You are on page 1of 12

Republic of the Philippines On 30 July 1987, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the

SUPREME COURT Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), assisted by


Manila the Solicitor General, filed with the Sandiganbayan Civil Case No.
0035 (PCGG Case No. 35) entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs.
EN BANC Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, et al.", for reconveyance, reversion,
accounting, restitution and damages.

The complaint was amended several times by impleading new


G.R. No. 89914 November 20, 1991 defendants and/or amplifying the allegations therein. Under the
Second Amended Complaint, 1 the herein petitioners were
JOSE F.S. BENGZON JR., ABELARDO TERMULO, JOSE impleaded as party defendants.
MANTECON, VICENTE MILLS JR., LEONARDO GAMBOA, KURT
BACHMANN JR., JOSE V.E. JIMENEZ, ERNESTO CALUYA, The complaint insofar as pertinent to herein petitioners, as
AGERICO UNGSON, SUSAN ROXAS, ELVIE CASTILLO, and defendants, alleges among others that:
CYNTHIA SABIDO LIMJAP, petitioners,
vs. 14. Defendants Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez and
THE SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE AND ITS MEMBERS, Juliette Gomez Romualdez, acting by themselves
represented by and through the CHAIRMAN, HON. and/or in unlawful concert with Defendants Ferdinand
WIGBERTO TAADA, respondents, JOSE S. E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, and taking undue
SANDEJAS, intervenor. advantage of their relationship, influence and
connection with the latter Defendant spouses,
Bengzon, Zarraga, Narciso, Cudala, Pecson & Bengson for engaged in devices, schemes and strategems to
petitioners. unjuestly enrigh themselves at the expense of
Plaintiff and the Filipino people, among others:
Balgos & Perez for intervening petitioner.
(a) Obatained, with the active
Eddie Tamondong and Antonio T. Tagaro for respondents. collaboration of Defendants Sene J.
Gabaldon, Mario D. Camacho, Mamerto
Nepomuceno, Carlos J. Valdez, Cesar C.
Zalamea and Francisco Tantuico, Atty.
Jose Bengzon, Jr. and his law partners,
PADILLA, J.:p namely: Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Jose
Vicente E. Jimenez, Amando V.
This is a petition for prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo C. Cruz;
temporary restraining order and/or injuective relief, to enjoin the Jose S. Sandejas and his fellow senior
respondent Senate Blue Ribbon committee from requiring the managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings
petitioners to testify and produce evidence at its inquiry into the groups of companies such as Leonardo
alleged sale of the equity of Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Gamboa, Vicente T. Mills, Jr., Jose M.
Lopa Group in thirty-six (36) or thirty-nine (39) corporations. Mantecon, Abelardo S. Termulo, Rex C.
Drilon II and Kurt Bachmann, Jr., control

1
of some of the biggest business Law Offices, or specifically Defendants
enterprises in the Philippines, such as Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., V.E. Jimenez,
the Manila Corporation (MERALCO), Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Edilberto
Benguet Consolidated and the S. Narciso, Jr., manipulated, shcemed,
Philippine Commercial International and/or executed a series of devices
Bank (PCI Bank) by employing devious intended to conceal and place, and/or
financial schemes and techniques for the purpose of concealing and
calculated to require the massive placing, beyond the inquiry and
infusion and hemorrhage of jurisdiction of the Presidential
government funds with minimum or Commission on Good Government
negligible "cashout" from Defendant (PCGG) herein Defendant's individual
Benjamin Romualdez... and collective funds, properties, and
assets subject of and/or suited int he
xxx xxx xxx instant Complaint.

