Mejia vs. Balolong

Flaviano Mejia vs. Pedro Balolong
G.R. No. L-1925
September 16, 1948

FACTS:
Petitioners filed an action of quo warranto against respondents on the ground that the appointments of the latter by the President as councilors of the City of Dagupan were null and void, and that the former are entitled to said offices because they were elected as such in the general election for provincial, municipal and city officials on November 1947.

Under Secs. 7 and 11 of Act no. 170, the Mayor of the City of Dagupan shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines, and the municipal or city councilors shall be elected during every general election for provincial, municipal and city officers provided in the Election Code. Sec. 7 of the Revised Elec. Code prescribes that on the 2nd Tuesday of November 1947 and on the same date every four years thereafter, a regular election shall be held to elect the officials who will occupy all elective provincial, municipal, and city offices throughout the Philippines. And according to Sec. 88 of Act no. 170, the city government of Dagupan “shall be organized on such a date as may be fixed by the President of the Philippines, and upon qualification of the City Mayor and the appointment or election of the Members of the Municipal Board. Pending the next general election for provincial and municipal officials, the offices of the Municipal Board shall be filled by appointment of the President of the Philippines, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments.”

ISSUE:
Whether the appointment of the respondents as councilors of the City of Dagupan by the President of the Philippines is valid.

HELD:
No.
A public corporation is created from the moment the law or charter creating it becomes effective.

The City of Dagupan came into existence as a legal entity upon the approval of Act No. 170 on June 20, 1947 since a statute is only operative from the exact instance of its approval or becoming a law. The date of the organization of the city government of Dagupan which the President is authorized to fix is not and cannot be the date of the creation of the city, because what was to be organized, according to Sec. 88, is the city government, and not the city as an entity. The word ‘organize’ means ‘to prepare (the city) for transaction of business, as assembly, by choosing officers, committees, etc.’ (Funk and Wagnall College Standard Dictionary).

It is obvious that to create a public corporation is one thing and to organize a government thereof is another.

A juridical institution may exist but it cannot act as such before its officers had been appointed or elected. Along this line, the government of the city could not be organized before the city itself is created or comes into existence. It would be absurd to elect or appoint officers of a public/private corporation which does not yet exist.

After the creation of the city took effect, the converted political subdivision continues to act as a municipality until its government has been organized and the officers thereof appointed or elected. The conversion of the municipality into a city did not make ipso facto the acts of the municipality’s elected officers the acts of the City of Dagupan.
The status as a municipality has to continue until the qualification of the successor (city).

The phrase “pending the next general elections for provincial and municipal officials” in Sec. 88 of Act No. 170 must be construed to refer to the general election for provincial and municipal officials in November 1947 which followed the creation of the City of Dagupan on June 20, 1947, and not to the general elections for provincial/municipal officials held after the organization of the City of Dagupan by Presidential proclamation.

To hold that the next general elections referred to in Sec.88 of Act. No. 170 are those to be held after the date of the organization of the City Government, set by the President, would make the alternative provision “or election of the Members of the Municipal Board,” nugatory or superfluous, because on the date set for the organization of the City of Dagupan, there would never be Members of the Municipal Board elected.

Since the election of the members of the Muncipal Board of the City of Dagupan took place at the general election held on November 11, 1947, and the President of the Philippines is only empowered to appoint those members if the organization of the city government had taken place pending or before the said election, it necessarily follows that the appointments of the respondents on Decmeber 30, 1947 are null and void.

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