Juliano Alba vs Jose Evangelista

G.R. Nos. L-10360 – G.R. Nos. L-10433 – 100 Phil. 683 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President – Control Power – Removal of Appointed LGU officials

Republic Act No. 603 created the City of Roxas. Section 8 thereof provides that the vice mayor shall be appointed by the president. Pursuant to the law, Vivencio Alajar was appointed as the mayor. Later on, the president sent communication to Alajar telling him that he will be replaced by a new appointee, Juliano Alba. Alba was then declared as the acting mayor. Alajar refused to leave his post and he filed a quo warranto case before Judge Jose Evangelista who ruled in favor of him.

Alba appealed before the Supreme Court. Alba argued that  section 2545 of the Revised Administrative Code provides:

Appointment of City Officials. – The President of the Philippines shall appoint, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments of the Congress of the Philippines, the mayor, the vice-mayor . . . and he may REMOVE at pleasure any of the said officers . . .

Alajar however insisted that the above provision is incompatible with the constitutional inhibition that “no officer or employee in the Civil Service shall be removed or suspended except for cause as provided by law”, because the two provisions are mutually repugnant and absolutely irreconcilable.

ISSUE: Whether or not Alajar, an appointed vice mayor, can be removed by the president upon displeasure.

HELD: Yes. The question is whether an officer appointed for a definite time or during good behavior, had any vested interest or contract right in his office, of which Congress could not deprive him.

The act of Congress in creating a public office, defining its powers, functions and fixing the “”term”” or the period during which the officer may claim to hold the office as of right and the “tenure” or the term during which the incumbent actually holds the office, is a valid and constitutional exercise of legislative power. In the exercise of that power, Congress enacted RA 603 creating the City of Roxas and providing, among others for the position of Vice-Mayor and its tenure or period during which the incumbent Vice-Mayor holds office at the pleasure of the President, so, the logical inference is that Congress can legally and constitutionally make the tenure of certain officials dependent upon the pleasure of the President. Therefore, Alajar was appointed by the pleasure of the president and can also be removed when that pleasure ceases.

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