Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Curious Case of Atty. Solomon Lumba

By Perfecto Raymundo

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio insisted a violation has been committed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the appointment of her staff and remains to be void despite the resignation of Atty. Solomon Lumba from the University of the Philippines.

This was the response of Carpio to Sereno on Lumba's resignation from UP which could have cured the defect and irregularity in his appointment as Chief Justice Staff Head 2.

Carpio sent his second letter to Sereno saying despite Lumba's resignation from UP, his assumption in the Office of the Chief Justice on Nov. 5, 2012 remains "void and ineffective."

In a one-page letter issued by Carpio to Sereno dated Feb. 1, 2013, he said he reiterates the withdrawal of his signature to the Sept. 24, 2012 appointment papers of Lumba because it is still considered illegal.

Carpio said while he is pleased with the move of Sereno to correct herself, the resignation of Lumba does not affect the irregularity committed on his appointment.

"I am pleased to learn that, to clear the constitutional impediment, Atty. Solomon Lumba will now give up his position in the UP Law Faculty to join the Supreme Court as your Chief Justice Staff Head 2. However, I have to reiterate the withdrawal of my signature to the 24 September 2012 appointment paper of Atty. Lumba because that appointment remains void and ineffective," he said.

Carpio said it is legally impossible for Lumba to assume on Nov. 5, 2012 as Sereno's staff because he discovered Lumba is still active at UP Law Faculty up to Jan. 31, 2013.

"Under that appointment, Atty. Lumba was supposed to have assumed office as Chief Justice Staff Head 2 effective 5 November 2012. This is a legal impossibility because at that time, and even up to ....31, January 2013, Atty. Lumba was still holding another public office in the UP Law Faculty," he said.

Carpio insisted "no one can be appointed to two government positions at the same time, unless authorized by law or required by the primary functions of his office."

With this, he said Lumba must have a new appointment and cannot claim the Nov. 5, 2012 assumption with the SC because it is void.

"Thus, Atty. Lumba must be issued a new appointment as Chief Justice Staff Head 2 effective upon his resignation from the UP Law Faculty," he said.

Carpio issued a two-page letter to Sereno on Jan. 31, 2013 where he alleged in his letter the appointment of Lumba as Chief Justice Staff Head 2 as illegal and unconstitutional.

He informed Sereno he is withdrawing his signature after he discovered the violations committed by Sereno in the appointment of Lumba who is currently employed in the UP and now doing a "moonlighting" at the Office of the Chief Justice.

Carpio said he has no intention of violating the law and does not want to be a part of any irregularity.

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