Civil Liberties Union v. Exec. Sec. 194 SCRA 317
94 SCRA 317 – 317 – Political Political Law – Law – Ex Ex Officio Officials – Officials – Members Members of the Cabinet – Cabinet – Singularity Singularity of Office EO 284 In July 1987, the President Corazon Aquino issued Execut ive Order No. 284 which allowed members of the Cabinet, their undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to hold other government offices or positions in addition to their primary positions subject to limitations set therein. The Civil Liberties Union (CLU) assailed this EO averring that such law is unconstitutional. The constitutionality of EO 284 is being challenged by CLU on the principal submission that it adds exceptions to Sec 13, Article 7 of the Constitution which provides: “Sec. 13. The President, Vice-President, Vice -President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not, u n l e s s o t h e r w i s e p r o v i d e d i n t h i s C o n s t i t u t i o n , hold any other office or employment during their tenure. They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.” CLU avers that by virtue of the phrase “ unless otherwise provided in this Constitution“, Constitution “, the only exceptions against holding any other office or employment in Government are those provided in the Constitution, namely: (i) The Vice-President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet under Sec 3, par. (2), Article 7; and (ii) the Secretary of Justice is an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council by virtue of Sec 8 (1), Article 8. ISSUE: Whether or not EO 284 is constitutional. HELD: No, it is i s unconstitutional. unconstitutional. It is clear that the 1987 Constitution seeks to prohibit the President, Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, their deputies or assistants from holding during their tenure multiple offices or employment in the government, except in those cases specified in the Constitution itself and as above clarified with respect to posts held without additional compensation in an exofficio capacity as provided by law and as required by the primary functions of their office, the citation of Cabinet members (then called Ministers) as examples during the debate and deliberation on the general rule laid down for all appointive officials should be considered as mere personal opinions which cannot override the constitution’s manifest intent and the people’s understanding thereof. In the light of the construction given to Sec 13, Art 7 in relation to Sec 7, par. (2), Art IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, EO 284 is unconstitutional. Ostensibly restricting the number of positions that Cabinet members, undersecretaries or assistant secretaries may hold in addition to their primary position to not more than 2 positions in the government and government corporations, EO 284 actually allows them to hold multiple offices or employment in direct contravention of the express mandate of Sec 13, Art 7 of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting them from doing so, unless otherwise provided in the 1987 Constitution itself.
Article IX (B), Section 7. No elective official shall be eligible for appointment or designation in any capacity to any public office or position during his tenure. Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including Government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.
The petitioner are assailing the Executive Order No. 284 issued by the President allowing cabinet members, undersecretary or asst. secretaries and other appointive officials of the executive department to hold 2 positions in the government and government corporations and to receive additional compensation. They find it unconstitutional against the provision provided by Section 13, Article VII prohibiting the President, Cabinet members and their deputies to hold any other office or employment. Section 7, par. (2), Article IX-B further states that “Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporation or their subsidiaries." In the opinion of the DOJ as affirmed by the Solicitor General, the said Executive Order is valid and constitutional as Section 7 of Article IX-B stated “unless otherwise allowed by law” which is construed to be an exemption from that stipulated on Article VII, section 13, such as in the case of the Vice President who is constitutionally allowed to become a cabinet member and the Secretary of Justice as ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Whether Section 7 of Article IX-B provides an exempt ion to Article VII, section 13 of the constitution. The court held it is not an exemption since the legislative intent of both Constitutional provisions is to prevent government officials from holding multiple positions in the government for self enrichment which a betrayal of public trust. Section 7, Article I-XB is meant to lay down the general rule applicable to all elective and appointive public officials and employees, while Section 13, Article VII is meant to be the exception applicable only to the President, the Vice- President, Members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants. Thus the phrase “unless otherwise provided by the Constitution” in Section 13, Article VII cannot be construed as a broad exception from Section 7 of Article IX-B that is contrary to the legislative intent of both constitutional provisions. Such phrase is only limited to and strictly applies only to particular instances of allowing the VP to become a cabinet member and the Secretary of Justice as ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council. The court thereby declared E.O 284 as null and void.