Lo Cham v. Ocampo


77 Phil. 635
1946

A lawyer in the DOJ was temporarily detailed to assist the City Fiscal of Manila with the same powers and functions of an Assistant Fiscal

FACTS
Sec.168 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended, provides that the Secretary of Justice may appoint any lawyer, either a subordinate from his office or a competent person not in public service, temporarily to assist a fiscal or prosecuting attorney in the discharge of his duties, and with the same authority as might be exercised by the Attorney General or the Solicitor General.

Pursuant to such, Lo Cham, a doctor of medicine and lawyer, acting Chief, Medico-Legal Section in the DOJ, was temporarily detailed to assist the City Fiscal of Manila, with the same powers and functions of an Assistant Fiscal, by the Acting Secretary of Justice. He signed and filed the information in 3 cases at bar after conducting preliminary investigation. The defendant's attorney filed a motion to quash due to his lack of authority to sign informations.

ISSUE
Does Lo Cham have the power to sign informations?

HELD
YES. The powers and functions of an Assistant Fiscal may be entrusted.
The signing of complaints, making investigations, and conducting prosecutions are not sacrosanct that only Presidential appointees or one expressly empowered by law may be permitted to assume such functions. A lawyer invested with the same authority as an Attorney General or Solicitor General is presumed to be competent to be entrusted with any of the duties devolving on a prosecuting attorney, due to the higher standard of training and experience required.

Scope of duties of a public office:

  • Those essential to the accomplishment of the main purpose for which the office was created; or
  • Those, although incidental, or collateral are germane to and serve to promote the accomplishment of the principal purpose.

The subject functions are inherent in the power to assist a prosecuting attorney, for these are engrained in the office/designation itself. The powers of the Solicitor General bestowed on the appointee should be deemed to be in addition to the powers inherent to the appointment.

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