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Short Title: Brillantes v.

Yorac
II. Full Title: Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., versus Haydee B. Yorac, in her capacity as Acting Chairperson of the
Commission on Elections G.R. No. 93867, December 18, 1990, J. Cruz
III.Statement of Facts:
President Corazon Aquino appointed Comelec Associate Commissioner Haydee Yorac as Acting Chairman
of the Commission on Elections, in place of Chairman Hilario B. Davide, who had been named chairman of
the fact-finding commission to investigate the December 1989 coup d etat attempt. Petitioner Sixto
Brillantes, Jr. questioned the appointment in view of the status of the COMELEC as an independent
constitutional body and and the specific provision of Article IX-C, Section 1(2) of the Constitution that (I)n
no case shall any Member (of the Commission on Elections) be appointed or designated in a temporary or
acting capacity.
IV.Statement of the Case:
Brillantes further argued that the choice of the acting chairman should not come from the President for
such is an internal matter that should be resolved by the members themselves and that the intrusion of the
president violates the independence of the COMELEC as a constitutional commission. 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.
The Solicitor General argues that no such designation is necessary in the case of the Supreme Court
because the temporary succession cited is provided for in Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. A similar
rule is found in Section 5 of BP 129 for the Court of Appeals. There is no such arrangement, however, in
the case of the Commission on Elections. The designation made by the President of the Philippines should
therefore be sustained for reasons of administrative expediency, to prevent disruption of the functions of
the COMELEC.
V.Issue:
Whether or not the designation of an Acting Chairman of COMELEC is unconstitutional

VI. Ruling:
Yes. The appointment of Yorac as Acting Chairman of the COMELEC 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 in the absence of the regular chairman comes under that discretion.
That discretion cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the Philippines.
A designation as Acting Chairman is by its very terms essentially temporary and therefore revocable at
will. No cause need be established to justify its revocation. Assuming its validity, the designation of the
respondent as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections may be withdrawn by the President of the
Philippines at any time and for whatever reason she sees fit.
It is true, as the Solicitor General points out, that the respondent cannot be removed at will from her
permanent position as Associate Commissioner. It is no less true, however, that she can be replaced as
Acting Chairman, with or without cause, and thus deprived of the powers and perquisites of that temporary
position.
The Constitution provides for many safeguards to the independence of the Commission on Elections,
foremost among which is the security of tenure of its members. That guaranty is not available to the
respondent as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections by designation of the President of the
Philippines.
The lack of a statutory rule covering the situation at bar is no justification for the President of the
Philippines to fill the void by extending the temporary designation in favor of the respondent. This is still a
government of laws and not of men. The problem allegedly sought to be corrected, if it existed at all, did
not call for presidential action. The situation could have been handled by the members of the Commission
on Elections themselves without the participation of the President, however well-meaning.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 1 DEANS CIRCLE


2016

violate the Constitution or its basic principles. As has already been seen, the contested law suffers from these
fatal defects.

Facts:


Sometime in 1953, Republic Act No. 972 (RA 972) or the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953 was passed
which in essence sought to admit to the Bar, those candidates between the years 1946 up to 1953 who
flunked the Bar examinations. The reason for the law was that allegedly because of the recently concluded
wars in the Philippines, the flunkers suffered from insufficiency of reading materials and inadequate
preparation.


Now, the constitutionality of RA 972 is being questioned, hence this petition.

Issue:


Whether or not RA 972 is unconstitutional

Ruling:


YES. By the disputed law, Congress has exceeded its legislative power to repeal, alter and supplement
the rules on admission to the Bar. Such additional or amendatory rules are, as they ought to be, intended to
regulate acts subsequent to its promulgation and should tend to improve and elevate the practice of law, and
this Tribunal shall consider these rules as minimum norms towards that end in the admission, suspension,
disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers to the Bar, inasmuch as a good bar assists immensely in the daily
performance of judicial functions and is essential to a worthy administration of justice. It is therefore the
primary and inherent prerogative of the Supreme Court to render the ultimate decision on who may be
admitted and may continue in the practice of law according to existing rules.

CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSIONS

SIXTO S. BRILLANTES, JR. vs. HAYDEE B. YORAC, in her capacity as ACTING CHAIRPERSON of the
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
G.R. No. 93867, December 18, 1990, Cruz J.


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.

Facts:


Sixto Brillantes Jr (Brillantes) herein petitioner assails the legality of the action of the President in
appointing Associate Commissioner Haydee Yorac (Yorac) as acting Chairman of the COMELEC when then
Chairman Hilario Davide was named chairman of the fact-finding commission to investigate a coup d etat
attempt.


Sixto argues that the President has no authority to appoint an official of an independent commission
created by the Constitution such as the COMELEC and therefore such act is void for having been made outside
the ambit of law. Hence this petition.

