D. Power of control and supervision

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1. Doctrine of qualified political agency

Doctrine of qualified political agency. Under the doctrine of qualified political agency, department secretaries are alter egos or assistants of the President and their acts are presumed to be those of the latter unless disapproved or reprobated by him. (Manubay v. Garilao, G.R. No. 140717, 16 April 2009)

Same; Alter ego doctrine. The doctrine of qualified political agency is also known as the alter ego doctrine. (Manalang-Demigillo v. TIDCORP, En Banc, G.R. Nos. 168613 and 185571, 05 March 2013)

General Rule: The doctrine of qualified political agency essentially postulates that the heads of the various executive departments are the alter egos of the President, and, thus, the actions taken by such heads in the performance of their official duties are deemed the acts of the President. (Ibid.)
1) Unless the President himself should disapprove such acts.(Ibid.); or
2) Where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person on the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally. (Carpio v. Executive Secretary, En Banc, G.R. No. 96409, 14 February 1992)

Exercised by the Presdident in person. There are certain constitutional powers and prerogatives of the Chief Executive of the Nation which must be exercised by him in person and no amount of approval or ratification will validate the exercise of any of those powers by any other person. Such, for instance, is his power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and proclaim martial. (Kulayan v. Tan, supra.)

Manalang-Demigillo v. TIDCORP (2013)
In Villena v. The Secretary of Interior, the Department of Justice, upon the request of the Secretary of Interior, investigated Makati Mayor Jose D. Villena and found him guilty of bribery, extortion, and abuse of authority. The Secretary of Interior then recommended to the President the suspension from office of Mayor Villena. Upon approval by the President of the recommendation, the Secretary of Interior suspended Mayor Villena. Unyielding, Mayor Villena challenged his suspension, asserting that the Secretary of Interior had no authority to suspend him from office because there was no specific law granting such power to the Secretary of Interior; and that it was the President alone who was empowered to suspend local government officials. The Court disagreed with Mayor Villena and upheld his suspension, holding that the doctrine of qualified political agency warranted the suspension by the Secretary of Interior.

a. Purpose

This doctrine is in recognition of the fact that in our presidential form of government, all executive organizations are adjuncts of a single Chief Executive; that the heads of the Executive Departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive; and that the multiple executive functions of the President as the Chief Executive are performed through the Executive Departments. The doctrine has been adopted here out of practical necessity, considering that the President cannot be expected to personally perform the multifarious functions of the executive office. (Manalang-Demigillo v. TIDCORP, supra.)

b. Appointment as ex officio member by law

The doctrine of qualified political agency does not apply if Cabinet members seat as ex officio member on a Board of Director of a Government Body or GOCC as it is the law that required them to hold such position and not the President. (Ibid.)

Manalang-Demigillo v. TIDCORP (2013)
The doctrine of qualified political agency could not be extended to the acts of the Board of Directors of TIDCORP despite some of its members being themselves the appointees of the President to the Cabinet. Under Section 10 of Presidential Decree No. 1080, as further amended by Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8494, the five ex officio members were the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority, and the Chairman of the Philippine Overseas Construction Board, while the four other members of the Board were the three from the private sector (at least one of whom should come from the export community), who were elected by the ex officio members of the Board for a term of not more than two consecutive years, and the President of TIDCORP who was concurrently the Vice-Chairman of the Board. Such Cabinet members sat on the Board of Directors of TIDCORP ex officio, or by reason of their office or function, not because of their direct appointment to the Board by the President. Evidently, it was the law, not the President, that sat them in the Board… Under the circumstances, when the members of the Board of Directors effected the assailed 2002 reorganization, they were acting as the responsible members of the Board of Directors of TIDCORP constituted pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1080, as amended by Republic Act No. 8494, not as the alter egos of the President.

