ISSUE: Whether or not Fermin was acting within the scope of his authority.
FACTS: Nessia was the Deputy Municipal Assesor of Victorias, Negros Occidental. He filed a complaint for recovery of damages and reimbursement of expenses against respondent Fermin and Municipality of Victorias. He alleged that respondent deliberately ignored and caused non-payment of the vouchers because he defied the latter’s request to register and vote in the local elections. On the other hand, Fermin countered that Nessia’s claims could not be approved because they exceeded budgetary appropriations. The Municipality, for its part, added that Nessia was also at fault since he did not give justification for drawing funds in excess of the budget.
DECISION: No, he acted maliciously and intended to prejudice Nessia
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Court held that while it is true that Fermin may not be compelled by mandamus to approve vouchers because they exceeded the budgetary appropriations, he may, nevertheless, be held liable for damages under Art. 27 for malicious inaction because he did not act on the vouchers. It is apparent that public officials are called upon to act expeditiously on matters pending before them. For only in acting thereon either by signifying approval or disapproval may the plaintiff continue on to the next step of the bureaucratic process. On the other hand, official inaction brings to a standstill the administrative process and the plaintiff is left in the darkness of uncertainty. In this regard, official "inaction" cannot be equated with "disapproval."