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RODOLFO T.

GANZON, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and LUIS T. SANTOS, respondents.
The petitioners take common issue on the power of the President (acting through the Secretary of Local Government), to suspend
andor remove local officials.
The petitioners are the !ayor of "loilo #ity (G.$. %os. &'()( and &)(*)) and a mem+er of the Sangguniang Panglunsod thereof (G.$.
%o. &',*-), respectively.
The petitions of !ayor Gan.on originated from a series of administrative complaints, ten in num+er, filed against him +y various city
officials sometime in /&00, on various charges, among them, a+use of authority, oppression, grave misconduct, disgraceful and
immoral conduct, intimidation, culpa+le violation of the #onstitution, and ar+itrary detention.
1
The personalities involved are 1oceleehn
#a+aluna, a clerk at the city health office2 Salvador #a+aluna, her hus+and2 3r. 4elicidad 5rtigo.a, 6ssistant #ity 7ealth 5fficer2
!ansueto !ala+or, 8ice9!ayor2 $olando 3a+ao, 3an 3alido, German Gon.ales, Larry 5ng, and :duardo Pefia $edondo mem+ers of
the Sangguniang Panglunsod2 and Pancho :r+ite, a +arangay tanod. The complaints against the !ayor are set forth in the opinion of
the respondent #ourt of 6ppeals.
2
;e <uote=
>>> >>> >>>
"n her verified complaint (6nne> 6), !rs. #a+aluna, a clerk assigned to the #ity 7ealth, 5ffice of "loilo #ity charged
that due to political reasons, having supported the rival candidate, !rs. $osa ?. #aram, the petitioner #ity !ayor,
using as an e>cuse the e>igency of the service and the interest of the pu+lic, pulled her out from rightful office where
her <ualifications are +est suited and assigned her to a work that should +e the function of a non9career service
employee. To make matters worse, a utility worker in the office of the Pu+lic Services, whose duties are alien to the
complainant@s duties and functions, has +een detailed to take her place. The petitioner@s act are pure harassments
aimed at luring her away from her permanent position or force her to resign.
"n the case of 3ra. 4elicidad 5rtigo.a, she claims that the petitioner handpicked her to perform task not +efitting her
position as 6ssistant #ity 7ealth 5fficer of "loilo #ity2 that her office was padlocked without any e>planation or
Austification2 that her salary was withheld without cause since 6pril /, /&002 that when she filed her vacation leave,
she was given the run9around treatment in the approval of her leave in connivance with 3r. $odolfo 8illegas and that
she was the o+Aect of a well9engineered trumped9up charge in an administrative complaint filed +y 3r. $odolfo
8illegas (6nne> B).
5n the other hand, !ansuelo !ala+or is the duly elected 8ice9!ayor of "loilo #ity and complainants $olando 3a+ao,
3an 3alido, German Gon.ales, Larry 5ng and :duardo Pefia Pedondo are mem+ers of the Sangguniang
Panglunsod of the #ity of "loilo. Their complaint arose out from the case where #ouncilor Larry 5ng, whose key to his
office was unceremoniously and without previous notice, taken +y petitioner. ;ithout an office, #ouncilor 5ng had to
hold office at Pla.a Li+ertad, The 8ice9!ayor and the other complainants sympathi.ed with him and decided to do the
same. 7owever, the petitioner, together with its fully9armed security men, forcefully drove them away from Pla.a
Li+ertad. #ouncilor 5ng denounced the petitioner@s actuations the following day in the radio station and decided to
hold office at the 4reedom Grandstand at "loilo #ity and there were so many people who gathered to witness the
incident. 7owever, +efore the group could reach the area, the petitioner, together with his security men, led the
firemen using a firetruck in do.ing water to the people and the +ystanders.
6nother administrative case was filed +y Pancho :r+ite, a +arangay tanod, appointed +y former mayor $osa 5.
#aram. 5n !arch /', /&00, without the +enefit of charges filed against him and no warrant of arrest was issued,
:r+ite was arrested and detained at the #ity 1ail of "loilo #ity upon orders of petitioner. "n Aail, he was allegedly
mauled +y other detainees there+y causing inAuries 7e was released only the following day.
