Sunday, January 3, 2016

The power to abolish a public office is lodged with the legislature.

"x x x.

Well entrenched in this jurisdiction is the rule that the power to abolish a public office is lodged with the legislature. This proceeds from the legal precept that the power to create includes the power to destroy. A public office is created either by the Constitution, by statute, or by authority of law. Thus, except where the office was created by the Constitution itself, it may be abolished by the same legislature that brought it into existence.72

Indubitably, this is the case at hand. The legislature through R.A. No. 9497 abolished the ATO as explicitly stated in Sections 4 and 85 thereof, viz:

SEC. 4. Creation of the Authority. – There is hereby created an independent regulatory body with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers and possessing corporate attributes to be known as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), hereinafter referred to as the "Authority", attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for the purpose of policy coordination. For this purpose, the existing Air Transportation Office created under the provisions of Republic Act No. 776, as amended, is hereby abolished.

x x x x

SEC. 85. Abolition of the Air Transportation Office. – The Air Transportation Office (ATO) created under Republic Act No. 776, a sectoral office of the Department of Transportation and

Communications (DOTC), is hereby abolished.

All powers, duties and rights vested by law and exercised by the ATO is hereby transferred to the Authority.

All assets, real and personal properties, funds and revenues owned by or vested in the different officesof the ATO are transferred to the Authority. All contracts, records and documents relating to the operations of the abolished agency and its offices and branches are likewise transferred to the Authority. Any real property owned by the national government or government-owned corporation or authority which is being used and utilized as office or facility by the ATO shall be transferred and titled in favor of the Authority. (Emphasis supplied)

Verily, the question whether a law abolishes an office is a question of legislative intent. In this case, petitioner tries to raise doubts as to the real intention of Congress. However, there should not be any controversy if there is an explicit declaration of abolition in the law itself.73 For where a statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempt to interpret. Verba legis non est recedendum, index animi sermo est. There should be no departure from the words of the statute, for speech is the index of intention.74 The legislature, through Sections 4 and 85 of R.A. No. 9497, has so clearly provided. As the Court merely interprets the law as it is, we have no discretion to give statutes a meaning detached from the manifest intendment and language thereof.75

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time for this Court to rule regarding the abolition of the ATO and the emergence of the CAAP by virtue of R.A. No. 9497. Holding thatthe CAAP, as the legal successor of the ATO, is liable to respondents therein for obligations incurred by ATO, this Court in Air Transportation Office v. Ramos,76 in no uncertain terms, held that the ATO was abolished by virtue of Sections 4 and 85 of R.A. No. 9497.

Thus, we find petitioner’s assertion thatthe real intention of R.A. No. 9497 was merely the reorganization ofthe ATO and not its abolition devoid of merit.

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.