Legally Yours,  Political Law

Brillantes v. Yorac

Brillantes v. Yorac

192 SCRA 358 | December 18, 1990

FACTS:

A coup attempt occurred in December 1989 prompting president Aquino to create a fact finding commission which would be chaired by Hilario Davide. Consequently he has to vacate his chairmanship over the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Haydee Yorac, an associate commissioner in the COMELEC, was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as a temporary substitute.

The petitioner is challenging the designation on the ground that the choice of the Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections is an internal matter that should be resolved by the members themselves and that the intrusion of the President of the Philippines violates their independence. He cites the practice in this Court, where the senior Associate Justice serves as Acting Chief Justice in the absence of the Chief Justice. No designation from the President of the Philippines is necessary.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the designation of the Acting Chairman of the COMELEC is unconstitutional.

HELD:

The Supreme Court ruled that the designation is unconstitutional.

Article IX-A, Section 1, of the Constitution expressly describes all the Constitutional Commissions as “independent.” Although essentially executive in nature, they are not under the control of the President of the Philippines in the discharge of their respective functions. Each of these Commissions conducts its own proceedings under the applicable laws and its own rules and in the exercise of its own discretion. Its decisions, orders and rulings are subject only to review on Certiorari by this Court as provided by the Constitution in Article IX-A, Section 7. The choice of a temporary chairman comes under that discretion. Such discretion cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the Philippines.

The Court has not the slightest doubt that the President of the Philippines was moved only by the best of motives when she issued the challenged designation. But while conceding her goodwill, we cannot sustain her act because it conflicts with the Constitution. Hence, even as this Court revoked the designation in the Bautista case, so too must it annul the designation in the case at bar.

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