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FFW files SC petition against EO 2, expanded definition of “midnight appointment”
December 8, 2010

Labor group Federation of Free Workers (FFW) has joined the Supreme Court petition seeking to stop the implementation of Executive Order No. 2 recalling, withdrawing and revoking so-called “midnight appointments”.

“We are for the observance and respect of the Philippine Constitution that is why we have submitted this petition,” said Atty. Jose Sonny Matula, FFW National Vice President. Atty. Matula, together with leaders of the FFW have submitted to the Supreme Court on December 7 a “Petition-in-Intervention with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction”.

FFW leaders allege that Executive Order No. 2 is unconstitutional since it “unduly expanded the meaning of midnight appointment” without basis in law legislated by Congress.

Social Security Commissioner

Matula was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Commissioner (representing workers) of the Social Security Commission on March 5, 2010, six days before the Constitutional ban on midnight appointments. But since he took his oath of office on April 14, he was classified as a midnight appointee under EO 2.

Prior to the formal appointment, Matula has already been serving as SS Commissioner in an acting capacity since 2006. Under the Charter of the SSS, his term should end on August 15, 2012.

Section 3 of Republic Act 8282 creating the Social Security System states that workers’ representatives appointed to the Social Security Commission by the President of the Republic shall have a term of three years. The Commission oversees the SSS with an asset of Php 300 billion and a membership of 28 million workers.

Representative

As an FFW official, Matula directly represents its more than 100,000 members, who are also active paying members of the SSS. FFW has also been an active tripartite partner of the Labor Department and enjoys consultative status with the International Labor Organization, as well as other regional and global federations and networks of labor and civil society.

For his good work, Matula was highly recommended to be appointed for a term as Commissioner to the SSC by the members of FFW Governing Board and other labor unions.

Also signing the SC petition were FFW Vice President for Luzon Alfredo Maranan, FFW Board Members Alvin Gonzales, Jomel General, Exequiel Bacarro. Wage Board Member Juanito Facundo and Matula’s Chief of Staff at the Commission, Ronnie Nismal.

FFW is particularly challenging the implementation of Executive Order No. 2 by SS Commission Chairman Juan B. Santos. Atty Matula was informed by Santos that he was being terminated and being replaced by Atty. Ibarra Malonzo by virtue of Executive Order No.2. Malonzo will be taking his oath on December 8.

Thus, FFW’s petition also alleges that Santos and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who represents the Office of the President, committed “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in issuing and implementing EO 2.”

The Supreme Court on October 12 issued a “Status Quo Ante Order” telling the executive department to suspend the implementation of EO 2. “The dismissal of Atty. Matula as SS Commissioner is a defiance of the court order,” the FFW said.

Not a revolutionary government

“Gone were the days of the dictator! This is not a revolutionary government!” FFW leaders claim.

The labor leaders also say that they filed the petition to “protect the material and substantial right” of Atty. Matula to his term of office at the SS Commission which will end on 2012 and to “prevent serious and irreparable damage unto himself, the workers whom he sincerely served well, the entire SS Commission and the SSS, from which he had sworn to defend and protect.”

The petitioners have reason to believe that the new administration did not trust appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, regardless of their credentials.

Delayed meetings

The SSC did not call for a meting for more than three months since PNoy assumed the Presidency. Santos scheduled its initial meetings only on October 11, November 11 and November 20.

Atty. Matula was allowed to attend and participate in these meetings. However, he was unceremoniously informed by SSS Vice President Mila Pagayatan of the Commission Secretariat and later confirmed by Chairman Santos that President Aquino had appointed Atty. Malonzo to replace him on November 15, 2010. Matula’s camp requested a copy of the appointment of Atty. Malonzo but was never given such.

As representative of the labor sector in the SSC, Matula has been commended for honestly, faithfully, diligently, and excellently performing his quasi-judicial and policy-making duties.

His office was made available to serve all members regardless of their affiliations. He had attended all SSC meetings and other activities of the SSS where he was invited in connection with his duty as Commissioner. He was a hard working representative for the labor sector in the SSC.

Matula served as Chief of Staff of the late FFW founder Johnny Tan when he served as Chairman of the SS Commission in the late 90s until the turn of the century. Matula took over as Commissioner after another former FFW President, Ramon Jabar vacated his post.

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