Political Law

Ulpiano Sarmiento III vs Salvador Mison

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G.R. No. 79974 – 156 SCRA 549 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Executive Department – Powers of the President; Appointment Powers – Appointment of “Heads of Bureaus” – Officers Requiring Confirmation by the Commission on Appointments

This is the 1st major case under the 1987 Constitution. In 1987, Salvador Mison was appointed as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs by then president Corazon Aquino. Ulpiano Sarmiento III and Juanito Arcilla, being members of the bar, taxpayers, and professors of constitutional law questioned the appointment of Mison because it appears that Mison’s appointment was not submitted to the Commission on Appointments (COA) for approval. Sarmiento insists that under the new Constitution, heads of bureaus require the confirmation of the COA.

Meanwhile, Sarmiento also sought to enjoin Guillermo Carague, the then Secretary of the Department of Budget, from disbursing the salary payments of Mison due to the unconstitutionality of Mison’s appointment.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appointment of “heads of bureaus” needed confirmation by the Commission on Appointment.

HELD: No. In the 1987 Constitution, the framers removed “heads of bureaus” as one of those officers needing confirmation by the Commission on Appointment. Under 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 first group above are the only public officers appointed by the president which require confirmation by the COA. The second, third, and fourth group do not require confirmation by the COA. The position of Mison as the head of the Bureau of Customs does not belong to the first group hence he does not need to be confirmed by the COA.

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