MANILA, Philippines - Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been churning out "midnight" appointments on a daily basis, all backdated before the constitutional ban on appointments during an election period, a partial list obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak shows.
From March 1 to March 9 alone, Arroyo supposedly appointed 169 people to positions in Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) in 10 government agencies, including those under the Office of the President (OP).
The ban on appointments to executive positions started on March 10.
All in all, Arroyo appointed 250 persons via midnight appointments, a government source, who provided the documents, said.
Appointments in judiciary, GOCCs
In a separate interview, former Estrada political consultant Angelito Banayo said his partial list contained midnight appointments to the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Sandiganbayan.
In his column in Malaya, Banayo identified as among the beneficiaries Manila Judge Myra Garcia Fernandez, who issued the arrest warrant against Senator Panfilo Lacson. She was appointed as CA justice, along with 3 more newly named CA magistrates.
Based on the list provided to abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, the midnight appointments include juicy and highly-paid posts in energy-related GOCCs like the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), Philippine Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), PNOC-Development and Management Corp., and PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation.
Under the Office of the President, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chair Efraim Genuino and four board members were reappointed to one-year terms.
Also appointed just before the March 10 ban was Nestor Camacho as a Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) trustee, replacing Fatima Valdes.
Valdes, on the other hand, was appointed as Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) board member, along with 5 other individuals. Their appointments, which have a 6-year term, were issued from March 3-8.
These midnight appointments could cripple efforts of the next administration to revamp the BCDA.
Other plum posts
Also in the midnight appointment list were key posts in corporations under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) like the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
Arroyo also appointed 9 board members of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) with 6-year terms, and 4 board members with 3-year terms. Except for one, these board members were all appointed on March 1.
Even the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), two independent agencies, were not spared from Arroyo’s slew of midnight appointments.
On March 9, she appointed Trade Secretary Peter Favila as Monetary Board member with a 6 six-year term expiring on July 2, 2014.
As for the NEDA, she named acting director-general Augusto Santos in a full capacity on March 5.
'Regularized acting officials'
Like a generous patron, Arroyo also "regularized" officials who were serving in an acting capacity, some of them for years. For instance, in the Social Security System (SSS), she regularized the posts from the chair to the members, all with 3-year terms.
Board members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation were also beneficiaries of Arroyo’s generosity, appointing 5 board members with 4-year terms. Philhealth president Dr. Rey Aquino was appointed on April 3 with a six-year term expiring on July 24, 2014.
Other agencies where she issued midnight appointments include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Finance, Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Some of the prominent political personalities who benefited from the midnight appointments include Arroyo ally and Lakas spokesman former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, who was appointed on March 9 as a member of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Board of Trustee with a 5-year term.
Pichay, who led campaign spenders among senatorial candidates in the 2007 senatorial race, did not seek any elective post in this year’s national polls.
GMA's 'desire letters'
It was not only Arroyo who exercised midnight appointments. Her appointees in the boards of GOCCs also engaged in the practice.
The list of appointees obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com/ Newsbreak shows that the election of a number of members to the board of the Clark International Airport Authority (CIAC), for instance, involved “desire letters” from the President.
For instance, in the Land Bank Realty Development Corporation, supposed “stockholders” elected the chairman and 11 board members, including president and general manager Carlos Castro, on May 13, or 3 days after the national polls.
It was also the same scenario in the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and Clark International Airport Authority.
Aquino to review appointments
Presumptive President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is leading the official canvassing in Congress, has previously said he will review all the apparent midnight appointments of Arroyo.
“I intend to exercise that prerogative under Article VII Section 14 of the Constitution where we have up to 90 days to void all of those illegal appointments,” Aquino said.
He added: “We will also study and judge her appointments on a case-to-case basis, it will be done fairly and purely on the merits.”
Oath of office
A government source said Arroyo “sits daily with the search committee,” and signs all the antedated appointments to make it appear these were not covered by the appointment ban.
Banayo said he has learned from his own sources that the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) have called for a roll call of all Arroyo midnight appointees to check whether they have taken their oaths of office before authorized persons like a judge or a justice.
He pointed out that rushed appointments are not valid if the appointees have not taken their oaths of office.