Political Law

Jose Mondano vs Fernando Silvosa

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G.R. No. L-7708 – 97 Phil. 143 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Control Power; Power of Supervision over Local Government Officials

Administrative Law – Investigation Power of the Governor over Municipal Mayors

Jose Mondano was the mayor of Mainit, Surigao. A complaint was filed against him for rape and concubinage. The information reached the Assistant Executive Secretary who ordered the governor to investigate the matter. Consequently, Governor Fernando Silvosa then summoned Mondano and the latter appeared before him. Thereafter Silvosa suspended Mondano. Mondano filed a petition for prohibition enjoining the governor from further proceeding.

In his defense, Silvosa invoked the Revised Administrative Code which provided that he, as part of the executive and by virtue of the order given by the Assistant Executive Secretary, is with “direct control, direction, and supervision over all bureaus and offices under his jurisdiction . . .” and to that end “may order the investigation of any act or conduct of any person in the service of any bureau or office under his Department and in connection therewith may appoint a committee or designate an official or person who shall conduct such investigations.”

ISSUE: Whether or not the Governor, as agent of the Executive, can exercise the power of control over a mayor.

HELD: No. (Note that Silvosa was acting as the agent of the Assistant Executive Secretary who ordered him to investigate Mondano).

The Constitution provides:

The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices, exercise general supervision over all local governments as may be provided by law, and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Under this constitutional provision the President has been invested with the power of control of all the executive departments, bureaus, or offices, but not of all local governments over which he has been granted only the power of general supervision as may be provided by law. The Department head as agent of the President has direct control and supervision over all bureaus and offices under his jurisdiction as provided for in section 79(c) of the Revised Administrative Code, but he does not have the same control of local governments as that exercised by him over bureaus and offices under his jurisdiction.

Likewise, his authority to order the investigation of any act or conduct of any person in the service of any bureau or office under his department is confined to bureaus or offices under his jurisdiction and does not extend to local governments over which, as already stated, the President exercises only general supervision as may be provided by law.

If the provisions of section 79 (c) of the Revised Administrative Code are to be construed as conferring upon the corresponding department head direct control, direction, and supervision over all local governments and that for that reason he may order the investigation of an official of a local government for malfeasance in office, such interpretation would be contrary to the provisions of par 1, sec 10, Article 7, of the 1935 Constitution.

In administrative law supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them the former may take such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties.

Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter.

The Congress has expressly and specifically lodged the provincial supervision over municipal officials in the provincial governor who is authorized to “receive and investigate complaints made under oath against municipal officers for neglect of duty, oppression, corruption or other form of maladministration of office, and conviction by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude.” And if the charges are serious, “he shall submit written charges touching the matter to the provincial board, furnishing a copy of such charges to the accused either personally or by registered mail, and he may in such case suspend the officer (not being the municipal treasurer) pending action by the board, if in his opinion the charge be one affecting the official integrity of the officer in question.” Sec. 86 of the Revised Administrative Code adds nothing to the power of supervision to be exercised by the Department Head over the administration of municipalities.

In this case, the governor can only investigate Mondano for crimes relating to Mondano’s¬†office. If the issue is not related to his office but involves a crime of moral turpitude (such as rape or concubinage as in this case), there must first be a final conviction before a suspension may be issued. The point is, the governor must suspend a mayor not because he’s acting as an agent of the Executive but because of the power granted him by the Revised Administrative Code.

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