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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-30057 January 31, 1984

BRUNO O. APARRI, petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS and LAND AUTHORITY, the latter in substitution for REMEDIOS O.
FORTICH, as Chairman, ANGELINO M. BANZON, RAFAEL B. HILAO, VALERIANO PLANTILLA
and SEVERO YAP, as members of the Board of Directors of the defunct National Resettlement
and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA), respondents.

Enrique D. Tayag for petitioner.

Magno B. Pablo and Cipriano A. Tan for respondent Land Authority.

MAKASIAR, J.:

This petition for certiorari seeks to review the decision of the then Court of Appeals (now Intermediate
Appellate Court under BP 129) dated September 24, 1968, affirming the decision of the then Court of
First Instance (now Regional Trial Court), the dispositive portion of which is as follows:

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the lower court insofar as it decrees the dismissal of the
present petition for mandamus is hereby affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs
(p. 50, rec.).

The facts of the case are as follows:

On January 15, 1960, private respondents (as members of the Board of Directors of the defunct
National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration created under Republic Act No. 1160,
approved June 18, 1954 — NARRA) approved the following resolution:

RESOLUTION NO. 13 (Series of 1960)

RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, to appoint Mr. Bruno 0. Aparri, as General


Manager of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) with
all the rights, prerogatives and compensation appurtenant thereto to take effect on
January 16, 1960);

RESOLVED FURTHER, as it is hereby resolved, to inform the President of the


Philippines of the above appointment of Mr. Aparri (p. 2, rec.).

Pursuant thereto, private respondent Remedies O. Fortich, in her capacity as Chairman of the
NARRA Board, appointed petitioner Bruno O. Aparri as reflected in the following letter:
Manila, January 22,
1960

Mr. Bruno O. Aparri c/o NARRA, Manila

SIR:

You are hereby appointed as GENERAL MANAGER in the National Resettlement and
Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) with compensation at the rate of TWELVE
THOUSAND (P12,000.00) PESOS per annum the appointment to take effect January
16,1960 . . . . REINSTATEMENT ... (p. 2, rec.).

The power of the Board of Directors of the NARRA to appoint the general manager is provided for in
paragraph (2),Section 8, Republic Act No. 1160 (approved June 18, 1954), to wit:

Sec. 8. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. — The Board of Directors shall
have the following powers and duties: ...

2) To appoint and fix the term of office of General Manager ..., subject to the
recommendation of the Office of Economic Coordination and the approval of the
President of the Philippines, .... The Board, by a majority vote of all members, may, for
cause, upon recommendation of the Office of Economic Coordination and with the
approval of the President of the Philippines, suspend and/or remove the General
Manager and/or the Assistant General Manager (p. 46, rec., emphasis supplied).

On March 15, 1962, the same Board of Directors approved the following resolution:

RESOLUTION NO. 24 (Series of 1962)

WHEREAS, the Chairman of the Board has transmitted to the Board of Directors
the desire of the Office of the President Malacanang, Manila, to fix the term of office of
the incumbent General Manager up to the close of office hours on March 31, 1962, in
accordance with the provision of Section 8, sub-section 2 of R.A. No. 1160;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, that the Board of


Directors hereby fix, as it is hereby fixed, the term of office of the incumbent General
Manager of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) to
March 31, 1962 (pp. 6-7, rec., emphasis supplied).

Petitioner filed a petition for mandamus with preliminary injunction with the then Court of First
Instance of Manila on March 29, 1962. The petition prayed to annul the resolution of the NARRA
Board dated March 15, 1962, to command the Board to allow petitioner to continue in office as
General Manager until he vacates said office in accordance with law and to sentence the private
respondents jointly and severally to pay the petitioner actual damages in the sum of P95,000.00, plus
costs.

On August 8, 1963, when the case was still pending decision in the lower court, Republic Act No.
3844, otherwise known as the Agricultural Land Reform Code, took effect. The said law abolished the
NARRA (Sec. 73, R.A. 3844) and transferred its functions and powers to the Land Authority. On
October 21, 1963, the then Court of First Instance of Manila rendered judgment, finding "that this
case has become academic by reason of the approval of the Agricultural Land Reform Code
(Republic Act No. 3844) and thereby dismissing the instant petition without pronouncement as to
costs" (p. 5, rec.).

On appeal to the then Court of Appeals, the appellate tribunal speaking through then Mr. Justice
Antonio C. Lucero, affirmed the decision of the lower court. in dismissing the petition for mandamus.
Pertinent provisions of the decision are as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

In the light of the foregoing facts, it is evident that Bruno O. Aparri accepted the position
of General Manager without fixed term and his appointment is, in essence, terminable at
the pleasure of the appointing power which, in this case, is the Board of Directors.
Where, as in the case at bar, the appointing officer, that is, the Board of Directors, had
fixed the term of office of the incumbent Manager to end on March 31, 1962, the
replacement of Bruno O. Aparri is not removal but by reason of the term of his office
which is one of the recognized modes of terminating official relations.Considering that
the term of office of the General Manager of the NARRA is not fixed by law nor has it
been fixed by the Board of Directors at the time of his appointment although it had the
power to do so, it is obvious that the term of office of herein petitioner Bruno O. Aparri
expired on March 31, 1962and his right to hold the said office was thereby extinguished.
In other words, Bruno O. Aparri cessation from office invokes no removal but merely the
expiration of the term of office which was within the power of the Board of Directors to
fix. Hence, Bruno O. Aparri continues only for so long as the term of his office has not
ended (Alba vs. Hon. Jose N. Evangelists, 100 Phil. 683) [Decision of the Court of
Appeals, pp. 48-49, rec., emphasis supplied].

The motion for reconsideration by petitioner in the then Court of Appeals was denied on January 10,
1969.

On January 20, 1969, the petitioner filed a petition for certiorari to review the decision of the then
Court of Appeals dated September 24, 1968 (pp. 1-41, rec.). The same was initially denied for lack of
merit in a resolution dated January 27, 1969 (p. 55, rec.); but on motion for reconsideration filed on
February 11, 1969, the petition was given due course (p. 66, rec.).

The only legal issue sought to be reviewed is whether or not Board Resolution No. 24 (series of 1962)
was a removal or dismissal of petitioner without cause.

WE affirm. WE hold that the term of office of the petitioner expired on March 31, 1962.

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 exercise by him for the benefit
of the public ([Mechem Public Offices and Officers,] Sec. 1). The right to hold a public office under our
political system is therefore not a natural right. It exists, when it exists at all only because and by
virtue of some law expressly or impliedly creating and conferring it (Mechem Ibid., Sec. 64). There is
no such thing as a vested interest or an estate in an office, or even an absolute right to hold office.
Excepting constitutional offices which provide for special immunity as regards salary and tenure, no
one can be said to have any vested right in an office or its salary (42 Am. Jur. 881).

