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Gargaritano, Angelo Ibaez

In Re: Appointments of Valenzuela and Vallarta 298 SCRA 408

March 9, 1998, a meeting was held by the JBC and the issue discussed was the
constitutionality of appointments of the CA, being that the election was at hand. Provisions
of Sec. 15 of Article VII and Sec. 4(1), Article VIII of the Constitution were brought about.
Senior Associate Justice Florenz D. Regalado, Consultant of the Council, expressed that the
election ban had not application to appointments to the CA, and this hypothesis was
accepted without further discussion or study of the other JBC members. This was then
submitted to the President with the JBCs nominations for 8 vacancies in the CA.
March 30, 1998, The President signed the appointments of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and
Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the RTC of Branch 62, Bago City and Branch 24,
Cabanatuan City, respectively.
There has been an exchange of letters between the President and the Chief Justice in regard
to the issue of the constitutionality of the appointments. The Chief Justice called for a
meeting with the Chief Justice Secretary and members of the council that they might hear
the formers concerns on the issue; and after the session they decided to wait for the
Presidents reply. The President expressed that Sec. 15, of Article VII only applied to
executive appointments, the whole article being entitled EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.
Furthermore, he observed that appointments in the Judiciary have specific provisions as
stated by Sec. 4 and Sec. 9, of Article VIII.
May 12, 1998, the Chief Justice received from Malacanang the appointment of 2 Judges of
the RTC, Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta. The Chief Justice, troubled
that he runs the risk of acting in a manner inconsistent with the Constitution having the
obligation to transmit the appointments of the appointees so they can take their oaths,
raised the issue before the Court.
Whether or not the President can make appointments to fill vacancies in the judiciary, as
mandated by Sec. 4(1) & Sec.9 of Article VIII, during the period of the ban, imposed by Sec.
15, Article VII.
No. The appointments of Messrs. Valanzuela and Vallarta on March 30, 1998 were
unquestionably made during the period of the ban.
It was stated in the Chief Justices letter for the President, the provision of Sec.15, Article
VII, imposes a direct prohibition on the President: he shall not make appointments within
the period mentioned, and since there is no specification of which appointments are
proscribed, the same may be considered as applying to all appointments of any kind and
Now, in view of the general prohibition in the first-quoted provisions, how is the
requirement of filling vacancies in the Court within ninety days to be construed? One
interpretation that immediately suggests itself is that Sec. 4(1), Article VIII is a general
provision while Sec. 15, Article VII is a particular one; that is to say, normally, there are no
presidential elections which after all occur only every 6 years Sec. 4(1), Article VIII shall
apply; but when (as now) there are presidential elections, the prohibition in Sec. 15, Article
VII comes into play.

Consequently, they come within the operations of the first prohibition relating to
appointments which are considered to be for the purpose of buying votes or influencing the
election. While the filling of vacancies in the judiciary is undoubtedly in the public interest,
there is no showing in this case of any compelling reason to justify the making of the
appointments during the period of the ban.