by Fernan A. Gianan
The president of the Catanduanes State University, Dr. Minerva I. Morales, marked her 65th birthday on Good Friday, April 10, 2020, in the midst of her second term of office.
Weeks before the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) went into effect, there was already speculation that the CSU president would retire from the post before this month. This reportedly prompted one presumptive candidate to begin counting her votes among the members of the Board of Regents.
However, the lockdown has kept the BOR from convening to discuss the matter.
The university was supposed to host the BOR conference last March 15-17, 2020, along with the meeting of all member institutions of Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) in Bicol, or PASUC-5, which Dr. Morales heads as president.
CSU employees who were ordered to personally deliver the notice of meeting to BOR members were in fact caught by the lockdown while in Metro Manila. When they came back, they were reportedly supposed to be in 14-day quarantine but one was seen mixing with the public outside his residence.
A source told this writer that one CSU regent, a former politician, allegedly raised the issue of Dr. Morales’ reaching retirement age ahead of the expiration of her term.
The BOR member posed this legal query: Would her retirement automatically require her to relinquish her post as university president?
It is claimed that some in the board are of the view that her retirement be considered as separate from her term and that she should finish her tenure as president unless she resigns from the post. In case she leaves without finishing her term, any appointee would thus serve only for the unexpired term.
As of now, with the board unable to meet, Dr. Morales remains president of the island’s only university pending an answer any query on the issue with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
It may be recalled that Dr. Morales was unanimously elected as the CSU’s first president during the CSU Board of Regents meeting on March 25, 2013 at CHED Central Office, UP Diliman Campus.
She was appointed to a second, and final, four-year term that will end on March 25, 2021, eleven months after she turned 65.
Ordinarily, under the an appointee in the executive department who reaches retirement age may enjoy two (2) extensions of six (6) months each, subject to the approval of the President, in case of a presidential appointee, or the CSC, for other appointees as specified in Section 12, Rule XIII of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and other Personnel Actions as amended by CSC Memorandum Circular No. 15, s. 1999.
However, Republic Act no. 10229, which converted the Catanduanes State Colleges into a university, is a special law which categorically fixes the term of office of its president for a period of four (4) years and must prevail over all general laws, as the Commission stated in its ruling on similar cases
In Ambas vs. Buenaseda (201 SCRA 308), the Supreme Court has held that “a term of office fixed by law allows the appointee to hold office, perform its functions, and enjoy its privileges and emoluments until the expiration of said period. It is the definite period of time prescribed by law by which an officer may hold office.”
Section 6 of RA 8292, the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, empowers Governing Boards of SUCs to extend the term of the president beyond the age of retirement but not later than the age of seventy (70) if his/her performance has been unanimously rated as outstanding and upon unanimous recommendation of the institution concerned.
“It is evident from a reading thereof, that the legislature had no intention to exempt totally the position of SUC President from the operation of the retirement laws and pertinent Civil Service rules and regulations. What it exempts, albeit impliedly, is the extension of the term of the SUC President who has reached the retirement age. This contemplates a situation, taking into account the word “extend”, where the SUC President is already holding said position before reaching the retirement age. Consequently, if the Governing Board does not seem fit to extend the term of office of the SUC President who reached the retirement age, the latter must yield to the operation of the retirement laws,” the CSC held in a separate ruling.
The CSU Charter provides that In case of vacancy in the Office of the President by reason of death, compulsory retirement, resignation, removal for cause or incapacity of the President to perform the functions of his/her office, the Board shall designate an Officer-in-Charge of the University within six (6) months from the date of vacancy, pending the appointment of a new President, with the OIC to serve only the unexpired portion of the term.
Assuming that Pres. Morales will finish her second term next year, the jockeying for the position, and its attendant political circus, will begin within six (6) months before the expiration of her term of office, or by September 2020, when the BOR constitutes the Search Committee for the Presidency (SCP).
NEEDING VIAGRA. An elderly gentleman went to the local drugstore and asked the pharmacist for Viagra. The pharmacist said, “That’s no problem. How many do you want?”
The man answered, “Just a few, maybe four, but cut each one in four pieces.”
The pharmacist said, “That won’t do you any good.”
The elderly gentleman said, “That’s all right. I don’t need them for sex anymore as I am 83 years old. I just want it to stick out far enough so I don’t pee on my shoes.”