The National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) was created under Republic
Act No. 1160 (approved June 18,1954), which provides that:
Sec. 2. NATIONAL RESETTLEMENT AND REHABILITATION ADMINISTRATION — ...
there is hereby created a corporation to be known as National Resettlement and
Rehabilitation Administration hereafter referred to as "NARRA" to perform under the
supervision and control of the President of the Philippines, through the Office of
Economic Coordinator all the duties and functions of the Bureau of Lands as provided
for in Commonwealth Act numbered Six Hundred and Ninety-one, as amended, and
such other duties as are hereinafter specified in this Act. It shall be headed by a
General Manager and an Assistant Manager who shall be appointed as hereinafter
provided (emphasis supplied).

Paragraph 2, Section 8 of Republic Act 1160 expressly gives to the Board of Directors of the NARRA
the power "to appoint and fix the term of office of the general manager ... subject to the
recommendation of Economic Coordination and the approval of the President of the Philippines"
(emphasis supplied).

By "appointment" is meant the act of designation by the executive officer, board or body, to whom
that power has been delegated, of the individual who is to exercise the functions of a given office
(Mechem op. cit., Sec. 102). When the power of appointment is absolute, and the appointee has been
determined upon, no further consent or approval is necessary, and the formal evidence of the
appointment, the commission, may issue at once. Where, however, the assent or confirmationof
some other officer or body is required, the Commission can issue or the appointment is complete only
when such assent or condition is obtained (People vs. Bissell, 49 Cal. 407). To constitute an
"appointment" to office, there must be some open, unequivocal act of appointment on the part of the
appointing authority empowered to make it, and it may be said that an appointment to office is made
and is complete when the last act required of the appointing authority has been performed (Molnar vs.
City of Aurora, 348 N.E. 2d 262, 38 III App. 3d 580). In either case, the appointment becomes
complete when the last act required of the appointing power is performed (State vs. Barbour, 53
Conn. 76, 55 Am. Rep. 65).

The petitioner was appointed as general manager pursuant to Resolution No. 13 (series of 1960 —
approved on January 15, 1960) of the Board of Directors. A careful perusal of the resolution points
out the fact that the appointment is by itself incomplete because of the lack of approval of the
President of the Philippines to such appointment. Thus, We note that Resolution No. 13 states:

xxx xxx xxx

... RESOLVED FURTHER, as it is hereby resolved, to inform the President of the


Philippines of the above appointment of Mr. Aparri (p. 2, rec.).

Presumably, the Board of Directors of the NARRA expected that such appointment be given approval
by the then President. Lacking such approval by the President as required by the law (par. 2, Sec. 8
of R.A. 1160), the appointment of petitioner was not complete. The petitioner can, at best, be
classified as a de facto officer because he assumed office "under color of a known appointment or
election, void because the officer was not eligible or because there was a want of power in the
electing body, or by reasons of some defect or irregularity in its exercise, such ineligibility, want of
power, or defect being unknown to the public" (State vs. Carroll, 38 Conn. 449, 9Am. Rep. 409).

However, such appointment was made complete upon approval of Resolution No. 24 (series of 1962-
approved March 15, 1962) wherein the President submitted to the Board his "desire" to fix the term of
office of the petitioner up to the close of office hours on March 31, 1962. The questioned resolution
corrected whatever requisite lacking in the earlier Resolution No. 13 of the respondent Board.
Resolution No. 24, approved by the respondent Board and pursuant to "the desire of the President"
legally fixed the term of office of petitioner as mandated by paragraph 2, Section 8 of Republic Act
1160.

The word "term" in a legal sense means a fixed and definite period of time which the law describes
that an officer may hold an office (Sueppel vs. City Council of Iowa City, 136 N.W. 2D 523, quoting 67
CJS OFFICERS, secs. 42, 54[1]). According to Mochem, the term of office is the period during which
an office may be held. Upon the expiration of the officer's term, unless he is authorized by law to hold
over, his rights, duties and authority as a pubic officer must ipso facto cease (Mechem, op. cit., Secs.
396-397). In the law on Public Officers, the most natural and frequent method by which a public
officer ceases to be such is by the expiration of the term for which he was elected or appointed. The
question of when this event has occurred depends upon a number of considerations, the most
prominent of which, perhaps, are whether he was originally elected or appointed for a definite term
or for a term dependent upon some act or event ... (Mechem op. cit., Sec. 384).

It is necessary in each case to interpret the word "term" with the purview of statutes so as to
effectuate the statutory scheme pertaining to the office under examination (Barber vs. Blue, 417 P.2D
401, 51 Cal. Rptr. 865, 65 C.2d N5). In the case at bar, the term of office is not fixed by law. However,
the power to fix the term is vested in the Board of Directors subject to the recommendation of the
Office of Economic Coordination and the approval of the President of the Philippines. Resolution No.
24 (series of 1962) speaks of no removal but an expiration of the term of office of the petitioner. The
statute is undeniably clear. It is the rule in statutory construction that if the words and phrase of a
statute are not obscure or ambiguous, its meaning and the intention of the legislature must be
determined from the language employed, and, where there is no ambiguity in the words, there is no
room for construction (Black on Interpretation of Laws, Sec. 51). The courts may not speculate as to
the probable intent of the legislature apart from the words (Hondoras vs. Soto, 8 Am. St., Rep. 744).
The reason for the rule is that the legislature must be presumed to know the meaning of words, to
have used words advisedly and to have expressed its intent by the use of such words as are found in
the statute (50 Am. Jur. p. 212).

Removal entails the ouster of an incumbent before the expiration of his term (Manalang vs.
Quitoriano, 50 O.G. 2515). The petitioner in this case was not removed before the expiration of his
term. Rather, his right to hold the office ceased by the expiration on March 31, 1962 of his term to
hold such office.

WHEREFORE, THE DECISION APPEALED FROM IS HEREBY AFFIRMED. WITHOUT COSTS.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. Nos. 95275-76 July 23, 1991

SIXTO DE LA VICTORIA, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HEIRS OF GENOVEVA S. MEDINA represented by FAUSTINO
MESINA, JR., JUAN ALAO and VICTOR S. MESINA, respondents.

Constante P. Pimentel, et al. for petitioner.


Regulo M. Bantasan for the Intervenor Aquilino Cantiga, Jr. Sixto, Brillantes, Jr. for Heirs of
Genoveva S. Mesina.
Evergisto B. Escalon for respondents Juan Alao and Victor S. Mesina.

GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:

This petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction and/or restraining order assails the order of the
Commission on Elections En Banc (COMELEC, for short) which allowed the substitution of the heirs
of a deceased candidate as protestee in the election protest filed by her rival for the office of
municipal mayor of Albuera, Leyte, in the local elections on February 1, 1988, and allowed the same
heirs to appeal the decision of the Regional Trial Court declaring her rival (the protestant and herein
petitioner), as the actual winner in that election.

The contenders for the mayorship of Albuera, Leyte in the special local elections held on February 1,
1988 were petitioner Sixto De la Victoria who obtained 5,093 votes, the late Genoveva S. Mesina who
obtained 5,103 votes, and Loly C. Fian who garnered 982 votes. On February 3, 1988, the Municipal
Board of Canvassers proclaimed Mesina as the duly elected municipal mayor of Albuera, Leyte.
Elected and proclaimed vice-mayor was her running-mate, Aquilino Cantiga, Jr.

In due time, the defeated mayoral candidate, De la Victoria, filed two pre-proclamation cases (SPC
Nos. 88-560 and 88-614) in the COMELEC but even while they were still pending in the commission,
he filed on October 21, 1988 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14 in Baybay, Leyte, an
election protest Ex Abundante Cautela against Mesina (docketed as Election Protest No. B-44) with
claims for damages, attorney's fees, and costs. Mesina filed an Answer with counterclaims for
damages and attorney's fees.

On July 22, 1989, Mesina died and was substituted as protestee by her Vice-Mayor, Aquilino Cantiga,
Jr., who assumed the mayorship by operation of law. Neither Mesina's heirs (the private respondents
herein), nor her counsel informed the trial court about her death.

On May 16, 1990, De la Victoria withdrew from the COMELEC En Banc, his pre-proclamation
complaints (SPC Cases Nos. 88-560 and 88-614). The COMELEC granted his motion.

On June 18, 1990, the incumbent Mayor, Aquilino Cantiga, Jr., filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
a verified "Petition to Intervene" in the election protest of De la Victoria.
On June 20, 1990, De la Victoria filed a "Manifestation/Motion" waiving his claim for damages and
costs against the deceased protestee, Mesina. The trial court granted the motion (p. 389, Rollo).

On June 22, 1990, counsel for Mesina filed a Notice of Death and Motion for Substitution of the
deceased protestee by her heirs, and requested that his motion be set for hearing on July 2, 1990.

De la Victoria opposed the motion for substitution on the ground that the heirs of Mesina are not the
"real party in interest" and that since he (De la Victoria) had waived his claim for damages against the
deceased, her heirs have no more right to intervene in the case or have been "erased from the
picture altogether" (Lomugdang vs. Javier, 21 SCRA 402 and Vda. de Mesa vs. Mencias, 18 SCRA
533).

On July 2, 1990, the trial court noted the Motion for Substitution filed by the heirs of Mesina and ruled
that De la Victoria's waiver of his claim for damages against the said protestee rendered the Motion
for Substitution without basis in law, or moot and academic.

On July 17, 1990, the trial court promulgated a decision in the Election Protest No. B-44, declaring
the protestant, De la Victoria, as the duly elected Mayor of Albuera, Leyte, by a margin of 134 votes
over the deceased protestee, Genoveva S. Mesina.

Two days later, on July 19, 1990, the heirs of Mesina appealed to the COMELEC by a petition
for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction to restrain the trial court from rendering a
decision in Election Protest No. B-44 or conducting further proceedings therein.

On July 20, 1990, the heirs of Mesina filed in the trial court a Notice of Appeal. De la Victoria filed an
"Urgent Motion to Disregard Notice of Appeal" on the ground that the heirs had no standing in the
case as they failed to appeal the July 2, 1990 Order of the trial court denying their motion for
substitution. The trial court in its Order of July 23, 1990, denied the Notice of Appeal and ordered its
expulsion from the record of the case. It held that the intervenor, Vice-Mayor Cantiga, who succeeded
the deceased protestee by operation of law, not the "heirs" of the deceased, is the "real party in
interest" in the continuation of the election protest after the demise of the protestee. Moreover, upon
the waiver by De la Victoria of his claim for damages against Mesina, the latter's heirs had no more
legal interest to defend in her behalf.

On July 24, 1990, De la Victoria filed a motion for execution of the trial court's decision. It was granted
by the court on July 25, 1990. Promptly, on the same day, De la Victoria was sworn into office as the
duly elected Mayor of Albuera.

As earlier mentioned, the heirs of Mesina appealed that decision to the COMELEC by a petition
for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction (SPR No.
9-90). In his Comment on the petition, De la Victoria adverted to the decision dated July 17, 1990 of
the trial court which became final and executory when no appeal was taken therefrom.

On the same date, the COMELEC denied the heirs' application for a temporary restraining order
(TRO), but set the case for hearing before the COMELEC En Banc for "preliminary determination of
the sufficiency of the allegations in the main issue raised by said respondents-heirs."

De la Victoria opposed the petition.


On August 6, 1990, the heirs filed in the COMELEC another petition
for certiorari and mandamus (SPR No. 11-90), praying that the execution of the decision of the trial
court in Election Protest No. B-44 be stopped.

On August 8, 1990, De la Victoria assumed office as Mayor of Albuera, Leyte.

On August 13, 1990, the COMELEC issued a status quo Order directing De la Victoria to answer the
petition in SPR No. 11-90, and setting the petition for preliminary injunction for hearing on August 23,
1990.

On September 27, 1990, the COMELEC set aside the trial court's Order dated July 2, 1990 denying
the motion for substitution of the heirs of the deceased protestee, and the Order dated July 23, 1990
which denied due course to the Notice of Appeal of the heirs from its decision dated July 17, 1990. It
declared the writ of execution null and void and ordered the elevation to it of the records of the case
pursuant to Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure (on appeal from election protest decided
by trial courts of general jurisdiction).

De la Victoria has come to us for relief through this petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance
of a temporary restraining order (TRO) where the main issues raised are: (1) whether the heirs of the
deceased protestee in an election protest may be considered as real party-in-interest even if the vice-
mayor has been allowed to intervene and the protestant had waived his claim for damages and costs
in the proceedings; and (2) whether said heirs may appeal the decision in the election protest (EPC
No. B-44).

After careful deliberation, the Court is persuaded that the answer to both questions is no.

