CA backs PNoy order firing 'midnight appointees'

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2012 12:46 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2012 08:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed President Aquino's Executive Order (EO) No. 2 revoking so-called "midnight appointments" issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The appellate court's Former 8th Division, in 5 separate decisions penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, dated Aug. 31, junked the petitions filed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Board member Eddie Tamondong, State Solicitor Cheloy Garafil, Philippine National Railways General Manager Manuel Andal, Quezon City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza, and Nayong Pilipino Foundation Commissioner and Executive Director Charito Planas which questioned the termination of their services on the basis of the executive issuance.

Petitioners said that their security of tenure was violated and they were not accorded due process.

However, the appellate court held that the President has the authority to issue the said EO and found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the President.

"The Constitution imposes a prohibition on the part of the President to make midnight appointments because during the transition period, he is no more than a mere 'care taker' who must not do anything that would undermine the policies of the succeeding President. The purpose is also to eradicate the possible abuse of Presidential prerogatives of appointment for partisan purposes thereby preventing the incoming President from choosing the persons whom he sees fit to aid him in promoting his policies and running his administration," the appellate court said.

The petition filed by Office of Muslim Affairs chief Bai Omera Lucman against the order, meantime, was granted because the appellate court said that she was appointed on March 8, 2010, before the start of the appointments ban beginning March 11, 2010 or 2 months before the May presidential elections.

The court said she is entitled to her salaries and other benefits for the period she was removed from office. She was also ordered reinstated to serve the remainder of her term.

The petitions 6 petitions against the EO, while filed with the Supreme Court, were remanded to the CA since evidence may be presented by opposing sides and hearings conducted. The high court is not a trier of facts.