THE Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the constitutionality of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Executive Order (EO) 2 sacking the “midnight appointees” of his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo.
The decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam of the CA’s former 8th Division ruled that the appointment of Jose Sonny Matula as commissioner of the Social Security Commission (SSC) is a “midnight appointment.”
Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon concurred with the decision, saying the EO is “clothed with constitutionality.”
The court said Matula’s appointment is a “void appointment [and]confers no rights whatsoever. Hence, no violation of the Constitution was caused by the revocation of his appointment as SSC Commissioner.”
Because the tenure of Intervenors Ronnie Nismal, Alvin Gonzales, Alfredo Maranan, Jomel General, Exequiel Bacarr and Juanito Facundo were coterminous with that of Matula, “their removal from office following the revocation of Matula’s appointment was necessarily in order,” it said.
EO No. 2 did not violate Section 15, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution because “the clear intent behind the ban on making midnight appointments” has been established, the court added.
Arroyo, who is now a congressman from Pampanga, appointed Matula as SSS Acting Commissioner on September 21, 2006. He was named commissioner representing workers on March 5, 2010, just six days before the constitutional ban on midnight appointments took effect for the national elections on May 10, 2010.
Since he took his oath of office on April 14, Matula was considered as a midnight appointee under EO 2.
Nismal was Matula’s Chief of Staff. Gonzales, Maranan, General, Bacarro and Facundo are members of the Social Security System and trade union leaders and members of the Governing Board of the Federation of Free Workers.
In August 2012, the CA also junked the petitions of Board Member Eddie Tamondong of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Solicitor Cheloy Garafil of the Office of the Solicitor General, Philippine National Railways General Manager Manuel Andal, Quezon City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza and Nayong Pilipino chief Charito Planas because they too were deemed midnight appointees of Arroyo.
The petitioners argued that the President summarily dismissed them without just cause and due process.
They also claimed that EO 2 violated Section 2b, Article IX of the Constitution by depriving civil service employees of security of tenure.
Of Arroyo’s appointees, only Office of Muslim Affairs chief Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman was reinstated because she was appointed on March 8, 2010, three days before the appointments ban or two months before the May presidential polls.