Case Brief: Laurel v Desierto

GR No 145368     April 12, 2012

Laurel

vs.

Desierto 

Facts:

Petitioner is the Chair of the National Centennial Commission (NCC), tasked 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.”

Subsequently, a corporation named the Philippine Centennial Expo ’98 Corporation (Expocorp) was created and Petitioner was elected Expocorp Chief Executive Officer.

An investigation of the anomalies in the construction and operation of the centennial projects was effected and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee filed with the Secretary of the Senate its Committee Final Report recommending for “the prosecution by the Ombudsman/DOJ of Dr. Salvador Laurel, chair of NCC and of EXPOCORP for violating the rules on public bidding, in violation of the anti-graft law.”

The Evaluation and Preliminary Investigation Bureau issued a resolution finding “probable cause to indict petitioner before the Sandiganbayan for conspiring to violate Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, in relation to Republic Act No. 1594.”

Petitioner assails the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman on the ground that he is not a public officer because he, both as chairman of the NCC and of the EXPOCORP was not a “public officer.”

Issue:

WON petitioner, as Chair of the NCC, is a public officer.

Held:

yes. .—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 . The court 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 celebrations of the Philippine Centennial and wider participation from the government and non-government or private organizations and to rationalize the relevance of historical links with other countries and to carry them into effect.Clearly, the NCC performs sovereign functions. It is, therefore, a public office, and petitioner, as its Chair, is a public officer.

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