The late Genoveva Mesina's claim to the contested office was not in any sense a transmissible right
that devolved upon her surviving spouse and her children (herein private respondents) after her
death. "Public office is personal to the incumbent and is not a property which passes to his heirs"
(Santos vs. Secretary of Labor, 22 SCRA 848). Private respondents' only interest in the outcome of
the case is limited to no more than their interest in defending her against the protestant's claim for
damages and costs (which the protestant, herein petitioner, has already waived). They may no longer
prosecute her own counter-claim for damages against the protestant for that was extinguished when
death terminated her light to occupy the contested office of mayor of Albuera, Leyte.

In the case of Vda. de Mesa vs. Mencias, 18 SCRA 533, 545, we ruled:

The same cannot, however, be said of the protestee's widow or of the local Liberal Party chapter of
Muntinlupa. The protestee's claim to the contested office is not in any sense a right transmitted to his
widow or heirs. Said widow's remaining interest in the outcome of the case is limited to no more than
the possible award of costs against the deceased protestee. Besides not being such an interest as
would justify her substitution for her deceased husband as an indispensable legal representative, the
right to such an award if eventually made has already been waived by protestant Argana. This
effectively withdraws the widow from the picture altogether. Much less has the local Liberal Party
Chapter any claim to substitution. Not being duly incorporated as a juridical person, it can have no
personality to sue or be sued as such. And while it conceivably may derive some indirect benefit
consequent to the resolution of the contest in favor of the deceased protestee, neither the chapter
itself nor the officers thereof would become entitled thereby to any right to the contested office in case
of a favorable judgment, nor, for that matter, do they stand to sustain any direct prejudice in case of
an adverse one. No basis therefore exist upon which to predicate their claim to substitution.
(Emphasis supplied).

This ruling was not a mere obiter as the COMELEC erroneously supposed.

Vice Mayor Aquilino Cantiga's accession, by operation of law, to the position of Municipal Mayor upon
the death of Mesina on July 22, 1989, automatically made him the real party-in-interest in the election
contest for his right to hold the office of municipal mayor is in jeopardy of being lost should De la
Victoria win Ms protest. Thus did this Court hold in Lomugdang vs. Javier, 21 SCRA 403:

The vice-mayor elect has the status of a real party-in-interest in the continuation of the proceedings
and is entitled to intervene therein. For if the protest succeeds and the protestee is unseated, the
vice-mayor succeeds to the office of mayor that becomes vacant if the one duly elected cannot
assume the post.

This ruling was reiterated in Unda vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 94090, October 19, 1990):

Now under the Local Government Code, the vice-mayor stands next in line of succession to the
mayor in case of a permanent vacancy in the latter's position. Upon the death of the protestee mayor
in the case at bar, petitioner, as then incumbent vice-mayor, succeeded by operation of law to the
vacated office and is ordinarily entitled to occupy the same for the unexpired term thereof. The
outcome of the election contest necessarily and primarily bears upon his right to his present position
and he is the person directly concerned in the fair and regular conduct of the election in order that the
true will of the electorate will be upheld. His status as a real party-in-interest in the continuation of
said case cannot thus be disputed. (Emphasis supplied.)

On the procedural aspects of the case, we find the following observations of the Solicitor General in
his Consolidated Comment dated January 8, 1991, to be well taken:

. . . respondent COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion in giving due course to the [private
respondents'] petitions for certiorari filed in SPR Nos. 9-90 and 11-90 filed on August 6, 1990 to set
aside the final and executory decision of the trial court promulgated on July 18, 1990, far beyond the
5-day period allowed by [Section 22, Rule 35] Comelec Rules of Procedure, (p. 410, Rollo.)

Respondent COMELEC further gravely abused its discretion by issuing a "permanent" and final
injunction to prevent the execution of said final and executory Decision dated July 17, 1990 of the trial
court, without the required bond contrary to its own Rule 30, Section 4, COMELEC Rules of
Procedure. (p. 411, Rollo.)

However, these issues have been rendered moot and academic by the COMELEC's order of January
23, 1991 dismissing the "reinstated" appeal of the private respondents (p. 447, Rollo), for failure to file
their Appellant's Brief on December 9, 1990, the last day for filing the same, their Motion for
Extension of Time to File said Appellant's Brief having been previously denied by the COMELEC for
being a prohibited pleading under Section 1(c) of Rule 13 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, in
relation to Section 9(b) Rule 22 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, The COMELEC's dismissal
order reads:
Consequently, the dismissal of the herein appeal case pursuant to the Comelec Rules of Procedure
renders the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Leyte, Branch XIV dated July 17, 1990, as FINAL
AND EXECUTORY. (pp. 459-460, Rollo.)

On January 28, 1991, petitioner De la Victoria reassumed the office of Mayor of Albuera, Leyte (p.
460, Rollo).

WHEREFORE, finding merit in the petition for certiorari, the same is hereby GRANTED, with costs
against private respondents.1âwphi1 The proclamation of Sixto de la Victoria as mayor of Albuera,
Leyte, is upheld.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin,
Sarmiento, Medialdea, Regalado and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
Gancayco, J., is on leave.
EN BANC

[G.R. No. 124374. December 15, 1999]

ISMAEL A. MATHAY JR., in his capacity as MAYOR OF QUEZON CITY, petitioner, vs. COURT
OF APPEALS, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, EDUARDO A. TAN, LOURDES M. DE GUZMAN,
MANUEL CHUA, ANSELMO MATEO, CHRISTOPHER SANTOS, BUENAVENTURA PUNAY,
ENRICO BANDILLA, FELINO CAMACHO, DANTE E. DEOQUINO, JAIME P. URCIA, JESUS B.
REGONDOLA, ROMUALDO LIBERATO, CESAR FRANCISCO, WILLIAM PANTI, JR., MICHAEL
A. JACINTO and CESAR DACIO, respondents.

[G.R. No. 126354. December 15, 1999]

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ISMAEL A.
MATHAY, JR., respondents.

[G.R. No. 126366. December 15, 1999]

ISMAEL A. MATHAY, JR., in his capacity as MAYOR OF QUEZON CITY, petitioner, vs. COURT
OF APPEALS, CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION and SANDY C. MARQUEZ, respondents.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Before this Court are three consolidated petitions[1] filed under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court.

The facts behind the consolidated petitions are undisputed.

During his term as Mayor of Quezon City, Mr. Brigido R. Simon appointed private respondents [2] to
positions in the Civil Service Unit (CSU) of the local government of Quezon City. Civil Service Units
were created pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 51 which was allegedly signed into law on
November 15 or 16, 1972.

