Sunday, January 3, 2016

Abolition of office: A valid order of abolition must not only come from a legitimate body, it must also be made in good faith. An abolition is made in good faith when it is not made for political or personal reasons, or when it does not circumvent the constitutional security of tenure of civil service employees. Abolition of an office may be brought about by reasons of economy, or to remove redundancy of functions, or a clear and explicit constitutional mandate for such termination of employment.Where one office is abolished and replaced with another office vested with similar functions, the abolition is a legal nullity. When there is a void abolition, the incumbent is deemed to have never ceased holding office.

"x x x.

For the ATO employees’ security of tenure to be impaired, the abolition of the ATO must be done in bad faith.

At this juncture, our ruling in Kapisanan ng mga Kawani ng Energy Regulatory Board v. Barin77 is instructive, to wit:

A valid order of abolition must not only come from a legitimate body, it must also be made in good faith. An abolition is made in good faith when it is not made for political or personal reasons, or when it does not circumvent the constitutional security of tenure of civil service employees. Abolition of an office may be brought about by reasons of economy, or to remove redundancy of functions, or a clear and explicit constitutional mandate for such termination of employment.Where one office is abolished and replaced with another office vested with similar functions, the abolition is a legal nullity. When there is a void abolition, the incumbent is deemed to have never ceased holding office.

We have also held that, other thanthe aforestated reasons of economy, making the bureaucracy more efficient is also indicative of the exercise of good faith in, and a valid purpose for, the abolition of an office.78

The purpose for the abolition of the ATO is clearly manifested in Section 2 of R.A. No. 9497: SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is hereby declared the policy of the State to provide safe and efficient air transport and regulatory services in the Philippines by providing for the creation of a civil aviation authority with jurisdiction over the restructuring of the civil aviation system, the promotion, development and regulation of the technical, operational, safety, and aviation security functions under the civil aviation authority. (Emphasis supplied)

It cannot be disregarded that in January 2008, before the enactment of R.A. No. 9497, the Philippines was again downgraded by the FAA to a Category 2 status because of air safety regulations, practices and personnel which fell below the ICAO’s standards. Hence, it is but reasonable to state that the purpose for the abolition of the ATO, as posited by petitioner itself, was "to create a much more effective Agency in order to address the problems that go along with the fast emerging developments in the field of the globally-competitive aviation industry."79

On the other hand, circumstances evidencing bad faith are enumerated in Section 2 of R.A. No. 6656 which provides:

SEC. 2. No officer or employee in the career service shall be removed except for a valid cause and after due notice and hearing. A valid cause for removal exists when, pursuant to a bona fide reorganization, a position has been abolished or rendered redundant or there is a need to merge, divide, or consolidate positions in order to meet the exigencies of the service, or other lawful causes allowed by the Civil Service Law. The existence of any or some of the following circumstances may be considered as evidence of bad faith in the removals made as a result of reorganization, giving rise toa claim for reinstatement or reappointment by an aggrieved party: (a) Where there is a significant increase in the number of positions in the new staffing pattern of the department or agency concerned;

(b) Where an office is abolished and another performing substantially the same functions is created;

(c) Where incumbents are replaced by those less qualified in terms of status of appointment, performance and merit;

(d) Where there is a reclassification of offices in the department or agency concerned and the reclassified offices perform substantially the same functions as the original offices;

(e) Where the removal violates the order of separation provided in Section 3 hereof. (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner posits that abolition of an office cannot have the effect of removing an officer holding it if the office is restored under another name. However, we find no bad faith in the abolition of the ATO as the latter was not simply restored in another name in the person of the CAAP. Thus, we compare the ATO and the CAAP.

ATO was merely a sectoral office of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and as suchacted within the supervision of the latter and budgeted under it. As Section 2 of E.O. No. 125-A, series of 1987 deleted Section 1280of E.O. No. 125, seriesof 1987 which delineated the functions of the former BAT, werely on R.A. No. 776 in citing the functions of the CAA which were succeeded by the ATO through the powers and duties of the CAA Administrator. Section 32 of R.A. No. 776 provides:

SEC. 32. Powers and duties of the Administrator. – Subject to the general control and supervision of the Department Head, the Administrator shall have among others, the following powers and duties:

(1) To carry out the purposes and policies established in this Act; to enforce the provisions of, the rules and regulations issued in pursuance to, said Act; and he shall primarily be vested with authority to take charge of the technical and operational phase of civil aviation matters.

