Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an acknowledged constitutional law expert, said that it is unconstitutional for ex-Sen. Panfilo Lacson to propose a new Presidential Commission Against Corruption, just to accommodate himself.
“His plan is laughable and ridiculous. It is unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, and egotistic. It is amazing that the former senator can be so brazen as to propose a plan that violates existing standards of law and ethics,” Santiago said.
Santiago said she was scandalized that Lacson, a nonlawyer, himself drafted a proposed executive order to be signed by President Aquino, naming Lacson as head of a new “super anticrime agency.”
She said that Pres. Aquino has no power to create a public office, as Lacson urges.
“Lacson’s proposal is unintelligent. It is a basic principle of the tripartite system of democracy that the creation of a public office is primarily a legislative function. He should go to Congress and lobby for this self-serving, self-aggrandizing personal pet project of his,” Santiago said.
“Congress has not passed a law delegating to the President the legislative power to create a new office. Hence, Lacson’s plan violates not only the Constitution but also the Administrative Code and R.A. No. 6975, also known as the DILG Act of 1990,” Santiago said.
Under existing law, the PNP operates under the DILG.
“There is an existing Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. Lacson wants Ochoa bumped off. There is also an existing PNP under the control and supervision of the DILG secretary, who is Mar Roxas. Similarly, Lacson wants to bump off Roxas. What gall!” Santiago said.
The senator cited a series of Supreme Court decisions that shot down Lacson’s grand plan.
Santiago said that the clearest Supreme Court ruling against creating a new office just to accommodate a specific person is found in the 2010 case of Biraogo v. Philippine Truth Commission, where the Supreme Court ruled that the Administrative Code prohibits the President from creating an office, under the guise of a reorganization.
The ruling referred to the Administrative Code, Section 31, and to the question of whether Congress has delegated its legislative power to create a public office to the President.
Santiago quoted from the Biraogo ruling the passage: “The creation of an office is nowhere mentioned, much less envisioned in said provision. Accordingly, the answer to the question is in the negative.”
She also cited the 2001 case of Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Hon. Executive Secretary, where the Supreme Court ruled that there was no valid delegation of power from Congress, empowering the President to create a public office.
In Buklod, the Supreme Court ruled that under the Administrative Code, the President is authorized to create a new office, but only as part of an executive reorganization.
Santiago quoted from the Buklod ruling: “Reorganization takes place when there is an alteration of the existing structure of government offices or units therein, including the lines of control, authority and responsibility between them.”
Santiago pointed out that in the same Buklod case, the Supreme Court held: “Clearly, the power of control is entirely different from the power to create public offices. The former is inherent in the Executive, while the latter finds basis from either a valid delegation from Congress, or his inherent duty to faithfully execute the laws.”
Santiago added that in the 2003 case of Bagaoisan v. National Tobacco Administration, the Supreme Court ruled that even if there is a reorganization, the President is not allowed to remove civil service employees in bad faith, and one of the indications of bad faith is “where an office is abolished and another performing substantially the same functions is created.”
Santiago continued that in the 1998 case of Ople v. Torres, the Supreme Court ruled that in the guise of issuing an administrative order, the President cannot usurp the legislative power to create offices.
In the Ople ruling, the Supreme Court cited the Administrative Code defining administrative orders as “acts of the President which relate to particular aspects of governmental operation in pursuance of his duties as administrative head.”
In the Ople case, the Supreme Court concluded: “We reject the argument that A.O. No. 308 implements the legislative policy of the Administrative Code of 1987.”