3
The !ayor thereafter answered
4
and the cases were shortly set for hearing. The opinion of the #ourt of 6ppeals also set forth the
succeeding events=
>>> >>> >>>
The initial hearing in the #a+aluna and 5rtigo.a cases were set for hearing on 1une (?9(/, /&00 at the $egional
5ffice of the 3epartment of Local Government in "loilo #ity. %otices, through telegrams, were sent to the parties
(6nne> L) and the parties received them, including the petitioner. The petitioner asked for a postponement +efore the
scheduled date of hearing and was represented +y counsel, 6tty. Samuel #astro. The hearing officers, 6tty. Salvador
Cue+ral and 6tty. !arino Bermude. had to come all the way from !anila for the two9day hearings +ut was actually
held only on 1une (?,/&00 in view of the ina+ility and unpreparedness of petitioner@s counsel.
The ne>t hearings were re9set to 1uly (), (-, (,,/&00 in the same venue9"loilo #ity. 6gain, the petitioner attempted to
delay the proceedings and moved for a postponement under the e>cuse that he had Aust hired his counsel.
%onetheless, the hearing officers denied the motion to postpone, in view of the fact that the parties were notified +y
telegrams of the scheduled hearings (6nne> !).
"n the said hearings, petitioner@s counsel cross9e>amined the complainants and their witnesses.
4inding pro+a+le grounds and reasons, the respondent issued a preventive suspension order on 6ugust //, /&00 to
last until 5cto+er //,/&00 for a period of si>ty (-?) days.
Then the ne>t investigation was set on Septem+er (/, /&00 and the petitioner again asked for a postponement to
Septem+er (-,/&00. 5n Septem+er (-, /&00, the complainants and petitioner were present, together with their
respective counsel. The petitioner sought for a postponement which was denied. "n these hearings which were held
in !ala the petitioner testified in 6dm. #ase %o. #9/?(&0 and /?(&&.
The investigation was continued regarding the !ala+or case and the complainants testified including their witnesses.
5n 5cto+er /?, /&00, petitioner@s counsel, 6tty. 5riginal moved for a postponement of the 5cto+er (*, /&00 hearing
to %ovem+er , to //, /&00 which was granted. 7owever, the motion for change of venue as denied due to lack of
funds. 6t the hearing on %ovem+er ,, /&00, the parties and counsel were present. Petitioner reiterated his motion to
change venue and moved for postponement anew. The counsel discussed a proposal to take the deposition of
witnesses in "loilo #ity so the hearing was indefinitely postponed. 7owever, the parties failed to come to terms and
after the parties were notified of the hearing, the investigation was set to 3ecem+er /' to /), /&00.
The petitioner sought for another postponement on the ground that his witnesses were sick or cannot attend the
investigation due to lack of transportation. The motion was denied and the petitioner was given up to 3ecem+er /*,
/&00 to present his evidence.
5n 3ecem+er /*,/&00, petitioner@s counsel insisted on his motion for postponement and the hearing officers gave
petitioner up to 3ecem+er /), /&00 to present his evidence. 5n 3ecem+er /), /&00, the petitioner failed to present
evidence and the cases were considered su+mitted for resolution.
"n the meantime, a prima facie evidence was found to e>ist in the ar+itrary detention case filed +y Pancho :r+ite so
the respondent ordered the petitioner@s second preventive suspension dated 5cto+er //, /&00 for another si>ty (-?)
days. The petitioner was a+le to o+tain a restraining order and a writ of preliminary inAunction in the $egional Trial
#ourt, Branch '' of "loilo #ity. The second preventive suspension was not enforced.
5
6midst the two successive suspensions, !ayor Gan.on instituted an action for prohi+ition against the respondent Secretary of Local
Government (now, "nterior) in the $egional Trial #ourt, "loilo #ity, where he succeeded in o+taining a writ of preliminary inAunction.
Presently, he instituted #69G.$. SP %o. /-*/,, an action for prohi+ition, in the respondent #ourt of 6ppeals.
!eanwhile, on !ay ', /&&?, the respondent Secretary issued another order, preventively suspending !ayor Gan.on for another si>ty
days, the third time in twenty months, and designating meantime 8ice9!ayor !ansueto !ala+or as acting mayor. Dndaunted, !ayor
Gan.on commenced #69G.$. SP %o. (?,'- of the #ourt of 6ppeals, a petition for prohi+ition,
6
(!ala+or it is to +e noted, is one of the
complainants, and hence, he is interested in seeing !ayor Gan.on ousted.)
