On May 20, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) gathers for its biggest annual event, the national council meeting in Tagum, Davao del Norte. About 500 are expected to attend from 110 local councils and they will elect members of the National Executive Board (NEB), the governing body of the BSP. Soon after, the NEB votes for its national officials. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Boy Scouts of the Philippines)
Eyes are on the Boy Scouts election this year as Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay – the frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race – faces a legal hurdle in staying on as BSP chief. The question is: will he seek the post again or will he step down?
If Binay is re-elected, this will be his 19th year as leader of the Boy Scouts, the longest-serving president of this national organization.
But the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that the BSP is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) has thrown a legal obstacle for Binay. (The BSP used to be a non-government voluntary organization.)
The Constitution says in Article VIII, Section 13 and Article VII, Section 3 that the Vice President cannot hold any other position, apart from his appointment as member of the cabinet.
Moreover, a Supreme Court decision in 1991 gave flesh to these constitutional provisions. The Court ordered members of President Corazon Aquino’s cabinet who were holding posts in other government agencies, including GOCCs, to “relinquish their offices.” The Court declared Aquino’s executive order allowing cabinet members to sit in other government offices unconstitutional. (Read the Supreme Court decision here.)
“…the intent of the framers of the Constitution was to impose a stricter prohibition on the President and his official family in so far as holding other offices or employment in the government …is concerned,” the decision, penned by Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan, said.
Vicente Foz, member of the constitutional commission, was quoted as saying, “We actually have to be stricter with the President and the members of the Cabinet because they exercise more powers and therefore more checks and restraints on them are called for because there is more possibility of abuse in the case.”
The Court also cited the consequences of holding several positions: “Being head of an executive department is no mean job. It is more than a full-time job, requiring full attention…If maximum benefits are to be derived from a department head’s ability and expertise, he should be allowed to attend to his duties and responsibilities without distraction of other governmental offices …”
The practice of appointing cabinet secretaries to various governing boards, the Court said, became prevalent during the martial law years under President Marcos and this led to abuse. – Marites Danguilan Vitug/Rappler.com