Abas Kida vs Senate (and Companion Cases) 659 SCRA 270 and 667 SCRA 270 Case Digest
CASE DIGEST: DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA vs. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES G.R. No. 196271 (and other cases consolidated therewith) Promulgated, October 18, 2011 I.
THE FACTS Several laws pertaining to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were enacted by Congress. Republic Act (RA) No. 6734 is the organic act that established the ARMM and scheduled the first regular elections for the ARMM regional officials. RA No. 9054 amended the ARMM Charter and refined the basic ARMM structure. It also reset the regular elections for the ARMM regional officials to the second Monday of September 2001. RA No. 9140 further reset the first regular elections to November 26, 2001. It likewise set the plebiscite to ratify RA No. 9054, which was successfully held on August 14, 2001. RA No. 9333 reset for nd the third time the ARMM regional elections to the 2 Monday of August 2005 and on the same date every 3 years thereafter. Pursuant to RA No. 9333, the next ARMM regional elections should have been held on August 8, 2011. COMELEC had begun preparations for these elections and had accepted certificates of candidacies for the various regional offices to be elected. But on June 30, 2011, RA No. 10153 was enacted, resetting the next ARMM regular elections to May 2013 to coincide with the regular national and local elections of the country. RA No. 10153 originated in the House of Representatives as House Bill No. 4146, which the House passed on March 22, 2011 with 191 (of the 285) Members voting in its favor. The Senate adopted its own version, Senate Bill No. 2756, on June 6, 2011. 13 (of the 23) Senators voted favorably for its passage. On June 7, 2011, the House of Representative concurred with the Senate amendments and on June 30, 2011, the President signed RA No. 10153 into law. In these consolidated petitions filed directly with the Supreme Court, the petitioners assailed the constitutionality of RA No. 10153.
II. THE ISSUES: 1. Does the 1987 Constitution mandate the synchronization of elections? 2. Does the passage of RA No. 10153 violate Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution? 3. Does the passage of RA No. 10153 require a supermajority vote [at least 2/3 of all members of Congress] and a plebiscite? a. Does the postponement of the ARMM regular elections constitute an amendment to Section 7, Article XVIII of RA No. 9054? b. Does the requirement of a supermajority vote for amendments or revisions to RA No. 9054 violate Sections 1 and 16(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the corollary doctrine [prohibiting] irrepealable laws? c. Does the requirement of a plebiscite apply only in the creation of autonomous regions under Section 18(2), Article X of the 1987 Constitution? 4. Is the grant [to the President] of the power to appoint OICs constitutional? III.
THE HOLDING [The Supreme Court] DISMISSED the petitions and UPHELD the constitutionality of RA No. 10153 in toto.]
1. YES, the 1987 Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections. While the Constitution does not expressly state that Congress has to synchronize national and local elections, the clear intent towards this objective can be gleaned from the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which show the extent to which the Constitutional Commission, by deliberately making adjustments to the terms of the incumbent officials, sought to attain synchronization of elections.
The objective behind setting a common termination date for all elective officials, done among others through the shortening the terms of the twelve winning senators with the least number of votes, is to synchronize the holding of all future elections – whether national or local – to once every three years. This intention finds full support in the discussions during the Constitutional Commission deliberations. The Constitutional Commission exchanges, read with the provisions of the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution, all serve as patent indicators of the constitutional mandate to hold synchronized national and local elections, starting the second Monday of May, 1992 and for all the following elections. xxx
Although called regional elections, the ARMM elections should be included among the elections to be synchronized as it is a “local” election based on the wording and structure of the Constitution. xxx
From the perspective of the Constitution, autonomous regions are considered one of the forms of local governments, as evident from Article X of the Constitution entitled “Local Government.” Autonomous regions are established and discussed under Sections 15 to 21 of this Article – the article wholly devoted to Local Government. That an autonomous region is considered a form of local government is also reflected in Section 1, Article X of the Constitution, which provides: Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. Thus, we find the contention – that the synchronization mandated by the Constitution does not include the regional elections of the ARMM – unmeritorious. xxx. 2.
