Court upholds Aquino’s EO No. 2By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday declared as constitutional President Benigno Aquino III’s Executive Order No. 2 issued on July 30, 2010, revoking the so-called midnight appointments of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In separate decisions on the petitions of six Arroyo appointees, the court’s former Eighth Division composed of Justices Noel Tijam, Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon ruled as valid Aquino’s withdrawal, recall and revocation of the appointments made by the former president on or after March 11, 2010, when the constitutional ban on midnight appointments began.
Appointees who accepted, took their oaths of office or assumed their positions on or after the same day were also covered by the ban, the court ruled.
Declared as invalid were the appointments of lawyer Charito Planas as trustee and executive director of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), Manuel Andal as general manager of the Philippine National Railways and Eddie Tamondong as director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
Planas was reappointed to the NPF on March 9 but took her oath of office only on April 21. Andal was promoted from acting general manager to regular general manager on March 5 but took his oath on March 22; while Tamondong was promoted from acting director to director on March 1 but took his oath on March 25.
The appellate court opted not to rule on the validity of Arroyo’s appointments of lawyers Dindo Venturanza as Quezon City prosecutor and Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil as State Solicitor II at the Office of the Solicitor General.
Although Venturanza and Garafil were appointed on Feb. 23 and March 5, and took their oaths on March 15 and 22, respectively, the court said there might have been other “extenuating factors” outside the “ambit” of EO 2 that the Office of the President might have considered in revoking their appointments.
However, the court declared valid the appointment of Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman as commissioner, with the rank of secretary, in the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
Arroyo appointed Lucman on March 8, 2010, and took her oath of office on March 10.
The court ruled that the constitutional ban on appointments should not only cover the actual appointment but “all other acts that would give effect or allow the furtherance” of the appointment. They said the intent of the framers of the Constitution is that the acceptance of the appointment, taking of the oath of office and the assumption of office must take place before the ban begins.
“To emphasize, the clear and unequivocal intent behind the ban on midnight appointments is to ensure that the incoming President will not be divested of his freedom to choose his own people to help him implement his own policies; and to ensure that appointments and promotions are not used as a tool for political patronage or reward for services rendered in their favors,” the CA said.
Despite the constitutionality of EO 2, the appellate court expressed displeasure at the way it was issued.
“We cannot turn a blind eye on the rather sweeping and summary invalidation by EO 2 of all the appointments made by the former administration without regard to the circumstances that might have peculiarly attended to each case. The outright recall, invalidation and withdrawal of all those appoints sans prior determination of the circumstances surrounding each case violates settled jurisprudential doctrines,” the justices ruled.