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Supreme Court orders Noy to answer petition on government perks

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered President Aquino to answer a petition questioning the legality of his Executive Order 7 filed by a lawyer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in Butuan City last month.

The Court gave the Palace 10 days to comment on the petition of Jelbert Galicto seeking to declare as unconstitutional EO 7 that suspended the bonuses and other benefits of officials of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government

financial institutions (GFIs).

The Court issued the order signed by Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal after finding Galicto’s petition “sufficient in form and substance.”

“Considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, the Court finds it necessary and proper to require the respondents to comment on the petition within 10 days from notice hereof,” the Court said.

Apart from the President, also named respondents in the complaint are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

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Petitioner had asked the Court to nullify EO 7 because the President supposedly went beyond his powers to order a moratorium of perks of GOCCs and GFIs whose executives and regular employees are exempted from the Salary Standardization Law.

He claimed that the issuance of EO 7 infringed on the legislative powers of Congress since the presidential directive “is by substance a law.”

It was the fourth EO of President Aquino that has been questioned before the Court. The first three were: EO 1, which created the Truth Commission, EO 2 that revoked the midnight appointments of the previous administration, and EO 3 which invalidated the grant of career executive service officer (CESO) rank to lawyers in the executive branch.

This latest petition, however, is the first to include the name of Mr. Aquino in the list of respondents.

The President earlier expressed optimism the Court would uphold the constitutionality of EO 7.

He said he merely reinforced a directive from the previous government limiting the compensation scheme for GOCC and GFI executives to prevent the unnecessary spending of public resources.

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