by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com
MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has declared that the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) may exercise supervision and control over all international airports in the country although such mandate has already been delegated to the Air Transportation Office (ATO) under Republic Act 776.
In a five-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez held that President Arroyo can validly direct MIAA to take over the operation and management of international airports through the issuance of an executive order.
Gonzalez made the opinion in response to the query of Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza in relation to President’s Arroyo issuance of Executive Order No. 341 directing the ATO and DOTC to immediately carry out the transfer of the operation and control of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City from ATO to MIAA.
Mendoza said the DOTC Legal Service believes that despite the mandate given to the ATO, the President pursuant to her power to reorganize the national government can validly command the MIAA to take over the control and supervision of all international airports thru E.O. No. 341.
On the other hand, the ATO counters that its charter (R.A. 776) mandates the exercise of administrative supervision and control over international airports and that such charter, having been enacted by Congress, can only be repealed by a law passed by Congress and not by an executive order.
Although it has been the policy of the DOJ not to rule on questions involving interpretation of the official issuances of the President, Gonzalez stressed that it is necessary to issue a ruling on the matter in view of its importance.
In affirming the authority of the President to direct MIAA to take over the supervision of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, Gonzalez noted that the Presidential Decree No. 1416 as amended by P.D. No. 1772 “is clear and categorical.”
The said law states that “the President of the Philippines shall have continuing authority to reorganize the national government.”
The law also provides that executive orders of the President “shall have the effect of repealing, amending or modifying accordingly all laws, decrees, charters, executive orders, administrative orders, proclamations, rules and regulations or parts thereof that are in conflict with such E.O.”
“Thus, while the ATO, under its Charter, is mandated to exercise supervision and control over the Manila International Airport and all government-owned aerodromes, the President, pursuant to her continuing authority to reorganize the national government…is not prohibited, but may, in fact, validly direct another government office or agency, such as the MIAA, to exercise supervision and control over all international airport in the country through the e issuance of an Executive Order — as she had already done — which executive issuance has the force and effect of amending and/or repealing the inconsistent provisions of the ATO Charter,” Gonzalez said in his five-page legal opinion.