Political Law

Rodulfo Niere vs Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental

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G.R. No. L-30324 – 54 SCRA 165 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President; Appointment Power – Residual Power to Appoint

La Carlota City (Negros Occidental) was created by Republic Act 4585 in 1965.

In 1966, Rodulfo Niere was appointed by the mayor of La Carlota as the City Engineer.

In 1968, Jose Quiambao was appointed by the President as the City Engineer of the same city (La Carlota). Quiambao’s appointment was pursuant to the Decentralization Act (effective January 1968). Sec. 4 thereof provides that the position of the city engineer must be filled in by the appointment of the President. Niere relinquished the office but it was under protest and so he filed a quo warranto case before the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. Niere lost in that case and so he filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court. Nieri asserts that the charter of La Carlota provides that it is the City Mayor who should appoint the City Engineer.

ISSUE: Whether or not Nieri was legally appointed as the City Engineer.

HELD: No. It appears that the charter of La Carlota did not have a provision which authorizes the mayor thereof to appoint the city engineer. In fact, the deliberations in Congress when La Carlota’s charter was being drafted revealed that it was the intention of the lawmakers to exclude the position of city engineer from among those local officers whom the mayor can appoint.

Since the city mayor, under La Carlota’s charter, is without authority to appoint the city engineer, this prerogative can only be exercised by the President of the Philippines, who, under Section 10(3) of Article 7 of the [1935] Constitution, shall nominate “all other officers of the government whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for”; because when a statute does not specify how an officer is to be appointed, the appointment must be made by the President (residual power of appointment).

The appointing power is essentially the exclusive prerogative of the President. Consequently, any diminution in its scope must be clear and unequivocal.

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