5n Septem+er ,, /&0&, the #ourt of 6ppeals rendered Audgment, dismissing #69G.$. SP %o. /-*/,. 5n 1uly ), /&&?, it likewise
promulgated a decision, dismissing #69G.$. SP %o. (?,'-. "n a $esolution dated 1anuary (*, /&&?, it issued a $esolution certifying
the petition of !ary 6nn 6rtieda, who had +een similary charged +y the respondent Secretary, to this #ourt.
5n 1une (-,/&&?, we issued a Temporary $estraining 5rder, +arring the respondent Secretary from implementing the suspension
orders, and restraining the enforcement of the #ourt of 6ppeals@ two decisions.
"n our $esolution of %ovem+er (&, /&&?, we consolidated all three cases. "n our $esolutions of 1anuary /), /&&/, we gave due course
thereto.
!ayor Gan.on claims as a preliminary (G$ %o. &'()(), that the 3epartment of Local Government in hearing the ten cases against him,
had denied him due process of law and that the respondent Secretary had +een E+iased, preAudicial and hostileE towards him
7
arising
from his (!ayor Gan.on@s) alleged refusal to Aoin the La+an ng 3emokratikong Pilipino party

and the running political rivalry they


maintained in the last congressional and local elections2
!
and his alleged refusal to operate a lottery in "loilo #ity.
1"
7e also alleges that
he re<uested the Secretary to lift his suspension since it had come ninety days prior to an election (the +arangay elections of %ovem+er
/*, /&00),
11
notwithstanding which, the latter proceeded with the hearing and meted out two more suspension orders of the
aforementioned cases.
12
7e likewise contends that he sought to +ring the cases to "loilo #ity (they were held in !anila) in order to
reduce the costs of proceeding, +ut the Secretary reAected his re<uest.
13
7e states that he asked for postponement on Evalid and
Austifia+leE
14
grounds, among them, that he was suffering from a heart ailment which re<uired confinement2 that his EvitalE
15
witness
was also hospitali.ed
16
+ut that the latter unduly denied his re<uest.
17
!ayor Gan.on@s primary argument (G.$. %os. &'()( and &)(*)) is that the Secretary of Local Government is devoid, in any event, of
any authority to suspend and remove local officials, an argument reiterated +y the petitioner !ary 6nn $ivera 6rtieda (G.$. %o. &',*-).
6s to !ayor Gan.on@s charges of denial of due process, the records do not show very clearly in what manner the !ayor might have
+een deprived of his rights +y the respondent Secretary. 7is claims that he and Secretary Luis9Santos were (are) political rivals and that
his EpersecutionE was politically motivated are pure speculation and although the latter does not appear to have denied these
contentions (as he, !ayor Gan.on, claims), we can not take his word for it the way we would have under less political circumstances,
considering furthermore that Epolitical feudE has often +een a good e>cuse in contesting complaints.
The !ayor has failed furthermore to su+stantiate his say9so@s that Secretary Santos had attempted to seduce him to Aoin the
administration party and to operate a lottery in "loilo #ity. 6gain, although the Secretary failed to re+ut his allegations, we can not accept
them, at face value, much more, as Audicial admissions as he would have us accept them
1
for the same reasons a+ove9stated and
furthermore, +ecause his say so@s were never corro+orated +y independent testimonies. 6s a responsi+le pu+lic official, Secretary
Santos, in pursuing an official function, is presumed to +e performing his duties regularly and in the a+sence of contrary evidence, no ill
motive can +e ascri+ed to him.
6s to !ayor Gan.on@s contention that he had re<uested the respondent Secretary to defer the hearing on account of the ninety9day +an
prescri+ed +y Section -( of Batas Blg. '',, the #ourt finds the <uestion to +e moot and academic since we have in fact restrained the
Secretary from further hearing the complaints against the petitioners.
1!
6s to his re<uest, finally, for postponements, the #ourt is afraid that he has not given any compelling reason why we should overturn
the #ourt of 6ppeals, which found no convincing reason to overrule Secretary Santos in denying his re<uests. Besides, postponements
are a matter of discretion on the part of the hearing officer, and +ased on !ayor Gan.on@s a+ove story, we are not convinced that the
Secretary has +een guilty of a grave a+use of discretion.