On February 23, 1990, the Secretary of Justice rendered Opinion No. 33, stating that Presidential
Decree No. 51 was never published in the Official Gazette. Therefore, conformably with our ruling
in Tanada vs. Tuvera[3] the presidential decree is deemed never in force or effect and therefore
cannot at present, be a basis for establishment of the CSUs . . . . [4]

On June 4, 1990, the Civil Service Commission issued Memorandum Circular No. 30, directing all
Civil Service Regional or Field Offices to recall, revoke and disapprove within one year from issuance
of the said Memorandum, all appointments in CSUs created pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 51
on the ground that the same never became law. Among those affected by the revocation of
appointments are private respondents in these three petitions.

For Quezon City CSU employees, the effects of the circular were temporarily cushioned by the
enactment of City Ordinance No. NC-140, Series of 1990, which established the Department of Public
Order and Safety (DPOS).

At the heart of these petitions is Section 3 of the Ordinance which provides:


Sec. 3. The present personnel of the Civil Security Unit, Traffic Management Unit, Anti-Squatting and
Surveillance and Enforcement Team, and Disaster Coordinating Council are hereby absorbed into the
department of public order and safety established under Section one hereof to be given appropriate
position titles without reduction in salary, seniority rights and other benefits. Funds provided for in the
1990 Budget for the absorbed offices shall be used as the initial budgetary allocation of the
Department. (Underscoring ours).

Despite the provision on absorption, the regular and permanent positions in the DPOS were not filled
due to lack of funds for the new DPOS and the insufficiency of regular and permanent positions
created.

Mayor Brigido R. Simon remedied the situation by offering private respondents contractual
appointments for the period of June 5, 1991 to December 31, 1991. The appointments were renewed
by Mayor Simon for the period of January 1, 1992 to June 30, 1992.

On May 11, 1992, petitioner Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. was elected Mayor of Quezon City. On July 1,
1992, Mayor Mathay again renewed the contractual appointments of all private respondents effective
July 1 to July 31, 1992. Upon their expiry, these appointments, however, were no longer renewed.

The non-renewal by Quezon City Mayor Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. of private respondents appointments
became the seed of discontent from which these three consolidated petitions grew.

We discuss the merits of the petitions of Mayor Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. jointly.
G.R. No. 124374 and G.R. No. 126366

After the non-renewal of their appointments, private respondents in these two petitions appealed to
the Civil Service Commission. The CSC issued separate resolutions holding that the reappointment of
private respondents to the DPOS was automatic, pursuant to the provision on absorption in Quezon
City Ordinance No. NC-140, Series of 1990,[5] and ordering their reinstatement to their former
positions in the DPOS.[6] Petitioner brought petitions for certiorari to this Court,[7] to annul the
resolutions but, in accordance with Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95, the petition were
referred to the Court of Appeals. As stated, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petitions for certiorari.

In the instant petition for review, petitioner asserts that the Court of Appeals erred when it ruled that
respondent Civil Service Commission has the authority to direct him to reinstate private respondents
in the DPOS.

We agree with petitioner.

The law applicable is B.P. 337 or the old Local Government Code and not the Local Government
Code of 1992 which became effective only on January 1, 1992, when the material events in this case
transpired.

Applying the said law, we find that the Civil Service Commission erred when it applied the directives
of Ordinance NC-140 and in so doing ordered petitioner to reinstate private respondents to positions
in the DPOS. Section 3 of the said Ordinance is invalid for being inconsistent with B.P. 337. We note
that Section 3 of the questioned Ordinance directs the absorption of the personnel of the defunct CSU
into the new DPOS. The Ordinance refers to personnel and not to positions. Hence, the city council
or sanggunian, through the Ordinance, is in effect dictating who shall occupy the newly created
DPOS positions. However, a review of the provisions of B.P. 337 shows that the power to appoint
rests exclusively with the local chief executive and thus cannot be usurped by the city council
or sanggunian through the simple expedient of enacting ordinances that provide for the absorption of
specific persons to certain positions.

In upholding the provisions of the Ordinance on the automatic absorption of the personnel of the CSU
into the DPOS without allowance for the exercise of discretion on the part of the City Mayor, the Court
of Appeals makes the sweeping statement that the doctrine of separation of powers is not applicable
to local governments.[8] We are unable to agree. The powers of the city council and the city mayor are
expressly enumerated separately and delineated by B.P. 337.

The provisions of B.P. 337 are clear. As stated above, the power to appoint is vested in the local chief
executive.[9] The power of the city council or sanggunian, on the other hand, is limited
to creating, consolidating and reorganizing city officers and positions supported by local funds. The
city council has no power to appoint. This is clear from Section 177 of B.P. 337 which lists the powers
of the sanggunian. The power to appoint is not one of them. Expressio unius est exclusio
alterius.[10] Had Congress intended to grant the power to appoint to both the city council and the local
chief executive, it would have said so in no uncertain terms.

By ordering petitioner to reinstate private respondents pursuant to Section 3 of the Ordinance, the
Civil Service Commission substituted its own judgment for that of the appointing power. This cannot
be done. In a long line of cases,[11] we have consistently ruled that the Civil Service Commissions
power is limited to approving or disapproving an appointment. It does not have the authority to direct
that an appointment of a specific individual be made. Once the Civil Service Commission attests
whether the person chosen to fill a vacant position is eligible, its role in the appointment process
necessarily ends. The Civil Service Commission cannot encroach upon the discretion vested in the
appointing authority.

The Civil Service Commission argues that it is not substituting its judgment for that of the appointing
power and that it is merely implementing Section 3 of Ordinance NC-140.

The Ordinance refers to the personnel of the CSU, the identities of which could not be mistaken. The
resolutions of the Civil Service Commission likewise call for the reinstatement of named
individuals. There being no issue as to who are to sit in the newly created DPOS, there is therefore
no room left for the exercise of discretion. In Farinas vs. Barba,[12] we held that the appointing
authority is not bound to appoint anyone recommended by the sanggunian concerned, since the
power of appointment is a discretionary power.

When the Civil Service Commission ordered the reinstatement of private respondents, it technically
issued a new appointment.[13] This task, i.e. of appointment, is essentially discretionary and cannot be
controlled even by the courts as long as it is properly and not arbitrarily exercised by the appointing
authority.

In Apurillo vs. Civil Service Commission, we held that appointment is essentially a discretionary
power and must be performed by the officer in which it is vested. [14]
The above premises considered, we rule that the Civil Service Commission has no power to order
petitioner Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. to reinstate private respondents.

Petitioner similarly assails as error the Court of Appeals ruling that private respondents should be
automatically absorbed in the DPOS pursuant to Section 3 of the Ordinance.

In its decision of March 21, 1996 the Court of Appeals held:

It is clear however, that Ordinance No. NC-140, absorbing the present personnel of the Civil Security
Agent Unit in the DPOS was earlier enacted, particularly on March 27, 1990, thus, private
respondents were still holders of de jure appointments as permanent regular employees at the time,
and therefore, by operation of said Ordinance private respondents were automatically absorbed in the
DPOS effectively as of March 27, 1990.[15] (Underscoring ours.)

