Political Law

Antonio Carpio vs The Executive Secretary

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G.R. No. 96409 – 206 SCRA 290 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President; Control Power; Power of Supervision – War Powers; Commander-in-Chief Powers – Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency

In 1990, Republic Act No. 6975 entitled “AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE UNDER A REORGANIZED DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” was passed. This law moved the Philippine police force from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the DILG.

Antonio Carpio, as a member of the bar and a defender of the Constitution, questioned the constitutionality of the law. He averred that it only interferes with the control power of the president because it diminishes the president’s commander-in-chief power (war powers).

Carpio also advanced the view that RA 6975 weakened the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) by limiting its power “to administrative control” over the PNP thus, “control” remained with the Department Secretary under whom both the NAPOLCOM and the PNP were placed; that the system of letting local executives choose local police heads also undermine the power of the president.

ISSUE: Whether or not the president abdicated its commander-in-chief power over the PNP and NAPOLCOM by virtue of RA 6975.

HELD: No. the PNP and the NAPOLCOM are not under the Commander-in-Chief Power of the President. They are under the President’s control power and power of supervision. So there is no abdication to speak of.

The President has control of all executive departments, bureaus, and offices. This presidential power of control over the executive branch of government extends over all executive officers from Cabinet Secretary to the lowliest clerk. Equally well accepted, as a corollary rule to the control powers of the President, is the “Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency”. As the President cannot be expected to exercise his control powers all at the same time and in person,  he will have to delegate some of them to his Cabinet members.

Under this doctrine, which recognizes the establishment of a single executive,  “all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person on the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive.”

Thus, and in short, “the President’s power of control is directly exercised by him over the members of the Cabinet who, in turn, and by his authority, control the bureaus and other offices under their respective jurisdictions in the executive department.”

Additionally, the circumstance that the NAPOLCOM and the PNP are placed under the reorganized DILG is merely an administrative realignment that would bolster a system of coordination and cooperation among the citizenry, local executives and the integrated law enforcement agencies and public safety agencies created under the assailed Act, the funding of the PNP being in large part subsidized by the national government.

The local chief executives choosing local police chiefs is also constitutional. Under the law, the local chief executives in choosing local police chiefs are acting so as representatives of the NAPOLCOM. The NAPOLCOM is under the Office of the President. Hence, in no way does the law undermine the President’s power if the local chief executives choose local police chiefs.

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