The #ourt can not say, under these circumstances, that Secretary Santos@ actuations deprived !ayor Gan.on of due process of law.
;e come to the core <uestion= ;hether or not the Secretary of Local Government, as the President@s alter ego, can suspend andor
remove local officials.
"t is the petitioners@ argument that the /&0, #onstitution
2"
no longer allows the President, as the /&') and /&,' #onstitutions did, to
e>ercise the power of suspension andor removal over local officials. 6ccording to +oth petitioners, the #onstitution is meant, first, to
strengthen self9rule +y local government units and second, +y deleting the phrase
21
as may +e provided +y law to strip the President of
the power of control over local governments. "t is a view, so they contend, that finds support in the de+ates of the #onstitutional
#ommission. The provision in <uestion reads as follows=
Sec. *. The President of the Philippines shall e>ercise general supervision over local governments. Provinces with
respect to component cities and municipalities, and cities and municipalities with respect to component +arangays
shall ensure that the acts of their component units are within the scope of their prescri+ed powers and functions.
22
"t modifies a counterpart provision appearing in the /&') #onstitution, which we <uote=
Sec. /?. The President shall have control of all the e>ecutive departments, +ureaus, or offices, e>ercise general
supervision over all Local governments as may +e provided +y law, and take care that the laws +e faithfully
e>ecuted.
23
The petitioners su+mit that the deletion (of Eas may +e provided +y lawE) is significant, as their argument goes, since= (/) the power of
the President is Eprovided +y lawE and (() hence, no law may provide for it any longer.
"t is to +e noted that in meting out the suspensions under <uestion, the Secretary of Local Government acted in consonance with the
specific legal provisions of Batas Blg. '',, the Local Government #ode, we <uote=
Sec. -(. Notice of Hearing. ;ithin seven days after the complaint is filed, the !inister of local Government, or the
sanggunian concerned, as the case may +e, shall re<uire the respondent to su+mit his verified answer within seven
days from receipt of said complaint, and commence the hearing and investigation of the case within ten days after
receipt of such answer of the respondent. %o investigation shall +e held within ninety days immediately prior to an
election, and no preventive suspension shall +e imposed with the said period. "f preventive suspension has +een
imposed prior to the aforesaid period, the preventive suspension shall +e lifted.
24
Sec. -'. Preventive Suspension. F (/) Preventive suspension may +e imposed +y the !inister of Local Government
if the respondent is a provincial or city official, +y the provincial governor if the respondent is an elective municipal
official, or +y the city or municipal mayor if the respondent is an elective +arangay official.
(() Preventive suspension may +e imposed at any time after the issues are Aoined, when there is reasona+le ground
to +elieve that the respondent has committed the act or acts complained of, when the evidence of culpa+ility is
strong, when the gravity of the offense so warrants, or when the continuance in office of the respondent could
influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence. "n all cases,
preventive suspension shall not e>tend +eyond si>ty days after the start of said suspension.
(') 6t the e>piration of si>ty days, the suspended official shall +e deemed reinstated in office without preAudice to the
continuation of the proceedings against him until its termination. 7owever @ if the delay in the proceedings of the case
is due to his fault, neglect or re<uest, the time of the delay shall not +e counted in computing the time of
suspension.
25
The issue, as the #ourt understands it, consists of three <uestions= (/) 3id the /&0, #onstitution, in deleting the phrase Eas may +e
provided +y lawE intend to divest the President of the power to investigate, suspend, discipline, andor remove local officialsG (() 7as
the #onstitution repealed Sections -( and -' of the Local Government #odeG (') ;hat is the significance of the change in the
constitutional languageG
"t is the considered opinion of the #ourt that notwithstanding the change in the constitutional language, the charter did not intend to
divest the legislature of its right or the President of her prerogative as conferred +y e>isting legislation to provide administrative
sanctions against local officials. "t is our opinion that the omission (of Eas may +e provided +y lawE) signifies nothing more than to
underscore local governments@ autonomy from congress and to +reak #ongress@ EcontrolE over local government affairs. The
#onstitution did not, however, intend, for the sake of local autonomy, to deprive the legislature of all authority over municipal
corporations, in particular, concerning discipline.
