THE Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the petition a taxpayer filed that sought to invalidate the appointment of former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. as the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The SC, in an en banc resolution dated June 25 and penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, said the petition filed by Alan Paguia has become moot and academic after Davide resigned last April 1, 2010.
“The petition presents no case or controversy, for petitioner’s lack of capacity to sue and mootness,” the High Court said.
Twelve associate justices, including now Chief Justice Renato Corona, concurred.
Former president Glo-ria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Davide as permanent representative to the UN based in New York in March 2006.
Davide vacated the post in April this year to help his son, Hilario III, in his campaign for the gubernatorial race in Cebu.
The elder Davide was recently appointed chairman of the Truth Commission tasked to investigate allegations of graft and other irregularities linked to former president Arroyo’s administration.
Paguia had filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of certiorari against Davide, the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and sought the nullification of Davide’s appointment.
Paguia alleged that Davide’s appointment violated Section 23 of Republic Act 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991.
He argued that Davide’s age at the time of his nomination disqualified him from holding such a post. Davide was 70 years old during his appointment.
Paguia further argued that Section 23 of RA 7157 imposes an absolute rule for all DFA employees, career or non-career, so he believed Davide’s entry into the DFA’s ranks “discriminates” against the rest of the DFA officials and employees.
In their separate comments, Davide, the Office of the President and the DFA cited three issues against the petition.
First, they questioned Paguia’s standing to lodge the suit because of his indefinite suspension from the practice of law.
The Office of the President and the DFA argued the petitioner’s citizenship or his status as a taxpayer is not a solid ground to question the appointment of Davide, since Paguia “remains without personal and substantial interest in the outcome of a suit, which does not involve the taxing power of the state or the illegal disbursement of public funds.”
The public respondents also questioned the propriety of the petition, which they said can only be filed by a contender or nominee for same post.
Davide, in his comment, explained Section 23 of RA 7157 on the mandated retirement age applies only to career diplomats and excludes non-career appointees like him.
The SC agreed with the respondents.
“Petitioner’s citizenship and taxpayer status do not clothe him with standing to bring this suit. We have granted access to citizen’s suits on the narrowest of grounds: when they raise issues of transcendental importance, calling for urgent resolution,” the SC said in its resolution.
According to the SC, three factors are needed to give credence to the third party suit. These are the character of funds or assets involved in the controversy, a clear disregard for constitutional or statutory prohibition, and the lack of any other party with a more direct and specific interest to bring the suit.
But Paguia failed to meet these parameters.