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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 108251. January 31, 1996]

CEFERINO S. PAREDES, JR. and MANSUETO J. HONRADA, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, Second Division;
HONORABLE ANIANO DESIERTO, in his official capacity as Special Prosecutor; HONORABLE CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, in his
official capacity as Ombudsman; and TEOFILO GELACIO, respondents.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION; MAY BE INITIATED AND CONCLUDED BY DIFFERENT
INVESTIGATORS. - Petitioners contend that the filing of charges against them was not recommended by the prosecutor who
conducted the preliminary investigation, but by another one who, it is alleged, had no part at all in the investigation. There is no
basis for petitioners claim that the resolution was prepared by one who did not take any part in the investigation. What
happened here is similar to the trial of a case by one judge who, without being able to finish the hearing, ceases from office for
one reason or another and by necessity the decision is rendered by another judge who has taken over the conduct of the case.
Such an arrangement has never been thought to raise any question of due process. For what is important is that the judge who
decides does so on the basis of the evidence in record. It does not matter that he did not conduct the hearing of that case from
the beginning.

2. ID.; EVIDENCE; WEIGHT AND SUFFICIENCY; CERTIFICATE; VALUE NOT DIMINISHED BY FAILURE TO ANTICIPATE THAT HIS
CERTIFICATE WOULD BE USED IN EVIDENCE. - That Violan gave credence to the Certification of Judge Ario in concluding that no
arraignment had been held in Criminal Case No. 1393 is not proof that Violan was biased against petitioners. Although Judge Ario
subsequently gave an Affidavit, he never in that Affidavit repudiated what he had earlier stated. Judge Ario never denied his
earlier Certification that Criminal Case No. 1393 never reached the arraignment stave, because having learned that Paredes, Jr.
had petitioned the Ministry of Justice for a review of the fiscals resolution, Judge Ario suspended action until March 17, 1986 and
in fact the fiscal later moved for the dismissal of the case. The fact that Judge Ario did not anticipate that his certificate might be
used in evidence, much less in the criminal cases now pending in the Sandiganbayan, is not a reason to disregard it. The fact is
that Judge Ario did not retract his previous Certification that there was no arraignment held in Criminal Case No. 1393. If that is
the truth, then the fact that he now says he did not anticipate that his certificate would be used in evidence in any case would
not diminish a whit the value of the certificate.

3. ID.; EVIDENCE; ADMISSIBILITY; RETRACTION OF AFFIDAVIT MADE IN VIOLATION OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE,


INADMISSIBLE. - There is nothing in the resolution of Violan which shows that she based her conclusion (that petitioners were
probably guilty of falsification of public documents) on Atty. Sansaets retraction. In her resolution, all that she stated is that the
confession of Atty. Sansaet has important bearing in this case. Otherwise she did not cite the confession as proof of the
falsification of public documents. To the contrary, Violan thought that the retraction was made in violation of attorney-client
privilege and therefore, would be inadmissible in evidence. Violan could not, therefore, have relied on the affidavit of retraction.

4. ID.; DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGES; DIVERGENCE OF OPINIONS BETWEEN A JUDGE AND A PARTYS COUNSEL, NOT A
GROUND. - Mere divergence of opinions between a judge and a partys counsel as to applicable laws and jurisprudence is not
sufficient ground for disqualifying the judge from hearing the case on the ground of bias and partiality.

