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G. R. No. 101469 – 213 SCRA 640 – Political Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Control Power – Executive Secretary as the Alter Ego of the President
In 1977, a reclamation project was sought to be undertaken by the City of Mandaue. It signed a contract with Malayan Integrated Industries Corporation to actualize the project. The Justice Secretary opined that only the national government can undertake reclamation projects however the Public Estates Authority (PEA) can delegate such function to Mandaue. The Sanggunian of Mandaue then authorized its mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the PEA to validate the contract with Malayan. The project however remained hanging until after the EDSA Revolution. The contract was re-indorsed to then president Corazon Aquino who referred the contract back to PEA.
After this, the mayor of Mandaue chose to open a new contract with another company (F.F. Cruz & Co.) since he deemed that the Office of the President has some reservations against the contract with Malayan. The mayor submitted the new contract before the PEA which endorsed it to the Office of the President which approved the same and rescinded the earlier contract between Mandaue and Malayan. The recommendation was however signed by the Executive Secretary and not the president herself.
ISSUE: Whether or not the recommendation was validly approved.
HELD: Yes. Although the letter to the PEA advising it of the approval of the reclamation contract between the City of Mandaue and F.F. Cruz & Co., Inc. and the disapproval of the earlier agreement between the City of Mandaue and MALAYAN, was signed by the Executive Secretary, “by authority of the President,” and not by the President’s own hand, the Executive Secretary’s action is presumed to be valid and to have been regularly performed in behalf of the President and thus should be accorded due respect. As head of the Executive Office, the Executive Secretary, is an alter ego of the President. One of his myriad functions is “to exercise primary authority to sign papers “By authority of the President,” attest executive orders and other presidential issuances unless attestation is specifically delegated to other officials by him or by the President; assist the President in the administration of special projects; and perform such other functions as the President may direct”, his personality is in reality “but the projection of that of the President,” his acts, “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.”
The approval by the Office of the President of the reclamation contract in favor of F.F. Cruz & Co., Inc. and the rejection of the contract with MALAYAN, is not subject to review by the courts in view of the principle of separation of powers which accords co-equal status to the three great branches of the government, absent any showing that the President, in doing so, acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.