The decision is based on the wrong premise.

Even assuming the validity of Section 3 of the Ordinance, the absorption contemplated therein is not
possible. Since the CSU never legally came into existence, the private respondents never held
permanent positions. Accordingly, as petitioner correctly points out,[16] the private respondents
appointments in the defunct CSU - - -

were invalid ab initio. Their seniority rights and permanent status did not arise since they have no
valid appointment. For them to enter the Civil Service after the revocation and cancellation of their
invalid appointment, they have to be extended an original appointment, subject again to the attesting
power of the Civil Service Commission.

Being then not members of the Civil Service as of June 4, 1991, they cannot be automatically
absorbed/reappointed/appointed/reinstated into the newly created DPOS. (Underscoring ours)

It is axiomatic that the right to hold public office is not a natural right. The right exists only by virtue of
a law expressly or impliedly creating and conferring it.[17] Since Presidential Decree 51 creating the
CSU never became law, it could not be a source of rights. Neither could it impose duties. It could not
afford any protection. It did not create an office. It is as inoperative as though it was never passed.

In Debulgado vs. Civil Service Commission[18] we held that a void appointment cannot give rise to
security of tenure on the part of the holder of the appointment.

While the Court of Appeals was correct when it stated that the abolition of an office does not mean
the invalidity of appointments thereto,[19] this cannot apply to the case at bar. In this case, the CSU
was not abolished. It simply did not come into existence as the Presidential Decree creating it never
became law.

At the most, private respondents held temporary and contractual appointments. The non-renewal of
these appointments cannot therefore be taken against petitioner. In Romualdez III vs. Civil Service
Commission[20] we treated temporary appointments as follows:

The acceptance by the petitioner of a temporary appointment resulted in the termination of official
relationship with his former permanent position. When the temporary appointment was not renewed,
the petitioner had no cause to demand reinstatement thereto. (Underscoring ours.)
Another argument against the concept of automatic absorption is the physical and legal impossibility
given the number of available positions in the DPOS and the number of personnel to be
absorbed.[21] We note that Section 1 of Ordinance NC-140 provides:

There is hereby established in the Quezon City Government the Department of Public Order and
Safety whose organization, structure, duties, functions and responsibilities are as provided or defined
in the attached supporting documents consisting of eighteen (18) pages which are made integral
parts of this Ordinance.

A review of the supporting documents shows that Ordinance No. NC-140 allowed only two slots for
the position of Security Officer II with a monthly salary of P4,418.00 and four slots for the position of
Security Agent with a monthly salary of P3,102.00. The limited number of slots provided in the
Ordinance renders automatic absorption unattainable, considering that in the defunct CSU there are
twenty Security Officers with a monthly salary of P4,418.00 and six Security Agents with a monthly
salary of P3,102.00. Clearly, the positions created in the DPOS are not sufficient to accommodate the
personnel of the defunct CSU, making automatic absorption impossible.

Considering that private respondents did not legally hold valid positions in the CSU, for lack of a law
creating it, or the DPOS, for lack of a permanent appointment to the said agency, it becomes
unnecessary to discuss whether their acceptance of the contractual appointments constitutes an
abandonment or waiver of such positions. It escapes us how one can relinquish or renounce a right
one never possessed. A person waiving must actually have the right which he is renouncing.
G.R. 126354

In this case, petitioner, Civil Service Commission seeks the reversal of the decision of the Court of
Appeals of July 5, 1996, which overturned CSC Resolution Nos. 955040 and 932732 and held that
the Civil Service Commission has no authority to compel the mayor of Quezon City to reinstate Jovito
C. Labajo to the DPOS.

The standing of petitioner Civil Service Commission to bring this present appeal is questionable.

We note that the person adversely affected by the Court of Appeals decision, Jovito C. Labajo has
opted not to appeal.

Basic is the rule that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in
interest.[22] A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in
the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.

In Ralla vs. Ralla we defined interest as material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by
the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or mere incidental
interest.[23] As a general rule, one having no right or interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of
the court as a party-plaintiff in an action.

In the case at bar, it is evident that Jovito C. Labajo, not the Civil Service Commission, is the real
party in interest. It is Jovito C. Labajo who will be benefited or injured by his reinstatement or non-
reinstatement.
We are aware of our pronouncements in the recent case of Civil Service Commission v. Pedro
Dacoycoy[24] which overturned our rulings in Paredes vs. Civil Service Commission,[25] Mendez vs.
Civil Service Commission[26] and Magpale vs. Civil Service Commission.[27] In Dacoycoy, we affirmed
the right of the Civil Service Commission to bring an appeal as the aggrieved party affected by a
ruling which may seriously prejudice the civil service system.

The aforementioned case, however, is different from the case at bar. Dacoycoy was an administrative
case involving nepotism whose deleterious effect on government cannot be overemphasized. The
subject of the present case, on the other hand, is reinstatement.

We fail to see how the present petition, involving as it does the reinstatement or non-reinstatement of
one obviously reluctant to litigate, can impair the effectiveness of government. Accordingly, the ruling
in Dacoycoy does not apply.

To be sure, when the resolutions of the Civil Service Commission were brought before the Court of
Appeals, the Civil Service Commission was included only as a nominal party. As a quasi-judicial
body, the Civil Service Commission can be likened to a judge who should detach himself from cases
where his decision is appealed to a higher court for review.[28]

In instituting G.R. No. 126354, the Civil Service Commission dangerously departed from its role as
adjudicator and became an advocate. Its mandated function is to hear and decide administrative
cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal, including contested appointments and to
review decisions and actions of its offices and agencies,[29] not to litigate.

Therefore, we rule that the Civil Service Commission has no legal standing to prosecute G.R. No.
126354.

WHEREFORE, the petitions of Ismael A. Mathay in G.R. No.124374 and G.R. No. 126366 are
GRANTED and the decisions of the Court of Appeals dated March 21, 1996 and January 15, 1996
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The petition of the Civil Service Commission in G.R. No. 126354 is DISMISSED for lack of legal
standing to sue. The assailed decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated July 5, 1996 is
AFFIRMED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo,
Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Melo, and Vitug, JJ., in the result.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 110544 October 17, 1995

REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Mayor of the Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental,


HERMINIGILDO FABURADA, (former Vice-Mayor), SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA, Incumbent
Member of the Sangguniang Bayan, MANUEL LIM, NICANOR R. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K.
MENDOZA MAXIMINO A. VIERNES, HACUBINA V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D. ESTRELLANES,
and FORMER MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF JIMALALUD, NEGROS
ORIENTAL, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, (THIRD DIVISION), BARTOLOME BINAOHAN and DELIA
ESTRELLANES, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

Petitioners institute this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court to set aside the resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated 17 February 1992 and its
orders dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May 1993 in Criminal Case No. 16936 entitled "People of the
Philippines versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." denying petitioners' motion for suspension of their
arraignment.