5. ID.; ACTIONS; MERE FILING OF SEVERAL CASES BASED ON THE SAME INCIDENT, NOT FORUM-SHOPPING; TEST. - The mere
filing of several cases based on the same incident does not necessarily constitute forum-shopping. The test is whether the several
actions filed involve the same transactions, essential facts, and circumstances.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; CASES INVOLVING SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT TRANSACTIONS, FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES, NOT FORUM
SHOPPING; CASE AT BAR. - Here, although several cases were filed by the same complainant against the same defendant and the
subject matter of the actions of two of the cases was the same incident (i.e., the application for free patent of petitioner Ceferino
Paredes, Jr.), the fact is that the several cases involve essentially different facts, circumstances and causes of action. Thus,
Criminal Case No. 1393, which was filed in the MCTC of San Francisco,. Agusan del Sur, was for perjury, based on false statements
allegedly made in 1975 by petitioner Paredes, Jr. in connection with his free patent application. Criminal Case No. 13800, which
was filed in the Sandiganbayan, although based on the filing of the same application for free patent, was for violation of the Anti-
graft and Corrupt Practices Act, on the allegation that petitioner, as Provincial Attorney, had unduly influenced the Public Land
Inspector to secure the approval of his free patent application. On the other hand, as already stated, the present cases (Criminal
Case Nos. 17791, 17792 and 17793) are for falsification of court records pertaining to Criminal Case No. 1393. A.P. Case No. P-90-
396 is an administrative case against petitioner Honrada based on the same incident and facts that are subject of the preceding
criminal cases. The rest are incidents of these cases, being the petition for review and motions for reconsideration ifl Criminal
Case No. 13800 and A.P. Case No. P-90-396. Thus the present cases involve substantially different transactions, facts and
circumstances from those involved in the other, though related, cases. Although they arose from the same
incident, i.e., petitioners public land application, they involve different issues. It is well settled that a single act may offend
against two or more distinct and related provisions of law or that the same act may give rise to criminal as well as administrative
liability. As such, they may be prosecuted simultaneously or one after another, so long as they do not place the accused in double
jeopardy of being punished for the same offense.

7. ID.; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; DISMISSAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT DOES NOT NECESSARILY BAR FILING OF CRIMINAL
PROSECUTION. - Petitioners call attention to the fact that the administrative complaint against petitioner Honrada was
dismissed. They invoke our ruling in Maceda v. Vasquez that only this Court has the power to oversee court personnels
compliance with laws and take the appropriate administrative action against them for their failure to do so and that no other
branch of the government may exercise this power without running afoul of the principle of separation of powers. But one thing
is administrative liability. Quite another thing is the criminal liability for the same act. Our determination of the administrative
liability for falsification of public documents is in no way conclusive of his lack of criminal liability. As we have held in Tan v.
Comelec, the dismissal of an administrative case does not necessarily bar the filing of a criminal prosecution for the same or
similar acts which were the subject of the administrative complaint.

8. ID.; ID.; POLITICALLY MOTIVATED FILING OF CRIMINAL CHARGE CANNOT JUSTIFY PROHIBITION OF CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
IF THERE IS EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT IT. - That the filing of the charges is politically motivated cannot justify the prohibition of a
criminal prosecution if there is otherwise evidence to support them. Here a preliminary investigation of the complaint against
petitioners was held during which petitioners were heard. Their evidence, as well as that of private respondent Gelacio, was
considered in great detail in the resolution of GIO II Violan. Violans resolution was reviewed by Special Prosecutor Erdulfo
Querubin who made his own detailed resolution concurring in the finding of Violan. We cannot say that, in approving the
resolutions of two investigators, the respondent Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor committed an abuse of their discretion.

9. ID.; ID.; PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION; PURPOSE. - A preliminary investigation is not a trial. The function of the government
prosecutor during the preliminary investigation is merely to determine the existence of probable cause.

10. ID.; ID.; POLITICAL HARASSMENT; REQUISITES; CASE AT BAR. - To warrant a finding of political harassment so as to justify
the grant of the extraordinary writs of certiorari and prohibition, it must be shown that the complainant possesses the power and
the influence to control the prosecution of cases. Here, the prosecution is handled by the Office of the Ombudsman. Although it
is intimated that petitioner Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. is the subject of persecution by his political enemies in Agusan del Sur, it has
not been alleged, much less shown, that his enemies have influence and power over the national prosecution service. To show
political harassment petitioners must prove that public prosecutor, and not just the private complainant, is acting in bad faith in
prosecuting the case or has lent himself to a scheme that could have no other purpose than to place the accused in contempt
and disrepute. For it is only if he does so may the prosecutor, in conducting the preliminary investigation, be said to have
deserted the performance of his office to determine objectively and impartially the existence of probable cause and thus justify
judicial intervention in what is essentially his province.

APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL
Rolando A. Suarez & Associates for petitioners.

Esmeraldo I. Guloy for private respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction, seeking to set aside the resolution dated December 9, 1992 of the
Office of the Ombudsman, denying petitioners motion for the reinvestigation of three cases of falsification of public documents
which had been filed against petitioners and to restrain the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan from hearing the cases.