6utonomy does not, after all, contemplate making mini9states out of local government units, as in the federal governments of the Dnited
States of 6merica (or Bra.il or Germany), although 1efferson is said to have compared municipal corporations euphemistically to Esmall
repu+lics.E
26
6utonomy, in the constitutional sense, is su+Aect to the guiding star, though not control, of the legislature, al+eit the
legislative responsi+ility under the #onstitution and as the Esupervision clauseE itself suggest9is to wean local government units from
over9dependence on the central government.
"t is noteworthy that under the #harter, Elocal autonomyE is not instantly self9e>ecuting, +ut su+Aect to, among other things, the passage
of a local government code,
27
a local ta> law,
2
income distri+ution legislation,
2!
and a national representation law,
3"
and
measures
31
designed to reali.e autonomy at the local level. "t is also noteworthy that in spite of autonomy, the #onstitution places the
local government under the general supervision of the :>ecutive. "t is noteworthy finally, that the #harter allows #ongress to include in
the local government code provisions for removal of local officials, which suggest that #ongress may e>ercise removal powers, and as
the e>isting Local Government #ode has done, delegate its e>ercise to the President. Thus=
Sec. '. The #ongress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and
accounta+le local government structure instituted through a system of decentrali.ation with effective mechanisms of
recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsi+ilities
and resources, and provide for the <ualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and
functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organi.ation and operation of the local
units.
32
6s hereina+ove indicated, the deletion of Eas may +e provided +y lawE was meant to stress, sub silencio, the o+Aective of the framers to
strengthen local autonomy +y severing congressional control of its affairs, as o+served +y the #ourt of 6ppeals, like the power of local
legislation.
33
The #onstitution did nothing more, however, and insofar as e>isting legislation authori.es the President (through the
Secretary of Local Government) to proceed against local officials administratively, the #onstitution contains no prohi+ition.
The petitioners are under the impression that the #onstitution has left the President mere supervisory powers, which supposedly
e>cludes the power of investigation, and denied her control, which allegedly em+races disciplinary authority. "t is a mistaken impression
+ecause legally, EsupervisionE is not incompati+le with disciplinary authority as this #ourt has held,
34
thus=
>>> >>> >>>
"t is true that in the case of !ondano vs. Silvosa, )/ 5ff. Ga.., %o. - p. (00*, this #ourt had occasion to discuss the
scope and e>tent of the power of supervision +y the President over local government officials in contrast to the power
of control given to him over e>ecutive officials of our government wherein it was emphasi.ed that the two terms,
control and supervision, are two different things which differ one from the other in meaning and e>tent. Thus in that
case the #ourt has made the following digression= E"n administration law supervision means overseeing or the power
or authority of an officer to see that su+ordinate officers perform their duties. "f the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them
the former may take such action or step as prescri+ed +y law to make them perform their duties. #ontrol, on the other
hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify of set aside what a su+ordinate officer had done in the
performance of his duties and to su+stitute the Audgment of the former for that of the latter.E But from this
pronouncement it cannot +e reasona+ly inferred that the power of supervision of the President over local government
officials does not include the power of investigation when in his opinion the good of the pu+lic service so re<uires, as
postulated in Section -*(c) of the $evised 6dministrative #ode. ...
35
>>> >>> >>>
E#ontrolE has +een defined as Ethe power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a su+ordinate officer had done in the
performance of his duties and to su+stitute the Audgment of the former for test of the latter.E
36
ESupervisionE on the other hand means
Eoverseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that su+ordinate officers perform their duties.
37
6s we held,
3
however,
EinvestigatingE is not inconsistent with EoverseeingE, although it is a lesser power than EalteringE. The impression is apparently
e>acer+ated +y the #ourt@s pronouncements in at least three cases,Lacson v. Roque,
3!
Hebron v. Reyes,
4"
and Mondano v.
Silvosa,
41
and possi+ly, a fourth one, Pelae. v. 6uditor General.
