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May 3, 2014

Bautista vs. Salonga

By With No comments:
Facts: 
- August 27, 1987: President Cory Aquino appointed petitioner Mary Concepcion Bautista as permanent Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). 
- December 22, 1988: Bautista took her oath of office to Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan and immediately acted as such.
- January 9, 1989: The Secretary of the Commission on Appointments (CoA) wrote a letter to Bautista requesting for her presence along with several documents at the office of CoA on January 19. Bautista refused to be placed under CoA's review.
- Bautista filed a petition with the Supreme Court. 
- While waiting for the progress of the case, President Aquino appointed Hesiquio R. Mallillin as "Acting Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights" but he was not able to sit in his appointive office because of Bautista's refusal to surrender her post. 
- Malilin invoked EO 163-A which provides that the tenure of the Chairman and the Commissioners of the CHR should be at the pleasure of the President thus stating that Bautista shall be subsequently removed as well. 

Issues:
WON the President's appointment is considered constitutional.
WON or not Bautista's appointment is subject to CoA's confirmation.
WON or not President should extend her appointment on January 14, 1989.

Held:

Sec. 16, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution provides:
The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint.

The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of the departments, agencies, commissions or boards. The President shall have the power to make appointments during the recess of the Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, but such appointments shall be effective only until disapproval by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of the Congress.

The Court held that it is within the authority of the President, vested upon her by the Constitution, that she appoint Executive officials. The second sentence of the provision Section 16, Article VII provides that the President is authorized by law to appoint, without confirmation of CoA, several government officials. The position of Chairman of CHR is not among the positions mentioned in the first sentence of Sec. 16, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides the appointments which are to be made with the confirmation of CoA. It therefore follows that the appointment of the Chairman of CHR by the President is to be made and finalized even without the review or participation of CoA. Bautista's appointment as the Chairman of CHR, therefore, was already a completed act on the day she took her oath as the appointment was finalized upon her acceptance, expressly stated in her oath.

Furthermore, the Court held that the provisions of EO 163-A is unconstitutional and thus cannot be invoked by Mallillin. The Chairman of CHR cannot be removed at the pleasure of the President for it is constitutionally guaranteed that they must have a term of office.

To hold, as the Court holds, that petitioner Bautista is the lawful incumbent of the office of Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights by virtue of her appointment, as such, by the President on 17 December 1988, and her acceptance thereof, is not to say that she cannot be removed from office before the expiration of her seven (7) year term. She certainly can be removed but her removal must be for cause and with her right to due process properly safeguarded.

It is to the credit of the President that, in deference to the rule of law, after petitioner Bautista had elevated her case to this Tribunal, Her Excellency merely designated an Acting Chairman for the Commission on Human Rights (pending decision in this case) instead of appointing another permanent Chairman. The latter course would have added only more legal difficulties to an already difficult situation.

Petitioner Bautista is declared to be, as she is, the duly appointed Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and the lawful incumbent thereof, entitled to all the benefits, privileges and emoluments of said office. The temporary restraining order heretofore issued by the Court against respondent Mallillin enjoining him from dismissing or terminating personnel of the Commission on Human Rights is made permanent.

Petition granted.
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