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F. Powers and duties of public officers

1. POWERS OF PUBLIC OFFICERS

Powers and duties may be granted or provided:

1) Expressly; or

2) Impliedly.

a. Expressly granted

Powers and duties may be expressly granted or provided via the Constitution, statutes, regulations, and similar legal bases.

b. Impliedly granted

Powers and duties may be impliedly granted or provided as follows.

1) Inherent power

The power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is intimately connected with the express power of legislation and does not even have to be expressly granted. Nonetheless, the drafters of the Constitution saw it fit to include a provision that would clearly spell out this power. The incorporation of the rule on legislative inquiry in the Constitution, however, was not intended to authorize the conduct of such inquiries but to limit them and to forestall possible abuse. (Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, En Banc, G.R. No. 180643, 25 March 2007)

2) Doctrine of necessary implication

The doctrine of necessary implication states that what is implied in a statute is as much a part thereof as that which is expressed. Every statute is understood, by implication, to contain all such provisions as may be necessary to effectuate its object and purpose, or to make effective rights, powers, privileges or jurisdiction which it grants, including all such collateral and subsidiary consequences as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms. And every statutory grant of power, right or privilege is deemed to include all incidental power, right or privilege. This is so because the greater includes the lesser. (Chua v. CSC, En Banc, G.R. No. 88979, 07 February 1992)

Case Law

1) The law delegated to the HDMF the rule-making power since this is necessary for the proper exercise of its authority to administer the Fund. Following the doctrine of necessary implication, this grant of express power to formulate implementing rules and regulations must necessarily include the power to amend, revise, alter, or repeal the same. (Yazaki Torres Manufacturing, Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. 130584, 27 June 2006)

c) 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)

LIMITATION: There are certain presidential powers which arise out of exceptional circumstances, and if exercised, would involve the suspension of fundamental freedoms, or at least call for the supersedence of executive prerogatives over those exercised by co-equal branches of government. The declaration of martial law, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the exercise of the pardoning power, notwithstanding the judicial determination of guilt of the accused, all fall within this special class that demands the exclusive exercise by the President of the constitutionally vested power. The list is by no means exclusive, but there must be a showing that the executive power in question is of similar gravitas and exceptional import. (Angeles v. Gaite, G.R. No. 165276, 25 November 2009)

3) Hold-over capacity

The concept of holdover when applied to a public officer implies that the office has a fixed term and the incumbent is holding onto the succeeding term. It is usually provided by law that officers elected or appointed for a fixed term shall remain in office not only for that term but until their successors have been elected and qualified. Where this provision is found, the office does not become vacant upon the expiration of the term if there is no successor elected and qualified to assume it, but the present incumbent will carry over until his successor is elected and qualified, even though it be beyond the term fixed by law. (Lecaroz v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 130872, 25 March 1999)

Case Law

1) Although BP Blg. 51 does not say that a Sanggunian member can continue to occupy his post after the expiration of his term in case his successor fails to qualify, it does, not also say that he is proscribed from holding over. Absent an express or implied constitutional or statutory provision to the contrary, an officer is entitled to stay in office until his successor is appointed or chosen and has qualified. The legislative intent of not allowing holdover must be clearly expressed or at least implied in the legislative enactment, otherwise it is reasonable to assume that the law-making body favors the same. (Ibid.)

2. DUTIES OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES

a. Constitution

1) Take and oath or affirmation

All public officers and employees shall take an oath or affirmation to uphold and defend this Constitution. (Section 4, Part B, Article IX, 1987 Constitution)

2) Submit SALN

SECTION 17. A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law. (Section 17, Article XI, 1987 Constitution)

3) Owe allegiance at all times

Public officers and employees owe the State and this Constitution allegiance at all times, and any public officer or employee who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by law. (Section 18, Article XI, 1987 Constitution)

b. R.A. 6713: Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees

1) Duties of public officials and employees

In the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are under obligation to:

1) Act promptly on letters and requests. – All public officials and employees shall, within fifteen (15) working days from receipt thereof, respond to letters, telegrams or other means of communications sent by the public. The reply must contain the action taken on the request.

2) Submit annual performance reports. – All heads or other responsible officers of offices and agencies of the government and of government-owned or controlled corporations shall, within forty-five (45) working days from the end of the year, render a performance report of the agency or office or corporation concerned. Such report shall be open and available to the public within regular office hours.

3) Process documents and papers expeditiously. – All official papers and documents must be processed and completed within a reasonable time from the preparation thereof and must contain, as far as practicable, not more than three (3) signatories therein. In the absence of duly authorized signatories, the official next-in-rank or officer in charge shall sign for and in their behalf.

4) Act immediately on the public’s personal transactions. – All public officials and employees must attend to anyone who wants to avail himself of the services of their offices and must, at all times, act promptly and expeditiously.

5) Make documents accessible to the public. – All public documents must be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection by, the public within reasonable working hours. (Section 5, R.A. 6713)

2) Norms of conduct of public officials and employees

Every public official and employee shall observe the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties:

1) Commitment to public interest. – Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues.

2) Professionalism. – Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.

3) Justness and sincerity. – Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. They shall not dispense or extend undue favors on account of their office to their relatives whether by consanguinity or affinity except with respect to appointments of such relatives to positions considered strictly confidential or as members of their personal staff whose terms are coterminous with theirs.

4) Political neutrality. – Public officials and employees shall provide service to everyone without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference.

5) Responsiveness to the public. – Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.

6) Nationalism and patriotism. – Public officials and employees shall at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people, promote the use of locally produced goods, resources and technology and encourage appreciation and pride of country and people. They shall endeavor to maintain and defend Philippine sovereignty against foreign intrusion.

7) Commitment to democracy. – Public officials and employees shall commit themselves to the democratic way of life and values, maintain the principle of public accountability, and manifest by deeds the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. They shall at all times uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party.

8) Simple living. – Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form. (Section 4[A], Ibid.)

3) Prohibited acts and transactions

In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

1) Financial and material interest. – Public officials and employees shall not, directly or indirectly, have any financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office.

2) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. – Public officials and employees during their incumbency shall not:

a) Own, control, manage or accept employment as officer, employee, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee or nominee in any private enterprise regulated, supervised or licensed by their office unless expressly allowed by law;

b) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions; or

c) Recommend any person to any position in a private enterprise which has a regular or pending official transaction with their office.

These prohibitions shall continue to apply for a period of one (1) year after resignation, retirement, or separation from public office, except in the case of subparagraph (b) (2) above, but the professional concerned cannot practice his profession in connection with any matter before the office he used to be with, in which case the one-year prohibition shall likewise apply.

3) Disclosure and/or misuse of confidential information. – Public officials and employees shall not use or divulge, confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public, either:

a) To further their private interests, or give undue advantage to anyone; or

b) To prejudice the public interest.

4) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. – Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.

As to gifts or grants from foreign governments, the Congress consents to:

a) The acceptance and retention by a public official or employee of a gift of nominal value tendered and received as a souvenir or mark of courtesy;

b) The acceptance by a public official or employee of a gift in the nature of a scholarship or fellowship grant or medical treatment; or

c) The acceptance by a public official or employee of travel grants or expenses for travel taking place entirely outside the Philippine (such as allowances, transportation, food, and lodging) of more than nominal value if such acceptance is appropriate or consistent with the interests of the Philippines, and permitted by the head of office, branch or agency to which he belongs.

Nothing herein shall be construed to restrict or prohibit any educational, scientific or cultural exchange programs subject to national security requirements. (Section 7, Ibid.)

4) Statements and Disclosure

Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households. (Section 8, Ibid.)

a) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure

All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households. (Section 8[A], Ibid.)

All public officials and employees required under this section to file the aforestated documents shall also execute, within thirty (30) days from the date of their assumption of office, the necessary authority in favor of the Ombudsman to obtain from all appropriate government agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue, such documents as may show their assets, liabilities, net worth, and also their business interests and financial connections in previous years, including, if possible, the year when they first assumed any office in the Government.

Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and the Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections

The Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and the Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections shall be filed by:

1) Constitutional and national elective officials, with the national office of the Ombudsman;

2) Senators and Congressmen, with the Secretaries of the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively; Justices, with the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court; Judges, with the Court Administrator; and all national executive officials with the Office of the President.

3) Regional and local officials and employees, with the Deputy Ombudsman in their respective regions;

4) Officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, with the Office of the President, and those below said ranks, with the Deputy Ombudsman in their respective regions; and

5) All other public officials and employees, defined in Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, with the Civil Service Commission. (Paragraph 4, Section 8[A], Ibid.)

b) Identification and disclosure of relatives

It shall be the duty of every public official or employee to identify and disclose, to the best of his knowledge and information, his relatives in the Government in the form, manner and frequency prescribed by the Civil Service Commission. (Section 8[B], Ibid.)

5) Divestment

A public official or employee shall avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty (60) days from such assumption. (Section 9, Ibid.)

The same rule shall apply where the public official or employee is a partner in a partnership. (Paragraph 2, Section 9, Ibid.)

The requirement of divestment shall not apply to those who serve the Government in an honorary capacity nor to laborers and casual or temporary workers. (Paragraph 3, Section 9, Ibid.)

3. CLASSIFICATIONS OF POWERS AND DUTIES

Powers and duties may either be:

1) Ministerial; or

2) Discretionary.

a. Ministerial

A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. (Sps. Espiridion v. CA, G.R. No. 146933, 08 June 2006)

The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment. (Ibid.)

Clearly, the use of discretion and the performance of a ministerial act are mutually exclusive. (Ibid.)

b. Discretionary

If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. (Ibid.)

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