42
"n Lacson, this #ourt said that the President enAoyed no control
powers +ut only supervision Eas may +e provided +y law,E
43
a rule we reiterated in Hebron, and Mondano. "n Pelaez, we stated that the
President Emay not . . . suspend an elective official of a regular municipality or take any disciplinary action against him, e>cept on
appeal from a decision of the corresponding provincial +oard.E
44
7owever, neither Lacson nor Hebron nor Mondano categorically
+anned the #hief :>ecutive from e>ercising acts of disciplinary authority +ecause she did not e>ercise control powers, +ut +ecause no
law allowed her to e>ercise disciplinary authority. Thus, according to Lacson=
The contention that the President has inherent power to remove or suspend municipal officers is without dou+t not
well taken. $emoval and suspension of pu+lic officers are always controlled +y the particular law applica+le and its
proper construction su+Aect to constitutional limitations.
45
"n Hebron we stated=
6ccordingly, when the procedure for the suspension of an officer is specified +y law, the same must +e deemed
mandatory and adhered to strictly, in the a+sence of e>press or clear provision to the contrary9which does not et with
respect to municipal officers ...
46
"n Mondano, the #ourt held=
... The #ongress has e>pressly and specifically lodged the provincial supervision over municipal officials in the
provincial governor who is authori.ed to Ereceive and investigate complaints made under oath against municipal
officers for neglect of duty, oppression, corruption or other form of maladministration of office, and conviction +y final
Audgment of any crime involving moral turpitude.E 6nd if the charges are serious, Ehe shall su+mit written charges
touching the matter to the provincial +oard, furnishing a copy of such charges to the accused either personally or +y
registered mail, and he may in such case suspend the officer (not +eing the municipal treasurer) pending action +y
the +oard, if in his opinion the charge +y one affecting the official integrity of the officer in <uestion.E Section 0- of the
$evised 6dministration #ode adds nothing to the power of supervision to +e e>ercised +y the 3epartment 7ead over
the administration of ... municipalities ... . "f it +e construed that it does and such additional power is the same
authority as that vested in the 3epartment 7ead +y section ,&(c) of the $evised 6dministrative #ode, then such
additional power must +e deemed to have +een a+rogated +y Section //?(l), 6rticle 8"" of the #onstitution.
47
>>> >>> >>>
"n Pelaez, we stated that the President can not impose disciplinary measures on local officials e>cept on appeal from the provincial
+oard pursuant to the 6dministrative #ode.
4
Thus, in those case that this #ourt denied the President the power (to suspendremove) it was not +ecause we did not think that the
President can not e>ercise it on account of his limited power, +ut +ecause the law lodged the power elsewhere. But in those cases ii
which the law gave him the power, the #ourt, as in Ganzon v. ayanan, found little difficulty in sustaining him.
4!
The #ourt does not +elieve that the petitioners can rightfully point to the de+ates of the #onstitutional #ommission to defeat the
President@s powers. The #ourt +elieves that the deli+erations are +y themselves inconclusive, +ecause although #ommissioner 1ose
%olledo would e>clude the power of removal from the President,
5"
#ommissioner Blas 5ple would not.
51
The #ourt is conse<uently reluctant to say that the new #onstitution has repealed the Local Government #ode, Batas Blg. ',. 6s we
said, EsupervisionE and EremovalE are not incompati+le terms and one may stand with the other notwithstanding the stronger e>pression
of local autonomy under the new #harter. ;e have indeed held that in spite of the approval of the #harter, Batas Blg. '', is still in force
and effect.
52
6s the #onstitution itself declares, local autonomy means Ea more responsive and accounta+le local government structure instituted
through a system of decentrali.ation.E
53
The #onstitution as we o+served, does nothing more than to +reak up the monopoly of the
national government over the affairs of local governments and as put +y political adherents, to Eli+erate the local governments from the
imperialism of !anila.E 6utonomy, however, is not meant to end the relation of partnership and inter9dependence +etween the central
administration and local government units, or otherwise, to user in a regime of federalism. The #harter has not taken such a radical
step. Local governments, under the #onstitution, are su+Aect to regulation, however limited, and for no other purpose than precisely,
al+eit parado>ically, to enhance self9 government.
