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Comparative Study of Constitutional Commissions

The Civil Service Commission, The Commission on Election, and The Commission on Audit

For: Atty. Rolando A. Suarez Constitutional Law I Prepared by: Karren C. Rondolos

Constitutional Commissions of the Philippines

These are independent commissions created under the Constitution. Each Commission en banc may promulgate its own rules concerning pleadings and practice before it or before any of its offices. Such rules however shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its members any case or matter brought before it within sixty (60) days from the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless otherwise provided by the Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof. The following are the Constitutional Commissions:

Civil Service Commission (CSC) Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commission on Audit (COA)
The Constitutional Commissions refer to the constitutional bodies or agencies created or maintained by the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. The Constitution of the Philippines provides for the creation of the three Constitutional Commissions: the Civil Service Commission; the Commission on Elections; and the Commission on Audit. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) used to be a statutory body under the 1935 Constitution until it became a Constitutional Commission under the 1973 Constitution. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was established by virtue of Resolution No.3 amending the 1935

Constitution on April 11, 1940. The Commission on Audit, formerly known as the General Auditing Office under the 1935 Constitution, was established under the 1973 Constitution.

Constitutional Commissions under the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Under Article IX of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the constitutional commissions, which shall be independent, are the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit. Provided further, under the Article IX, No member of a Constitutional Commission shall, during his tenure, hold any other office or employment. Neither shall he engage in the practice of any profession or in the active management or control of any business which in any way be affected by the functions of his office, nor shall he be financially interested, directly or indirectly, 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 corporation or their subsidiaries. To ensure the independence of these bodies, the following guarantees are prescribed in the new Constitution: 1. These bodies are created by the Constitution itself and may not be abolished by statute.1 Each of them is expressly described in the Constitution as independent. 2 Each of them is conferred certain powers and functions which cannot be withdrawn or reduced by statute.3



Constitution, Art. IX-A, Sec. 1 Ibid. 3 Ibid., Art. IX-B, C and D.


4. 5.

The chairmen and members of all these Commissions may not be removed from office except by impeachment.4 The chairmen and members of all of these Commissions are given the fairly long term of seven years.5

6. The terms of office of the chairmen and members of all of these Commissions are staggered in such a way as to lessen the opportunity for appointment of the majority of the body by the same President.6 7. The chairmen and members of all of these Commissions may not be reappointed or appointed in an acting capacity.7

8. The salaries of the chairmen and members of all of these Commissions are relatively high and may not be decreased during their continuance in office.8 9. The Commissions shall enjoy fiscal autonomy.9 10. Each Commission may promulgate its own procedural rules.10 11. The Chairmen and members of all of these Commissions are subject to certain disqualifications and inhibitions calculated to strengthen their integrity.11 12. Finally, the Constitutional Commissions are allowed to appoint their own officials and employees in accordance with the Civil Service Law.12
4 5

Id., Art. XI, Sec. 2. Id., Art. IX-B, C and D, Sec. 1(2). 6 Ibid. 7 Id. 8 Constitution, Art. IX, Sec. 3; Art. XVIII, Sec. 17. 9 Ibid., Art. IX, Sec. 5. 10 Id., Art. IX, Sec. 7. 11 Id., Art. IX, Sec. 4. 12 Id., Art. IX, Sec. 4.

Every two (2) years, the term of one Commissioner expires leaving behind two (2) experienced Commissioners. If a vacancy occurs, the commissioner so appointed to fill up the vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired term of the predecessor.

The Civil Service Commission

(Art. IX-B, 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines The CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION was, as previously observed, only a statutory body under the 1935 Constitution. As retained by the 1987 Constitution, this improved status and the various safeguards provided for the maintenance of its independence are expected to make the new Civil Service Commission a vigorous and non-partisan instrument for the development of an efficient and honest civil service.

The Civil Service shall be administered by the Civil Service Commission and shall consist of the following: 1. A Chairman; and 2. Two (2) Commissioners They are appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments.

1. A natural-born citizen of the Philippines. 2. At least thirty-five (35) years of age at the time of their appointment. 3. With proven capacity for public administration.

4. Must not have been candidates for any elective position in the elections immediately preceding their appointment.

Scope of the Civil Service

Article IV-B, Section 2(1) declares that: The civil service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters. Corporations with original chargers are those created by special law, like the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS). Corporations which are subsidiaries of these chartered agencies, like the Manila Hotel, are not within the coverage of the civil service. Positions in the civil service are classified under the Administrative Code of 1987 into the career service and the non-career service. The career service is characterized by: 1. Entrance based on merit and fitness to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations, or based on highly technical qualifications; 2. Opportunity for advancement to higher career positions; and 3. Security of tenure. The Civil Service includes: 1. Open Career positions for appointment to which qualification in an appropriate examination is required; prior

2. Closed Career positions which are scientific or highly technical in nature; these include the faculty and academic staff of state colleges and universities, and scientific and technical positions in scientific and research institutions which shall establish and maintain their own merit systems; 3. Positions in the Career Executive Service; namely, - Undersecretary - Assistant Secretary - Bureau Director - Assistant Bureau Director - Regional Director - Assistant Regional Director - Chief of Department Service and other officers of equivalent rank as may be identified by the Career Executive Service Board, all of whom are appointed by the President; 4. Career officers, other than those in the Career Executive Service, who are appointed by the President, such as the Foreign Service Officers in the Department of Foreign Affairs; 5. Commissioned officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces, which shall maintain a separate merit system; 6. Personnel of government-owned or controlled corporations, whether performing governmental or proprietary functions, who do not fall under the non-career service; and 7. Permanent laborers, whether skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled. The non-career service is characterized by: 1. Entrance on bases other than those of the usual tests of merit and fitness utilized for the career service; and 2. Tenure which is limited to a period specified by law, or which is coterminous with that of the appointing authority or subject to his pleasure, or which is limited to the duration of a particular project for which purpose employment was made.

