CA: Sacking of ‘midnight appointees’ legalBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals affirmed Friday the legality of President Benigno Aquino’s executive order revoking the “midnight appointments” made by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In five separate decisions, the appeals court’s former 8th division threw out the petitions filed by five Arroyo appointees who were all dismissed after Aquino issued Executive Order No. 2, which revoked “midnight appointments.”
“The Constitution imposes a prohibition on the part of the President to make midnight appointments because during the transition period, he is no more than a mere ‘care taker’ who must not do anything that would undermine the policies of the succeeding President,” said the appellate court’s decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.
“The purpose is also to eradicate the possible abuse of Presidential prerogatives of appointment for partisan purposes thereby preventing the incoming President from choosing the persons whom he sees fit to aid him in promoting his policies and running his administration,” said the ruling.
The Constitution bars the President from making appointments in government two months before the presidential elections and up to the end of the Chief Executive’s term except for “temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”
The ruling dismissed the petitions filed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Board member Eddie Tamondong, State Solicitor Cheloy Garafil, Philippine National Railways General Manager Manuel Andal, Quezon City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza, and Ngayong Pilipino Foundation Commissioner and Executive Director Charito Planas, who questioned their termination on the basis of EO No. 2.
On the other hand, the appeals court granted the petition filed by Office of Muslim Affairs chief Bai Omera Lucman. It noted that Lucman was appointed on March 8, 2010, three days before the start of the appointments ban on March 11, 2010, or two months before the May 2010 presidential elections.
The Court of Appeals ordered that Lucman be reinstated to serve the remainder of her term. She is also entitled to her salaries and other benefits that she should have received during the period she was removed from office.
The six petitions against the EO were originally filed before the Supreme Court but the high court remanded them to the appeals court for hearings and presentation of evidence.