(2) To designate and establish civil airways, and to acquire, control, operate and maintain along such airways, air navigation facilities and to chart such airways and arrange for their publication including the aeronautical charts or maps required by the international aeronautical agencies by utilizing the equipment, supplies or assistance of existing agencies of the government as far as practicable.

(3) To issue airman’s certificate specifying the capacity in which the holder thereof is authorized to serve as airman in connection with aircraft and shall be issued only upon the finding that the applicant is properly qualified and physically able to perform the duties of the position. The certificate shall contain such terms, conditions and limitations as the Administrator may determine to be necessary to assure safety in air commerce: Provided, however,That the airman’s license shall be issued only to qualified persons who are citizens of the Philippines or qualified citizens of countries granting similar rights and privileges to citizens of the Philippines.

(4) To issue airworthiness certificate for aircraft which shall prescribe the duration of such certificate, the type of service for which the aircraft may be used, and such other terms and conditions and limitations as are required.

(5) To issue air carrier operating certificate and to establish minimum safety standards for the operation of the air carrier to whom such certificate is issued. The air carrier operating certificate shall be issued only to aircrafts registered under the provisions of this Act.

(6) To issue type certificate for aircraft, aircraft engine, propellers and appliances.

(7) To inspect, classify and rateany air navigation facilities and aerodromes available for the use of aircraft as to its suitability for such use and to issue a certificate for such air navigation facility and aerodrome; and to determine the suitability offoreign aerodromes, air navigation facilities as well as air routes to be used prior to the operation of Philippine registered aircraft in foreign air transportation and from time to time thereafter as may be required in the interest of safety in air commerce.

(8) To issue certificates of persons or civil aviation schools giving instruction in flying, repairstations, and other air agencies and provide for the examination and rating thereof.

(9) To promulgate rules and regulations as may be necessary in the interest of safety in air commerce pertaining to the issuance of the airman’s certificate, including licensing of operating and mechanical personnel, type certificate for aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers and appliances, airworthiness certificate, air carrier operating certificate, air agency certificate, navigation facilityand aerodrome certificate; air traffic routes; radio and aeronautical telecommunications and air navigation aids; aircraft accident inquiry; aerodromes, both public and private owned; construction of obstructions to aerodromes; registration of aircraft; search and rescue; facilitation of air transport; operations of aircraft, both for domestic and international, including scheduled and non-scheduled; meteorology in relation to civil aviation; rules of the air; air traffic services; rules for prevention of collision of aircraft; identification of aircraft; rules for safe altitudes of flight; and such other rules, regulations, standards, governing other practices, methods, procedures as the Administrator may find necessary and appropriate to provide adequately for safety, regularity and efficiency in air commerce and air navigation.

(10) To provide for the enforcement of the rules and regulations issued under the provisions of this Act and to conduct investigations for violations thereto. In undertaking such investigation, to require by subpoena or subpoena duces tecum, the attendance and testimony of witness, the production of books, papers, documents, exhibit matters, evidence, or the taking of depositions before any person authorized to administer oath. Refusal to submit tothe reasonable requirements of the investigation committee shall be punishable in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

(11) To investigate accidents involving aircraft and report to the Civil Aeronautics Board the facts, conditions and circumstances relating to the accidents and the probable cause thereof; and to make such recommendations to the Civil Aeronautics Board as may tend to prevent similar accidents in the future: Provided, That when any accident has resulted in serious or fatal injury, the Civil Aeronautics Board shall make public such report and recommendations: And provided, further, That no report on any accident or any statement made during any investigation or during hearing relative to such accident may be admitted as evidence or used for any purpose in any civil suitgrowing out of any matter revealed within any such report, statement, investigation or hearing.

(12) To collect and disseminate information relative to civil aeronautics and the development of air commerce and the aeronautical industry; to exchange with foreign governments, information pertaining to civil aeronautics; and to provide for direct communication all matters relating to the technical or operational phase of aeronautics with international aeronautical agencies.

(13) To acquire and operate such aircraft as may be necessary to execute the duties and functions of the Civil Aeronautics Administration prescribed in this Act.

(14) To plan, design, acquire, establish, construct, operate, improve, maintain, and repair necessary aerodromes and other air navigation facilities.

