Effectivity of CPO 189-2013

In the case of Department of Finance v. Judge Dela Cruz (G.R. No. 209331, April 24, 2015), respondents allege that Executive Order No. 140 took effect only on 2 October 2013, fifteen days after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation. Hence, respondents argue that when Customs Personnel Order No. B-189-2013 (CPO 189-2013) was issued, EO 140 was not yet effective.

The case stemmed from the issuance of Executive Order No. 140 (EO 140) on 2 September 2013, which created the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO) in the Department of Finance (DOF). EO 140 states that the CPRO "shall be responsible for reviewing the customs administration policies, rules and procedures, and thereafter providing sound recommendations for the improvement of the same." Section 3 of EO 140 provides that "CPRO shall be composed of its organic personnel, as approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) upon recommendation of the DOF Secretary, augmented and reinforced by DOF and BOC personnel as well as those detailed or seconded from other agencies, whether attached to the DOF or not. x x x." Section 9 of EO 140 states that it shall "take effect immediately upon publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation." EO 140 was published in Manila Bulletin and Philippine Star on 17 September 2013.

On the same day of the publication of EO 140, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon (Commissioner Biazon) issued Customs Personnel Order No. B-189-2013 (CPO 189-2013) detailing 27 BOC personnel holding the positions of Collector of Customs V and VI, including respondents in this case, to CPRO "effective immediately and valid until sooner revoked." CPO 189-2013 was approved by DOF Secretary Cesar V. Purisima (Secretary Purisima).

Article 2 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, as amended by Executive Order No. 200,[1] is clear on this issue. It states:
Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided.
The proviso "unless it is otherwise provided" refers to an effectivity date other than after fifteen days following the completion of the law's publication.[2] Thus, it is within the discretion of the legislature, or the Executive Department in this case, whether to shorten or extend the fifteen-day period[3] as long as there is compliance with the requirement of publication.

In this case of DOF v. Judge Dela Cruz, Section 9 of EO 140 provides that the "order shall take effect immediately upon publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation." EO 140 was published in Manila Bulletin and Philippine Star on 17 September 2013. As such, EO 140 took effect on 17 September 2013.

In addition, the Court already ruled that "[interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the public, need not be published."[4] EO 140 is an internal regulation that affects primarily the personnel of the DOF and the BOC. It remains valid even without publication.

[1] Providing for the Publication of Laws Either in the Official Gazette or in a Newspaper of General Circulation in the Philippines as a Requirement for their Effectivity.

[2] Nagkakaisang Maralila ng Sitio Masigasig, Inc. v. Military Shrine Services-Philippine Veteran Affairs Office, Department of National Defense, G.R. No. 187587, 5 June 2013, 697 SCRA 359.

[3] TaƱada v. Tuvera, 230 Phil. 528 (1986), Resolution on Motion for Reconsideration.

[4] Id.

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