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Dario v. Mison G.R No. 81954
In 1986, Cory Aquino promulgated Proclamation No. 3, which is the mandate of the people to
Completely reorganize the government.
Two years later, President Aquino promulgated EO 127, which provides for the reorganization of
the Ministry of Finance and along with it the reorganization of the Bureau of Customs and
prescribes a new staffing pattern for the abovementioned office.
Following the adoption of the new Constitution, On january 1988 the incumbent Commissioner of
Customs Salvador Mison issued a memorandum “Guidelines on the Implementation of
Reorganization Executive Orders which prescribe the procedure in personnel placement. Such
memorandum provides that by February of 1988, all of the employees covered by EO 127 shall
be informed of their re-appointment and also offered another position in the same department or
agency and to be informed of their termination.
Mison addressed several notices to various Customs officials stating that they shall continue to
perform their respective duties and responsibilities in a hold-over capacity, and that those
incumbents whose positions are not carried in the new reorganization pattern, or who are not reappointed, shall be deemed separated from the service. A total of 394 officials and employees of
the Bureau of Customs were given individual notices of separation. They filed appeals with the
On June 1988, the CSC promulgated its ruling ordering the reinstatement of the 279 employees,
the 279 private respondents in G.R. No. 85310. Commissioner Mison, represented by the Solicitor
General, filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. Commissioner Mison instituted
On June 10, 1988, Republic Act No. 6656, was signed into law and according to the provisions of
the aforementioned Act, the process in which terminated employees in violation of RA 6656 shall
be reinstated or reappointed.
On June 23, 1988, Benedicto Amasa and William Dionisio, customs examiners appointed by
Commissioner Mison pursuant to the ostensible reorganization subject of this controversy,
petitioned the Court to contest the validity of the statute. On October 21, 1988, thirty-five more
Customs officials whom the Civil Service Commission had ordered reinstated by its June 30, 1988
Resolution filed their own petition to compel the Commissioner of Customs to comply with the
Cesar Dario was one of the Deputy Commissioners of the Bureau of Customs until his relief on
orders of Commissioner Mison on January 26, 1988. In essence, he questions the legality of his
dismissal, which he alleges was upon the authority of Section 59 of E.O. No. 127 He contends
that neither the E.O. nor the staffing pattern proposed by the Secretary of Finance abolished the
office of Deputy Commissioner of Customs, but, rather, increased it to three. Nor can it be said,
so he further maintains, that he had not been "reappointed" because "reappointment therein
presupposes that the position to which it refers is a new one in lieu of that which has been
abolished or although an existing one, has absorbed that which has been abolished." Lastly, he
claims, that under the Provisional Constitution, the power to dismiss public officials without cause
ended on February 25, 1987, and that thereafter, public officials enjoyed security of tenure under
the provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Vicente Feria asserts his security of tenure and that he cannot be said to be covered by Section
59 of E.O. No. 127, having been appointed on April 22, 1986 - during the effectivity of the
Provisional Constitution. He adds that under E.O. No. 39, the Commissioner of Customs has the
power "to appoint all Bureau personnel, except those appointed by the President," and that his
position, which is that of a Presidential appointee, is beyond the control of Commissioner Mison
for purposes of reorganization.
Provisions of Section 16, Article XVIII explicitly authorize the removal of career civil service
employees "not for cause but as a result of the reorganization pursuant to Proclamation No. 3
dated March 25, 1986 and the reorganization following the ratification of this Constitution. For this
reason, Mison posits, claims of violation of security of tenure are allegedly no defense. That
contrary to the employees' argument, Section 59 of E.O.no. 127 is applicable, in the sense that
retention in the Bureau, under the E.O., depends on either retention of the position in the new
staffing pattern or reappointment of the incumbent, and since the dismissed employees had not
been reappointed, they had been considered legally separated. Moreover, Mison proffers that
under Section 59 incumbents are considered on holdover status, "which means that all those
positions were considered vacant."
Whether or not Section 16 of Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution is a grant of a license upon the
Government to remove career public officials it could have validly done under an "automatic"-
vacancy-authority and to remove them without rhyme or reason.
