Bar Q and A #32

The Vice President may validly sit in the Cabinet even if he was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. Under Article VII, Sec. 3 of the Constitution, the appointment of the Vice President as cabinet member requires no confirmation (Araullo v. Aquino III, G.R. No. 209287, July 1, 2014, 728 SCRA 1)

The appointment of X is not valid, because the position of Presidential Assistant for Political Affairs is a public office. Article IX-B Section 7  of the Constitution provides that no elective official shall be eligible for appointment or designation in any capacity to any public office or position during his tenure. As held in Flores v. Drilon, 223 SCRA 563 (1993), since an elective official is ineligible for an appointive position, his appointment is not valid.

a. If I were the judge, I would uphold the validity of the designation of Secretary M as ex officio member of the Monetary Board. As stated in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,194 SCRA 317 (1991), the prohibition against the holding of multiple positions by Cabinet Members in Article VII, Section 13 of the Constitution does not apply to positions occupied in an ex officio capacity as provided by law and as required by the primary functions of their office.

b. If I were the judge, I would rule that Secretary M cannot receive any additional compensation. As stated in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, 194 SCRA 317 (1991), a Cabinet Member holding an ex- officio position has no right to receive additional compensation, for his services in that position are already paid for by the compensation attached to his principal office.

a. Since the Municipal Mayor is temporarily incapacitated to perform his duties, in accordance with Section 46(a) of the Local Government Code, the Municipal Vice- Mayor shall exercise his powers and perform his duties and functions. The Municipal Vice- Mayor will be performing executive functions, because the functions of the Municipal Mayor are executive.

b. The Municipal Vice-Mayor cannot continue as presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan while he is acting Municipal Mayor.

In accordance with Gamboa v. Aguirre, 310 SCRA 867 (1999), under the Local Government Code, the Vice-Municipal Mayor was deprived of the power to preside over the Sangguniang Bayan and is no longer a member of it. The temporary vacancy in the office of the Municipal Mayor creates a corresponding temporary vacancy in the Office of the Municipal Vice-Mayor when he acts as Municipal Mayor. This constitutes inability on his part to preside over the sessions of the Sangguniang Bayan.

a. Alfonso Beit cannot claim any salary for the period of his preventive suspension during the pendency of the investigation. As held in Gloria v. Court of Appeals, 306 SCRA 287, under Section 52 of the Civil Service Law, the provision for payment of salaries during the period of preventive suspension during the pendency of the investigation has been deleted. The preventive suspension was not a penalty. Its imposition was lawful, since it was authorized by law.

b. If the penalty was modified because Alfonso Beit was exonerated of the charge that was the basis for the decision ordering his dismissal, he is entitled to back wages, otherwise, this would be tantamount to punishing him after exoneration from the charge which caused his dismissal (Gloria v. Court of Appeals, 3O6 SCRA). If he was reprimanded for the same charge which was the basis of the decision ordering his dismissal, Alfonso Belt is not entitled to back wages, because he was found guilty, and the penalty was merely commuted (Dela Cruz v. Court of Appeals, 305 SCRA 303).

The contention of Representative Valera is not correct. As held in Santiago v. Sandiganbayan, 356 SCRA 636, the suspension contemplated in Article VI, Section 16(3) of the Constitution is a punishment that is imposed by the Senate or House of Representatives upon an erring member, it is distinct from the suspension under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which is not a penalty but a preventive measure. Since Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act does not state that the public officer must be suspended only in the office where he is alleged to have committed the acts which he has been charged, it applies to any office which he may be holding.

Under Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution, the grounds for impeachment are:

a. Culpable violation of the Constitution – means intentional violation of the Constitution and not violations committed in good faith.

b. Treason – the same meaning as in the Revised Penal Code

c. Bribery – the same meaning as in the Revised Penal Code

d. Graft and Corruption – refers to prohibited acts enumerated in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

e. Other High Crimes – refers to offenses that strike at the very life or orderly working of the government.

f. Betrayal of Public Trust – refers to any violation of the oath of office. (Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 1998 ed., pp. 336- 337; Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines: A Commentary, 1996 ed., pp. 991-992)

Article XI Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the following are impeachable officers: The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman.

The process of impeachment is provided for in Article XI Sec. 3 of the 1987 Constitution. It states the following:

1. The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

2. A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.

3. A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.

4. In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

5. No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.

6. The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two- thirds of all the Members of the Senate.

7. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment, according to law.

(Sections 5 to 14, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, in relation to R.A. No. 6770, or otherwise known as "The Ombudsman Act of 1989.")

NO, the Ombudsman cannot entertain the complaint. As stated in the case of In re: Laureta v. Court of Appeals 148 SCRA 382, pursuant to the principle of separation of powers, the correctness of the decisions of the Supreme Court as final arbiter of all justiciable disputes is conclusive upon all other departments of the government; the Ombudsman has no power to review the decisions of the Supreme Court by entertaining a complaint against the Justices of the Supreme Court for knowingly rendering an unjust decision.