In a 14-page decision penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the high court sitting en banc denied a request from former MMDA Assistant General Manager for Operations (AGMO) Emmanuel de Castro to oust Emerson Carlos, who replaced him in the post.
Arroyo appointed De Castro to the position on July 29, 2009. More than a year later, on November 2, 2010, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino issued Memorandum Order No. 24 installing Carlos as officer-in-charge AGMO.
Tolentino used as basis for the appointment President Benigno Aquino III’s Memorandum Circular No. 2, which gave non-Career Executive Service Officials (CESO) occupying Career Executive Service (CES) positions only until October 31, 2010 to vacate their posts.
De Castro sought clarification from the Career Executive Service Board (CESB), which at the time said the position of AGMO had not yet been classified and could not be considered as belonging to the CES. The CESB said that De Castro, therefore, was not covered by OP Memorandum Circular No. 2.
De Castro demanded that he be continuously paid his salary and receive financial benefits as AGMO of the MMDA.
On January 4, 2011, however, President Aquino formally appointed Carlos as the new AGMO of the MMDA. Carlos took his oath of office on January 10, 2011.
This prompted De Castro to bring up the matter to the SC, questioning the validity of Aquino’s appointment of Carlos.
But in its latest ruling penned by Sereno—an Aquino appointee—the SC magistrates upheld the current President’s appointment.
The high court cited CESB Resolution No. 799 issued on May 19, 2009 that states an AGMO is a career position that enjoys security is tenure.
And since De Castro is a non-CESO and lacked CES eligibility, he was appointed AGMO only “temporarily.”
De Castro “did not hold the position of AGMO in a permanent capacity or acquire security of tenure in that position. Otherwise stated, his appointment was temporary and ‘coterminous with the appointing authority,'” the high court said.
“[C]onsidering that petitioner is an appointee of then President Arroyo whose term ended on 30 June 2010, petitioner’s term of office was also deemed terminated upon the assumption of President Aquino,” the court added.
The court also said it was “inconsequential” that De Castro was replaced by another non-CESO eligible.
“In a quo warranto proceeding, the person suing must show that he has a clear right to the office allegedly held unlawfully by another. Absent a showing of that right, the lack of qualification or eligibility of the supposed usurper is immaterial,” the SC said.
In the first place, the SC said De Castro disregarded the hierarchy of courts when he elevated the matter immediately to the high tribunal, and not in the lower courts first like a trial court or the Court of Appeals.
“Petitioner’s excuses are not special and important circumstances that would allow a direct recourse to this Court. More so, mere speculation and doubt to the exercise of judicial discretion of the lower courts are not and cannot be valid justifications to hurdle the hierarchy of courts. Thus, the Petition must be dismissed,” the SC said. — BM, GMA News