Issue:

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Whether the action of the President in appointing Assoc. Comm. Yorac as Chairman of the COMELEC
was valid.

Ruling:


NO. The choice of a temporary chairman in the absence of the regular chairman comes under that
discretion. That discretion cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the
Philippines.


A designation as Acting Chairman is by its very terms essentially temporary and therefore revocable
at will. No cause need be established to justify its revocation. Assuming its validity, the designation of the
respondent as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections may be withdrawn by the President of the
Philippines at any time and for whatever reason she sees fit. It is doubtful if the respondent, having accepted
such designation, will not be estopped from challenging its withdrawal.


It is true, as the Solicitor General points out, that the respondent cannot be removed at will from her
permanent position as Associate Commissioner. It is no less true, however, that she can be replaced as Acting
Chairman, with or without cause, and thus deprived of the powers and perquisites of that temporary position.


The lack of a statutory rule covering the situation at bar is no justification for the President of the
Philippines to fill the void by extending the temporary designation in favor of the respondent. This is still a
government of laws and not of men. The problem allegedly sought to be corrected, if it existed at all, did not
call for presidential action. The situation could have been handled by the members of the Commission on
Elections themselves without the participation of the President, however well-meaning.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


THELMA P. GAMINDE v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT and/or Hon. CELSO D. GANGAN, Hon. RAUL C. FLORES
and EMMANUEL M. DALMAN
G.R. No. 140335, December 13, 2000, Pardo J.


The operation of the rotational plan requires two conditions, both indispensable to its workability: (1)
that the terms of the first three (3) Commissioners should start on a common date, and, (2) that any vacancy due
to death, resignation or disability before the expiration of the term should only be filled only for the unexpired
balance of the term. Consequently, the terms of the first Chairmen and Commissioners of the Constitutional
Commissions under the 1987 Constitution must start on a common date, irrespective of the variations in the
dates of appointments and qualifications of the appointees, in order that the expiration of the first terms of
seven, five and three years should lead to the regular recurrence of the two-year interval between the expiration
of the terms.

Facts:


On June 11, 1993, the President appointed Thelma Gaminde (Gaminde) herein petitioner as ad
interim Commissioner of the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Verily, her appointment letter provides that her
term would expire on February 2, 1999 pursuant to provisions of existing law. Come February 24, 1998,
Gaminde sought clarification from the President as to the date of the end of her term in office. The Chief
Presidential Legal Counsel opined that Gamindes term of office would expire on February 2, 2000 and not
on February 2, 1999. Thereafter, Gaminde remained in office after February 2, 1999. Subsequently, the
Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the extension of Gamindes term. Since as per her appointment letter,
Gamindes term of office should have been only until February 2, 1999.

Issue:


Whether the term of Gaminde expired on February 2, 1999 as per her letter of appointment.

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Brillantes, Jr. vs. Yorac
*

G.R. No. 93867. December 18, 1990.

SIXTO S. BRILLANTES, JR., petitioner, vs. HAYDEE B.


YORAC, in her capacity as ACTING CHAIRPERSON of
the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
Constitutional Law Executive Department Constitutional
Commissions Commission on Elections The Constitutional
Commissions, although essentially executive in nature, are not
under the control of the President in the discharge of their
functions.Article IXA, 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 IXA, Section 7.
Same Same Same Same Appointments The choice of a
temporary chairman of the COMELEC, is within the discretion of
the Commission itself, and such discretion cannot be exercised for
it, even with its consent, by the President of the Philippines.The
choice of a temporary chairman in the absence of the regular
chairman comes under that discretion. That discretion cannot be
exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the
Philippines. x x x The lack of a statutory rule covering the
situation at bar is no justification for the President of the
Philippines to fill the void by extending the temporary
designation in favor of the respondent. This is still a government
of laws and not of men. The problem allegedly sought to be
corrected, if it existed at all, did not call for presidential action.
The situation could have been handled by the members of the
Commission on Elections themselves without the participation of

the President, however wellmeaning. In the choice of the Acting


Chairman, the members of the Commission on Elections would
most likely have been guided by the seniority rule as they
themselves would have appreciated it. In any event, that choice
and the basis thereof were for them and not the President to
make.
Same Same Same Same Same Same The designation by
the President of the Philippines of respondent Yorac as Acting
Chairman of
_______________
*

EN BANC.

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VOL. 192, DECEMBER 18, 1990

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Brillantes, Jr. vs. Yorac

the COMELEC is unconstitutional.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. The Constitution
provided for many safeguards to the independence of the
Commission on Elections, foremost among which is the security of
tenure of its members. That guaranty is not available to the
respondent as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections
by designation of the President of the Philippines. WHEREFORE,
the designation by the President of the Philippines of respondent
Haydee B. Yorac as Acting Chairman of the Commission on
Elections is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and the respondent
is hereby ordered to desist from serving as such. This is without
prejudice to the incumbent Associate Commissioners of the
Commission on Elections restoring her to the same position if
they so desire, or choosing another member in her place, pending
the appointment of a permanent Chairman by the President of
the Philippines with the consent of the Commission on
Appointments.

