Political Law

Jesulito Manalo vs Pedro Sistoza

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G.R. No. 107369 – 312 SCRA 239- Political Law – Law on Public Officers – Appointments – Confirmation by the Commission on Appointments

Civil Law – Preliminary Title – Duty of Courts to Respect the Constitutionality of Laws Passed By Congress – Presumption of Constitutionality; when not enjoyed

In 1990, Republic Act No. 6975 was passed. This law created the Department of Interior and Local Government. Said law, under Sections 26 and 31 thereof, also provided on the manner as to how officers of the Philippine National Police are to be appointed. It was provided that the PNP Chief as well as certain police officers including Directors and Chief Superintendents, after being appointed by the President, must be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments before said officers can take their office.

In 1992, then president Corazon Aquino appointed Pedro Sistoza et al as Directors and Chief Superintendents within the PNP. Said appointments were not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments hence, Jesulito Manalo questioned the validity of the appointments made. He insists that without the confirmation by the Commission, Sistoza et al are acting without jurisdiction, their appointment being contrary to the provisions of R.A. 6975.

He then went to the Supreme Court asking the court to carry out the provisions of the said law. Manalo also insists that the law is a valid law, as it enjoys the presumption of constitutionality, and hence, it must be carried out by the courts.

ISSUE: Whether or not Sections 26 and 31 of R.A. No. 6975 are valid.

HELD: No. Said provisions are unconstitutional. It is true that prior to this case, as with all other laws, R.A. 6975 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality. As such, laws enacted by Congress must be respected by courts and as much as possible, courts must avoid delving into the constitutionality of a law.

However, it is also the duty of the courts, as guardians of the Constitution, to see to it that every law passed by Congress is not repugnant to the Constitution.

Under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, there are four groups of officers of the government to be appointed by the President:

First, the heads of the executive 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 this Constitution;

Second, all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law;

Third, those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint;

Fourth, officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone.

The first group are the only ones whose appointments are required by the Constitution to be affirmed by the Commission on Appointments. All others need not be confirmed. Officers of the PNP are not included therein. There is also no merit to the contention that PNP officers are akin to officers of the armed forces.

Sections 26 and 31 of R.A. 6975 are void for amending the provisions set forth in the Constitution.

Courts have the inherent authority to determine whether a statute enacted by the legislature transcends the limit alienated by the fundamental law. When it does the courts will not hesitate to strike down such unconstitutionality.

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