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Jun 2, 2008

178 SCRA 457 (1989)

  • "Alter-ego" Doctrine


Estavillo and de Leon are two NBI agents terminated by then Minister of Justice Neptali A. Gonzales. Upon appeal to the Review Committee, the said body declined to act on their petitions for reconsideration on the ground that it had lost its jurisdiction with the ratification of the new Constitution. They were advised instead to seek relief from the Civil Service Commission.

The Merit Systems Protection Board of CSC held that their dismissals were invalid and unconstitutional, having been done in violation of their security of tenure under the 1987 Constitution. Accordingly, the Board ordered their reinstatement.

However, respondent Carpio, as Director of NBI, returned the orders issued by the Secretary of Justice to CSC “without action,” claiming that they were null and void for having been rendered without jurisdiction.


  • Whether or not the Director of the NBI can disobey an explicit and direct order issued to him by the Secretary of Justice


It is an elementary principle of our republican government, enshrined in the Constitution and honored not in the breach but in the observance, that all executive departments, bureaus and offices are under the control of the President of the Philippines.

The President’s power of control is directly exercised by him over the members of the Cabinet who, in turn and by his authority, control the bureaus and other offices under their respective jurisdictions in the executive department. The constitutional vesture of this power in the President is self-executing and does not require statutory implementation, nor may its exercise be limited, much less withdrawn, by the legislature.

Theoretically, the President has full control of all the members of his Cabinet and may appoint them as he sees fit or shuffle them at pleasure, subject only to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, and replace them in his discretion. Once in place, they are at all times under the disposition of the President as their immediate superior. “Without minimizing the importance of the heads of the various departments, their personality is in reality but the projection of that of the President. Hence, their acts, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive.” (Villena v. Secretary of the Interior)

In the case at bar, there is no question that when he directed the respondent to reinstate the petitioners, Sec. Ordonez was acting in the regular discharge of his functions as an alter ego of the President. His acts should therefore have been respected by the respondent Director of the NBI, which is in the Department of Justice under the direct control of its Secretary. As a subordinate in this department, the respondent was (and is) bound to obey the Secretary’s directives, which are presumptively the acts of the President of the Philippines.


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