The cases originated in a complaint filed on January 23, 1990 by Teofilo Gelacio, then vice mayor of San Francisco, Agusan del
Sur. Charged with petitioner Paredes, Jr., who was then the provincial governor, were petitioner Mansueto J. Honrada, clerk of
court of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, and Atty. Generoso Sansaet, counsel of petitioner
Paredes, Jr. in Criminal Case No. 1393 of the MCTC.

In his complaint Gelacio alleged that MCTC clerk of court Honrada, in conspiracy with petitioner Paredes, Jr. and the latters
counsel Atty. Sansaet, certified as true a copy of a Notice of Arraignment dated July 1, 1985 and of the Transcript of Stenographic
Notes on July 9, 1985, showing that an arraignment had been held in Criminal Case No. 1393 and issued a certification dated
March 24, 1986 to that effect when in truth no arraignment had been held in that case. In support of his allegation, Gelacio
submitted a Certification issued by Judge Ciriaco C. Ario of the MCTC to the effect that Criminal Case No. 1393 had never reached
the arraignment stage before it was dismissed on motion of the prosecution.1

A preliminary investigation of the complaint was conducted by Public Prosecutor Albert Axalan who had been deputized to assist
the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao. Petitioners and Atty. Sansaet, as respondents in the case, filed their respective counter-
affidavits. Paredes, Jr. denied the charges. He alleged that their filing was politically motivated and that the complainant, Teofilo
Gelacio, was being used by his political enemies to harass him. For his part, Honrada maintained that an arraignment had indeed
been held in Criminal Case No. 1393 as certified by him. His claim was corroborated by Atty. Generoso Sansaet, who stated in an
affidavit that he was present during the arraignment, being the counsel of Paredes, Jr. Sansaet called Judge Arios Certification,
denying that there was an arraignment, the product of a faltering mind. 2

Prosecutor Axalan submitted his resolution to the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao, but before it could be acted upon, Atty.
Sansaet, one of the respondents, retracted his earlier statement to the effect that Paredes, Jr. had been arraigned before the
case against him was dismissed. In an Affidavit of Explanations and Rectifications dated July 29, 1991, Sansaet claimed that there
was really no arraignment held in Criminal Case No. 1393 and that Honrada made false certifications which were used to support
the dismissal (on the ground of double jeopardy) of Criminal Case No. 13800 which was then pending against Paredes, Jr. in the
Sandiganbayan.3

As a result of this development, Paredes, Jr. and Honrada, were required to comment. Paredes, Jr. claimed that the Sansaets
aboutface was the result of their political estrangement.4For his part Honrada insisted that an arraignment in Criminal Case No.
1393 had indeed been held and that in making the certifications in question he stated the truth.

On the basis of the evidence of the parties, Gay Maggie Balajadia-Violan, Graft Investigation Officer of the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman, recommended on February 24, 1992 that petitioners and Atty. Sansaet be charged with Falsification of Public
Documents. Her recommendation was indorsed by Deputy Ombudsman Cesar Nitorreda to Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez, Who,
upon the recommendation of Erdulfo Querubin of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, approved the filing of three informations
for falsification of public documents against Paredes, Jr., Honrada and Sansaet with the Sandiganbayan. 5 The cases were
docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792 and 17793.
On July 9, 1992, petitioners moved to quash the informations. Their motion was denied by the Sandiganbayan in its resolution
of August 25, 1992, as was the motion for reconsideration they subsequently filed.

Petitioners next moved for a reinvestigation of the cases. They complained (1) that the resolution, recommending the filing of the
cases, was not prepared by Public Prosecutor Axalan, who had conducted the preliminary investigation, but by GIO II Gay Maggie
Balajadia-Violan, who allegedly had no hand in the investigation; (2) that Violan relied solely on the retraction of Atty. Generoso
Sansaet and the Certification of Judge Ciriaco C. Ario and disregarded evidence in favor of petitioners; and (3) that Prosecutor
Erdulfo Q. Querubin, who reviewed Violans recommendation, could not be expected to act fairly because he was the prosecutor
in Criminal Case No. 13800 in connection with which the allegedly falsified records were used and in fact appealed the dismissal
of the case to this Court.6

Although these grounds were the same ones invoked by petitioners in their motion to quash, which the Sandiganbayan had
denied, the Sandiganbayan nonetheless directed the prosecution to conduct a reinvestigation of the cases. Accordingly, the
Office of the Ombudsman required complainant, the herein respondent Teofilo Gelacio, to comment on petitioners Motion for
Reinvestigation.