CRUZ, J.:
The petitioner is challenging the designation by the
President of the Philippines of Associate Commissioner
Haydee B. Yorac as Acting Chairman of the Commission on
Elections, in place of Chairman Hilario B. Davide, who had
been named chairman of the factfinding commission to
investigate the December 1989 coup d' etat attempt.
The qualifications of the respondent are conceded by the
petitioner and are not in issue in this case. What is the
power of the President of the Philippines to make the
challenged designation in view of the status of the
Commission on Elections as an independent constitutional
body and the specific provision of Article IXC, Section 1(2)
of the Constitution that "(I)n no case shall any Member (of
the Commission on Elections) be appointed or designated
in a temporary or acting capacity."
The petitioner invokes the case of Nacionalista Party v.
Bautista, 85 Phil. 101, where President Elpidio Quirino
designated the Solicitor General as acting member of the
Commission on Elections and the Court revoked the
designation as contrary to the Constitution. It is also
alleged that the respondent is not
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Brillantes, Jr. vs. Yorac

even the senior member of the Commission on Elections,


being outranked by Associate Commissioner Alfredo E.
Abueg, Jr.
The petitioner contends 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.
In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that no
such designation is necessary in the case of the Supreme
Court because the temporary succession cited is provided
for in Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. A similar rule

is found in Section 5 of BP 129 for the Court of Appeals.


There is no such arrangement, however, in the case of the
Commission on Elections. The designation made by the
President of the Philippines should therefore be sustained
for reasons of "administrative expediency," to prevent
disruption of the functions of the COMELEC.
Expediency is a dubious justification. It may also be an
overstatement to suggest that the operations of the
Commission on Elections would have been disturbed or
stalemated if the President of the Philippines had not
stepped in and designated an Acting Chairman. There did
not seem to be any such problem. In any event, even
assuming that difficulty, we do not agree that "only the
President (could) act to fill the hiatus," as the Solicitor
General maintains.
Article IXA, 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 IXA,
Section 7.
The choice of a temporary chairman in the absence of
the regular chairman comes under that discretion. That
discretion
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VOL. 192, DECEMBER 18, 1990

361

Brillantes, Jr. vs. Yorac

cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the


President of the Philippines.
A designation as Acting Chairman is by its very terms
essentially temporary and therefore revocable at will. No
cause need be established to justify its revocation.
Assuming its validity, the designation of the respondent as
Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections may be
withdrawn by the President of the Philippines at any time
and for whatever reason she sees fit. It is doubtful if the
respondent, having accepted such designation, will not be

estopped from challenging its withdrawal.


It is true, as the Solicitor General points out, that the
respondent cannot be removed at will from her permanent
position as Associate Commissioner. It is no less true,
however, that she can be replaced as Acting Chairman,
with or without cause, and thus deprived of the powers and
perquisites of that temporary position.
The lack of a statutory rule covering the situation at bar
is no justification for the President of the Philippines to fill
the void by extending the temporary designation in favor of
the respondent. This is still a government of laws and not
of men. The problem allegedly sought to be corrected, if it
existed at all, did not call for presidential action. The
situation could have been handled by the members of the
Commission on Elections themselves without the
participation of the President, however wellmeaning.
In the choice of the Acting Chairman, the members of
the Commission on Elections would most likely have been
guided by the seniority rule as they themselves would have
appreciated it. In any event, that choice and the basis
thereof were for them and not the President to make.
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.
The Constitution provides for many safeguards to the
independence of the Commission on Elections, foremost
among which is the security of tenure of its members. That
guaranty is
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Brillantes, Jr. vs. Yorac

not available to the respondent as Acting Chairman of the


Commission on Elections by designation of the President of
the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, the designation by the President of the
Philippines of respondent Haydee B. Yorac as Acting
Chairman of the Commission on Elections is declared
UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and the respondent is hereby

ordered to desist from serving as such. This is without


prejudice to the incumbent Associate Commissioners of the
Commission on Elections restoring her to the same position
if they so desire, or choosing another member in her place,
pending the appointment of a permanent Chairman by the
President of the Philippines with the consent of the
Commission on Appointments.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, MelencioHerrera,
Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Grio
Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., On leave.
Sarmiento, J., No Part.
Designation unconstitutional.
Note.The power to appoint, is in essence,
discretionary. The appointing power has the right of choice
which he may exercise freely according to his judgment,
deciding for himself, who is best qualified among those who
have the necessary qualifications and eligibilities.
(Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila vs. Court of Appeals,
149 SCRA 22.)
o0o
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