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The Mayor Filing Cases in Behalf of the City

 

The city mayor as local chief executive has a myriad powers and functions that aid him in performing his duties and the head of the city. Does this power include the power to institute cases in behalf of the city? The Supreme Court in CITY OF CALOOCAN versus COURT OF APPEALS1 held that:

 

the Court shall first resolve the dispute regarding the authority of a mayor to file cases on behalf of his city.

 

Sec. 455 of the Local Government Code provides, among others, the powers and duties of a city mayor, thus:

 

Sec. 455. Chief Executive: Powers, Duties and Compensation.- (a) The city mayor, as the chief executive of the city government, shall exercise such  powers and perform such duties and functions as provided by this Code and other laws.

 

(b) For efficient, effective, and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code, the city mayor shall:

 

(1) xxx;

 

(3) Initiate and maximize the generation of resources and revenues, and apply the same to the implementation of development plans, program objectives and priorities as provided for under Section 18 of this Code, particularly those resources and revenues programmed for agro-industrial development and countryside growth and progress and, relative thereto shall:

 

xxx

 

(ix) Institute or cause to be instituted administrative or judicial proceedings for violation of ordinances in the collection of taxes, fees or charges, and for the recovery of funds and property; and cause the city to be defended against all suits to ensure that its interests, resources and rights shall be adequately protected.

 

            xxx.   emphasis supplied)

 

Meanwhile, Section 9 of the Charter of the City of Caloocan provides:

 

Section 9. General powers and duties of the Mayor. - The Mayor shall have immediate control over the executive and administrative functions of the different departments of the city, subject to the supervision of the President of the Philippines.  He shall have the following general powers and duties:

 

xxx 

 

(d) To cause to be instituted judicial proceedings to recover property and funds of the city wherever found, to cause to be defended all suits against the city, and otherwise to protect the interests of the city;

 

                        xxx.[23]

 

From the foregoing, it is clear that the mayor has the authority to file suits “for the recovery of funds and property” on behalf of the city, even without the prior authorization from the Sanggunian. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that nowhere in the enumerated powers and duties of the Sanggunian[24] can one find the requirement of such prior authorization in favor of the mayor for the purpose of filing suits on behalf of the city.  Civil Case No. C-18308 was filed by Malonzo to enjoin the registration of what he deemed to be an anomalous deed of sale, while Civil Case No. C-18337 was instituted to annul the Deed of Absolute Sale and to cancel the title issued to Gotesco.  Obviously, these suits were filed, initially to preserve, and subsequently to recover, the property subject of the said suits, to protect the interests of the City of Caloocan over the said parcel of land.  Thus, it can be said that the institution of Civil Cases Nos. C-18308 and C-18337 was made within the bounds of Malonzo’s authority as the city mayor.

 

However, being the proper party to file such suits, the mayor must necessarily be the one to sign the certification against forum-shopping, and not the City Legal Officer, who, despite being an official of the City, was merely its counsel and not a party to the case. 

 

1CITY OF CALOOCAN, represented by the Honorable REYNALDO O. MALONZO, in his capacity as City Mayor, Petitioner, versus COURT OF APPEALS, GOTESCO INVESTMENTS, INC., JOSE GO and YOLANDA O. ALFONSO, in her capacity as Register of Deeds of Caloocan City, Respondents., G.R. No. 145004, 2006 May 3, 3rd Division.