a national representation law, and measures designed to realize autonomy at the local level. It is also noteworthy that in spite of autonomy, the Constitution places the local government under the general supervision of the Executive. It is noteworthy finally, that the Charter allows Congress to include in the local government code provisions for removal of local officials, which suggest that Congress may exercise removal powers, and as the existing Local Government Code has done, delegate its exercise to the President. The deletion of "as may be provided by law" was meant to stress, sub silencio, the objective of the framers to strengthen local autonomy by severing congressional control of its affairs, as observed by the Court of Appeals, like the power of local legislation. The Constitution did nothing more, however, and insofar as existing legislation authorizes the President (through the Secretary of Local Government) to proceed against local officials administratively, the Constitution contains no prohibition.
The petitioners are under the impression that the Constitution has left the President mere supervisory powers, which supposedly excludes the power of investigation, and denied her control, which allegedly embraces disciplinary authority. It is a mistaken impression because legally, "supervision" is not incompatible with disciplinary authority The Court does not believe that the petitioners can rightfully point to the debates of the Constitutional Commission to defeat the President's powers. The Court believes that the deliberations are by themselves inconclusive, because although Commissioner Jose Nolledo would exclude the power of removal from the President, Commissioner Blas Ople would not. The Court is consequently reluctant to say that the new Constitution has repealed the Local Government Code, Batas Blg. 337. As we said, "supervision" and "removal" are not incompatible terms and one may stand with the other notwithstanding the stronger expression of local autonomy under the new Charter. We have indeed held that in spite of the approval of the Charter, Batas Blg. 337 is still in force and effect. As the Constitution itself declares, local autonomy means "a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization." The Constitution, as we observed, does nothing more than to break up the monopoly of the national government over the affairs of local governments and as put by political adherents, to "liberate the local governments from the imperialism of Manila." Autonomy, however, is not meant to end the relation of partnership and interdependence between the central administration and local government units, or otherwise, to usher in a regime of federalism. The Charter has not taken such a radical step. Local governments, under the Constitution, are subject to regulation, however limited, and for no other purpose than precisely, albeit paradoxically, to enhance self-government. As we observed in one case, decentralization means devolution of 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 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," and "ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress." 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 authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to "selfimmolation," since in that event, the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its contituency.
Issue: WON the several suspensions imposed upon Mayon Ganzon are proper Held: No Ratio: The successive sixty-day suspensions imposed on Mayor Ganzon is albeit another matter. What bothers the Court, and what indeed looms very large, is the fact that since the Mayor is facing ten administrative charges, the Mayor is in fact facing the possibility of 600 days of suspension, in the event that all ten cases yield prima facie findings. The Court is not of course tolerating misfeasance in public office (assuming that Ganzon is guilty of misfeasance) but it is certainly another question to make him serve 600 days of suspension, which is effectively, to suspend him out of office. The plain truth is that this Court has been ill at ease with suspensions, for the above reasons, and so also, because it is out of the ordinary to have a vacancy in local government. The sole objective of a suspension, as we have held, is simply "to prevent the accused from hampering the normal cause of the investigation with his 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 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. Suspension finally is temporary, and as the Local Government Code provides, it may be imposed for no more than sixty days. As we held, a longer suspension is unjust and unreasonable, and nothing less than tyranny. We reiterate that we are not precluding the President, through the Secretary of Interior from exercising a legal power, yet we are of the opinion that the Secretary of Interior is exercising that power oppressively, and needless to say, with a grave abuse of discretion.
1. Local autonomy, under the Constitution, involves a mere decentralization of administration, not of power, in which local officials remain accountable to the central government in the manner the law may provide; 2. The new Constitution does not prescribe federalism;
3. The change in constitutional language (with respect to the supervision clause) was meant but to deny legislative control over local governments; it did not exempt the latter from legislative regulations provided regulation is consistent with the fundamental premise of autonomy; 4. Since local governments remain accountable to the national authority, the latter may, by law, and in the manner set forth therein, impose disciplinary action against local officials; 5. "Supervision" and "investigation" are not inconsistent terms; "investigation" does not signify "control" (which the President does not have); 6. The petitioner, Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon, may serve the suspension so far ordered, but may no longer be suspended for the offenses he was charged originally; provided: 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)] 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 fled 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.
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