Case Digest: Judge Angeles v. Hon. Gaite, et al.

G.R. No. 176596 : March 23, 2011

JUDGE ADORACION G. ANGELES, Petitioner,v. HON. MANUEL E. GAITE,Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, Office of the President; HON. RAUL GONZALES, Secretary, and HON. JOVENCITO ZU, Chief State Prosecutor, both of the Department of Justice (DOJ);HON. RAMON R. GARCIA(Substituted byHon. JOSEPH LOPEZ), City Prosecutor,ACP MARLINA N. MANUEL, andACP ADELIZA H. MAGNO-GUINGOYON, all of the Manila Prosecution Service; and SSP EMMANUEL VELASCO, Department of Justice, Respondents.



It appears that sometime in June 1999, petitioner was charged of child abuse by her grandniece Maria Mercedes Vistan. The preliminary investigation of the complaint was assigned to State Prosecutor Emmanuel Y. Velasco (respondent Velasco) of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Respondent Velasco then filed a case against petitioner for 21 counts of Child Abuse under Republic Act (RA) No. 7610 but the same was ordered to be withdrawn by the DOJ Secretary upon the filing of a petition for review by petitioner.

Petitioner then filed with the DOJ an administrative complaint for Gross Misconduct, Gross Ignorance of the Law, Incompetence and Manifest Bad Faith against respondent Velasco, which the DOJ subsequently dismissed. Petitioner then filed a Petition for Review with the Office of the President (OP) assailing the DOJs Resolutions dismissing the administrative complaint she filed against respondent Velasco. The OP asked respondent Velasco to file his comment thereto.

In his comment, respondent Velasco stated matters and information provided by unimpeachable sources from the judiciary, schoolmates and close friends of Judge ANGELES, which according to the latter is a direct attack on her character and reputation as a public servant.

On the basis of such statements, petitioner filed a Complaint for four counts of libel against respondent Velasco. However, Assistant City Prosecutor (ACP) Adeliza Magno-Gingoyon recommended the dismissal of petitioners complaint for Libel due to insufficiency of evidence and/or lack of merit. Dissatisfied, petitioner filed with the DOJ Secretary a Petition for Review assailing the dismissal of her complaint for Libel as well as her motion for reconsideration. The Petition for Review was dismissed by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zu (CSP Zu)

Petitioner filed a Petition for Review before the OP questioning the DOJ Resolutions dismissing her petition. The OP dismissed the petition, citing MC No. 58, stating that no appeal from or petition for review of the decision or resolution of the Secretary of Justice on preliminary investigation of criminal cases shall be entertained by the Office of the President, except those involving offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. An appeal or petition not clearly falling within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President, as set forth above, shall be dismissed outright.

Petitioner filed with the CA a petition for review under Rule 43assailing the OP orders. In denying the petition, the CA applied the doctrine laid down in Carpio v. Executive Secretary regarding the power of control of the President over all executive branches of the government, in relation to the doctrine of qualified political agency. The CA then ruled that the OP, relying on MC No. 58, dismissed petitioner's petition for review and exercised its prerogative not to disapprove or overturn the DOJ Secretary's resolutions, thus, approving the acts or decision of the DOJ Secretary, being her alter ego.

Upon denial of its motion for reconsideration, petitioner filed this present petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in its application of doctrine of qualified political agency

HELD: No. CA Decision Affirmed.

Political Law- doctrine of qualified political agency

Petitioner argues in the main that Memorandum Circular No. 58 is an invalid regulation, because it diminishes the power of control of the President and bestows upon the Secretary of Justice, a subordinate officer, almost unfettered power. This argument is absurd.

Under this doctrine, which primarily recognizes the establishment of a single executive, "all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department; the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive; and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the secretaries of such departments, 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 CA cannot be deemed to have committed any error in upholding the Office of the President's reliance on the Memorandum Circular as it merely interpreted and applied the law as it should be.

It is quite evident from the foregoing that the President himself set the limits of his power to review decisions/orders/resolutions of the Secretary of Justice in order to expedite the disposition of cases. Petitioner's argument that the Memorandum Circular unduly expands the power of the Secretary of Justice to the extent of rendering even the Chief Executive helpless to rectify whatever errors or abuses the former may commit in the exercise of his discretion is purely speculative to say the least.

Petitioner cannot second-guess the President's power and the President's own judgment to delegate whatever it is he deems necessary to delegate in order to achieve proper and speedy administration of justice, especially that such delegation is upon a cabinet secretary - his own alter ego.

In the case at bar, the power of the President to review the Decision of the Secretary of Justice dealing with the preliminary investigation of cases cannot be considered as falling within the same exceptional class which cannot be delegated. Besides, the President has not fully abdicated his power of control as Memorandum Circular No. 58 allows an appeal if the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua or higher.

Certainly, it would be unreasonable to impose upon the President the task of reviewing all preliminary investigations decided by the Secretary of Justice. To do so will unduly hamper the other important duties of the President by having to scrutinize each and every decision of the Secretary of Justice notwithstanding the latter's expertise in said matter.

Petitioner's contention that Memorandum Circular No. 58 violates both the Constitution and Section 1, Chapter 1, Book III of EO No. 292, for depriving the President of his power of control over the executive departments deserves scant consideration.

In the first place, Memorandum Circular No. 58 was promulgated by the Office of the President and it is settled that the acts of the secretaries of such departments, 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 Memorandum Circular No. 58 has not been reprobated by the President; therefore, it goes without saying that the said Memorandum Circular has the approval of the President.