No. The Court held that the State can still carry out reorganizations provided that it is done in
good faith. Removal of career officials without cause cannot be done after the passing of the 1987
The above is a mere recognition of the right of the Government to reorganize its offices, bureaus,
and instrumentalities. Under Section 4, Article XVI, of the 1935 Constitution. Transition periods
are characterized by provisions for "automatic" vacancies. They are dictated by the need to hasten
the passage from the old to the new Constitution free from the "fetters" of due process and security
Since 1935, transition periods have been characterized by provisions for "automatic" vacancies.
We take the silence of the 1987 Constitution on this matter as a restraint upon the Government
to dismiss public servants at a moment's notice. If the present Charter envisioned an "automatic"
vacancy, it should have said so in clearer terms. Plainly the concern of Section 16 is to ensure
compensation for "victims" of constitutional revamps - whether under the Freedom or existing
Constitution - and only secondarily and impliedly, to allow reorganization.
In order to be entitled to the benefits granted under Section 16 of Article XVIII of the Constitution
of 1987, two requisites, one negative and the other positive, must concur, to wit:
1. The separation
must not be for cause, and 2. The separation must be due to any of the three situations mentioned.
By its terms, the authority to remove public officials under the Provisional Constitution ended on
February 25, 1987, advanced by jurisprudence to February 2, 1987. It can only mean, then, that
whatever reorganization is taking place is upon the authority of the present Charter, and
necessarily, upon the mantle of its provisions and safeguards. Hence, it cannot be legitimately
stated that we are merely continuing what the revolutionary Constitution of the Revolutionary
Government had started. We are through with reorganization under the Freedom Constitution -
the first stage. We are on the second stage - that inferred from the provisions of Section 16 of
Article XVIII of the permanent basic document.
After February 2, 1987, incumbent officials and employees have acquired security of tenure.
The present organic act requires that removals "not for cause" must be as a result of
reorganization. As we observed, the Constitution does not provide for "automatic" vacancies. It
must also pass the test of good faith. As a general rule, a reorganization is carried out in "good
faith" if it is for the purpose of economy or to make bureaucracy more efficient. In that event, no
dismissal (in case of a dismissal) or separation actually occurs because the position itself ceases
to exist. And in that case, security of tenure would not be a Chinese wall. Be that as it may, if the
"abolition," which is nothing else but a separation or removal, is done for political reasons or
purposely to defeat security of tenure, or otherwise not in good faith, no valid "abolition" takes
place and whatever "abolition" is done, is void ab initio. There is an invalid "abolition" as where
there is merely change of nomenclature of positions, or where claims of economy are belied by
the existence of ample funds.
The Court finds that Commissioner Mison did not act in good faith since after February 2, 1987
no perceptible restructuring of the Customs hierarchy - except for the change of personnel - has
occurred, which would have justified (all things being equal) the contested dismissals. There is
also no showing that legitimate structural changes have been made - or a reorganization actually
undertaken, for that matter - at the Bureau since Commissioner Mison assumed office, which
would have validly prompted him to hire and fire employees.
With respect to E.O. No. 127, Commissioner Mison submits that under Section 59 thereof, "Those
incumbents whose positions are not included therein or who are not reappointed shall be deemed
separated from the service." He submits that because the 394 removed personnel have not been
"reappointed," they are considered terminated. To begin with, the Commissioner's appointing
power is subject to the provisions of Executive Order No. 39. Under E.O. No. 39, the
Commissioner of Customs may "appoint all Bureau personnels except those appointed by the
President." Thus, with respect to Deputy Commissioners Cesar Dario and Vicente Feria, Jr.,
Commissioner Mison could not have validly terminated them, they being Presidential appointees.
That Customs employees, under Section 59 of E.O. No. 127 had been on a mere holdover status
cannot mean that the positions held by them had become vacant. The occupancy of a position in
a holdover capacity was conceived to facilitate reorganization and would have lapsed on 25
February 1987 (under the Provisional Constitution), but advanced to February 2, 1987 when the
1987 Constitution became effective. After the said date the provisions of the latter on security of
Hence the petition of the employees was granted while the petition of Mison was dismissed. The
court ordered the reinstatement of the Employees of the Bureau of Customs