Is Car­pio-Mo­rales usurp­ing the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man?

Manila Times - - OPINION - Espinosa: Abaya: Espinosa: Abaya: Espinosa: Roco: eh. Chair­man: Abaya: Roco: maram­ing yan, diba?

IN a sud­den twist of events, the junked im­peach­ment com­plaint against Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) Chair­man An­dres Bautista sud­denly breathed life on Wed­nes­day. The House ple­nary re­versed the de­ci­sion of the com­mit­tee on jus­tice and will be send­ing soon the ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment to the Se­nate.

I wrote al­most a month ago that the Se­nate should gear up for the im­peach­ment trial of Chief Jus­tice Ma. Lour­des Sereno. It turned out that the trial of Bautista will be pri­or­i­tized—un­less he im­me­di­ately ten­ders his ir­rev­o­ca­ble res­ig­na­tion.

What about Om­buds­man Con­chita Car­pio- Mo­rales? Will the pro­jected im­peach­ment com­plaintto-be against her pros­per? I be­lieve that the Se­nate will be too busy with two im­peach­ment tri­als and will not be able to han­dle a third one. I sug­gest that in­stead of im­peach­ing Car­pio-Mo­rales, just take the mat­ter to the Supreme Court.

In­tent of the law should be fol­lowed

Car­pio-Mo­rales re­lies heav­ily on the Sec­tion 8 ( 3) pro­vi­sion of Repub­lic Act 6770 which man­dates that in case of a va­cancy, a newly ap­pointed Om­buds­man shall serve for a full term. How­ever, this was not the in­tent of the leg­is­la­ture.

In a long line of cases, which I will not be­la­bor and cite, it has been shown that the in­tent of the leg­is­la­ture is what mat­ters, and not the let­ter of the law.Leg­isla­tive in­tent is part and par­cel of the law. It is the con­trol­ling fac­tor in in­ter­pret­ing a statute. In fact, any in­ter­pre­ta­tion that runs counter to the leg­isla­tive in­tent is un­ac­cept­able and in­valid.

There are in­stances when the en­acted into law, for one rea­son or an­other does not nec­es­sar­ily law­mak­ers. The re­course to this kind of a sit­u­a­tion is to as­cer­tain the in­tent of the drafters dur­ing the de­lib­er­a­tions of the bill.

What law­mak­ers in­tended

The in­tent of law­mak­ers that de­lib­er­at­edHouse Bill 13646, which even­tu­ally be­came RA6770, was that the new ap­pointee should serve only the un­ex­pired term of the pre­de­ces­sor.

I did my le­gal re­search and ex­plored the archives for the de­lib­er­a­tions of the House rel­a­tive to HB 13646. I found that they had am­ple de­bates on that par­tic­u­lar item dur­ing their Fe­bru­ary 2, 1989 com­mit­tee hear­ing.

The real in­tent of Congress, the ap­pointed Om­buds­man, in case of va­cancy, in Sec­tion 8, para­graph (3) of RA 6770 can be seen in the ex­change of di­a­logue be­tween then con­gress­men Tito Espinosa, An­to­nio Abaya, Raul Roco, and Isidro Zar­raga, the jus­tice com­mit­tee chair­man. In­ter­est­ingly, the spon­sor of the bill, Abaya, in­tended that the new ap­pointeeserve only the un­ex­pired term of his pre­de­ces­sor. Their dis­cus­sion went like this -

May I sug­gest that only the re­main­der of the un­ex­pired term to be served by this new ap­pointee and he can get re-ap­pointed later after the ex­pi­ra­tion of the … For an­other seven years? For an­other seven years. I don’t think so. The un­ex­pired term. Why don’t we leave it like this: what­ever the state of ju­rispru­dence says be­cause I think there are… cases So, you can re­late this, you can de­bate this. The Com­elec maybe a model x xx

Does that sat­isfy the gen­tle­man from Is­abela?

With the in­dul­gence of the hand­some gen­tle­man, can he re­peat the state­ment again?

I am say­ing that what­ever the cur­rent state of ju­rispru­dence on ap­point­ment and term,

What fol­lows is the prophetic pro­nounce­ment of Abaya, which is worth re­vis­it­ing. It is as if he knew that some 30 years later some­one would ask the Supreme Court, which in turn would go back to their dis­cus­sions to clar­ify the

Abaya said: “I just brought that mat­ter up, Mr. Chair­man, be­cause maybe in the fu­ture they will go back to what we dis­cussed in this room and maybe they will be clar­i­fied what this par­tic­u­lar sec­tion would mean. So maybe this will have some rel­e­vance in the fu­ture.”

Sec­tion 8 (3) of RA 6770 is un­con­sti­tu­tional

After study­ing the com­mit­tee hear­ingde­lib­er­a­tions, it can be safely con­cluded that the leg­isla­tive in­tent was for the new ap­pointee, in case of va­cancy in the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man, to serve only the re­main­der of the un­ex­pired term of the pre­de­ces­sor. So it would seem that the present pro­vi­sion of the law man­dat­ing that a new Om­buds­man, in case of a va­cancy,should be ap­pointed for a full term of seven years is un­con­sti­tu­tional and must be struck down.

Roco even em­pha­sized that the Com­elec could be­come a model for the Om­buds­man Act of 1989. If we con­sult the Con­sti­tu­tion, we can see that its Para­graph 2, Sec­tion 1, Ar­ti­cle IX-C, The Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions, man­dates that, “ap­point­ment to any va­cancy shall be only for the un­ex­pired term of the pre­de­ces­sor.”

So, there you are. When then Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino 3rd an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Car­pio-Mo­rales as Om­buds­man on July 25, 2011, and she as­sumed the po­si­tion of Om­buds­man three days later, it should have been only for the re­main­der of the un­ex­pired term of re­signed Om­buds­man Merced­i­tas Gu­tier­rez. Not for a full term of seven years!

Quot­ing the Supreme Court, con­sti­tu­tional doc­trines must re­main stead­fast no mat­ter what may be the tides of time. It can­not be sim­ply made to sway and ac­com­mo­date the call of sit­u­a­tions and much more tai­lor it­self to the whims and caprices of gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple who run it.

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