In a resolution dated December 9, 1992, Special Prosecution Officer Carlos D. Montemayor recommended denial of petitioners
motion. He noted that the matters raised in the motion were the same ones contained in petitioners motion to quash which had
already been denied and that in fact a cursory examination of the resolution of GIO II Gay Maggie Balajadia-Violan shows that the
existence of a prima facie case has been duly established and the same was reviewed by SPO III Erdulfo Querubin and also the
approval of Honorable Conrado M. Vasquez. He held that as no newly-discovered evidence or denial of due process had been
shown, there was no basis for petitioners request for a reinvestigation.

Montemayors recommendation was approved by Special Prosecutor Aniano Desierto and Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez.
Accordingly the Sandiganbayan set the cases for trial.

The present petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction was then filed to enjoin the trial of the criminal cases. Petitioners
pray that:

(1) Upon the filing of this petition and before its final resolution, to issue a temporary restraining order immediately ordering the
Sandiganbayan, Second Division, to cease and desist from proceeding with the scheduled hearing of this case;

(2) After due hearing, to adjudge that respondents Honorable Special Prosecutor Aniano A. Desierto and Honorable Ombudsman
Conrado M. Vasquez have committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in issuing and approving the
questioned resolution dated December 9, 1992 and ordering said resolution denying petitioners motion for reinvestigation be
annulled and set aside;

(3) To adjudge that the Sandiganbayan, Second Division, is without jurisdiction to try Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792, and 17793
all of which are apparently intended as political harassments against the herein petitioners, particularly as against Ceferino S.
Paredes, Jr., and prohibiting the said court from proceeding (with) the hearing of the said cases on January 15, 1993, and likewise
ordering the said court to dismiss the said cases, with costs against respondents and Teofilo Gelacio; and

(4) To issue a writ of injunction, thereby making the restraining order permanent, and prohibiting the respondents and
complainant Teofilo Gelacio from committing any act or acts tending to harass and to inflict further damage and injury to
petitioners, such as but not limited to the continuation and further prosecution of said Criminal Cases Nos. 17791, 17792, and
17793.

Petitioners contend (1) that their constitutional right to due process was violated at various stages of the preliminary
investigation; (2) that the prosecutors closed their eyes to the fact that in filing the cases private respondent Teofilo Gelacio
engaged in forum-shopping; and (3) that the cases were filed for political harassment and there is in fact no prima facie evidence
to hold them answerable for falsification of public documents. 7

I.

Anent the first ground, petitioners contend that the filing of charges against them was not recommended by the prosecutor who
conducted the preliminary investigation, but by another one who, it is alleged, had no part at all in the investigation.

Petitioners contention has no basis in fact. It appears that the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by Teofilo Gelacio
was initially conducted by Public Prosecutor Albert Axalan who had been deputized to assist the Deputy Ombudsman
for Mindanao in the investigation of graft cases. Axalan prepared a resolution. The records do not show what his
recommendation was. What is clear, however, is that no action had been taken on his recommendation in view of the fact that
Atty. Generoso Sansaet, one of the respondents in the cases, retracted an earlier statement he had given to the effect that
petitioner Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. had been arraigned in Criminal Case No. 1393 before the case was dismissed. Atty. Sansaet
now claimed that no arraignment had been held after all. This new development required the reopening of the investigation (in
fact Paredes, Jr. and Honrada were required to comment on the retraction), the reevaluation of the evidence, and the
preparation of a new resolution. Gay Maggie Balajadia-Violan, Graft Investigation Officer II of the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman for Mindanao, was designated to conduct the investigation and prepare a report, which she did.

Violans recommendation was indorsed by Deputy Ombudsman Cesar Nitorreda to Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez, who then
referred the matter to Special Prosecution Officer Ill Erdulfo Querubin for review. Querubin concurred in the recommendation of
Violan but suggested that, instead of one, three separate informations for falsification of public documents be filed against
respondents (Paredes, Jr., Honrada and Sansaet), considering that three documents were involved.

On June 26, 1992, Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez approved the recommendations of Violan and Querubin. Accordingly three
cases were filed against petitioners with the Sandiganbayan, where they were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792 and
17793.

