Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sarmiento III vs. Mison

Facts: Petitioners seek to enjoin respondent Mison from performing the functions of the Office of Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and respondent Carague as Secretary of the Dept of Budget from disbursing payments for Mison’s salaries and emoluments on the ground that Mison’s appointment as Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs is unconstitutional by reason of its not having been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA). On the other hand, respondents maintain the constitutionality of Mison’s appointment without the confirmation of the (CA). It is apparent in Sec 16, Art. 7 of the Constitution that there are four groups of officers whom the president shall appoint. 

(1) the heads of the exec departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in the Constitution, 

(2) all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, 

(3) those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint and 

(4) officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone. 

The 1st group is clearly appointed with the consent of the CA. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th groups are the present bone of contention. 

Issue: Whether or not the 2nd, 3rd and 4th groups should be appointed by the president with or without the consent/confirmation of the CA

Held: The fundamental principle of Constitutional construction is to give effect to the intent of the framers of the organic law and the people adopting it. The Court will thus construe the applicable constitutional provisions not in accordance with how the executive or the legislative may want them construed, but in accordance with what they say and provide. The 1935 Constitution requires confirmation by the CA of all presidential appointments. This has resulted in horse-trading and similar malpractices. Under the 1973 Constitution, the president has the absolute power of appointment with hardly any check on the legislature. Given these two extremes, the 1987 Constitution struck a “middle-ground” by requiring the consent of the CA for the 1st group of appointments and leaving to the President without such confirmation the appointments of the other officers. The clear and expressed intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution is to exclude presidential appointments from confirmation on the CA except appointments to offices expressly mentioned in the first sentence of Sec. 16, Art VII. Therefore, the confirmation on the appointment of Commissioners of the Bureau of Customs by the CA is not required. 

The appointment of Mison without submitting his nomination the CA is within the constitutional authority of the President. 


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