(m) manipulated, with the support, (o) manuevered, with the technical
assistance and collaboration of know-how and legalitic talents of the
Philgurantee officials led by chairman FMMC senior manager and some of the
Cesar E.A. Virata and the Senior Bengzon law partners, such as Attys.
managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings, Inc. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., Edilberto S.
led by Jose S. Sandejas, Jr., Jose M. Narciso, Jr., Amando V. Faustino, Jose
Mantecom and Kurt S. Bachmann, Jr., Vicente E. Jimenez and Leonardo C.
among others, the formation of Cruz, the purported sale of defendant
Erectors Holdings, Inc. without infusing Benjamin Romualdez's interests in the
additional capital solely for the (i) Professional Managers, (ii) A & E
purpose of Erectors Incorporated with International Corporation (A & E), (iii)
Philguarantee in the amount of First Manila Managerment Corporation
P527,387,440.71 with insufficient (FMMC), (iv) Philippine World Travel
securities/collaterals just to enable Inc. (PWTI) and its subsidiaries
Erectors Inc, to appear viable and to consisting of 36 corporations in all, to
borrow more capitals, so much so that PNI Holdings, Inc. (wjose purported
its obligation with Philgurantee has incorporations are all members of Atty.
reached a total of more than P2 Billion Jose F.S. Bengzon's law firm) for only
as of June 30, 1987. P5 million on March 3, 1986 or three
days after the creation of the
(n) at the onset of the present Presidential Commission on Good
Administration and/or within the week Government on February 28, 1986, for
following the February 1986 People's the sole purpose of deceiving and
Revolution, in conspiracy with, supoort, preempting the Government,
assistance and collaboration of the particularly the PCGG, and making it
abovenamed lawyers of the Bengzon appear that defendant Benjamin
2
Romualdez had already divested total shareholding of the Fund to
himself of his ownership of the same 11,470,555 voting shares or 36.8% of
when in truth and in fact, his interests the voting stock of the PCIB, and this
are well intact and being protected by development (which the defendants
Atty. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. and some of themselves orchestrated or allowed to
his law partners, together with the happen) was used by them as an
FMMC senior managers who still excuse for the unlawful dismantling or
control and run the affiars of said cancellation of the Fund's 10 million
corporations, and in order to entice the shares for allegedly exceeding the 30-
PCGG to approve the said fictitious percent ceiling prescribed by Section
sale, the above-named defendants 12-B of the General Banking Act,
offered P20 million as "donation" to the although they know for a fact that
Government; what the law declares as unlawful and
void ab initio are the subscriptions in
(p) misused, with the connivance, excess of the 30% ceiling "to the
support and technical assitance of the extent of the excess over any of the
Bengzon law firm represented by Atty. ceilings prescribed ..." and not the
Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. as legal counsel, whole or entire stockholding which
together with defendants Cesar they allowed to stay for six years (from
Zalamea, Antonio Ozaeta, Mario D. June 30, 1980 to March 24, 1986);
Camacho amd Senen J. Gabaldon as
members of the Board of Directors of (q) cleverly hid behind the veil of
the Philippine Commercial corporate entity, through the use of
International bank (PCIB), the Meralco the names and managerial expertise of
Pension Fund (Fund, for short) in the the FMMC senior manager and lawyers
amount of P25 million by cuasing it to identified as Jose B. Sandejas,
be invested in the PCIB and through Leonardo Gamboa, Vicente T. Mills,
the Bank's TSG, assigned to PCI Abelardo S, Termulo, Edilberto S.
Development and PCI Equity at 50% Narciso, Jr., Jose M. Mantecon, Rex C.
each, the Fund's (a) 8,028.011 Drilon II, Kurt Bachmann, Jr. together
common shares in the Bank and (b) with the legal talents of corporate
"Deposit in Subscription" in the lawyers, such as Attys. Jose F.S.
amount of P4,929.972.50 but of the Bengzon, Jr., Jose V.E. Jimenez, Amando
agreed consideration of P28 million for V. Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo C. Cruz,
the said assignment, PCI Development the ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin T.
and PCI Equity were able to pay only Romualdez including, among others,
P5,500.00 downpayment and the first the 6,229,177 shares in PCIB
amortization of P3,937,500.00 thus registered in the names of Trans
prompting the Fund to rescind its Middle East Phils. Equities, Inc. and
assignment, and the consequent Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr. which they
reversion of the assigned brought the refused to surrender to PCGG despite
3
their disclosure as they tried and On 13 September 1988, the Senate Minority Floor Leader, Hon. Juan
continue to exert efforts in getting hold Ponce Enrile delivered a speech "on a matter of personal privilege"
of the same as well as the shares in before the Senate on the alleged "take-over personal privilege"
Benguet registered in the names of before the Senate on the alleged "take-over of SOLOIL
Palm Avenue Holdings and Palm Incorporated, the flaship of the First Manila Management of
Avenue Realty Development Corp. Companies (FMMC) by Ricardo Lopa" and called upon "the Senate
purportedly to be applied as payment to look into the possible violation of the law in the case, particularly
for the claim of P70 million of a with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
"merger company of the First Manila Practices Act." 4
Managerment Corp. group" supposedly
owned by them although the truth is On motion of Senator Orlando Mercado, the matter was referred by
that all the said firms are still the Senate to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers
beneficially owned by defendants (Blue Ribbon Committee). 5 Thereafter, the Senate Blue Ribbon
Benjamin Romualdez. Committee started its investigation on the matter. Petitioners and
Ricardo Lopa were subpoenaed by the Committee to appear before
xxx xxx xxx it and testify on "what they know" regarding the "sale of thirty-six
(36) corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez."
On 28 September 1988, petitioner (as defendants) filed their
respective answers. 2 Meanwhile, from 2 to 6 August 1988, At the hearing held on 23 May 1989, Ricardo Lopa declined to
conflicting reports on the disposition by the PCGG of the testify on the ground that his testimony may "unduly prejudice" the
"Romualdez corporations" were carried in various metropolitan defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan.
newspapers. Thus, one newspaper reported that the Romuladez Petitioner Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. likewise refused to testify involing
firms had not been sequestered because of the opposition of his constitutional right to due process, and averring that the
certain PCGG officials who "had worked prviously as lawyers of the publicity generated by respondents Committee's inquiry could
Marcos crony firms." Another daily reported otherwise, while others adversely affect his rights as well as those of the other petitioners
declared that on 3 March 1986, or shortly after the EDSA February who are his co-defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the
1986 revolution, the Romualdez companies" were sold for P5 Sandiganbayan.
million, without PCGG approval, to a holding company controlled by
Romualdez, and that Ricardo Lopa, the President's brother-in-law, The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, thereupon, suspended its
had effectively taken over the firms, even pending negotiations for inquiry and directed the petitioners to file their memorandum on
the purchase of the corporations, for the same price of P5 million the constitutional issues raised, after which, it issued a
which was reportedly way below the fair value of their assets. 3 resolution 6 dated 5 June 1989 rejecting the petitioner's plea to be
excused from testifying, and the Committee voted to pursue and
continue its investigation of the matter. Senator Neptali Gonzales
dissented. 7

