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Laurel v. Desierto
April 12, 2002
G.R. No. 145368
(The Law on Public Officers, Civil Service Laws, Election Laws)

Petitioner: Salvador Laurel
Respondent: Ombudsman Desierto
Ponente: Kapunan

Petioner Laurel was appointed chair of the National Centennial Commission (NCC), tasked to
take charge of the nationwide preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine
Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the
Malolos Congress.
Subsequently, a corporation named the Philippine Centennial Expo 98 Corporation
(EXPOCORP) was created and Petitioner was elected CEO.
An investigation of the anomalies in the construction and operation of the centennial
projects was effected and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee filed with the Secretary of the
Senate its Committee Final Report recommending for the prosecution by the of petitioner
Laurel, chair of NCC and of EXPOCORP, for violating the rules on public bidding, in violation of
the anti-graft law.
By virtue of an investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, the petitioner was
indicted for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019). The
petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss questioning the jurisdiction of the Office of the
Ombudsman. The petitioner assails the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman and contended that
he is not a public officer since ExpoCorp is a private corporation.

ISSUE: WON petitioner, as Chair of the NCC, was not a public officer.
HELD: Petitioner is a public officer.
MECHEM: A public office is the right, authority and duty, created and conferred by law, by
which, for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating
power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the
government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public. The individual so invested
is a public officer.
The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the case of the petitioner since he is a public officer.
The NCC is an office performing executive functions since one of its mandate is to implement
national policies. Moreover, the said office was established by virtue of an executive order. It
is clear that the NCC performs sovereign functions, hence it is a public office. Since petitioner
is chair of the NCC, he is therefore a public officer.
The fact that the NCC was characterized by EO 128 as an 'ad-hoc body' make it less of a
public office.
The fact that the petitioner did not receive any compensation during his tenure is of no
consequence since such is merely an incidence and forms no part of the office.
The most important characteristic which distinguishes an office from an employment or
contract is that the creation and conferring of an office involves a delegation to the individual
of some of the sovereign functions of government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of
the public; that some portion of the sovereignty of the country, either legislative, executive
Laurel v. Desierto
April 12, 2002
G.R. No. 145368
(The Law on Public Officers, Civil Service Laws, Election Laws)

or judicial, attaches, for the time being, to be exercised for the public benefit. Unless the
powers conferred are of this nature, the individual is not a public officer.
Certainly, the law did not delegate upon the NCC functions that can be described as
legislative or judicial. We hold that the NCC performs executive functions. The executive
power is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power
of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance. The
executive function, therefore, concerns the implementation of the policies as set forth by
1987 Consti: Article XIV Sec. 15. Arts and letters shall enjoy the patronage of the State. The
State shall conserve, promote, and popularize the nations historical and cultural heritage
and resources, as well as artistic creations.
Preamble of A.O. No. 223 states the purposes for the creation of the Committee for the
National Centennial Celebrations in 1998:
Whereas, the birth of the Republic of the Philippines is to be celebrated in 1998, and the
centennial presents an important vehicle for fostering nationhood and a strong sense of
Filipino identity.
Whereas, the centennial can effectively showcase Filipino heritage and thereby
strengthen Filipino values;
Whereas, the success of the Centennial Celebrations may be insured only through long-
range planning and continuous developmental programming;
Whereas, there is a need to create a body which shall initiate and undertake the primary
task of harnessing the multi-sectoral components from the business, cultural, and
business sectors to serve as effective instruments from the launching and overseeing of
this long-term project;
Hence, the NCC performs sovereign functions. It is, therefore, a public office, and petitioner,
as its Chair, is a public officer.