(15) To impose and fix, except those mentioned in section forty, paragraph twenty-five and hereinafter provided, reasonable charges and fees for the use of government aerodromes or air navigation facilities; for services rendered by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in the rating of any aerodrome or air navigation facilities, civil aviation schools and instructions, aircraft repair stations, and aircraft radio and aeronautical telecommunications stations. To collectand receive charges and fees for the registration of aircraft and for the issuance and/or renewal of licenses or certificates for aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers and appliances, and airmen as provided in this Act.

(16) To fix the reasonable charges to be imposed in the use of privately owned air navigation facilities and aerodromes.

(17) To impose fines and/or civil penalties and make compromises in respect thereto.

(18) To adopt a system for registration of aircraft as hereinafter provided.

(19) To participate actively with the largest possible degree in the development of international standardization of practices in aviation matters important to safe, expeditious, and easy navigation, and to implement as far as practicable the international standards, recommended practices, and policies adopted by appropriate international aeronautical agencies.

(20) To exercise and perform itspowers and duties under this Act consistent with any obligation assumed by the Republic of the Philippines in any treaty, convention or agreement on civil aviation matters.

(21) To cooperate, assist and coordinate with any research and technical agency of the Government on matters relating to research and technical studies on design, materials, workmanship, construction, performance, maintenance and operation of aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and air navigation facilities including aircraft fuel and oil: Provided, That nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the duplication of the laboratory research, activities or technical studies of any existing governmental agency.

(22) To designate such prohibited and danger areas, in consonance with the requirements of the international aeronautical agencies and national security.

(23) To issue, deny, cancel or revoke any certificate, permit or license pertaining to aircraft, airmen, and air agencies: Provided, That any order denying, cancelling, revoking the certificate, permit or license may be appealed to the Civil Aeronautics Board, whose decisions shall be final within fifteen days from the dateof notification of such denial, cancellation, or revocation.

(24) To administer, operate, manage, control, maintain and develop the Manila International Airport and all government-owned aerodromes except those controlled or operated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including such powers and duties as: (a) to plan, design, construct, equip, expand, improve, repair or alter aerodromes or such structures, improvements, or air navigation facilities; (b) to enter into, make and execute contracts of any kind with any person, firm, or public or private corporation or entity; (c) to acquire, hold, purchase, or lease any personal or real property, right of ways, and easements which may be proper or necessary: Provided, That no real property thus acquired and any other real property of the Civil Aeronautics Administration shall be sold without the approval of the President of the Philippines; (d) to grant to any person, such concession or concession rights on space or property within or upon the aerodrome for purposes essential or appropriate to the operation of the aerodrome upon such terms and conditionsas the Administrator may deem proper: Provided, however, That the exclusive use of any landing strip or runway within the aerodrome shall not be granted to any person; (e) to determine the types of aircraft that may be allowed to use any of the aerodromes under its management and control in the interest of public safety; (f) to prescribe, adopt, establish and enforce such rules and regulations consistent with existing laws, rules and regulations, as may be necessary for the safety, health and welfare of the public within the aerodrome.

(25) To determine, fix, impose, collect and receive landing fees, parking space fees, royalties on sales or deliveries, direct or indirect, to any aircraft for its use of aviation gasoline, oil and lubricants, spare parts, accessories, and supplies, tools, other royalties, fees or rentals for the use of any of the property under its management and control.

As used in this sub-section:

(1) "Landing fees" refer to all charges for the use of any landing strip or runway by any aircraft landing or taking off at an aerodrome.

(2) "Terminal fees" refer to charges for parking at or near the ramp, terminal area, or building, for the purposes of loading or unloading passengers and/or cargo.

(3) "Royalties" refer to all charges based on gross business or sales, or gross or net profit.

(4) "Supplies" include any and all items of whatever nature or description which may be necessary for, or incidental to, the operation of an aircraft.

(26) To grant permit to civil aircraft or persons to carry instrument or photographic device to be used for aerial photography or taking of pictures by photograph or sketching of any part of the Philippines.