Claiming that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is poised to


subpoena them and required their attendance and testimony in
proceedings before the Committee, in excess of its jurisdiction and
legislative purpose, in clear and blatant disregard of their

4
constitutional rights, and to their grave and irreparable damager, checks and balances to secure coordination in the
prejudice and injury, and that there is no appeal nor any other workings of the various departments of the
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, government...
the petitioners filed the present petition for prohibition with a
prayer for temporary restraning order and/or injunctive relief. xxx xxx xxx

Meanwhile, one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out
Sandiganbayan, Jose S. Sandejas, filed with the Court of motion for with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power
intervention, 8 which the Court granted in the resolution 9 of 21 to the executive, the legislative and the judicial
December 1989, and required the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon departments of the government. The ovelapping and
Committee to comment on the petition in intervention. In interlacing of funcstions and duties between the
compliance, therewith, respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee several deaprtments, however, sometimes makes it
filed its comment 10 thereon. hard to say just where the political excitement, the
great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be
Before discussing the issues raised by petitioner and intervenor, we forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated, in
will first tackle the jurisdictional question raised by the respondent cases of conflict, the judicial departments is the only
Committee. constitutional organ which can be called upon to
determine the proper allocation of powers between
In its comment, respondent Committee claims that this court the several departments and among the integral or
cannot properly inquire into the motives of the lawmakers in constituent units thereof.
conducting legislative investigations, much less cna it enjoin the
Congress or any its regular and special commitees like what xxx xxx xxx
petitioners seek from making inquiries in aid of legislation, under
the doctrine of separation of powers, which obtaines in our present The Constitution is a definition of the powers of
system of government. government. Who is to determine the nature, scope
and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself
The contention is untenable. In Angara vs. Electoral has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary
Commission, 11 the Court held: as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates
to allocate constitutional boundaries; it does not
The separation of powers is a fundamental principle assert any superiority over the other departments; it
in our system of government. It obtains not hrough does not inr eality nullify or invalidate an act of the
express provision but by actual division in our legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
Constitution. Each department of the government obligation assigned to it by tyhe Constitution to
has exclusive cognizance of matters wihtin its determine conflicting claims of authority under the
jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere. Constitution and to established for the parties in an
But it does not follow from the fact that the three actual controversy the rights which that instrument
powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the secures and guarantess to them. This is in thruth all
Constitution intended them to be absolutely that is involved in what is termed "judicial
unrestrained and independent of each other. The supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial
Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of review under the Constitution. Even the, this power

