An acting appointee has no cause of action for quo warranto against the new appointee
The Rules of Court requires that an ordinary civil action must be based on a cause of action, which is defined as an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right of the other which causes the latter injury. While a quo warranto is a special civil action, the existence of a cause of action is not any less required since both special and ordinary civil actions are governed by the rules on ordinary civil actions subject only to the rules prescribed specifically for a particular special civil action.
Quo warranto is a remedy to try disputes with respect to the title to a public office. Generally, quo warranto proceedings are commenced by the Government as the proper party-plaintiff. However, under Section 5, Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, an individual may commence such action if he claims to be entitled to the public office allegedly usurped by another. We stress that the person instituting the quo warranto proceedings in his own behalf must show that he is entitled to the office in dispute; otherwise, the action may be dismissed at any stage. Emphatically, Section 6, Rule 66 of the same Rules requires the petitioner to state in the petition his right to the
public office and the respondent’s unlawful possession of the disputed position.
As early as 1905, the Court already held that for a petition for quo warranto to be successful, the suing private individual must show a clear right to the contested office. His failure to establish this right warrants the dismissal of the suit for lack of cause of action; it is not even necessary to pass upon the right of the defendant who, by virtue of his appointment, continues in the undisturbed possession of his office.
Since the petitioner merely holds an acting appointment (and an expired one at that), he clearly does not have a cause of action to maintain the present petition. The essence of an acting appointment is its temporariness and its consequent revocability at any time by the appointing authority. The petitioner in a quo warranto proceeding who seeks reinstatement to an office, on the ground of usurpation or illegal deprivation, must prove his clear right to the office for his suit to succeed; otherwise, his petition must fail.
From this perspective, the petitioner must first clearly establish his own right to the disputed office as a condition precedent to the consideration of the unconstitutionality of the respondents’ appointments. The petitioner’s failure in this regard renders a ruling on the constitutional issues raised completely unnecessary. Neither do we need to pass upon the validity of the respondents’ appointment. These latter issues can be determined more appropriately in a proper case.