On the other hand, the CAAP is anindependent regulatory body with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers and possessing corporate attributes,81 having an authorized capitalstock of fifty billion pesos (P50,000,000,000.00) which shall be fully subscribed by the Republic of the Philippines.82 It is attached to the DOTC only for the purpose of policy coordination.83 While the Director General is responsible for the exercise of all powers and the discharge of all duties including the control over all personnel and activities of the CAAP,84 the latter’s corporate powers are vested in its Board of Directors.85 It enjoys fiscal autonomy to fund its operations.86 With quasi-judicial powers, the Director General has the power and authority to inspect aviation equipment and also from time to time, for any reason, re-inspect or reexamine the same.87 If, as a result of any such re-inspection or reexamination, or if, as a result of any other investigation made by the Director General,he determines that safety in civil aviation or commercial air transport and the public interest requires, the Director General may issue an order amending, modifying, suspending or revoking, in whole or in part, any airworthiness certificate, airman certificate, air operator certificate or certificate for any airport, school, or approved maintenance organization.88 Possessing quasi-legislative powers, CAAP’s Board may authorize the Director General to issue or amend rules of procedures and practice as may be required, or issue and adopt rules and regulations and other issuances of the ICAO.89 Vested with corporate attributes, said Board, through a resolution, may empower the Director General to enter into, make and execute contracts of any kind with any person, firm, or public or private corporation.90

Moreover, notable under R.A. No. 9497 is the establishment of permanent offices like the (a) Air Traffic Service; (b) Air Navigation Service; (c) Aerodrome Development and Management Service; (d) Administrative and Finance Service;91 (e) the Office of Enforcement and Legal Service;92 and (f) the Flight Standards Inspectorate Service.93The law also mandated the Director General to organize the Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board.94

Furthermore, R.A. No. 9497 manifested the adherence ofthe country to, and the adoption of, the Chicago Convention and ICAO standards95 and other international conventions96with respect to matters relating to civil aviation.

After comparing the features and functions of the ATO and the CAAP, we find that CAAP indeed assumed the functions of the ATO. However, the overlap in their functions does not mean there was no valid abolition of the ATO.97 The CAAP has new and expanded features and functions which are intended to meetthe growing needs of a globally competitive civil aviation industry, adherent to internationally recognized standards. Thus, in National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration v. Civil Service Commission,98 we held that:

if the newly created office has substantially new, different or additional functions, duties or powers, so that itmay be said in fact to create an office different from the one abolished, even though it embraces all or some of the duties of the old office it will be considered as an abolition of one office and the creation of a new or different one. The same is true if one office is abolished and its duties,for reasons of economy are given to an existing officer or office.

To be precise, the case before us deals only with the issue of abolition and not removal. Besides, petitioner has failed to provide in detail any ATO personnel who had been removed from office on account of R.A. No. 9497.

Apropos then is our ruling in Kapisanan ng mga Kawani ng Energy Regulatory Board v. Barin,99 to wit:

However, abolition of an office and itsrelated positions is different from removal of an incumbent from his office. Abolition and removal are mutually exclusive concepts. From a legal standpoint, there is no occupant in an abolished office. Where there is no occupant, there is no tenure to speak of. Thus, impairment of the constitutional guarantee of security of tenure doesnot arise in the abolition of an office.On the other hand, removal implies that the office and its related positions subsist and that the occupants are merely separated from their positions.

Based on the premise that there was a valid abolition of ATO, in the absence of any bad faith, we rule thatthe ATO employees’ right to security of tenure was not violated.

The Court cannot agree to petitioner’s supposition that there should be automatic absorption of all ATO employees to the CAAP. Indeed, there is no such thing as a vested interest in a public office, let alone an absolute right to hold it. Except constitutional offices which provide for special immunity as regards salary and tenure, no one can be said to have any vested right in an office or its salary.100 Public office is not property but a "public trust or agency." While their right to due process may be relied upon by public officials to protect their security of tenure which, in a limited sense, is analogous to property,101 such fundamental right to security of tenure cannot be invoked against a valid abolition of office effected by the legislature itself.

However, it bears stressing that former ATO employees are not left without succor. Aside from the retirement packages provided for by R.A. No. 9497, the same law mandates that former qualified ATO employees should be accorded preference in filling up CAAP plantilla positions. Section 12 of R.A. No. 9497 provides:

SEC. 12. Personnel. – Qualified existing personnel of the Air Transportation Office (ATO) shall be given preference in the filling up of plantilla positions created inthe Authority, subject to existing civil service rules and regulations.

This preference is resonated in Section 59(b), Rule IX of the IRR, which provides:

SECTION 59. Abolition of the Air Transportation Office.

x x x x

b. Qualified Air Transportation Office (ATO) personnel shall be given preference in the filling-up of CAAP plantilla positions subject to existing civil service rules and regulations.