NO, the passage of RA No. 10153 DOES NOT violate Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution because the President certified on the urgency of [the enactment of] RA No. 10153. The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 also challenge the validity of RA No. 10153 for its alleged failure to comply with Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that before bills passed by either the House or the Senate can become laws, they must pass through three readings on separate days. The exception to this is when the President certifies to the necessity of the bill’s immediate enactment. The Court, in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, explained the effect of the President’s certification of necessity in the following manner: The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, Section 26 qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: [i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] it has been printed in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally approved. In the present case, the records show that the President wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to certify the necessity of the immediate enactment of a law synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. Following our Tolentino ruling, the President’s certification exempted both the House and the Senate from having to comply with the three separate readings requirement. On the follow-up contention that no necessity existed for the immediate enactment of these bills since there was no public calamity or emergency that had to be met, again we hark back to our ruling in Tolentino:
The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law Art. VII, Section 18, or the existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary powers to the President under Art. VI, Section 23(2) is subject to judicial review because basic rights of individuals may be of hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which involves doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of Congress, certainly should elicit a different standard of review. The House of Representatives and the Senate – in the exercise of their legislative discretion – gave full recognition to the President’s certification and promptly enacted RA No. 10153. Under the circumstances, nothing short of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the two houses of Congress can justify our intrusion under our power of judicial review. The petitioners, however, failed to provide us with any cause or justification for [our intrusion under the power of judicial review]. Hence, while the judicial department and this Court are not bound by the acceptance of the President's certification by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, prudent exercise of our powers and respect due our co-equal branches of government in matters committed to them by the Constitution, caution a stay of the judicial hand. In any case, despite the President’s certification, the two-fold purpose that underlies the requirement for three readings on separate days of every bill must always be observed to enable our legislators and other parties interested in pending bills to intelligently respond to them. Specifically, the purpose with respect to Members of Congress is: (1) to inform the legislators of the matters they shall vote on and (2) to give them notice that a measure is in progress through the enactment process. We find, based on the records of the deliberations on the law, that both advocates and the opponents of the proposed measure had sufficient opportunities to present their views. In this light, no reason exists to nullify RA No. 10153 on the cited ground. 3.
NO, the passage of [RA No. 9333 and] RA No. 10153 DOES NOT require a supermajority vote and a plebiscite
A. RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 are NOT amendments to RA No. 9054 [N]either RA No. 9333 nor RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054. As an examination of these laws will show, RA No. 9054 only provides for the schedule of the first ARMM elections and does not fix the date of the regular elections. A need therefore existed for the Congress to fix the date of the subsequent ARMM regular elections, which it did by enacting RA No. 9333 and thereafter, RA No. 10153. Obviously, these subsequent laws – RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 – cannot be considered amendments to RA No. 9054 as they did not change or revise any provision in the latter law; they merely filled in a gap in RA No. 9054 or supplemented the law by providing the date of the subsequent regular elections. xxx
From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054. B. Supermajority voting requirement [under RA No. 9054] VIOLATES Section 16(2), Article VI for giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law Even assuming that RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 did in fact amend RA No. 9054, the supermajority (2/3) voting requirement required under Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 has to be struck down for giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law by requiring more than what the Constitution demands.
Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution provides that a “majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business.” In other words, as long as majority of the members of the House of Representatives or the Senate are present, these bodies have the quorum needed to conduct business and hold session. Within a quorum, a vote of majority is generally sufficient to enact laws or approve acts. In contrast, Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 requires a vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, voting separately, in order to effectively amend RA No. 9054. Clearly, this 2/3 voting requirement is higher than what the Constitution requires for the passage of bills, and served to restrain the plenary powers of Congress to amend, revise or repeal the laws it had passed. The Court’s pronouncement in City of Davao v. GSIS on this subject best explains the basis and reason for the unconstitutionality: Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability to bind the actions of future legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual infallibility is not one of the attributes desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments or repeals of its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience. Thus, while a supermajority is not a total ban against a repeal, it is a limitation in excess of what the Constitution requires on the passage of bills and is constitutionally obnoxious because it significantly constricts the future legislators’ room for action and flexibility. C.
