Constitutional Law

PIMENTEL vs. ERMITA G.R. No. 164978 October 13, 2005 Legal Standing

FACTS:

Petitioners file for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to declare unconstitutional the appointments issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita to Florencio B. Abad, Avelino J. Cruz, Jr., Michael T. Defensor, Joseph H. Durano, Raul M. Gonzalez, Alberto G. Romulo, Rene C. Villa, and Arthur C. Yap (“respondents”) as acting secretaries of their respective departments.The petition also seeks to prohibit respondents from performing the duties of department secretaries. 

The Solicitor General states that petitioners may not claim standing as Senators because no power of the Commission on Appointments has been “infringed upon or violated by the President. If at all, the Commission on Appointments as a body (rather than individual members of the Congress) may possess standing in this case.”

Petitioners on the other hand, contend that they possess standing because President Arroyo’s appointment of department secretaries in an acting capacity while Congress is in session impairs the powers of Congress.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioners have legal standing.

RULING:

To the extent that the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

Considering the independence of the Commission on Appointments from Congress, it is error for petitioners to claim standing in the present case as members of Congress. President Arroyo’s issuance of acting appointments while Congress is in session impairs no power of Congress. Among the petitioners, only the following are members of the Commission on Appointments of the 13th Congress: Senator Enrile as Minority Floor Leader, Senator Lacson as Assistant Minority Floor Leader, and Senator Angara, Senator Ejercito-Estrada, and Senator Osmeña as members.

Thus, on the impairment of the prerogatives of members of the Commission on Appointments, only Senators Enrile, Lacson, Angara, Ejercito-Estrada, and Osmeña have standing in the present petition. This is in contrast to Senators Pimentel, Estrada, Lim, and Madrigal, who, though vigilant in protecting their perceived prerogatives as members of Congress, possess no standing in the present petition.

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