6s we o+served in one case,
54
decentrali.ation means devolution of national administration +ut not power to the local levels. Thus=
%ow, autonomy is either decentrali.ation of administration or decentrali.ation of power. There is decentrali.ation of
administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political su+divisions in order to
+roaden the +ase of government power and in the process to make local governments Emore responsive and
accounta+le,E and Eensure their fullest development as self9reliant communities and make them more effective
partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress.E 6t the same time, it relieves the central
government of the +urden of managing local affairs and ena+les it to concentrate on national concerns. The President
e>ercises Egeneral supervisionE over them, +ut only to Eensure that local affairs are administered according to law.E
7e has no control over their acts in the sense that he can su+stitute their Audgments with his own.
3ecentrali.ation of power, on the other hand, involves an a+dication of political power in the favor of local
governments units declared to +e autonomous, "n that case, the autonomous government is free to chart its own
destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. 6ccording to a constitutional author,
decentrali.ation of power amounts to Eself9immolation,E since in that event, the autonomous government +ecomes
accounta+le not to the central authorities +ut to its constituency.
55
The successive si>ty9day suspensions imposed on !ayor $odolfo Gan.on is al+eit another matter. ;hat +others the #ourt, and what
indeed looms very large, is the fact that since the !ayor is facing ten administrative charges, the !ayor is in fact facing the possi+ility of
-?? days of suspension, in the event that all ten cases yield pri!a faciefindings. The #ourt is not of course tolerating misfeasance in
pu+lic office (assuming that !ayor Gan.on is guilty of misfeasance) +ut it is certainly another <uestion to make him serve -?? days of
suspension, which is effectively, to suspend him out of office. 6s we held=
56
(. Petitioner is a duly elected municipal mayor of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. 7is term of office does not e>pire until
/&0-. ;ere it not for this information and the suspension decreed +y the Sandigan+ayan according to the 6nti9Graft
and #orrupt Practices 6ct, he would have +een all this while in the full discharge of his functions as such municipal
mayor. 7e was elected precisely to do so. 6s of 5cto+er (-, /&0', he has +een una+le to. it is a +asic assumption of
the electoral process implicit in the right of suffrage that the people are entitled to the services of elective officials of
their choice. 4or misfeasance or malfeasance, any of them could, of course, +e proceeded against administratively
or, as in this instance, criminally. "n either case, !s culpa+ility must +e esta+lished. !oreover, if there +e a criminal
action, he is entitled to the constitutional presumption of innocence. 6 preventive suspension may +e Austified. "ts
continuance, however, for an unreasona+le length of time raises a due process <uestion. 4or even if thereafter he
were ac<uitted, in the meanwhile his right to hold office had +een nullified. #learly, there would +e in such a case an
inAustice suffered +y him. %or is he the only victim. There is inAustice inflicted likewise on the people of Lianga They
were deprived of the services of the man they had elected to serve as mayor. "n that sense, to paraphrase 1ustice
#ardo.o, the protracted continuance of this preventive suspension had outrun the +ounds of reason and resulted in
sheer oppression. 6 denial of due process is thus <uite manifest. "t is to avoid such an unconstitutional application
that the order of suspension should +e lifted.
57
The plain truth is that this #ourt has +een ill at ease with suspensions, for the a+ove reasons,
5
and so also, +ecause it is out of the
ordinary to have a vacancy in local government. The sole o+Aective of a suspension, as we have held,
5!
is simply Eto prevent the
accused from hampering the normal cause of the investigation with his influence and authority over possi+le witnessesE
6"
or to keep
him off Ethe records and other evidence.
61
"t is a means, and no more, to assist prosecutors in firming up a case, if any, against an erring local official. Dnder the Local
Government #ode, it can not e>ceed si>ty days,
62
which is to say that it need not +e e>actly si>ty days long if a shorter period is
otherwise sufficient, and which is also to say that it ought to +e lifted if prosecutors have achieved their purpose in a shorter span.
Suspension is not a penalty and is not unlike preventive imprisonment in which the accused is held to insure his presence at the trial. "n
+oth cases, the accused (the respondent) enAoys a presumption of innocence unless and until found guilty.
Suspension finally is temporary and as the Local Government #ode provides, it may +e imposed for no more than si>ty days. 6s we
held,
63
a longer suspension is unAust and unreasona+le, and we might add, nothing less than tyranny.
6s we o+served earlier, imposing -?? days of suspension which is not a remote possi+ility !ayor Gan.on is to all intents and purposes,
to make him spend the rest of his term in inactivity. "t is also to make, to all intents and purposes, his suspension permanent.
