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Concept of Public Office (6) Shortly after, Ombudsman Desierto issued a Resolution finding probable cause indicting

LAUREL vs. HON. DESIERTO (2002) TTL G Laurel for the violations of the Anti-Graft Law.
Petitioner: Salvador H. Laurel (7) Laurels position on why he was not a public officer:
Respondent: Hon, Aniano Desierto (Ombudsman) (a) Expocorp was a private corporation, not a government-owned or controlled
Doctrines: A public office is the right, authority and duty, created and conferred by law, by (b) The national centennial commission (ncc) was not a public office.
which, for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating (c) Petitioner, both as chairman of the ncc and of expocorp was not a public officer as
power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the defined under the anti-graft & corrupt practices act.
government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public. The individual so invested is
a public officer. Issue: Was Laurel, in his capacity as NCC and Expocorp Chair, a public officer, and therefore
fall under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman? YES.
* performing sovereign functions is what is controlling in determining whether an office is a
public office. So long as an office performs sovereign functions, its officers are considered Ruling:
public officers Both the Constitution and the Ombudsman Act failed to define who public officers are. It is
defined under jurisprudence quoting Mechem 3 [see doctrine] To determine whether a position
Facts: is that of a public officer, the nature of the office need to be a public office.
(1) In 1991, then Pres. Cory Aquino issued Admin Order No. 223 constituting a Committee
for the preparation of the National Centennial Celebration in 1998, later renamed by The characteristics of a public office include the delegation of sovereign functions, its creation
President Ramos, pursuant to E.O. 128, as the National Centennial Commission (NCC), by law and not by contract, an oath, salary, continuance of the position, scope of duties, and
to take charge of preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine Centennial of the designation of the position as an office. The delegation to the individual of some of the
the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the Malolos sovereign functions of government is the most important characteristic in determining
Congress. whether a position is a public office or not.
(2) Then VP Salvador H. Laurel was appointed as Chair. Subsequently, a corporation named
the Philippine Centennial Expo 98 Corporation (Expocorp) was created, where Laurel Laurel posits that the NCC does not possess some of the characteristics mentioned:
was elected Expocorp Chief Executive Officer. (1) There is no delegation of sovereign power
(3) In 1998, Sen. Ana Coseteng delivered a privilege speech denouncing alleged (2) Salary since he did not receive any compensation
anomalies in the construction and operation of the Centennial Exposition Project at the (3) Continuance tenure of NCC is temporary, being an ad hoc body
Clark Special Economic Zone. The speech was referred to The Blue Ribbon Committee 1.
for investigation. Pres. Estrada created an independent citizens committee to investigate (1) the NCC performs executive functions. The executive power is generally defined as
all the facts and circumstances surrounding the Philippine centennial projects. the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into
(4) Both Committees recommended2 further investigation and prosecution of the practical operation and enforcing their due observance.
Ombudsman/DOJ for violating the process of public bidding, in violation of the Anti-Graft
and Corruption Law. Purpose of the creation of NCC: In its preamble, A.O. No. 223 states the purposes for
(5) The Fact-Finding and intelligence board of the Ombudsmans evaluation is to file a formal the creation is to effectively showcase Filipino heritage and thereby strengthen Filipino
complaint against Laurel, as former Chair of NCC and Expocorp. Instead of giving a values. The NCC was precisely created to execute these policies and objectives, to
counter-affidavit, Laurel filed a Motion to Dismiss questioning the Ombudsmans carry them into effect. It bears noting the President, upon whom the executive power is
jurisdiction on the ground that he is not a public officer as contemplated in the Anti- vested, created the NCC by executive order. At the outset, the NCC was created by
Graft Law. His motions were denied (original and MR). Thus filed the present case for virtue of an executive order. The nature of an EO 4 is defined as Acts of the President
certiorari providing for rules of a general or permanent character in implementation or execution of
constitutional or statutory powers shall be promulgated in executive orders.

