MALACAÑANG on Monday clarified that all appointments made by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were not midnight appointments.

In a press briefing, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said that Arroyo’s recent appointments were “legitimate exercise of her appointing authority and consistent with law.”

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Mendoza came in defense of the President who was being criticized for making several appointments despite election ban, which started last March 10 until the end of her term on June 30.

The Supreme Court (SC) on Sunday reminded the President that its March 17 decision allowing her to appoint next chief justice does not as well grant her the power to appoint other officials in government and various post within the election ban.

Downplaying the reminder of High Court, Mendoza insisted that the President’s move conform to the law.

“I wish to clarify once and for all that all of the appointments recently made by the President constitute a timely and legitimate exercise of her appointing authority, consistent with law, civil service, and other regulations, and invoking the highest national interest by putting in position only the most competent executives to assist in completing her legacy agenda for the country within the brief time remaining,” he said.

The Palace official added that all appointments were made before March 10 deadline, thus it cannot be called midnight appointments.

He defended that the announcements of appointments were delayed due to administrative procedures the Malacanang should follow in terms of appointment.

He meanwhile admitted that the only appointment made by President, which was within the election ban, was the temporary replacement of former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes with former Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (Psalm) president Jose Ibazeta.

But Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Victorino, who was also present at the briefing, cited that this appointment was covered by Section 15, Article 8 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states the “president or acting president shall not make appointments except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service of endanger public safety.”

Prerogative

One of the contested appointments of Arroyo was of businessman Alfonso Yuchengco to the position of Delia Domingo-Albert as Philippine Ambassador to Germany.

Facing the press for the first time after her removal, Albert said that she respects the decision of the President since it is also her prerogative.

“She’s the appointing power and as a political appointee, I report and respect what the decision is,” she said.

Although she did not receive explanation about her sudden replacement, Albert said she will always be thankful for the President for appointing her as the first woman secretary of foreign affairs and being awarded as most outstanding lady diplomat.

Albert related that her position is co-terminus with the President but she downplayed rationale of being replaced despite only three months remaining in Arroyo’s term.

With Yuchengco’s appointment, Albert said the comprehensive experience of Yuchengco as businessman would help him in his new post.

“He is a businessman and Germany is an economic power in Europe. So I supposed there is worthy considerations,” she said.

Mendoza stressed that appointees of the President were not permanent and they can be replaced anytime.

He added that the President was prompted to make several late appointments since most crucial positions were vacated due to election.

He meanwhile encourages those criticizing President Arroyo’s appointment to bring this issue to proper forum.

Mendoza said that no other appointments will be made by the President since she has completed the reorganization in government and foreign post. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)