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Duterte’s designation of OICs runs

counter to efficient govt

APRIL 08, 2017

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte had just appointed an officer-in-charge
(OIC) to head the Department of Interior and Local Government. He
is Catalino Cuy, an undersecretary for peace and order at the DILG
and a former police chief of Davao City.

Cuy’s appointment as a temporary caretaker of the interior department

adds to the growing number of OICs in this administration.

The legal adviser of the President should inform him that appointing
OICs, instead of naming permanent appointees to these positions, runs
counter to his campaign promise of effecting immediate change in
government. More so, these OICs largely contribute to the continued
inefficiency of government operations.
It is estimated that majority of government positions, which needs
presidential appointments, are occupied by holdovers from the
previous regime and by OICs.

Administrative Code

The Administrative Code of 1987 is explicit when it comes to the

appointment of OICs, which is temporary in nature. Section 27 thereof
says –

“In the absence of appropriate eligibles and it becomes necessary in

the public interest to fill a vacancy, a temporary appointment shall be
issued to a person who meets all the requirements for the position to
which he is being appointed except the appropriate civil service
eligibility: Provided, that such temporary appointment shall not
exceed twelve months, but the appointee may be replaced sooner if a
qualified civil service eligible becomes available.”

Most of these OICs and holdovers are already into their tenth month
of being caretakers of their respective units. Come the end of June
2017, their occupation of their present positions shall be considered
illegal. Further, any acts done in the performance of their duties shall
likewise be deemed illegal.

Acts of OICs are limited

A permanent appointee possesses a blanket authority on how to

manage his domain. The appointed public official can make his own
subordinate appointments, transfer and reassign his employees, and
even terminate them. More importantly, he can enter into a contract,
execute and sign them, with the presumption that the contract is
advantageous to the government.
On the other hand, the acts of OICs are limited in nature. An OIC
enjoys limited powers, which are confined to functions of
administration and ensuring that the office continues its usual
activities. The OIC may not be deemed to possess powers involving
the exercise of discretion, which is beyond his power.

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) had elucidated this in one of its
decisions, Resolution No. 00-0778, which was rendered in relation to
the query of then CHEd Deputy Executive Director Julito D. Vitriolo.

If the designation of an OIC is couched in general terms, it is apparent

that the same is limited only to “signing authority” or to functions of
administration and ensuring that the day-to-day operations of the
office are not paralyzed.

One of the limitations of an OIC is the power to appoint. The CSC

resolution cited resolution states that, “the power to appoint resides
exclusively in the appointing authority and is not deemed delegated to
one who is merely an Officer-in-Charge. The designation of an OIC is
nothing more than a temporary and convenient arrangement intended
to avert paralyzation of the day-to-day operations of an office in the
meantime that the chief or head of office is temporarily absent. The
OIC has no power to appoint unless the designation issued by the
proper appointing authority includes expressly the power to issue

In an earlier decision, Resolution No. 1692, the CSC declared that, “an
officer-in-charge takes care of the day-to-day affairs of the office. He
enjoys limited powers which are at best confined to the functions of
administration and to see to it that the office continues its usual
activities. As a rule, an officer-in-charge cannot perform acts that
involve the exercise of discretion.”
Moreover, an OIC cannot enter into long-term contracts because the
same is not part of the day-to-day operations of the agency. Entering
into a contract is an act that involves the exercise of discretion. Thus,
any long-term contract entered into by an OIC is null and void from
the very beginning. The OIC can be held administratively and
criminally liable for executing such contracts.

How then can an OIC implement the much-needed changes in his

department, or agency, if his powers are literally and legally limited
by law?

How can an OIC decide effectively if he has no power of discretion?

My insight tells me that they cannot.

The solution to this is for the President to complete appointing public

officials in their permanent capacities – and not mere OICs. More
importantly, the President should remove all officials in holdover
positions, knowing that their loyalty rests with the appointing
authorities who placed them in their present positions.