2. Executive departments and offices

Administrative relationships. Unless otherwise expressly stated in the Administrative Code or in other laws defining the special relationships of particular agencies, administrative relationships shall be categorized and defined as follows:

1) Supervision and control;

2) Administrative supervision. (Section 38, Chapter 7, Book IV, E.O. 290, Administrative Code)

In administrative law, supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them, the former may take such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter. (Mondano v. Silvosa, G.R. No. L-7708, 30 May 1955)

a. Supervision and control

Supervision and control. Supervision and control – shall include authority to act directly whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a subordinate; direct the performance of duty; restrain the commission of acts; review, approve, reverse or modify acts and decisions of subordinate officials or units; determine priorities in the execution of plans and programs; and prescribe standards, guidelines, plans and programs. (Section 38[1], Chapter 7, Book IV, E.O. 290, Administrative Code)

Same; Control – encompasses supervision and control. Unless a different meaning is explicitly provided in the specific law governing the relationship of particular agencies, the word “control” shall encompass supervision and control as defined in this paragraph. (Section 38[2][c],Ibid.)

b. Administrative supervision

Administrative supervision. Administrative supervision which shall govern the administrative relationship between a department or its equivalent and regulatory agencies or other agencies as may be provided by law, shall be limited to the authority of the department or its equivalent to generally oversee the operations of such agencies and to insure that they are managed effectively, efficiently and economically but without interference with day-to-day activities; or require the submission of reports and cause the conduct of management audit, performance evaluation and inspection to determine compliance with policies, standards and guidelines of the department; to take such action as may be necessary for the proper performance of official functions, including rectification of violations, abuses and other forms of maladministration; and to review and pass upon budget proposals of such agencies but may not increase or add to them. (Section 38[2][a], Chapter 7, Book IV, Ibid.)

Same; Limitation. Such authority shall not, however, extend to:

1) Appointments and other personnel actions in accordance with the decentralization of personnel functions under the Administrative Code, except appeal is made from an action of the appointing authority, in which case the appeal shall be initially sent to the department or its equivalent, subject to appeal in accordance with law;

2) Contracts entered into by the agency in the pursuit of its objectives, the review of which and other procedures related thereto shall be governed by appropriate laws, rules and regulations; and

3) The power to review, reverse, revise, or modify the decisions of regulatory agencies in the exercise of their regulatory or quasi-judicial functions (Section 38[2][b], Chapter 7, Book IV, Ibid.)

Unless a different meaning is explicitly provided in the specific law governing the relationship of particular agencies, the word “supervision” shall encompass administrative supervision as defined in this paragraph. (Section 38[2][c], Chapter 7, Book IV, Ibid.)

Attachment. Attachment refers to the lateral relationship between the department or its equivalent and the attached agency or corporation for purposes of policy and program coordination. The coordination may be accomplished by having the department represented in the governing board of the attached agency or corporation, either as chairman or as a member, with or without voting rights, if this is permitted by the charter; having the attached corporation or agency comply with a system of periodic reporting which shall reflect the progress of programs and projects; and having the department or its equivalent provide general policies through its representative in the board, which shall serve as the framework for the internal policies of the attached corporation or agency; (Section 38[3][a], Chapter 7, Book IV, Ibid.)

3. Local government units

a.  General supervision

General supervision. The President shall exercise general supervision over local governments. (Section 18, Chapter 6, Book III. E.O. 292, Administrative Code)

Supervision, not control. The Constitution vests the President with the power of supervision, not control, over local government units (LGUs). (Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre, En Banc, G.R. No. 132988, 19 July 2020)

Same; No power to withhold or alter authority/power.. Such power enables the President to see to it that LGUs and their officials execute their tasks in accordance with law. While he may issue advisories and seek their cooperation in solving economic difficulties, he cannot prevent them from performing their tasks and using available resources to achieve their goals. He may not withhold or alter any authority or power given them by the law. Thus, the withholding of a portion of internal revenue allotments legally due them cannot be directed by administrative fiat. (Ibid.)

Same; Checking, oversight. The Chief Executive wielded no more authority than that of checking whether local governments or their officials were performing their duties as provided by the fundamental law and by statutes. He cannot interfere with local governments, so long as they act within the scope of their authority. “Supervisory power, when contrasted with control, is the power of mere oversight over an inferior body; it does not include any restraining authority over such body.” (Ibid.)

b. Cabinet Members v. Local Chief Executives

Cabinet MembersLGU Executives
Under our present system of government, executive power is vested in the President. The members of the Cabinet and other executive officials are merely alter egos. As such, they are subject to the power of control of the President, at whose will and behest they can be removed from office; or their actions and decisions changed, suspended or reversed. (Ibid.)The heads of political subdivisions are elected by the people. Their sovereign powers emanate from the electorate, to whom they are directly accountable. By constitutional fiat, they are subject to the President’s supervision only, not control, so long as their acts are exercised within the sphere of their legitimate powers. By the same token, the President may not withhold or alter any authority or power given them by the Constitution and the law. (Ibid.)


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