CA junks case vs Suarez

Manila, Philippines -- The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the decision of the Office of the President (OP) to dismiss the administrative charges filed against Quezon Province Governor David Suarez and affirm the exclusive power of the governor to enter into contract on behalf of the province of Quezon.

In a 15-page decision penned by Associate Justice Magdangal M. De Leon, the CA's eleventh division dismissed the petition of Quezon province Vice Governor Vicente Alcala who sought for the reversal of the November 28, 2011 decision of the OP after the agency exonerated Suarez from administrative liabilities as a result of the passage of Resolution No. 2011-750.

Resolution No. 2011-750 amended Resolution Nos. 2011-692 to 701 and granted Suarez the ''sole authority to sign for and in behalf of the Province of Quezon with respect to the different MOAs [memorandum of agreements] by removing the provisions which included petitioner [Mr. Alcala] as a witness and co-signatory thereto.''

''Charged based on mere suspicion and speculation... cannot be given credence,'' the court said.
Apart from Suarez, the administrative case filed against the nine members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng lalawigan ng Quezon were also dismissed. Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan were Romano C. Talaga, Teresita O. Dator, Lourdes C. De Luna-Pasatiempo, Victor A. Reyes, Manuel M. Butardo, Gerald D. Ortiz, Rachel A. Ubana, Joanna Rose K. Martija, and the governor's brother Donaldo C. Suarez.

Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Stephen C. Cruz and Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez.

In affirming the decision of the OP to dismiss the administrative case against the governor, the CA division stressed that Mr. Alcala's inclusion as a co-signatory and as a witness to various MOAs ''constitute[s] undue interference with the functions of the local chief executive.''

Citing Section 465, Article 1, Chapter 3 of the Local Government Code of 1990, the CA division said the provincial governor shall ''represent the province in all its business transactions and sign in its behalf all bonds, contracts, and obligations, and such other documents upon authority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan [Provincial Council] or pursuant to law or ordinance.''

The appeals court said that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, as the province's legislative body, has the power to authorize the provincial governor to, among other things, negotiate and contract loans and lease public buildings to private parties as mandated by Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Alcala filed a complaint on Sept. 3, 2011 before the OP ordering the suspension of Mr. Suarez and the nine board members for allegedly passing Resolution No. 2011-750 in an illegal manner.
The vice-governor said the resolution was passed in a special session without his consent as the Sangguniang's presiding officer.

He said that his inclusion as a co-signatory in business contracts serves as an ''anticipatory corruption-proof measure sanctioned by the LGC.''

The CA said that ''what is indispensable is the authorization of the Sangguniand as a collegial body and not the separate authorization or consent of the Vice Governor,'' adding that Alcala ''had already given his prior authorization to the Governor to enter into contracts with various government agencies.''

The appeals court said Alcala failed to show evidence that the special session called for by Suarez to pass Resolution No. 2011-750 was done with malice, corrupt practice, or in bad faith.