Laurel himself admitted that the NCC had a role in the countrys economic development
the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation (to attract investors and generate employment in Central Luzon to catalyze economic
the prosecution by the Ombudsman/DOJ of Dr. Salvador Laurel, chair of NCC and of EXPOCORP for violating the rules on public
bidding, relative to the award of centennial contracts to AK (Asia Construction & Development Corp.); for exhibiting manifest bias in
the issuance of the NTP (Notice to Proceed) to AK to construct the FR (Freedom Ring) even in the absence of a valid contract that A recognized authority on the subject. F.R. Mechem: A Treatise on the Law of Public Office and Officers
has caused material injury to government and for participating in the scheme to preclude audit by COA of the funds infused by the 4
government for the implementation of the said contracts all in violation of the anti-graft law. Book III of the Administrative Code (Office of the President), Chapter 2 (Ordinance Power), Section 2
recovery after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.) 5 There can hardly be any dispute that the public corporation. Even assuming that Expocorp is a private corporation, petitioners
promotion of industrialization and full employment is a fundamental state policy. position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Expocorp arose from his Chairmanship of the
NCC. Consequently, his acts or omissions as CEO of Expocorp must be viewed in the light
Laurel futher contends that, following the rule laid down in Torio v Fontanilla, the holding of his powers and functions as NCC Chair.
of a nationwide celebration can be likened to a town fiest a national fiesta, and
therefore a proprietary, not governmental, function of the state. COURT: Laurel is Laurel lost. Petition is DISMISSED.
mistaken, even in the ruling it was said that the surrounding circumstances plus political,
social and cultural backgrounds could produce a conclusion different from Torio. A town
fiesta cannot compare to the National Centennial Celebrations. The celeb was meant to
commemorate the birth of our nation and to memorialize the liberation of our people
from oppression by foregin power. As AO 223 puts it, it was a vehicle for fostering
nationhood and a stron sense of Filipino identity. Even Laurel said himself certainly,
the State is interested in the unity of the people, we wanted to rekindle the love for
freesom, love for country, that is the over-all goal that has to make everybody feel proud
that he is a Filipino, proud of our history, proud of what pur forefathers did in their time.

Cleary, the NCC performs sovereign functions, and therefore a public office, meaning
Laurel, as its chair, is a public officer.

(2) Laurel not being compensated means nothing. The salary is a mere incident and forms
no part of the office. Where a salary or fees is annexed, the office is provided for it is a
naked or honorary office, and is supposed to be accepted merely for the public good. The
chairship may be characterized as an honorary office, as opposed to a lucrative or an
office for profit.

However, Laurel still contends that since he did not receive any compensation for his
services, he is not a public officer as defined under the Anti-Graft Law, and is therefore
beyond the jurisdictin of the Ombudsman.

COURT: There are conflicting definitions 6 of puboff, regarding compensation, under

different laws, and the current proceeding is not the proper forum to settle the issue 7.

(3) Neither is the fact that the NCC was characterized by E.O. No. 128 as an ad-hoc body
make said commission less of a public office. The element of continuance can not be
considered as indispensable.

Having arrived at the conclusion that the NCC performs executive functions and is, therefore,
a public office, Court no longer delved on the issue of whether Expocorp is a private or a

side note: na-bitter pa si koya mo, he wanted the celebration in Batangas because he was from there, but Pres said nah bruh,
Central Luzon needs our help
the definition of public officer under the Anti-Graft Law is Public officer includes elective and appointive officials and employees,
permanent or temporary, whether in the classified or unclassified, or exemption service receiving compensations, even nominal, from
the government. In the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for PubOff and Employees Public official include whether
or not they receive compensation, regardless of amount.
What needs to be determined: Did Laurel receive any compensation, at all? Granting he did not receive any,
records do not reveal if he received allowances or other compensation. He may have been in entiled to per diems
and compensation as CEO of Execorp. Would such fact bear any significance?