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Funa vs Agra

GR 191644 Feb 19 2013

Facts:

Agra was then the Government Corporate Counsel when Pres Arroyo designated him as the
Acting Solicitor General in place of former Sol Gen Devanadera, who has been appointed as the
Secretary of Justice. Again, Agra was designated as the Acting Secretary in place of Secretary
Devanadera when the latter resigned. Agra then relinquished his position as Corporate Counsel
and continued to perform the duties of an Acting Solicitor General.

Funa, a concerned citizen, questioned his appointment. Agra argued that his concurrent
designations were merely in a temporary capacity. Even assuming that he was holding multiple
offices at the same time, his designation as an Acting Sol Gen is merely akin to a hold-over, so
that he never received salaries and emoluments for being the Acting Sol Gen when he was
appointed as the Acting Secretary of Justice.

Issue 1: W/N Agras designation as Acting Secretary of Justice is valid

No. The designation of Agra as Acting Secretary of Justice concurrently with his position of
Acting Solicitor General violates the constitutional prohibition under Article VII, Section 13 of
the 1987 Constitution.

It is immaterial that Agras designation was in an acting or temporary capacity. Section 13


plainly indicates that the intent of the Framers of the Constitution is to impose a stricter
prohibition on the President and the Cabinet Members in so far as holding other offices or
employments in the Government or in GOCCs is concerned. The prohibition against dual or
multiple offices being held by one official must be construed as to apply to all appointments or
designations, whether permanent or temporary, because the objective of Section 13 is to prevent
the concentration of powers in the Executive Department officials, specifically the President, the
Vice-President, the Cabinet Members and their deputies and assistants.

Issue 2: W/N Agra may concurrently hold the positions by virtue of the hold-over principle

No. Agras designation as the Acting Secretary of Justice was not in an ex officio capacity, by
which he would have been validly authorized to concurrently hold the two positions due to the
holding of one office being the consequence of holding the other.

Being included in the stricter prohibition embodied in Section 13, Agra cannot liberally apply in
his favor the broad exceptions provided in Article IX-B, Sec 7 (2) of the Constitution to justify his
designation as Acting Secretary of Justice concurrently with his designation as Acting Solicitor
General, or vice versa. It is not sufficient for Agra to show that his holding of the other office
was allowed by law or the primary functions of his position. To claim the exemption of his
concurrent designations from the coverage of the stricter prohibition under Section 13, he needed
to establish that his concurrent designation was expressly allowed by the Constitution.

Issue 3: W/N the offices of the Solicitor General and Secretary of Justice is in an ex officio
capacity in relation to the other

No. The powers and functions of the Solicitor General are neither required by the primary
functions nor included in the powers of the DOJ, and vice versa. The OSG, while attached to the
DOJ, is not a constituent of the latter, as in fact, the Administrative Code of 1987 decrees that the
OSG is independent and autonomous. With the enactment of RA 9417, the Solicitor General is
now vested with a cabinet rank, and has the same qualifications for appointment, rank,
prerogatives, allowances, benefits and privileges as those of Presiding Judges of the Court of
Appeals.