Lex Rex Ph

Bautista vs. Salonga Digest

G.R. No. 86439, 13 April 1989

Facts

  • In August 1987, President Cory, through a letter, designated Mary Bautista first as “Acting Chairman of CHR” then as permanent. She then took oath before the Chief Justice. She then discharged her functions. In Jan 1989, she received a letter from the Secretary of CA (Appointments) requesting to submit necessary documents. Bautista then wrote to the CA that the latter has no jurisdiction. She cited that the CHR is not included in the list that need CA confirmation under Article VII and that CHR is an independent office. CA responded that it previously disapproved Bautista’s ad interim appointment.
  • Respondent Malilin relied on EO 163-A issued by Corazon Aquino in June 1987 which confers upon the President the power to appoint CHR Chairman and Members and whose tenure shall be at the pleasure of the President.

Issue

Can the President of the Republic appoint and extend the appointment of the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to a permanent one without the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments?

Ruling

No.

  • CHR contends that the appointment of the CHR Chairman is solely that prerogative of the President and it is voluntary whether she submits it to the CA for confirmation. In other words, the President may from time to time move power boundaries in the Constitution.
  • The Court finds such contention to be extremely difficult to accept. Constitutional Law is concerned with power not convenience or necessity. Neither the Executive nor the Legislative can create power when the Constitution confers none.
  • The intent for the CA is to strike a balance between the President and Congress. Without which is to disrupt such balance of power.
  • The CA cannot create power to confirm appointments that the Constitution has reserved to the President alone.
  • Article XIII Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the term of office and other qualifications and disabilities of the Members of the Commission on Human Rights shall be provided by law.” This means that the constitutional design is to give the Commission the needed independence to perform and accomplish its functions and duties, the tenure in office of said Chairman (and Members) cannot be made dependent on the pleasure of the President.
  • It will be difficult to conceptualize how an office created by the Constitution can truly function with independence and effectiveness when the tenure of its Chairman and Members is made dependent on the pleasure of the President. EO 163-A has to be unconstitutional. It has the seeds of constitutional destruction.

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