Inasmuch as we accorded respect to the mandate of the law in abolishing the ATO, such preference in favor of qualified ATO employees, subject to existing civil service rules and regulations, should likewise be strictly heeded in favor of the said employees. All respondents must abide by this directive. No less than R.A. No. 9497 requires it.

Finally, we resolve the third issue in the negative.

A petition for prohibition will prosper only if grave abuse of discretion is manifested.1avvphi1 Mere abuse ofdiscretion is not enough; it must be grave. The term grave abuse of discretion is defined as a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner because of passion or hostility.102

We hold that there is no grave abuse of discretion when Section 60 of the IRR provided for a "hold-over" status on the part of ATO employees.

A careful perusal of Section 86 of R.A. No. 9497 reveals that the transfer of ATO personnel, unless they opted to retire from the service, to the CAAP implies the application of the hold-over principle. There being no express, much less implied prohibition of the application of the hold-over principle in R.A. No. 9497 per se, such proviso in the latter’s IRR does not amount to grave abuse of discretion.

In Lecaroz v. Sandiganbayan,103 we held:

Absent an express or implied constitutional or statutory provision to the contrary, an officer is entitled to stay in office until his successor is appointed or chosen and has qualified.The legislative intent of not allowing holdover must be clearly expressed or at least implied in the legislative enactment, otherwise it is reasonable to assume that the law-making body favors the same.

The reason for the application of the hold-over principle is clearly stated also in Lecaroz,104 to wit:

Indeed, the law abhors a vacuum in public offices, and courts generally indulge in the strong presumption against a legislative intent to create, by statute, a condition which may result in an executive or administrative office becoming, for any period of time, wholly vacant or unoccupied by one lawfully authorized to exercise its functions. This is founded on obvious considerations ofpublic policy, for the principle of holdover is specifically intended to prevent public convenience from suffering because of a vacancy and to avoid a hiatus in the performance of government functions.

Indeed, the application of the hold-over principle preserves continuity in the transaction of official business and prevents a hiatus in government. Thus, cases of extreme necessity justify the application of the hold-over principle.105

Petitioner itself states and this Court, without doubt, agrees that the CAAP is an agency highly imbued with public interest.1âwphi1 It is of rational inference that a hiatus therein would be disastrous not only to the economy, tourism and trade of the country but more so on the safety and security of aircraft passengers, may they be Filipino citizens or foreign nationals.

A final note.

On April 9, 2014, based on a March 2014 FAA review of the CAAP, the FAA opined that the Republic ofthe Philippines complies with the international safety standards set by the ICAO and has been granted a Category 1 rating.106 The European Union also lifted the ban on Philippine carriers.107 Thus, it cannot be ignored that the creation of the CAAP through R.A. No. 9497, in one way or another, helped in upgrading the country’s status in the arena of civil aviation. Absent any violation of the Constitution and the other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, this Court would not hinder in the continuous growth and improvement of the civil aviation industry of the country.

x x x."

G.R. No. 190120 November 11, 2014
CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES (CAAP); HON. LEANDRO R. MENDOZA, Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications, in his capacity as Ex-Officio CAAP Chairman of the Board; RUBEN F. CIRON, PhD, Acting Director General, in his capacity as CAAP Ex Officio Vice Chairman; HON. AGNES VST. DEV ANADERA, Acting Secretary, Department of Justice, HON. MARGARITO B. TEVES, Secretary, Department of Finance, HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, HON. RONALDO V. PUNO, Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government, HON. MARIANITO D. ROQUE, Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment, and HON. JOSEPH ACE H. DURANO, Secretary, Department of Tourism, in their capacity as Ex-Officio MEMBERS CAAP Board of Directors; DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT (DBM); HON. ROLANDO C. ANDAYA, JR., in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management; CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (CSC); HON. CESAR D. BUENAFLOR and HON. MARY Z. FERNANDEZ-MENDOZA, in their capacity as Commissioners of the Civil Service Commission; EDUARDO E. KAPUNAN, JR., in his capacity as DeputyDirector General for Administrationof CAAP and as Chairman, CAAP Selection Committee; and ROLANDO P. MANLAPIG, in his capacity as Chairman, CAAP Special Selection Committee, Respondents.