Constitutional Law, Political Law

Flores v. Drilon G.R. No. 104732 June 22, 1993 Eligibility and Qualifications, Law on Public Officers

FACTS:

Respondent Mayor Richard J. Gordon of Olongapo City was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Petitioners, who claim to be taxpayers, employees of the U.S. Facility at the Subic, Zambales, and officers and members of the Filipino Civilian Employees Association in U.S. Facilities in the Philippines, challenge the constitutionality of Sec. 13, par. (d), of R.A. 7227, otherwise known as the “Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992,”.

They maintain that the proviso in par. (d) of Sec. 13 infringes on the following constitutional and statutory provisions:

(a) Sec. 7, first par., Art. IX-B, of the Constitution, which states that “[n]o elective official shall be eligible for appointment or designation in any capacity to any public officer or position during his tenure,” because the City Mayor of Olongapo City is an elective official and the subject posts are public offices;

(b) Sec. 16, Art. VII, of the Constitution, which provides that “[t]he President shall . . . . appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint”, since it was Congress through the questioned proviso and not the President who appointed the Mayor to the subject posts; and,

(c) Sec. 261, par. (g), of the Omnibus Election Code, for the reason that the appointment of respondent Gordon to the subject posts made by respondent Executive Secretary on 3 April 1992 was within the prohibited 45-day period prior to the 11 May 1992 Elections.

ISSUE:

Whether the proviso in Sec. 13, par. (d), of R.A. 7227 which states, “Provided, however, That for the first year of its operations from the effectivity of this Act, the mayor of the City of Olongapo shall be appointed as the chairman and chief executive officer of the Subic Authority,” violates the constitutional proscription against appointment or designation of elective officials to other government posts.

 

RULING:

Sec. 7 of Art. IX-B of the Constitution provides:

 No elective official shall be eligible for appointment or designation in any capacity to any public office or position during his tenure.

Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.

The section expresses the policy against the concentration of several public positions in one person, so that a public officer or employee may serve full-time with dedication and thus be efficient in the delivery of public services. It is an affirmation that a public office is a full-time job. Hence, a public officer or employee, like the head of an executive department described in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 83896, and Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc. v. Philip Ella C. Juico, as Secretary of Agrarian Reform,

“. . . . should be allowed to attend to his duties and responsibilities without the distraction of other governmental duties or employment. He should be precluded from dissipating his efforts, attention and energy among too many positions of responsibility, which may result in haphazardness and inefficiency . . . .”

Particularly as regards the first paragraph of Sec. 7, “(t)he basic idea really is to prevent a situation where a local elective official will work for his appointment in an executive position in government, and thus neglect his constituents . . . .”

In the case before us, the subject proviso directs the President to appoint an elective official, i.e., the Mayor of Olongapo City, to other government posts (as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of SBMA). Since this is precisely what the constitutional proscription seeks to prevent, it needs no stretching of the imagination to conclude that the proviso contravenes Sec. 7, first par., Art. IX-B, of the Constitution. Here, the fact that the expertise of an elective official may be most beneficial to the higher interest of the body politic is of no moment.

While it may be viewed that the proviso merely sets the qualifications of the officer during the first year of operations of SBMA, i.e., he must be the Mayor of Olongapo City, it is manifestly an abuse of congressional authority to prescribe qualifications where only one, and no other, can qualify. Accordingly, while the conferment of the appointing power on the President is a perfectly valid legislative act, the proviso limiting his choice to one is certainly an encroachment on his prerogative.

Since the ineligibility of an elective official for appointment remains all throughout his tenure or during his incumbency, he may however resign first from his elective post to cast off the constitutionally-attached disqualification before he may be considered fit for appointment.

Consequently, as long as he is an incumbent, an elective official remains ineligible for appointment to another public office.

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