(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

MANILA, Jan 26 (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court (SC) has nullified and voided an order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that designated the Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairman to sit in the board of trustees/directors of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund).

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, the high court ruled that Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 864, dated February 22, 2010, is unconstitutional for violating sections 1 and 2 of Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution which state that “Section 1: [t]he Constitutional Commissions, which shall be independent, are the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit:” and “Section 2: [n]o member of a Constitutional Commission shall, during his tenure, hold any other office or employment… in any contract with, or in any franchise or privilege granted by the Government, any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.”

The ruling was in favor of petitioner Dennis A. B. Funa, who argued that the order, which allowed CSC chairman Francisco Duque to sit in the boards of the mentioned agencies, violates the independence of the CSC as a constitutional commission.

Funa pointed out that the Constitution intends to protect the CSC from outside influence, while the mentioned agencies were all under a political branch of government – the executive.

Despite affirming the position of petitioner, the high court, however, stressed that Duque was a “de facto officer” during his tenure with the GSIS, Philhealth, ECC, and HDMF, and his official functions in the GSIS, Philhealth, ECC, and HDMF boards were not invalidated.

“[A]ll official actions of Duque as a Director or Trustee of the GSIS, Philhealth, ECC and HDMF, were presumed valid, binding and effective as if he was the officer legally appointed and qualified for the office,“ the decision read.(MNS)