The present controversy arose from the following antecedents:

On 9 February 1989, private respondents Delia Estrellanes and Bartolome Binaohan were designated
as industrial labor sectoral representative and agricultural labor sectoral representative respectively,
for the Sangguniang Bayan of Jimalalud, Province of Negros Oriental by then Secretary Luis T.
Santos of the Department of Local Government. Private respondents Binaohan and Estrellanes took
their oath of office on 16 February 1989 and 17 February 1989, respectively.

Subsequently, petitioners filed an undated petition with the Office of the President for review and
recall of said designations. The latter, however, in a letter dated 20 March 1989, denied the petition
and enjoined Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda to recognize private respondents as sectoral representatives.

On 4 May 1990, private respondents filed a petition for mandamus with the Regional Trial Court of
Negros Oriental, Branch 35, docketed as Special Civil Action No. 9661, for recognition as members of
the Sangguniang Bayan. It was dismissed on 23 July 1991.

Thereafter, on 20 June 1991, petitioners filed an action with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete
City to declare null and void the designations of private respondents as sectoral representatives,
docketed as Civil Case No. 9955 entitled "Reynaldo Tuanda, et al. versus Secretary of the
Department of Local Government, et al."

On 21 July 1991, an information was filed before the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Criminal Case No.
16936 entitled "People of the Philippines versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." charging petitioners thus:

INFORMATION

The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses REYNALDO
V. TUANDA, HERMENEGILDO G. FABURADA, MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P. AGOSTO, ERENIETA
K. MENDOZA, MAXIMO VIERNES, HACUBINA V. SERILLO, and SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA of
Violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, committed as follows:

That during the period from February 1989 to February 1991 and subsequent thereto, in the
Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
accused, all public officers, Mayor REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Vice-Mayor HERMENEGILDO G.
FABURADA, Sangguniang Members MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K.
MENDOZA, MAXIMO A. VIERNES, HACUBINA V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D. ESTRELLANES and
SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA while in the performance of their official functions and taking advantage of
their public positions, with evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and conspiring and confederating with
each other did, then and there, wilfully and unlawfully cause undue injury to Sectoral Members
Bartolome M. Binaohan and Delia T. Estrellanes by refusing to pay despite demand the amount of
NINETY FIVE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P95,350.00) and ONE HUNDRED
EIGHT THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED PESOS (P108,900.00) representing respectively their per
diems, salaries and other privileges and benefits, and such undue injury continuing to the present to
the prejudice and damage of Bartolome Binaohan and Delia Estrellanes.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 1

On 9 September 1991, petitioners filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan for suspension of the
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 16936 on the ground that a prejudicial question exists in Civil Case
No. 9955 pending before the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City. 2

On 16 January 1992, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision declaring null and void ab initio the
designations issued by the Department of Local Government to the private respondents as sectoral
representatives for having been done in violation of Section 146 (2) of B.P. Blg. 337, otherwise known
as the Local Government Code.3

The trial court expounded thus:

The Supreme Court in the case of Johnny D. Supangan Jr. v. Luis T. Santos, et al., G.R. No. 84663,
along with 7 companion cases of similar import, (G.R. Nos. 05012, 87601, 87602, 87792, 87935,
88072, and 90205) all promulgated on August 24, 1990, ruled that:

B.P. Blg. 337 explicitly required that before the President (or the Secretary of the Department of Local
Government) may appoint members of the local legislative bodies to represent the Industrial and
Agricultural Labor Sectors, there must be a determination to be made by the Sanggunian itself that
the said sectors are of sufficient number in the city or municipality to warrant representation after
consultation with associations and persons belonging to the sector concerned.
The Supreme Court further ruled —

For that matter, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code even
prescribe the time and manner by which such determination is to be conducted by the Sanggunian.

Consequently, in cases where the Sanggunian concerned has not yet determined that the Industrial
and Agricultural Labor Sectors in their particular city or municipality are of sufficient number to
warrant representation, there will absolutely be no basis for the designation/appointments.

In the process of such inquiry as to the sufficiency in number of the sector concerned to warrant
representation, the Sanggunian is enjoined by law (B.P. Blg. 337) to consult with associations and
persons belonging to the sector concerned. Consultation with the sector concerned is made a pre-
requisite. This is so considering that those who belong to the said sector are the ones primarily
interested in being represented in the Sanggunian. In the same aforecited case, the Supreme Court
considers such prior determination by the Sanggunian itself (not by any other person or body) as a
condition sine qua non to a valid appointment or designation.

Since in the present case, there was total absence of the required prior determination by the
Sangguniang Bayan of Jimalalud, this Court cannot help but declare the designations of private
defendants as sectoral representatives null and void.

This verdict is not without precedence. In several similar cases, the Supreme Court invariably nullified
the designations where the requirements of Sec. 146 (2), B.P. Blg. 337 were not complied with. Just
to cite one case, the Supreme Court ruled:

There is no certification from the Sangguniang Bayan of Valenzuela that the sectors concerned are of
sufficient number to warrant representation and there was no consultation whatsoever with the
associations and persons belonging to the Industrial and Agricultural Labor Sectors. Therefore, the
appointment of private respondents Romeo F. Bularan and Rafael Cortez are null and void (Romeo
Llanado, et al. v. Hon. Luis Santos, et al., G.R. No. 86394, August 24, 1990). 4

Private respondents appealed the aforestated decision to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R.
CV No. 36769, where the same is currently pending resolution.

Meanwhile, on 17 February 1992, respondent Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying the motion
for suspension of proceedings filed by petitioners. Said respondent Sandiganbayan:

Despite the pendency of Civil Case No. 9955 of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental, it
appears, nevertheless, that the private complainants have been rendering services on the basis of
their respective appointments as sectoral members of the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of
Jimalalud, Negros Oriental; and that their said appointments enjoy the presumption of regularity.
Having rendered such services, the private complainants are entitled to the salaries attached to their
office. Even assuming arguendo that the said Regional Trial Court shall later decide that the said
appointments of the private complainants are null and void, still the private complainants are entitled
to their salaries and compensation for service they have actually rendered, for the reason that before
such judicial declaration of nullity, the private complainants are considered at least de facto public
officers acting as such on the basis of apparently valid appointments issued by competent authorities.
In other words, regardless of the decision that may be rendered in Civil Case
No. 9955, the private complainants are entitled to their withheld salaries for the services they have
actually rendered as sectoral representatives of the said Sangguniang Bayan. Hence, the decision
that may be rendered by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 9955 would not be determinative
of the innocence or guilt of the accused.