Plebiscite requirement only applies to the creation of autonomous regions; Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 unconstitutional for excessively enlarging the plebiscite requirement in Section 18, Article X of the Constitution [T]he plebiscite requirement under Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 is excessive to point of absurdity and, hence, a violation of the Constitution. Section 18, Article X of the Constitution states that the plebiscite is required only for the creation of autonomous regions and for [the determination of] which provinces, cities and geographic areas will be included in the autonomous regions. While the settled rule is that amendments to the Organic Act have to comply with the plebiscite requirement in order to become effective, questions on the extent of the matters requiring ratification may unavoidably arise because of the seemingly general terms of the Constitution and the obvious absurdity that would result if a plebiscite were to be required for every statutory amendment. Section 18, Article X of the Constitution plainly states that “The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by the majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose.” With these wordings as standard, we interpret the requirement to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions – i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act – require ratification through a plebiscite. These amendments to the Organic Act are those that relate to: (a) the basic structure of the regional government; (b) the region’s judicial system, i.e., the special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction; and, (c) the grant and extent of the legislative powers constitutionally conceded to the regional government under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. The date of the ARMM elections does not fall under any of the matters that the Constitution specifically mandated Congress to provide for in the Organic Act. Therefore, even assuming that the supermajority votes and the plebiscite requirements are valid, any change in the date of elections cannot be construed as a substantial amendment of the Organic Act that would require compliance with these requirements.
YES, the grant [to the President] of the power to appoint OICs is constitutional
During the oral arguments, the Court identified the three options open to Congress in order to resolve the problem on who should sit as ARMM officials in the interim: (1) allow the elective officials in the ARMM to remain in office in a hold over capacity until those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; (2) hold special elections in the ARMM, with the terms of those elected to expire when those elected in the  synchronized elections assume office; or (3) authorize the President to appoint OICs, [their terms to last] also until those elected in the  synchronized elections assume office. A. Holdover Option is Unconstitutional We rule out the [hold over] option xxx violates Section 8, Article X of the Constitution. This provision states: Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. [emphases ours] Since elective ARMM officials are local officials, they are covered and bound by the threeyear term limit prescribed by the Constitution; they cannot extend their term through a holdover. xxx. xxx
In the case of the terms of local officials, their term has been fixed clearly and unequivocally, allowing no room for any implementing legislation with respect to the fixed term itself and no vagueness that would allow an interpretation from this Court. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years as fixed by the Constitution and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress. If it will be claimed that the holdover period is effectively another term mandated by Congress, the net result is for Congress to create a new term and to appoint the occupant for the new term. This view – like the extension of the elective term – is constitutionally infirm because Congress cannot do indirectly what it cannot do directly, i.e., to act in a way that would effectively extend the term of the incumbents. Indeed, if acts that cannot be legally done directly can be done indirectly, then all laws would be illusory. Congress cannot also create a new term and effectively appoint the occupant of the position for the new term. This is effectively an act of appointment by Congress and an unconstitutional intrusion into the constitutional appointment power of the President. Hence, holdover – whichever way it is viewed – is a constitutionally infirm option that Congress could not have undertaken. Jurisprudence, of course, is not without examples of cases where the question of holdover was brought before, and given the imprimatur of approval by, this Court. The present case though differs significantly from past cases with contrary rulings, where the Court ruled that the elective officials could hold on to their positions in a hold over capacity. All these past cases refer to elective barangay or Sanggunian Kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the Constitution; the present case, on the other hand, refers to local elective officials – the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice-Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly – whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution. Because of their constitutionally limited term, Congress cannot legislate an extension beyond the term for which they were originally elected. Even assuming that holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054) in the past, we have to remember that the rule of holdover can only apply as an available option where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident. Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, made it explicitly clear that it had the intention of suppressing the holdover rule that prevailed under RA No. 9054 by completely removing this
provision. The deletion is a policy decision that is wholly within the discretion of Congress to make in the exercise of its plenary legislative powers; this Court cannot pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation, except where an attendant unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion results.
