KAPUNAN, J p:

Doctrine: The NCC was created under Administrative Order No. 223 and Executive Order No. 128 to ensure a more coordinated and synchronized celebrations of the Philippine Centennial and wider participation from the government and non-government or private organizations. It aims to implement the state policies on the promotion of the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources. It is thus a public office performing executive functions. Thus, the Chairman of this Committee is a public officer who may be investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Facts: On June 13, 1991, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Administrative Order No. 223 “constituting a Committee for the preparation of the National Centennial Celebration in 1998.” The Committee was mandated “to take charge of the nationwide preparations for the National Celebration of the Philippine Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the Inauguration of the Malolos Congress.” 

Subsequently, President Fidel V. Ramos issued Executive Order No. 128, “reconstituting the Committee for the preparation of the National Centennial Celebrations in 1988.” It renamed the Committee as the “National Centennial Commission.” Appointed to chair the reconstituted Commission was Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel. Presidents Diosdado M. Macapagal and Corazon C. Aquino were named Honorary Chairpersons. 

Subsequently, a corporation named the Philippine Centennial Expo ’98 Corporation (Expocorp) was created.  Petitioner was among the nine (9) Expocorp incorporators, who were also its first nine (9) directors. Petitioner was elected Expocorp Chief Executive Officer.

On August 5, 1998, Senator Ana Dominique Coseteng delivered a privilege speech in the Senate denouncing alleged anomalies in the construction and operation of the Centennial Exposition Project at the Clark Special Economic Zone. Upon motion of Senator Franklin Drilon, Senator Coseteng’s privilege speech was referred to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigation (The Blue Ribbon Committee) and several other Senate Committees for investigation.

The Evaluation and Preliminary Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman directed petitioner, Chairman of the National Centennial Commission (NCC), to submit his counter affidavit on the charges of anomalies found by the Senate Blue Ribbon and Saguisag Committees. The Blue Ribbon Committee recommended his prosecution for violation of the rules on public bidding on the award of centennial contracts and manifest bias in the issuance of the Notice to Proceed in the absence of a valid contract, while the Saguisag Committee recommended the further investigation of petitioner for violations of Section 3 (e) of RA. No. 3019, Section 4 (a) in relation to Section 11 of R.A. 6713, and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner moved to dismiss on ground of lack of jurisdiction claiming that he is not a public officer and that NCC is a private organization.

Issue: WON petitioner is a public officer.

Held: Yes. The characteristics of a public office, according to Mechem, include the delegation of sovereign functions, its creation by law and not by contract, an oath, salary, continuance of the position, scope of duties, and the designation of the position as an office. 

Petitioner submits that some of these characteristics are not present in the position of NCC Chair, namely: (1) the delegation of sovereign functions; (2) salary, since he purportedly did not receive any compensation; and (3) continuance, the tenure of the NCC being temporary.

Mechem describes the delegation to the individual of some of the sovereign functions of government as “[t]he most important characteristic” in determining whether a position is a public office or not.

We hold that the NCC performs executive functions. The executive power “is generally defined as the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance.”  The executive function, therefore, concerns the implementation of the policies as set forth by law which in this case are those provided in A. O 223’s preamble. Thus, the NCC performs sovereign functions. It is, therefore, a public office, and petitioner, as its Chair, is a public officer.

That petitioner allegedly did not receive any compensation during his tenure is of little consequence. A salary is a usual but not a necessary criterion for determining the nature of the position. It is not conclusive. 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.  Hence, the office of petitioner as NCC Chair may be characterized as an honorary office, as opposed to a lucrative office or an office of profit, i.e., one to which salary, compensation or fees are attached. But it is a public office, nonetheless.

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.

Having arrived at the conclusion that the NCC performs executive functions and is, therefore, a public office, we need no longer delve at length on the issue of whether Expocorp is a private or a public corporation. Even assuming that Expocorp is a private corporation, petitioner’s 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 of his powers and functions as NCC Chair.  

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