The issue of having the executive appointments reviewed and confirmed by another body had been the subject of debates and discussion by the 1934 Constitutional Convention.
Eventually, the idea of having a permanent commission that could review and approve executive appointments and free the President from the time consuming, humiliating, and impossible task of negotiating with every member of the Assembly for the approval of each appointment, paved the way for the creation of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Under the 1935 Constitution, the CA was a 21-member Commission. A structural change in the legislature was made when the 1935 Constitution was amended in 1940. The amendment abolished the unicameral legislature and, in its place, a bicameral legislative body was created composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Consequently, a structural change was also introduced to the composition of the CA – from a 21-Member body to a 25-Member body composed of the Senate President, as ex-officio Chairman, 12 Senators and 12 Members of the House of Representatives.
The CA, however, was abolished with the adoption of the 1973 Constitution. The President had the sole appointing power without any check from a co-equal body.
Learning from the experience in which the power to appoint was exercised by the former President under the 1973 Constitution, provisions on the CA were again introduced in the 1987 Constitution. The provision on the composition of the CA under the 1935 Constitution, as amended, was adopted and, thus, reversion to the 25-Member CA.
The Jones Law
The appointments made by the American Governor-General were subject to the confirmation of the Filipino Senate. For the first time under US rule, executive power was held in check and balance by a legislative prerogative. That the executive power was exercised by the most powerful US Official in the Philippines and that the power of appointment was limited by the right of the native Senate to approve or reject the Governor-General’s nominations could only enhance the nation’s fitness for an increase in autonomy.
The 1935 Constitution
A system of check and balance among the three branches of government was ensured. Congress was entrusted to have the say among the presidential appointees are worth their appointments.
The amendments restored a two-chamber legislation. The appointments commission was also restructured as a joint Senate-House body composed of twelve Senators and twelve House Members with the Senate President as ex-officio Chairman.
The eclipse of democracy called for the abolition of the Commission on Appointments.
The rebirth of the Commission on Appointments under the 1935 Constitution, as amended, is a manifestation that absolute power is not vested in any one branch of the government and that legislative check can and should be applied to executive appointments. The 1987 Constitution, though, has restricted the scope of power of the CA, as it has no more power over appointments to the Judiciary, among others.