The COMELEC has no authority to order special elections
Another option proposed by the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 is for this Court to compel COMELEC to immediately conduct special elections pursuant to Section 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 881. The power to fix the date of elections is essentially legislative in nature. [N]o elections may be held on any other date for the positions of President, Vice President, Members of Congress and local officials, except when so provided by another Act of Congress, or upon orders of a body or officer to whom Congress may have delegated either the power or the authority to ascertain or fill in the details in the execution of that power. Notably, Congress has acted on the ARMM elections by postponing the scheduled August 2011 elections and setting another date – May 13, 2011 – for regional elections synchronized with the presidential, congressional and other local elections. By so doing, Congress itself has made a policy decision in the exercise of its legislative wisdom that it shall not call special elections as an adjustment measure in synchronizing the ARMM elections with the other elections. After Congress has so acted, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary can act to the contrary by ordering special elections instead at the call of the COMELEC. This Court, particularly, cannot make this call without thereby supplanting the legislative decision and effectively legislating. To be sure, the Court is not without the power to declare an act of Congress null and void for being unconstitutional or for having been exercised in grave abuse of discretion. But our power rests on very narrow ground and is merely to annul a contravening act of Congress; it is not to supplant the decision of Congress nor to mandate what Congress itself should have done in the exercise of its legislative powers. Thus, contrary to what the petition in G.R. No. 197282 urges, we cannot compel COMELEC to call for special elections. xxx
Even assuming that it is legally permissible for the Court to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections, no legal basis likewise exists to rule that the newly elected ARMM officials shall hold office only until the ARMM officials elected in the synchronized elections shall have assumed office. In the first place, the Court is not empowered to adjust the terms of elective officials. Based on the Constitution, the power to fix the term of office of elective officials, which can be exercised only in the case of barangay officials, is specifically given to Congress. Even Congress itself may be denied such power, as shown when the Constitution shortened the terms of twelve Senators obtaining the least votes, and extended the terms of the President and the Vice-President in order to synchronize elections; Congress was not granted this same power. The settled rule is that terms fixed by the Constitution cannot be changed by mere statute. More particularly, not even Congress and certainly not this Court, has the authority to fix the terms of elective local officials in the ARMM for less, or more, than the constitutionally mandated three years as this tinkering would directly contravene Section 8, Article X of the Constitution as we ruled in Osmeña. Thus, in the same way that the term of elective ARMM officials cannot be extended through a holdover, the term cannot be shortened by putting an expiration date earlier than the three (3) years that the Constitution itself commands. This is what will happen – a term of less than two years – if a call for special elections shall prevail. In sum, while synchronization is achieved, the result is at the cost of a violation of an express provision of the Constitution.
D. The President’s Power to Appoint OICs The above considerations leave only Congress’ chosen interim measure – RA No. 10153 and the appointment by the President of OICs to govern the ARMM during the pre-synchronization period pursuant to Sections 3, 4 and 5 of this law – as the only measure that Congress can make. This choice itself, however, should be examined for any attendant constitutional infirmity. At the outset, the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature, and the limitations on or qualifications to the exercise of this power should be strictly construed; these limitations or qualifications must be clearly stated in order to be recognized. The appointing power is embodied in Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, which states: Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. [emphasis ours] This provision classifies into four groups the officers that the President can appoint. These are: First, the heads of the executive departments; ambassadors; other public ministers and consuls; officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, from the rank of colonel or naval captain; and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President in this Constitution; Second, all other officers of the government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law; Third, those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint; and Fourth, officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone. Since the President’s authority to appoint OICs emanates from RA No. 10153, it falls under the third group of officials that the President can appoint pursuant to Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution. Thus, the assailed law facially rests on clear constitutional basis. If at all, the gravest challenge posed by the petitions to the authority to appoint OICs under Section 3 of RA No. 10153 is the assertion that the Constitution requires that the ARMM executive and legislative officials to be “elective and representative of the constituent political units.” This requirement indeed is an express limitation whose non-observance in the assailed law leaves the appointment of OICs constitutionally defective. After fully examining the issue, we hold that this alleged constitutional problem is more apparent than real and becomes very real only if RA No. 10153 were to be mistakenly read as a law that changes the elective and representative character of ARMM positions. RA No. 10153, however, does not in any way amend what the organic law of the ARMM (RA No. 9054) sets outs in terms of structure of governance. What RA No. 10153 in fact only does is to “appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.” This power is far different from appointing elective ARMM officials for the abbreviated term ending on the assumption to office of the officials elected in the May 2013 elections. [T]he legal reality is that RA No. 10153 did not amend RA No. 9054. RA No. 10153, in fact, provides only for synchronization of elections and for the interim measures that must in the
meanwhile prevail. And this is how RA No. 10153 should be read – in the manner it was written and based on its unambiguous facial terms. Aside from its order for synchronization, it is purely and simply an interim measure responding to the adjustments that the synchronization requires. xxx
Furthermore, the “representative” character of the chosen leaders need not necessarily be affected by the appointment of OICs as this requirement is really a function of the appointment process; only the “elective” aspect shall be supplanted by the appointment of OICs. In this regard, RA No. 10153 significantly seeks to address concerns arising from the appointments by providing, under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the assailed law, concrete terms in the Appointment of OIC, the Manner and Procedure of Appointing OICs, and their Qualifications. Based on these considerations, we hold that RA No. 10153 – viewed in its proper context – is a law that is not violative of the Constitution (specifically, its autonomy provisions), and one that is reasonable as well under the circumstances.