The non-career service includes: 1. Elective officials and their personal or confidential staff; 2. Department heads and other officials of Cabinet rank who hold positions at the pleasure of the President and their personal or confidential staff; 3. Chairmen and members of commissions and boards with fixed terms of office and their personal or confidential staff; 4. Contractual personnel or those whose employment in the government is in accordance with a special contract to undertake a specific work or job. 5. Emergency and seasonal personnel.

Appointments in the civil service may be either permanent or temporary. A permanent appointment shall be issued to a person who meets all the requirements for the position to which he is being appointed, including the appropriate eligibility prescribed, in accordance with the provisions of laws, rules and standards promulgated in pursuance thereof.

The Commission on Elections

(Art. IX-C, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines) The membership of the Commission on Elections was increased from three under the Commonwealth charter to nine by the 1973 Constitution and is now reduced to seven by the present fundamental law. Its powers have also been modified. But the purpose of the body remains the same, to wit, to be a more effective instrument in maintaining the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot a s the concrete expression of the will of the sovereign people.

Composition and Qualifications

The Commission on Elections shall be composed of: 1. A Chairman; and 2. Six (6) Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, college degree holders, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections. The Chairman and the Commissioners shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven (7) years without reappointment. Of those appointed, three Members for five (5) years, and the last Members for three (3) years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.

Powers and Functions

The Commission on Elections shall have the following powers and functions under Article IX-C, Section 2: 1. Enforcement of Election Laws Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an elections, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.

2. Decision of Election Contests

Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on Elections contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executor, and not appealable. 3. Decision of Administrative Questions Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of elections officials and inspectors, and registration of voters. 4. Deputization of Law-Enforcement Agencies Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, lawenforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. 5. Registration of Political Parties Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be

registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused registration. 6. Improvement of Elections Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize elections spending, including limitation of places where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.

Election Period
The election period is distinguished from the campaign period in that the latter cannot extend beyond Election Day13 and, in fact, under present law, ends two days before the elections. The period may be changed in special cases by the Commission on Elections, as where there is a special election for the President which should be called within seven (7) days after the occurrence of the vacancy to be filled, not earlier than forty-five nor later than sixty days from such call.

The Commission on Audit (Article IX-D, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines)

THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT is the watchdog of the financial operations of the government. This is an important constitutional role as the stability of government depends to a considerable degree on the integrity of its fiscal policies and transactions. So many regimes have floundered and collapsed because of their improvident and irregular

Peralta v. Commission on Elections, 82 SCRA 30.

management of public funds and properties. This can be avoided in our country with a vigilant and conscientious Commission on Audit. The Commission on Audit replaces the General Auditing Office established under the 1935 Constitution. Like its predecessor and the other Constitutional Commissions under the present charter, the Commission on Audit is afforded certain guarantees to safeguard and strengthen its independence and effectiveness.

Composition and Qualifications

The Commission on Audit created under the 1973 Constitution is substantially retained by the new charter in Article IX-D. The Commission on Audit shall be composed of: 1. 2. 3. 4. A Chairman Two (2) Commissioners They must be natural-born citizens of the Philippines. At least thirty-five (35) years of age at the time of their appointment. 5. Must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with not less than ten (10) years of auditing experience, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years. 6. Must not have been candidates for any elective position in the election immediately preceding their appointments. The age qualification has been reduced from forty (40) to thirtyfive (35), to make it uniform for all the Constitutional Commissions. A ten-year practice requirement is also imposed now for the members, who must be either lawyers or certified public accountants, with the added requirements that not all of them should belong to the same profession at the same time. The purpose evidently is to ensure that there will be both lawyers and accountants in the Commission at all ties, in view of the nature of the work of the Commission. The prohibition against the appointment of candidates in the preceding

elections is intended to prevent the body from becoming a dumping ground of failed politicians.

Powers and Functions

The powers and functions of the Commission on Audit have been substantially reworded as follows: Sec. 2 (1) The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by or pertaining to, the government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations with original charters and on a post-audit basis: (a) Constitutional bodies, commissions and offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under this constitution; Autonomous state colleges and universities; Other government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; and Such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government, which are required by law or the granting institution to submit to such audit as a condition of subsidy or equity.

(b) (c) (d)

(2) The Commission shall have exclusive authority, subject to the limitations in this Article, to define the scope of its audit and examination, establish the techniques and methods required therefor, and promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary,

excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties. Public funds are derived mainly from taxes, fines and loans contracted by the government. All collections are required to be turned over to the national treasury and accounted for in accordance with law and regulations. The Commission on Audit sees to it that this duty is duly performed by the offices receiving these collections.