"t is also, in fact, to mete out punishment in spite of the fact that the !ayor@s guilt has not +een proven. ;orse, any a+solution will +e for
naught +ecause needless to say, the length of his suspension would have, +y the time he is reinstated, wiped out his tenure
considera+ly.
The #ourt is not to +e mistaken for o+structing the efforts of the respondent Secretary to see that Austice is done in "loilo #ity, yet it is
hardly any argument to inflict on !ayor Gan.on successive suspensions when apparently, the respondent Secretary has had sufficient
time to gather the necessary evidence to +uild a case against the !ayor without suspending him a day longer. ;hat is intriguing is that
the respondent Secretary has +een cracking down, so to speak, on the !ayor piecemeal apparently, to pin him down ten times the
pain, when he, the respondent Secretary, could have pursued a consolidated effort.
;e reiterate that we are not precluding the President, through the Secretary of "nterior from e>ercising a legal power, yet we are of the
opinion that the Secretary of "nterior is e>ercising that power oppressively, and needless to say, with a grave a+use of discretion.
The #ourt is aware that only the third suspension is under <uestions, and that any talk of future suspensions is in fact premature. The
fact remains, however, that !ayor Gan.on has +een made to serve a total of /(? days of suspension and the possi+ility of si>ty days
more is argua+ly around the corner (which amounts to a violation of the Local Government #ode which +rings to light a pattern of
suspensions intended to suspend the !ayor the rest of his natural tenure. The #ourt is simply foreclosing what appears to us as a
concerted effort of the State to perpetuate an ar+itrary act.
6s we said, we can not tolerate such a state of affairs.
;e are therefore allowing !ayor $odolfo Gan.on to suffer the duration of his third suspension and lifting, for the purpose, the
Temporary $estraining 5rder earlier issued. "nsofar as the seven remaining charges are concerned, we are urging the 3epartment of
Local Government, upon the finality of this 3ecision, to undertake steps to e>pedite the same, su+Aect to !ayor Gan.on@s usual
remedies of appeal, Audicial or administrative, or certiorari, if warranted, and meanwhile, we are precluding the Secretary from meting
out further suspensions +ased on those remaining complaints, notwithstanding findings of pri!a facie evidence.
"n resume the #ourt is laying down the following rules=
/. Local autonomy, under the #onstitution, involves a mere decentrali.ation of administration, not of power, in which local officials
remain accounta+le to the central government in the manner the law may provide2
(. The new #onstitution does not prescri+e federalism2
'. The change in constitutional language (with respect to the supervision clause) was meant +ut to deny legislative control over local
governments2 it did not e>empt the latter from legislative regulations provided regulation is consistent with the fundamental premise of
autonomy2
*. Since local governments remain accounta+le to the national authority, the latter may, +y law, and in the manner set forth therein,
impose disciplinary action against local officials2
). ESupervisionE and EinvestigationE are not inconsistent terms2 EinvestigationE does not signify EcontrolE (which the President does not
have)2
-. The petitioner, !ayor $odolfo Gan.on. may serve the suspension so far ordered, +ut may no longer +e suspended for the offenses
he was charged originally2 provided=
a) that delays in the investigation of those charges Edue to his fault, neglect or re<uest, (the time of
the delay) shall not +e counted in computing the time of suspension. HSupra, sec. -'(')I
+) that if during, or after the e>piration of, his preventive suspension, the petitioner commits another
or other crimes and a+uses for which proper charges are filed against him +y the aggrieved party or
parties, his previous suspension shall not +e a +ar to his +eing preventively suspended again, if
warranted under su+par. ((), Section -' of the Local Government #ode.
;7:$:45$:, premises considered, the petitions are 3"S!"SS:3. The Temporary $estraining 5rder issued is L"4T:3. The
suspensions of the petitioners are 644"$!:3, provided that the petitioner, !ayor $odolfo Gan.on, may not +e made to serve future
suspensions on account of any of the remaining administrative charges pending against him for acts committed prior to 6ugust //,
/&00. The Secretary of "nterior is 5$3:$:3 to consolidate all such administrative cases pending against !ayor Gan.on.
The si>ty9day suspension against the petitioner, !ary 6nn $ivera 6rtieda, is 644"$!:3. %o costs.
S5 5$3:$:3.