Our latest report exposes the latest batch of 13 “midnight appointments” that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed on June 10, 2010 – a day after Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III was proclaimed new President by the joint committee of Congress that canvassed the votes in the last elections.

This report authored by Ed Lingao, PCIJ’s Multimedia Director, shows that Arroyo’s appointment of the 13 officials to higher ranks in the career executive service also constitutes a violation of the Constitution.

Article VII, Section 15 states: “Two months immediately before the next Presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

Arroyo signed the appointments even as dusk had settled on her presidency, and in obvious disregard for the integrity of the career executive service. Her 13 appointees “to rank” include three department undersecretaries, four regional directors, and several directors of various agencies.

Early on, Arroyo had already come under fire for naming an army of appointees – by the most reliable count about 200 at least – to various government positions, including lucrative directorships in government-owned and controlled corporations.

The eight-person Career Executive Service Board had come to Arroyo’s defense, however. Last June 2, the board passed a resolution “clarifying” that the ban on appointments does not cover the “appointment to rank” that Arroyo made.

The catch though is this: Three members of the board who signed the resolution – Defense Undersecretary Proceso Domingo, Public Works Regional Director Angelito Twano, and Presidential Management Staff Director Susan Solo – are among the 13 Arroyo appointees who benefited from the resolution.

The long and short of it: The three signed the resolution that exempted their own appointments from the election ban. This is a case of real conflict of interest as real could get.

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