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Case Digest: Brillantes v Yorac
ISSUE: W/N the President may designate the Acting Chairman of the COMELEC in the absence of the regular Chairman.
FACTS: The President designated Associate Commissioner Yorac as Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections, in place of Chairman Hilario B. Davide, who had been named chairman of the fact-finding commission to investigate the December 1989 coup d’ etat attempt. Brillantes challenged the act of the President as contrary to the constitutional provision that ensures the independence the Commission on Elections as an independent constitutional body and the specific provision that “(I)n no case shall any Member (of the Commission on Elections) be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.” Brillantes contends that the choice of the Acting Chairman of the Commission on Elections is an internal matter that should be resolved by the members themselves and that the intrusion of the President of the Philippines violates their independence. The Solicitor General the designation made by the President of the Philippines should therefore be sustained for reasons of “administrative expediency,” to prevent disruption of the functions of the COMELEC.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Constitution expressly describes all the Constitutional Commissions as “independent.” They are not under the control of the President of the Philippines in the discharge of their respective functions. Each of these Commissions conducts its own proceedings under the applicable laws and its own rules and in the exercise of its own discretion. Its decisions, orders and rulings are subject only to review on certiorari by this Court as provided by the Constitution. The choice of a temporary chairman in the absence of the regular chairman comes under that discretion. That discretion cannot be exercised for it, even with its consent, by the President of the Philippines. The lack of a statutory rule covering the situation at bar is no justification for the President of the Philippines to fill the void by extending the temporary designation in favor of the respondent. The situation could have been handled by the members of the Commission on Elections themselves without the participation of the President.
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