5
of judicial review is limited to actual cases and The 1987 Constition expressly recognizes the power of both houses
controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. 14 Thus,
argument by the parties, and limited further to the Section 21, Article VI thereof provides:
constitutional question raised or the very lis
mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of
only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and its respective committee may conduct inquiries in aid
to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. of legislation in accordance with its duly published
Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in
judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. 15
justice or expediency of legislation. More thatn that,
courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of
legislative enactments, not only because the legislation is not, therefore, absolute or unlimited. Its exercise is
legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the Constitution.
but also becuase the judiciary in the determination of Thus, as provided therein, the investigation must be "in aid of
actual cases and controversies must reflect the legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure"
wisdom and justice of the people as expressed and that "the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such
through their representatives in the executive and inquiries shall be respected." It follows then that the rights of
legislative departments of the government. persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including the
right to due process and the right not to be compelled to testify
The "allocation of constituional boundaries" is a task that this Court against one's self.
must perfomr under the Constitution. Moreowever, as held in a
recent case, 12 "(t)he political question doctrine neither interposes The power to conduct formal inquiries or investigations in
an obstacle to judicial determination of the rival claims. The specifically provided for in Sec. 1 of the Senate Rules of Procedure
jurisdiction to delimit constitutional boundaries has been given to Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. Such inquiries may refer to
this Court. It cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by the 1987 the implementation or re-examination of any law or in connection
Constitution, although said provision by no means does away with with any proposed legislation or the formulation of future
kthe applicability of the principle in appropriate cases." 13 legislation. They may also extend to any and all matters vested by
the Constitution in Congress and/or in the Seante alone.
The Court is thus of the considered view that it has jurisdiction over
the present controversy for the purpose of determining the scope As held in Jean L. Arnault vs. Leon Nazareno, et al., 16 the inquiry,
and extent of the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to to be within the jurisdiction of the legislative body making it, must
conduct inquiries into private affirs in purported aid of legislation. be material or necessary to the exervise of a power in it vested by
the Constitution, such as to legislate or to expel a member.
Coming to the specific issues raised in this case, petitioners
contend that (1) the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry has Under Sec. 4 of the aforementioned Rules, the Senate may refer to
no valid legislative purpose, i.e., it is not done in aid of legislation; any committee or committees any speech or resolution filed by any
(2) the sale or disposition of hte Romualdez corporations is a Senator which in tis judgment requires an appropriate inquiry in aid
"purely private transaction" which is beyond the power of the of legislation. In order therefore to ascertain the character or nature
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to inquire into; and (3) the inquiry of an inquiry, resort must be had to the speech or resolution under
violates their right to due process. which such an inquiry is proposed to be made.

6
A perusal of the speech of Senator Enrile reveals that he (Senator sequestration order on the management of SOLOIL in
Enrile) made a statement which was published in various Tanauan, Leyte, management officials assured him
newspapers on 2 September 1988 accusing Mr. Ricardo "Baby" that relatives of the President of the Philippines were
Lopa of "having taken over the FMMC Group of Companies." As a personally discussing and representing SOLOIL so
consequence thereof, Mr. Lopa wrote a letter to Senator Enrile on 4 that the order of sequestration would be lifted and
September 1988 categorically denying that he had "taken over " that the new owner was Mr. Ricardo A. Lopa.
the FMMC Group of Companies; that former PCGG Chairman Ramon
Diaz himself categorically stated in a telecast interview by Mr. Luis I will quote the pertinent portions in the Ramire's
Beltran on Channel 7 on 31 August 1988 that there has been no memorandum.
takeover by him (Lopa); and that theses repeated allegations of a
"takeover" on his (Lopa's) part of FMMC are baseless as they are The first paragraph of the memorandum reads as
malicious. follows and I quote, Mr. President:

The Lopa reply prompted Senator Enrile, during the session of the "Our sequestration work of SOLOIL in
Senate on 13 September 1988, to avail of the privilege hour, 17 so Tanauan, Leyte was not heeded by
that he could repond to the said Lopa letter, and also to vindicate management because they said
his reputation as a Member of the Senate of the Philippines, another representation was being
considering the claim of Mr. Lopa that his (Enrile's) charges that he made to this Commission for the
(Lopa) had taken over the FMMC Group of Companies are ventual lifting of our
"baseless" and "malicious." Thus, in his speech, 18 Senator Enrile sequestrationorder. They even assured
said, among others, as follows: us that Mr. Ricardo Lopa and Peping
Cojunangco were personally discussing
Mr. President, I rise this afternnon on a matter of and representing SOLOIL, so the order
personal privilege; the privilege being that I received, of sequestration will finally be lifted.
Mr. President, a letter dated September 4, 1988, While we attempted to carry on our
signed by Mr. ricardo A. Lopa, a.k.a. or Baby Lopa, order, management refused to
wherein he denied categorically that he has taken cooperate and vehemently turned
over the First Manila Management Group of down our request to make available to
Companies which includes SOLOIL Incorporated. us the records of the company. In fact
it was obviously clear that they will
xxx xxxx xxx meet us with forcethe moment we
insist on doing normally our assigned
In answer to Mr. Lopa, I will quote pertinent portions task. In view of the impending threat,
from an Official Memorandum to the Presidential and to avoid any untoward incident we
Commission of Good Government written and signed decided to temporarily suspend our
by former Governor, now Congressman Jose Ramirez, work until there is a more categorical
in his capacity as head of the PCGG Task Force for stand of this Commission in view of the
Region VIII. In his memorandum dated July 3, 1986, seemingly influential represetation
then Governor Ramirez stated that when he and the being made by SOLOIL for us not to
members of his task force sought to serve a continue our work."

7
Another pertinent portion of the same memorandum Also relevant to this case, Mr. President, is a letter of
is paragraph five, which reads as follows, and I quote Mr. Ricardo Lopa himself in August 11, 1988 issue of
Mr. President: the newspaper Malaya headlined "On Alleged
Takeover of Romualdez Firms."
"The President, Mr. Gamboa, this is, I
understand, the President of SOLOIL, Mr. Lopa states in the last paragraph of the published
and the Plant Superintendent, Mr. letter and I quote him:
Jimenez including their chief counsel,
Atty. Mandong Mendiola are now 12. As of this writing, the sales
saying that there have been agreement is under review by the
divestment, and that the new owner is PCGG solely to determine the
now Mr. Ricardo Lopa who according to appropriate price. The sale of these
them, is the brother-in-law of the companies and our prior rigtht to
President. They even went further by requires them have never been at
telling us that even Peping Cojuangco issue.
who we know is the brother of her
excellency is also interested in the Perhaps I could not make it any clearer to Mr. Lopa
ownership and management of that I was not really making baseless and malicious
SOLOIL. When he demanded for statements.
supporting papers which will indicate
aforesaid divestment, Messrs. Senator Enrile concluded his privilege speech in the following tenor:
Gamboa, Jimenez and Mendiola
refused vehemently to submit these
Mr. President, it may be worthwhile for the Senate to
papers to us, instead they said it will
look into the possible violation of the law in the case
be submitted directly to this
particularly with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the
Commission. To our mind their
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 5 of
continuous dropping of names is not
which reads as follows and I quote:
good for this Commission and even to
the President if our dersire is to
achieve respectability and stability of Sec. 5. Prohibition on certain relatives.
the government." It shall be unlawful for the spouse or
for nay relative, by consanguinity or
affinity, within the third civil degree, of
The contents of the memorandum of then Governor
the President of the Philippines, the
and now Congressman Jose Ramirez were personally
Vice-President of the Philippines, the
confirmed by him in a news interview last September
President of the Senate, or the Speaker
7, 1988.
of the House of Representatives, to
intervene directly or indirectly, in any
xxx xxxx xxx business, transaction, contract or
application with the Government:
Provided, that this section shall not

