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Digest: Monteclaros v. Commission on Elections (384 SCRA 269, 2002)

Public Office, not Property
Digest: Monteclaros v. Commission on Elections (384 SCRA 269, 2002)
G.R. No. 152295 - July 9, 2002

Facts: The SK is a youth organization originally established by Presidential Decree No. 684 as the Kabataang Barangay ("KB" for brevity). The KB was composed of all barangay residents who were less than 18 years old, without specifying the minimum age. The KB was organized to provide its members with the opportunity to express their views and opinions on issues of transcendental importance.

The Local Government Code of 1991 renamed the KB to SK and limited SK membership to those youths "at least 15 but not more than 21 years of age.

Comelec on December 4, 2001 issued Resolution Nos. 47136 and 47147 to govern the SK elections on May 6, 2002.

On February 18, 2002, petitioner Antoniette V.C. Montesclaros ("Montesclaros" for brevity) sent a letter to the Comelec, demanding that the SK elections be held as scheduled on May 6, 2002. Montesclaros also urged the Comelec to respond to her letter within 10 days upon receipt of the letter, otherwise, she will seek judicial relief.

Ten days lapsed without the Comelec responding to the letter of Montesclaros. Subsequently, petitioners received a copy of Comelec En Banc Resolution No. 476311 dated February 5, 2002 recommending to Congress the postponement of the SK elections to November 2002 but holding the Barangay elections in May 2002 as scheduled.

On March 6, 2002, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed their respective bills postponing the SK elections. 

On March 11, 2002, petitioners filed the instant petition.

Issue: Whether SK membership is a property right.

Ruling: No. The only semblance of a constitutional issue, albeit erroneous, that petitioners raise is their claim that SK membership is a "property right within the meaning of the Constitution." Since certain public offices are "reserved" for SK officers, petitioners also claim a constitutionally protected "opportunity" to occupy these public offices. In petitioners' own words, they and others similarly situated stand to "lose their opportunity to work in the government positions reserved for SK members or officers." Under the Local Government Code of 1991, the president of the federation of SK organizations in a municipality, city or province is an ex-officio member of the municipal council, city council or provincial board, respectively. The chairperson of the SK in the barangay is an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Barangay. The president of the national federation of SK organizations is an ex-officio member of the National Youth Commission, with rank of a Department Assistant Secretary.32


Congress exercises the power to prescribe the qualifications for SK membership. One who is no longer qualified because of an amendment in the law cannot complain of being deprived of a proprietary right to SK membership. Only those who qualify as SK members can contest, based on a statutory right, any act disqualifying them from SK membership or from voting in the SK elections. SK membership is not a property right protected by the Constitution because it is a mere statutory right conferred by law. Congress may amend at any time the law to change or even withdraw the statutory right.


A public office is not a property right. As the Constitution expressly states, a "[P]ublic office is a public trust." No one has a vested right to any public office, much less a vested right to an expectancy of holding a public office. In Cornejo v. Gabriel,34 decided in 1920, the Court already ruled:

"Again, for this petition to come under the due process of law prohibition, it would be necessary to consider an office a "property." It is, however, well settled x x x that a public office is not property within the sense of the constitutional guaranties of due process of law, but is a public trust or agency. x x x The basic idea of the government x x x is that of a popular representative government, the officers being mere agents and not rulers of the people, one where no one man or set of men has a proprietary or contractual right to an office, but where every officer accepts office pursuant to the provisions of the law and holds the office as a trust for the people he represents." (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioners, who apparently desire to hold public office, should realize from the very start that no one has a proprietary right to public office. While the law makes an SK officer an ex-officio member of a local government legislative council, the law does not confer on petitioners a proprietary right or even a proprietary expectancy to sit in local legislative councils. The constitutional principle of a public office as a public trust precludes any proprietary claim to public office. Even the State policy directing "equal access to opportunities for public service" cannot bestow on petitioners a proprietary right to SK membership or a proprietary expectancy to ex-officio public offices.

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