The Supreme Court DISMISSED the consolidated petitions assailing the validity of R.A. No. 10153 for lack of merit and UPHELD the constitutionality of the said law in toto. Justice Brion, with whom Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Martin del Castillo, Jose Catral Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes Jr. and Estela Perlas Bernabe concurred, wrote the majority decision. The majority held that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of all elections, including the ARMM “regional elections”, which is really a “local election”. On the other hand, the passage of RA No. 10153 does not violate the requirement of having three readings on separate days of proposed legislations since the President certified on the urgency thereof. The petitioners fail to provide any justification for the judicial review of the factual basis of the presidential certification of urgency. The passage of RA No. 10153 does not require a supermajority vote and a plebiscite as provided in RA No. 9054 since the former is not an amendment to the latter. RA No. 9054 only provides for the schedule of the first ARMM elections and does not fix the date of the subsequent regular elections, which is what RA No. 10153 does. On the more contentious issue of the case, the majority ruled that the grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs, who will serve as ARMM officials in the interim, is valid. The first alternative, which calls for the holding over of the incumbent ARMM officials, is unconstitutional since elective ARMM officials are local officials bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. The second alternative [favored by the minority], which is to conduct special elections for the ARMM electorate to choose the officials who, instead of OICs, will govern in the interim, is also held unconstitutional. The COMELEC has no authority to order the proposed special elections as the power to fix the date of elections is legislative in nature. In this case, Congress has postponed the scheduled August 2011 ARMM elections and set another date therefor – May 13, 2011. By so doing, Congress has made a policy decision in the exercise of its legislative wisdom that it shall not call special elections as an adjustment measure in synchronizing the ARMM elections with the other elections. Justice Antonio Carpio, with whom Justices Jose Catral Perez and Maria Lourdes Sereno concurred, wrote a dissenting opinion declaring R.A. No. 10153 partly unconstitutional. He argued that Sections 3, 4 and 5 of RA 10153, which authorize the President to appoint OICs in place of elective ARMM officials, are unconstitutional. His thesis: while the synchronization of elections is a constitutional mandate, Congress cannot validly authorize the President to appoint OICs in place of elective officials. He would therefore order the COMELEC to conduct special elections to elect ARMM officials, who shall serve until the ones elected in the synchronized May 2013 elections shall have assumed their respective offices. He reasoned however that the holding over of the incumbent ARMM officials cannot be validly done since this would extend their respective terms of office. Thus, pending the assumption to office of the ARMM officials elected in the special elections, the President, exercising his power of general supervision over local governments, may appoint an OIC-ARMM Governor. This appointment is absolutely necessary and unavoidable to keep the functioning of essential government services in the ARMM.
Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., with whom Chief Justice Renato Corona and Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Roberto Abad concurred, also wrote a dissenting opinion. He essentially agreed with the dissent of Justice Carpio. But unlike Justice Carpio’s “curious proposal” that pending the holding of the special elections the President may appoint an OIC-ARMM Governor, he voted for the holding over of the incumbent ARMM officials as provided in RA No. 9054. He asserted that the President cannot fill the executive and legislative ARMM offices by appointment, even temporarily and pending the holding of the special elections. Such action, he said, will not only be outside the scope of the President’s constitutional authority, but also further violates the principle of local autonomy, nullifies the will of the
electorate, and contravenes the only limitation set by the Constitution – that the offices of the executive and legislative ARMM officials be “elective” and “representative.”