8
apply to any person who prior to the xxx xxx xxx
assumption of office of any of the
above officials to whom he is related, WHEREAS, recent developments have shown that no
has been already dealing with the less than the Solicitor-General has stated that the
Government along the same line of PCGG Chairman and at least three Commissioners
business, nor to any transaction, should resign and that the agency should rid itself of
contract or application filed by him for "ineptness, incompetence and corruption" and that
approval of which is not discretionary the Sandiganbayan has reportedly ordered the PCGG
on the part of the officials concerned to answer charges filed by three stockholders of
but depends upon compliance with Oriental Petroleum that it has adopted a "get-rich-
requisites provided by law, nor to any quick scheme" for its nominee-directors in a
act lawfully performed in an official sequestered oil exploration firm;
capacity or in the exercise of a
profession. WHEREAS, leaders of school youth, community
groups and youth of non-governmental organization
Mr. President, I have done duty to this Senate and to had made representations to the Senate Committee
myself. I leave it to this august Body to make its own on Youth and Sports Development to look into the
conclusion. charges against the PCGG since said agency is a
symbol of the changes expected by the people when
Verily, the speech of Senator Enrile contained no suggestion of the EDSA revolution took place and that the ill-gotten
contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the Senate to look wealth to be recovered will fund priority projects
into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known which will benefit our people such as CARP, free
as "The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act." I other words, the education in the elementary and secondary levels
purpose of the inquiry to be conducted by respondent Blue Ribbon reforestration, and employment generation for rural
commitee was to find out whether or not the relatives of President and urban workers;
Aquino, particularly Mr. ricardo Lopa, had violated the law in
connection with the alleged sale of the 36 or 39 corporations WHEREAS, the government and the present
belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopaa Group. leadeship must demonstrate in their public and
There appears to be, therefore, no intended legislation involved. private lives integrity, honor and efficient
management of government services lest our youth
The Court is also not impressed with the respondent Committee's become disillusioned and lose hope and return to an
argument that the questioned inquiry is to be conducted pursuant Idelogy and form of government which is repugnant
to Senate Resolution No. 212. The said resolution was introduced to true freedom, democratic participation and human
by Senator Jose D. Lina in view of the representaions made by rights: Now, therefore, be it.
leaders of school youth, community groups and youth of non-
governmental organizations to the Senate Committee on Youth and Resolved by the Senate, That the activities of the
Sports Development, to look into the charges against the PCGG Presidential Commission on Good Government be
filed by three (3) stockholders of Oriental petroleum, i.e., that it has investigated by the appropriate Committee in
adopted a "get-rich-quick scheme" for its nominee-directors in a connection with the implementation of Section 26,
sequestered oil exploration firm.The pertinent portion of Senate Article XVIII of the Constitution. 19
Resolution No. 212 reads as follows:
9
Thus, the inquiry under Senate Resolution No. 212 is to look into judicial departments of government. No inquiry is an
the charges against the PCGG filed by the three (3) stockholders of end in itself; it must be related to and in furtherance
Oriental Petroleum in connection with the implementation of of a legitimate task of Congress. Investigations
Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution. conducted soly for the personal aggrandizement of
the investigators or to "punish" those investigated
It cannot, therefore, be said that the contemplated inquiry on the are indefensible. (emphasis supplied)
subject of the privilege speech of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, i.e.,
the alleged sale of the 36 (or 39) corporations belonging to It can not be overlooked that when respondent Committee decide
Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopa Group is to be conducted to conduct its investigation of the petitioners, the complaint in Civil
pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 212 because, firstly, Senator No. 0035 had already been filed with the Sandiganbayan. A perusal
Enrile did not indict the PCGG, and, secondly, neither Mr. Ricardo of that complaint shows that one of its principal causes of action
Lopa nor the herein petitioners are connected with the government against herein petitioners, as defendants therein, is the alleged sale
but are private citizens. of the 36 (or 39) corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy"
Romualdez. Since the issues in said complaint had long been joined
It appeals, therefore, that the contemplated inquiry by respondent by the filing of petitioner's respective answers thereto, the issue
Committee is not really "in aid of legislation" becuase it is not sought to be investigated by the respondent Commitee is one over
related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress, since the which jurisdiction had been acquired by the Sandiganbayan. In
aim of the investigation is to find out whether or not the ralatives of short, the issue had been pre-empted by that court. To allow the
the President or Mr. Ricardo Lopa had violated Section 5 RA No. respondent Committee to conduct its own investigation of an issue
3019, the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", a matter that already before the Sandiganbayan would not only pose the
appears more within the province of the courts rather than of the possibility of conflicting judgments betweena legislative commitee
legislature. Besides, the Court may take judicial notice that Mr. and a judicial tribunal, but if the Committee's judgment were to be
Ricardo Lopa died during the pendency of this case. In John T. reached before that of the Sandiganbayan, the possibility of its
Watkins vs. United States, 20 it was held held: influence being made to bear on the ultimate judgment of the
Sandiganbayan can not be discounted.
... The power of congress to conduct investigations in
inherent in the legislative process. That power is In fine, for the rspondent Committee to probe and inquire into the
broad. it encompasses inquiries concerning the same justiciable controversy already before the Sandiganbayan,
administration of existing laws as well as proposed, would be an encroachment into the exclusive domain of judicial
or possibly needed statutes. It includes surveys of jurisdiction that had much earlier set in. In Baremblatt vs. United
defects in our social,economic, or political system for States, 21 it was held that:
the purpose of enabling Congress to remedy them. It
comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Broad as it is, the power is not, howevern, without
Government to expose corruption, inefficiency or limitations. Since congress may only investigate into
waste. But broad asis this power ofinquiry, it is not those areas in which it may potentially legislate or
unlimited. There is no general authority to expose appropriate, it cannot inquire into matters which are
the private affairs ofindividuals without justification within the exclusive province of one of the other
in terms of the functions of congress. This was freely branches of the government. Lacking the judicial
conceded by Solicitor General in his argument in this power given to the Judiciary, it cannot inquire into
case. Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial mattes that are exclusively the concern of the
agency. These are functions of the executive and
10
Judiciary. Neither can it suplant the Executive in what Petitioner, as accused, occupies a different tier of
exclusively belongs to the Executive. ... protection from an ordinary witness. Whereas an
ordinary witness may be compelled to take the
Now to another matter. It has been held that "a congressional witness stand and claim the privilege as each
committee's right to inquire is 'subject to all relevant limitations question requiring an incriminating answer is hot at
placed by the Constitution on governmental action,' including "'the him, an accused may altother refuse to take the
relevant limitations of the Bill of Rights'." 22 witness stand and refuse to answer any all questions.

