Political Law

Lacson-Magallanes Co., Inc. vs Jose Paño

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G.R. No. L-27811 – 21 SCRA 895 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Power of Control; Delegation of Control Power to the Executive Secretary

Jose Magallanes was permitted to use and occupy a land used for pasture in Davao. The said land was a forest zone which was later declared as an agricultural zone. Magallanes then ceded his rights to Lacson-Magallanes Co., Inc. (LMC) of which he is a co-owner.

Jose Paño and other farmers filed their application to buy the same parcel of land. At the same time, LMC also applied to buy the same land. The Director of Lands denied Paño’s application and gave due course to the application of LMC.  The Secretary of Agriculture likewise denied Paño’s appeal hence it was elevated to the Office of the President.

Executive Secretary Juan Pajo ruled in favor of Paño. Now, LMC averred that the earlier decision of the Secretary of Agriculture is already conclusive hence beyond appeal. He also averred that the decision of the Executive Secretary is an undue delegation of power. The Constitution, LMC asserts, does not contain any provision whereby the presidential power of control may be delegated to the Executive Secretary. It is argued that it is the constitutional duty of the President to act personally upon the matter.

ISSUE: Whether or not the power of control may be delegated to the Executive Secretary.

HELD: Yes. It is true that as a rule, the President must exercise his constitutional powers in person. However, the president may delegate certain powers to the Executive Secretary at his discretion. The president may delegate powers which are not required by the Constitution for him to perform personally. The reason for this allowance is the fact that the president is not expected to perform in person all the multifarious executive and administrative functions. The office of the Executive Secretary is an auxiliary unit which assists the President. The rule which has thus gained recognition is that “under our constitutional setup the Executive Secretary who acts for and in behalf and by authority of the President has an undisputed jurisdiction to affirm, modify, or even reverse any order” that the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, including the Director of Lands, may issue.

The act of the Executive Secretary, acting as the alter ego of the President, shall remain valid until reversed, disapproved, or reprobated by the President. In this case, no reprobation was made hence the decision granting the land to Paño cannot be reversed.

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