ISSUE: W/N the term of office of Atty. Thelma P. Gaminde, as Commissioner, Civil Service Commission, to which she was appointed on June 11, 1993, expired on February 02, 1999, as stated in the appointment paper, or on February 02, 2000, as claimed by her.
FACTS: The President appointed petitioner Gaminde, ad interim, Commissioner, Civil Service Commission. The Commission on Appointments, Congress of the Philippines confirmed the appointment. On February 24, 1998, petitioner sought clarification from the Office of the President as to the expiry date of her term of office. In reply to her request, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, in a letter dated April 07, 1998, opined that petitioner's term of office would expire on February 02, 2000, not on, February 02, 1999. Relying on said advisory opinion, petitioner remained in office after February 02, 1999. On February 04, 1999, Chairman Corazon Alma G. de Leon; wrote the Commission on Audit requesting opinion on whether or not Commissioner Thelma P. Gaminde and her co-terminus staff may be paid their salaries notwithstanding the expiration of their appointments on February 02,1999. On February 18, 1999, the General Counsel, Commission on Audit, issued an opinion that "the term of Commissioner Gaminde has expired on February 02, 1999 as stated in her appointment conformably with the constitutional intent." Consequently, on March 24, 1999, CSC Resident Auditor Flovitas U. Felipe issued notice of disallowance disallowing in audit the salaries and emoluments pertaining to petitioner and her co-terminus staff, effective February 02, 1999. Petitioner appealed the disallowance but the Commission on Audit affirmed the propriety of the disallowance, holding that the issue of petitioner's term of office may be properly addressed by mere reference to her appointment paper which set the expiration date on February 02, 1999, and that the Commission was bereft of power to recognize an extension of her term, not even with the implied acquiescence of the Office of the President. Petitioner moved for reconsideration; however, on August 17, 1999, the Commission on Audit denied the motion in Decision No. 99-129.
DECISION: Her appointment expired on February 02, 1999, but is entitled to received her salary and other emoluments
RATIO DECIDENDI: The term of office of Ms. Thelma P. Gaminde as Commissioner, Civil Service Commission, under an appointment extended to her expired on February 02, 1999. However, she served as de facto officer in good faith until February 02, 2000, and thus entitled to receive her salary and other emoluments for actual service rendered. The terms of the first Chairmen and Commissioners of the Constitutional Commissions under the 1987 Constitution must start on a common date, irrespective of the variations in the dates of appointments and qualifications of the appointees, in order that the expiration of the first terms of seven, five and three years should lead to the regular recurrence of the two-year interval between the expiration of the terms. Applying the foregoing conditions to the case at bar, we rule that the appropriate starting point of the terms of office of the first appointees to the Constitutional Commissions under the 1987 Constitution must be on February 02, 1987, the date of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution. In the law of public officers, there is a settled distinction between "term" and "tenure." "The term of an office must be distinguished from the tenure of the incumbent. The term means the time during the officer may claim to hold office as of right, and fixes the interval after which the several incumbents shall succeed one another. The tenure represents the term during which the incumbent actually holds the office. The term of office is not affected by the hold-over. The tenure may be shorter than the term for reasons within or beyond the power of the incumbent." We thus see the regular interval of vacancy every two (2) years, namely, February 02, 1994, for the first Chairman, February 02, 1992, for the first five-year term Commissioner, and February 02, 1990, for the first three-year term Commissioner. Their successors must also maintain the two year interval, namely: February 02, 2001, for Chairman; February 02, 1999, for Commissioner Thelma P. Gaminde, and February 02, 1997, for Commissioner Ramon P. Ereñeta, Jr.||