In another case Moreover, this right of the accused is extended to respondents in


administrative investigations but only if they partake of the nature
... the mere semblance of legislative purpose would of a criminal proceeding or analogous to a criminal proceeding.
not justify an inquiry in the face of the Bill of Rights. In Galman vs. Pamaran, 26the Court reiterated the doctrine
The critical element is the exeistence of, and the in Cabal vs. Kapuanan (6 SCRA 1059) to illustrate the right of
weight to be ascribed to, the interest of the Congress witnesses to invoke the right against self-incrimination not only in
in demanding disclosures from an unwilling witness. criminal proceedings but also in all other types of suit
We cannot simply assume, however, that every
congressional investigation is justified by a public It was held that:
need that over-balances any private rights affected.
To do so would be to abdicate the responsibility We did not therein state that since he is not an
placed by the Constitution upon the judiciary to accused and the case is not a criminal case, Cabal
insure that the Congress does not unjustifiably cannot refuse to take the witness stand and testify,
encroah upon an individual's right to privacy nor and that he can invoke his right against self-
abridge his liberty of speech, press, religion or incrimination only when a question which tends to
assembly. 23 elicit an answer that will incriminate him is
propounded to him. Clearly then, it is not the
One of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution to an characeter of the suit involved but the nature of the
individual is the right against self-incrimination. 24 Thir right proceedings that controls. The privilege has
constured as the right to remain completely silent may be availed consistenly been held to extend to all proceedings
of by the accused in a criminal case; but kit may be invoked by sanctioned by law and to all cases in which
other witnesses only as questions are asked of them. punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness,
whether a party or not.
This distinction was enunciated by the Court in Romeo Chavez vs.
The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al. 25 thus We do not here modify these doctrines. If we presently rule that
petitioners may not be compelled by the respondent Committee to
appear, testify and produce evidenc before it, it is only becuase we
hold that the questioned inquiry is not in aid of legislation and, if
pursued, would be violative of the principle of separation of powers
between the legislative and the judicial departments of
government, ordained by the Constitution.

11
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court holds that, under compelling the petitioners and intervenor to testify before it and
the facts, including the circumtance that petitioners are presently produce evidence at the said inquiry.
impleaded as defendants in a case before the Sandiganbayan,
which involves issues intimately related to the subject of SO ORDERED.
contemplated inquiry before the respondet Committee, the
respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is hereby enjoined from

12