SALVADOR H. LAUREL vs. HON. ANIANO A. DESIERTO G.R. No. 145368, April 12, 2002 KAPUNAN, J.

: THE FACTS: President Aquino issued Administrative Order No. 223 "constituting a Committee for the preparation of the National Centennial Celebration in 1998." The Committee was mandated "to take charge of the nationwide preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the Malolos Congress.” President Ramos issued Executive Order No. 128, "reconstituting the Committee for the preparation of the National Centennial Celebrations in 1988." It renamed the Committee as the "National Centennial Commission." Appointed Vice-President Laurel as chair. Its duty is to "take charge of the nationwide preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the Malolos Congress and its existence shall terminate upon the completion of all activities related to the Centennial Celebrations. A corporation named the Philippine Centennial Expo ’98 Corporation (Expocorp) was created. Laurel was among the nine (9) Expocorp incorporators and was elected Expocorp Chief Executive Officer. Senator Coseteng delivered a privilege speech denouncing alleged anomalies in the construction and operation of the Centennial Exposition Project at the Clark Special Economic Zone. The privilege speech was referred to the Blue Ribbon Committee for investigation. President Estrada issued Administrative Order No. 35, creating an ad hoc and independent citizens’ committee to investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding the Philippine centennial projects. Senator Saguisag was appointed to chair the Committee. Blue Ribbon Committee filed its report. recommending the prosecution by the Ombudsman/DOJ of Laurel, chair of NCC and of EXPOCORP for violating the rules on public bidding, relative to the award of centennial contracts to AK (Asia Construction & Development Corp.); for exhibiting manifest bias in the issuance of the NTP (Notice to Proceed) to AK to construct the FR (Freedom Ring) even in the absence of a valid contract that has caused material injury to government and for participating in the scheme to preclude audit by COA of the funds infused by the government for the implementation of the said contracts all in violation… of the anti-graft law. Th Saguisag Committee issued its own report. It recommended the further investigation by the Ombudsman, and indictment, in proper cases of, Laurel for violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, Section 4(a) in relation to Section 11 of R.A. No. 6713, and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. The Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman. issued its Evaluation Report, recommending: 1. that a formal complaint be filed and preliminary investigation be conducted before the Evaluation and Preliminary Investigation Bureau (EPIB), Office of the Ombudsman against former NCC and EXPOCORP chair Salvador H. Laurel, former EXPOCORP President Teodoro Q. Peña and AK President Edgardo H. Angeles for violation of Sec. 3(e) and (g) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended in relation to PD 1594 and COA Rules and Regulations; 2. That the Fact Finding and Intelligence Bureau of this Office, act as the nominal complainant. Apostol, OIC-Director of the EPIB, directed Laurel to submit his counter-affidavit and those of his witnesses.Laurel filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a Motion to Dismiss questioning the jurisdiction of said office. Ombudsman denied motion to dismiss. EPIB found probable cause to indict respondents LAUREL and PEÑA before the Sandiganbayan for conspiring to violate Section 3(e) of

Republic Act No. 3019, in relation to Republic Act No. 1594. Desierto, in his capacity as Ombudsman, approved the resolution with respect to Laurel but dismissed the charge against Peña. Laurel moved for a reconsideration but the motion was denied. Hence this present petition for certiorari. THE ISSUE: Whether of not Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the case? Whether EXPOCORP is a private corporation and not a gocc? Whether NCC was not a public office? Whether or not Laurel is not a public officer? THE RULING: The Ombudsman has the power to investigate any malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance by a public officer or employee of the government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Neither the Constitution nor the Ombudsman Act of 1989, however, defines who public officers are. A definition of public officers cited in jurisprudence13 is that provided by Mechem, a recognized authority on the subject: a public office is the right, authority and duty, created and conferred by law, by which, for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public. The individual so invested is a public officer. The characteristics of a public office, according to Mechem, include the delegation of sovereign functions, its creation by law and not by contract, an oath, salary, continuance of the position, scope of duties, and the designation of the position as an office. We hold that the NCC performs executive functions. The executive power "is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance." The executive function, therefore, concerns the implementation of the policies as set forth by law. The NCC was precisely created to ensure a more coordinated and synchronized celebration of the Philippine Centennial and wider participation form the government and non-government or private organizatiuons and to rationalize the relevance of historical links with other countries and to carry them into effect. E.O. No. 128, reconstituting the Committee for the National Centennial Celebrations in 1998, cited the "need to strengthen the said Committee to ensure a more coordinated and synchronized celebrations of the Philippine Centennial and wider participation from the government and non-government or private organizations." It also referred to the "need to rationalize the relevance of historical links with other countries." There can hardly be any dispute that the promotion of industrialization and full employment is a fundamental state policy. Clearly, the NCC performs sovereign functions. It is, therefore, a public office, and petitioner, as its Chair, is a public officer. That petitioner allegedly did not receive any compensation during his tenure is of little consequence. A salary is a usual but not a necessary criterion for determining the nature of the position. It is not conclusive. The salary is a mere incident and forms no part of the office. Where a salary or fees is annexed, the office is provided for it is a naked or honorary office, and is supposed to be accepted merely for the public good. Hence, the office of petitioner as NCC Chair may be characterized as an honorary office, as opposed to a lucrative office or an office of profit, i.e., one to which salary, compensation or fees are attached. But it is a public office, nonetheless. The petition is DISMISSED.

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