My Legal Point
Bayan G. Balt
One of the hot news in the coffeeshop today is the request of the Interim Bangsamoro Parliament to extend the term of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) for another three more years from June 2022 to June 2025.
In passing Resolution No. 332, the Bangsamoro Parliament said that “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not have enough time to carry out the effective implementation of the transition, to include programs, projects, and services.”
Malacañang said it will review the BTA resolution urging Congress to extend the transition period from year 2022 to 2025. But the LGUS of Lanao Del Sur, Sulu and Basilan reportedly opposed the proposed extension. There are likewise civil society organizations that opposed the proposed extension unless the present “BTA” is revamped by appointing hard working officials dedicated to pass the Codes required of them by the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). Some NGOS criticized the present “BTA” for passing only one Code (The Administrative Code) in a span of more than two years despite all the assistance and financial support of the Philippine government.
Public Office as distinguished from public officer
Public office is an official governmental body empowered with the authority to direct and supervise the implementation of particular legislative acts. In the Philippines, it refers to any of the various units of the Government, including a department, bureau, office, instrumentality, or government-owned or controlled corporation, or a local government or a distinct unit therein, (E.O. 292). Public officer on the other hand means any person holding any public office in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of an appointment, election or contract.
Congressional extension of the BTA’s term does not cover extension of the term of its officials — crystal clear public office like the “BTA” is an office or instrumentality of the government, it is distinct and separate from the members of the parliament and other officials holding said office. Otherwise, stated the powers of Congress to pass a law extending the term of the “BTA” exclude the powers to extend the term or appointments of its members. Any law to the contrary will violate the principle of separation of powers; simply the power to appoint is an executive fiat and cannot be exercised by Congress which is simply passing a law. As enshrined in our Constitution, Congress can create public office but cannot appoint its officials.
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- Atty. Bayan G. Balt is former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Marawi City & Lanao del Sur chapter; former Cabinet Secretary of DOLE-ARMM and Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM).