THE Supreme Court (SC) has annulled and voided an Executive Order (EO) issued by then-President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that gave Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco Duque 3rd additional positions in various government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).
In a full court ruling penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, the tribunal partly granted the special civil action for certiorari and prohibition filed by Dennis A.B. Funa assailing Duque’s extra appointments as it held that EO 864 dated February 22, 2010 was turned down for being unconstitutional and violative of Sections 1 and 2, Article IX-A, of the 1987 Constitution.
The EO designated Duque as a member of the Board of Directors/Trustees of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) in an “ex officio capacity” in relation to his appointment as chairman of the CSC.
Among the respondents in the petitions are the CSC, Duque, then-Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza and the Office of the President (OP).
Concurring with the decision were Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes and Marvic Leonen, and Francis Jardeleza, while Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Estela Bernabe did not take part as they were on leave during the promulgation of the ruling.
In his petition, Funa asserted that EO 864 and Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V of EO 292 violate the independence of the CSC, which was constitutionally created to be protected from outside influences and political pressures.
He said Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V, of EO 292 unduly and unconstitutionally expands the role of the CSC, which is primarily centered on personnel-related concerns involving government workers, to include insurance, housing and health matters of employees in the government service.
Funa noted that the independence of the CSC will not be compromised if these matters are instead addressed by entering into a memorandum of agreement or by issuing joint circulars with the concerned agencies, rather than allowing a member of the CSC to sit as a member of the governing boards of these agencies.
The petitioner said charters of the GSIS, PhilHealth, ECC and HDMF do not say that the CSC chairman sits as a member of their governing boards in an ex officio capacity.
Such being the case, the President may not amend the charters, which are enacted by Congress, by the mere issuance of an EO.
Funa said EO 864 and Section 14, Chapter 3, Title I-A, Book V, of EO 292 violate the prohibition imposed upon members of constitutional commissions from holding any other office or employment.
“A conflict of interest may arise in the event that a board decision of the GSIS, PhilHealth, ECC and HDMF concerning personnel-related matters is elevated to the CSC considering that such GOCCs have original charters, and their employees are governed by CSC laws, rules and regulations.”
In their comment, respondents maintained that Duque’s membership in the governing boards of the GSIS, PhilHealth, ECC and HDMF is constitutional.
As to the matter of conflict of interest, the respondents pointed out that Duque is just one member of the CSC, or of the boards of the GSIS, PhilHealth, ECC and HDMF, such that matters resolved by these bodies may be resolved with or without Duque’s participation.
The SC decision declared that Duque was “a de facto officer during his tenure as director/trustee of the GSIS, PhilHealth, ECC and HDMF.”
In order to be clear, it held that “all official actions of Duque as a director or trustee of the GSIS, Philhealth, ECC and HDMF were presumed valid, binding and effective as if he was the officer legally appointed and qualified for the office. “
According to the SC, “this clarification is necessary in order to protect the sanctity and integrity of the dealings by the public with persons whose ostensible authority emanates from the State.”