MANILA, Philippines ? Justice Secretary Leila De Lima urged one of her officials and a midnight appointee of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to vacate his post after he filed a petition before the Supreme Court to nullify the executive orders that revoked the Arroyo appointments.
De Lima said the position of Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Arturo Cagampang De Castro was considered ?co-terminus to the incumbent.?
?I would urge him to vacate his position now? and that he has ?until October . . . unless he resigns,? said De Lima.
De Castro, in his petition for certiorari and prohibition said through Executive Orders Nos. 2 and 3, the rights of countless government employees holding career service positions have been violated when they were dismissed from their positions without any legal basis.
Executive Order Number 2 revokes the ?midnight? appointments made by the previous administration while Executive Order Number 3 revokes Executive Order 883 granting career executive service rank to lawyers in the Executive Department.
De Lima said she was displeased by the action of her subordinate especially without informing her of his action to file the petition in court.
?I was not given the courtesy by the Assistant Secretary concerned before he filed. I would have appreciated it if some courtesy has been accorded me especially I am the head of his department?although I recognize his right to file the petition as long as he has the requisite legal personality to file the case before the Supreme Court,? De Lima said.
?But I cannot conceal the fact that I am displeased about that. We are part of the executive and I, as the secretary supports this presidential issuances of President Noynoy [Benigno Aquino III] and I believe in the propriety and wisdom of that Executive Order.?
De Lima added that sources within the Department of Justice told her that De Castro was one of those involved in the drafting of EO 883.
?Kaya hindi nawawala sa isipan ko na may vested interest or self-interest or personal agenda yung mga personalidad na nagkukwestyon sa EO 2 and 3 na yan [That?s why I believe that personalities questioning EO 2 and 3 have vested or self-interest or personal agenda],? she added.
De Castro said EO 2 was sweeping because it covered not only those appointments made by Arroyo but also those made by other appointing authorities.
De Castro added that Aquino has no jurisdiction to unilaterally remove persons believed to be unlawfully holding or exercising a public office on the premise of being ?midnight appointees.?
At the same time, De Castro said through EO Number 3, President Aquino usurped Judicial power because under the Constitution, only the Supreme Court ?has the power to declare a law, treaty, international or executive agreement, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance or regulation unconstitutional.?
He added that EO 3 also violated the equal protection of the law when it stripped the government lawyers of CESO status but did not revoke those given through presidential grants and conferment of CESO status.
He added that it did not also revoke EOs granting CESO ranks to graduates of the National Defense College of the Philippines, graduates of Master in Public Safety Administration of the Philippine Public Safety College.
De Castro said the executive order gave the impression that lawyers did not undergo competitive examination to determine merit and fitness.