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G.R. No. 91636 – 208 SCRA 254 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President; Appointment Powers – List of Appointees Requiring COA Confirmation Cannot Be Expanded by Law
In 1989, Republic Act No. 6715 was passed. This law amended PD 442 or the Labor Code. RA 6715 provides that the Chairman, the Division Presiding Commissioners and other Commissioners [of the NLRC] shall all be appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CoA).
Pursuant to the said law, President Corazon Aquino appointed Bartolome Carale et al as the Chairman and the Commissioners respectively of the NLRC. The appointments were however not submitted to the CoA for its confirmation. Peter John Calderon questioned the appointment saying that without the confirmation by the CoA, such an appointment is in violation of RA 6715. Calderon insisted that RA 6715 should be followed as he asserted that RA 6715 is not an encroachment on the appointing power of the executive contained in Sec. 16, Art. 7, of the Constitution, as Congress may, by law, require confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of other officers appointed by the President in addition to those mentioned in the first sentence of Sec. 16 of Article 7 of the Constitution.
ISSUE: Whether or not Congress may, by law, expand the list of public officers required to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointment as listed in the Constitution.
HELD: No. Under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, there are four (4) groups of officers whom the President shall appoint. These four (4) groups are:
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 Supreme Court agreed with the Solicitor General: confirmation by the CoA is required exclusively for the heads of executive departments, ambassadors, public ministers, consuls, officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President by the Constitution, such as the members of the various Constitutional Commissions (first group). With respect to the other officers (second to fourth group) whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by the law and to those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint, no confirmation by the Commission on Appointments is required.
“Had it been the intention to allow Congress to expand the list of officers whose appointments must be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, the Constitution would have said so by adding the phrase “and other officers required by law” at the end of the first sentence, or the phrase, “with the consent of the Commission on Appointments” at the end of the second sentence. Evidently, our Constitution has significantly omitted to provide for such additions.
This jurisprudence established the following in interpreting Sec 16, Art 7 of the Constitution
1. Confirmation by the Commission on Appointments is required only for presidential appointees mentioned in the first sentence of Section 16, Article VII, including, those officers whose appointments are expressly vested by the Constitution itself in the president (like sectoral representatives to Congress and members of the constitutional commissions of Audit, Civil Service and Election).
2. Confirmation is not required when the President appoints other government officers whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law or those officers whom he may be authorized by law to appoint (like the Chairman and Members of the Commission on Human Rights). Also, as observed in Mison, when Congress creates inferior offices but omits to provide for appointment thereto, or provides in an unconstitutional manner for such appointments, the officers are considered as among those whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law.