WHEREFORE, the subject Petition for the Suspension of Proceedings in Virtue of Prejudicial
Question filed by the accused through counsel, is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.5

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned resolution in view of the decision
promulgated by the trial court nullifying the appointments of private respondents but it was, likewise,
denied in an order issued by respondent Sandiganbayan on 19 August 1992 on the justification that
the grounds stated in the said motion were a mere rehash of petitioners' original motion to hold the
case in abeyance.6 The dispositive portion of its order reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the arraignment of the accused which was scheduled today
is cancelled. Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda, Hermenegildo Faburada, Nicanor P. Agosto, Erenieta K.
Mendoza, Hacubina V. Serillo and Iluminado Estrellanes are, however, hereby ordered to show
cause in writing within ten (10) days from service hereof why they should not be cited for contempt of
court for their failure to appear in court today for arraignment.

In case of an adverse resolution on the motion to quash which is to be filed by the counsel for the
defense, set this case for arraignment, pre-trial and trial on January 4 & 5, 1993, on all dates the trial
to start at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.

SO ORDERED.7

On 19 February 1993, respondent Sandiganbayan issued an order holding consideration of all


incidents pending the issuance of an extended resolution. 8

No such resolution, however, was issued and in its assailed order dated 13 May 1992, respondent
Sandiganbayan set the arraignment of petitioners on 30 June 1993. The dispositive portion of the
order reads:

WHEREFORE, considering the absence of the accused from the scheduled hearing today which We
deem to be excusable, reset this case for arraignment on June 30, 1993 and for trial on the merits on
June 30 and July 1 and 2, 1993, on all dates the trial to start at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.

Give proper notice to the accused and principal counsel, Atty. Alfonso Briones. Considering that the
accused come all the way from Himalalud, Negros Oriental, no postponement will be allowed.

SO ORDERED.9

Hence, this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition where petitioners attribute to respondent
Sandiganbayan the following errors:

A. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners' motions for the
suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 16936 in spite of the pendency of a prejudicial
issue before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 36769;
B. The Respondent Court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in refusing to suspend the
proceedings that would entail a retrial and rehearing by it of the basic issue involved, i.e., the validity
of the appointments of private respondents and their entitlement to compensation which is already
pending resolution by the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 36769; and

C. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion and/or acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction in effectively allowing petitioners to be prosecuted under two alternative theories that
private respondents are de jure and/or de facto officers in violation of petitioners' right to due
process.10

In sum, the only issue in the case at bench is whether or not the legality or validity of private
respondents' designation as sectoral representatives which is pending resolution in CA-G.R. No.
36769 is a prejudicial question justifying suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case against
petitioners.

A prejudicial question is one that must be decided before any criminal prosecution may be instituted
or before it may proceed (see Art. 36, Civil Code) because a decision on that point is vital to the
eventual judgment in the criminal case. Thus, the resolution of the prejudicial question is a logical
antecedent of the issues involved in said criminal case.11

A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal.
The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the jurisdiction to try
and resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. 12 It is a question based on a fact
distinct and separate from "the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or
innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said
case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based
but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of
the accused would necessarily be determined. It comes into play generally in a situation where a civil
action and a criminal action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be
preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised
in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the
accused in the criminal case."13

The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.14 It has
two essential elements:

(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal
action; and

(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. 15

Applying the foregoing principles to the case at bench, we find that the issue in the civil case, CA-
G.R. CV No. 36769, constitutes a valid prejudicial question to warrant suspension of the arraignment
and further proceedings in the criminal case against petitioners.

All the elements of a prejudicial question are clearly and unmistakably present in this case. There is
no doubt that the facts and issues involved in the civil action (No. 36769) and the criminal case (No.
16936) are closely related. The filing of the criminal case was premised on petitioners' alleged
partiality and evident bad faith in not paying private respondents' salaries and per diems as sectoral
representatives, while the civil action was instituted precisely to resolve whether or not the
designations of private respondents as sectoral representatives were made in accordance with law.

More importantly, ,the resolution of the civil case will certainly determine if there will still be any
reason to proceed with the criminal action.

Petitioners were criminally charged under the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019, sec, 3[e])
due to their refusal, allegedly in bad faith and with manifest partiality, to pay private respondents'
salaries as sectoral representatives. This refusal, however, was anchored on petitioners' assertion
that said designations were made in violation of the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337) and thus,
were null and void. Therefore, should the Court of Appeals uphold the trial court's decision declaring
null and void private respondents' designations as sectoral representatives for failure to comply with
the provisions of the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337, sec. 146[2]), the charges against
petitioners would no longer, so to speak, have a leg to stand on. Petitioners cannot be accused of
bad faith and partiality there being in the first place no obligation on their part to pay private
respondents' claims. Private respondents do not have any legal right to demand salaries, per
diems and other benefits. In other words, the Court of Appeals' resolution of the issues raised in the
civil action will ultimately determine whether or not there is basis to proceed with the criminal case.

Private respondents insist that even if their designations are nullified, they are entitled to
compensation for actual services rendered.16 We disagree. As found by the trial court and as borne
out by the records, from the start, private respondents' designations as sectoral representatives have
been challenged by petitioners. They began with a petition filed with the Office of the President copies
of which were received by private respondents on 26 February 1989, barely eight (8) days after they
took their oath of office.17 Hence, private respondents' claim that they have actually rendered services
as sectoral representatives has not been established.

Finally, we find unmeritorious respondent Sandiganbayan's thesis that even in the event that private
respondents' designations are finally declared invalid, they may still be considered de facto public
officers entitled to compensation for services actually rendered.

The conditions and elements of de facto officership are the following:

1) There must be a de jure office;

2) There must be color of right or general acquiescence by the public; and

3) There must be actual physical possession of the office in good faith. 18

One can qualify as a de facto officer only if all the aforestated elements are present. There can be
no de facto officer where there is no de jure office, although there may be a de facto officer in a de
jure office.19

WHEREFORE, the resolution dated 17 February 1992 and orders dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May
1993 of respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 16936 are hereby SET ASIDE. Respondent
Sandiganbayan is enjoined from proceeding with the arraignment and trial of petitioners in Criminal
Case No. 16936 pending final resolution of CA-G.R. CV No. 36769.
SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Davide, Jr. and Bellosillo, JJ., concur.

Hermosisima, Jr., J., took no part.