The petitioner claims that Roces was supposed to serve a full term of six years counted from the date of her appointment in October (should be September) 2004. Since she failed to finish her six-year term, then the petitioner is entitled to serve this unexpired portion or until October (should be September) 2010. The petitioner invokes Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6975 (otherwise known as the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990) which requires that vacancies in the NAPOLCOM “shall be filled up for the unexpired term only.” Because of the mandatory word “shall,” the petitioner concludes that the appointment issued to him was really a “regular” appointment, notwithstanding what appears in his appointment paper. As a regular appointee, the petitioner argues that he cannot be removed from office except for cause.
b. R.A. No. 6975 does not prohibit the appointment of an acting NAPOLCOM Commissioner in filling up vacancies in the NAPOLCOM
The petitioner next cites Section 18 of R.A. No. 6975 to support his claim that the appointment of a NAPOLCOM Commissioner to fill a vacancy due to the permanent incapacity of a regular Commissioner can only be permanent and not temporary:
Section 18. Removal from Office. – The members of the Commission may be removed from office for cause. All vacancies in the Commission, except through expiration of term, shall be filled up for the unexpired term only: Provided, That any person who shall be appointed in this case shall be eligible for regular appointment for another full term.
Nothing in the cited provision supports the petitioner’s conclusion. By using the word “only” in Section 18 of R.A. No. 6975, the law’s obvious intent is only to prevent the new appointee from serving beyond the term of office of the original appointee. It does not prohibit the new appointee from serving less than the unexpired portion of the term as in the case of a temporary appointment.
While the Court previously inquired into the true nature of a supposed acting appointment for the purpose of determining whether the appointing power is abusing the principle of temporary appointment, the petitioner has not pointed to any circumstance/s which would warrant a second look into and the invalidation of the temporary nature of his appointment.
Even the petitioner’s citation of Justice Puno’s dissenting opinion in Teodoro B. Pangilinan v. Guillermo T. Maglaya, etc. is inapt. Like the petitioner, Pangilinan was merely appointed in an acting capacity and unarguably enjoyed no security of tenure. He was relieved from the service after exposing certain anomalies involving his superiors. Upon hearing his plea for reinstatement, the Court unanimously observed that Pangilinan’s relief was a punitive response from his superiors. The point of disagreement, however, is whether Pangilinan’s lack of security of tenure deprives him of the right to seek reinstatement. Considering that the law (Administrative Code of 1987) allows temporary appointments only for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months, the majority considered Pangilinan to be without any judicial remedy since at the time of his separation, he no longer had any right to the office. Justice Puno dissented, arguing that Pangilinan’s superiors’ abuse of his temporary appointment furnishes the basis for the relief he seeks.
In the present case, the petitioner does not even allege that his separation from the office amounted to an abuse of his temporary appointment that would entitle him to the incidental benefit of reinstatement. As we did in Pangilinan, we point out that the petitioner’s appointment as Acting Commissioner was time-limited. His appointment ipso facto expired on July 21, 2009 when it was not renewed either in an acting or a permanent capacity. With an expired appointment, he technically now occupies no position on which to anchor his quo warranto petition.