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CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, petitioner, vs. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, respondent.

G.R. No. 83896 / February 22, 1991

FACTS:
 In July 1987, then President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 284 which allowed members of the
Cabinet, their undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to hold other government offices or positions in addition to
their primary positions subject to limitations set therein. The Civil Liberties Union (CLU) assailed this EO averring
that such law is unconstitutional. The constitutionality of EO 284 is being challenged by CLU on the principal
submission that it adds exceptions to Sec 13, Article 7 of the Constitution which provides:

“Sec. 13. The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not,
unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, hold any other office or employment during their tenure. They shall
not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be
financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any
subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their
subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.”
 CLU avers that by virtue of the phrase “unless otherwise provided in this Constitution“, the only exceptions against
holding any other office or employment in Government are those provided in the Constitution, namely: (i) The Vice-
President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet under Sec 3, par. (2), Article 7; and (ii) the Secretary of
Justice is an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council by virtue of Sec 8 (1), Article 8.
ISSUE: Whether EO 284 is constitutional.
HELD:
 No, it is unconstitutional. It is clear that the 1987 Constitution seeks to prohibit the President, Vice-President,
members of the Cabinet, their deputies or assistants from holding during their tenure multiple offices or employment
in the government, except in those cases specified in the Constitution itself and as above clarified with respect to
posts held without additional compensation in an ex-officio capacity as provided by law and as required by the
primary functions of their office, the citation of Cabinet members (then called Ministers) as examples during the
debate and deliberation on the general rule laid down for all appointive officials should be considered as mere
personal opinions which cannot override the constitution’s manifest intent and the people’s understanding thereof.
 In the light of the construction given to Sec 13, Art 7 in relation to Sec 7, par. (2), Art IX-B of the 1987 Constitution,
EO 284 is unconstitutional. Ostensibly restricting the number of positions that Cabinet members, undersecretaries
or assistant secretaries may hold in addition to their primary position to not more than 2 positions in the government
and government corporations, EO 284 actually allows them to hold multiple offices or employment in direct
contravention of the express mandate of Sec 13, Art 7 of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting them from doing so,
unless otherwise provided in the 1987 Constitution itself.
 The practice of designating members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants as members of the governing
bodies or boards of various government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and
controlled corporations, became prevalent during the time legislative powers in this country were exercised by
former President Ferdinand E. Marcos pursuant to his martial law authority. There was a proliferation of newly-
created agencies, instrumentalities and government-owned and controlled corporations created by presidential
decrees and other modes of presidential issuances where Cabinet members, their deputies or assistants were
designated to head or sit as members of the board with the corresponding salaries, emoluments, per diems,
allowances and other perquisites of office. Most of these instrumentalities have remained up to the present time.
 This practice of holding multiple offices or positions in the government soon led to abuses by unscrupulous public
officials who took advantage of this scheme for purposes of self-enrichment. In fact, the holding of multiple offices in
government was strongly denounced on the floor of the Batasang Pambansa.
 But what is indeed significant is the fact that although Section 7, Article I-XB already contains a blanket prohibition
against the holding of multiple offices or employment in the government subsuming both elective and appointive
public officials, the Constitutional Commission should see it fit to formulate another provision, Sec. 13, Article VII,
specifically prohibiting the President, Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants from
holding any other office or employment during their tenure, unless otherwise provided in the Constitution itself.