There is thus no basis for petitioners claim that the resolution was prepared by one who did not take any part in the
investigation. What happened here is similar to the trial of a case by one judge who, without being able to finish the hearing,
ceases from office for one reason or another and by necessity the decision is rendered by another judge who has taken over the
conduct of the case. Such an arrangement has never been thought to raise any question of due process. For what is important is
that the judge who decides does so on the basis of the evidence in record. It does not matter that he did not conduct the hearing
of that case from the beginning.

Petitioners nonetheless charge that GIO II Violan and Prosecutor Querubin did not have such cold neutrality of an impartial judge
to be trusted to conduct a fair investigation. According to petitioners, Violan gave credence to the Certification issued by Judge
Ciriaco C. Ario when the fact is that Judge Ario subsequently executed an affidavit, dated November 5, 1990, in which he
explained that he issued the said certificate without expectation that the same would be used as evidence in any case and that
the use of said certificate . . . is against [his] conscience. Worse, it is contended, Violan considered the Affidavit of Explanations
and Rectifications executed by Atty. Sansaet, which she should have disregarded because it was made in violation of the
confidentiality of attorney-client communication under Rule 130, 24 (b) of the Rules of Court. As for Prosecutor Querubin, they
claim that he is the same prosecutor who had handled the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 13800 against petitioner Paredes, Jr.
in the Sandiganbayan and after its dismissal, sought review in this Court and, therefore, he was biased against petitioners.

That Violan gave credence to the Certification of Judge Ario in concluding that no arraignment had been held in Criminal Case No.
1393 is not proof that Violan was biased against petitioners. Although Judge Ario subsequently gave an Affidavit, he never in that
Affidavit repudiated what he had earlier stated. In his Affidavit he merely stated:
1. That I am the incumbent Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge in the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court of San Francisco-Rosario-
Bunawan, Agusan del Sur;

2. That I am the same Ciriaco C. Ario who issued a certificate in Criminal Case No. 1393 entitled Pp. vs. Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr.
which certificate was used as evidence in administrative complaint against Mansueto J. Honrada, in the Administrative Complaint
No. A.M. P-90-396 and Criminal Complaint against Mansueto J. Honrada, incumbent Governor Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. and Atty.
Generoso S. Sansaet before the Ombudsman under Criminal Case No. OBM-MIN-90-0053 (sic) entitled Teofilo
Gelacio vs. Mansueto J. Honrada, et. al.;

3. That honestly, the said certificate was issued without my expectation that the same be used as evidence in any case and I be a
witness;

4. That the use of said certificate as evidence in the above-mentioned cases is against my conscience, more so upon discovery
that the cases aforesaid are known to me to be politically motivated and involves [sic] big time politicians in Agusan del Sur about
whom I am not at liberty to name names for security reason;

5. That in view of all the foregoing, I am not interested to testify in any investigation to be conducted in connection thereof,
either in the administrative or criminal proceedings.

Thus, Judge Ario never denied his earlier Certification that Criminal Case No. 1393 never reached the arraignment stage, because
having learned that Paredes, Jr. had petitioned the Ministry of Justice for a review of the fiscals resolution, Judge Ario suspended
action until March 17, 1986 and in fact the fiscal later moved for the dismissal of the case.

The fact that Judge Ario did not anticipate that his certificate might be used in evidence, much less in the criminal cases now
pending in the Sandiganbayan, is not a reason to disregard it. The fact is that Judge Ario did not retract his previous Certification
that there was no arraignment held in Criminal Case No. 1393. If that is the truth, then the fact that he now says he did not
anticipate that his certificate would be used in evidence in any case would not diminish a whit the value of the certificate.

Nor was consideration of the retraction of Atty. Sansaet proof that GIO II Violan was biased against petitioners. Petitioners
contend that Sansaets confession was privileged and that Violan herself acknowledged that the affidavit of retraction might be
inadmissible in court.

In the first place, there is nothing in the resolution of Violan which shows that she based her conclusion (that petitioners were
probably guilty of falsification of public documents) on Atty. Sansaets retraction. In her resolution, all that she stated is that the
confession of Atty. Sansaet has important bearing in this case. Otherwise she did not cite the confession as proof of the
falsification of public documents. To the contrary, Violan thought that the retraction was made in violation of attorney-client
privilege and therefore, would be inadmissible in evidence. Violan could not, therefore, have relied on the affidavit of retraction.

Moreover, the admissibility of this piece of evidence is a question for the Sandiganbayan to determine in the event it is used by
the prosecution. It is untenable to ascribe bias and partiality to the investigator because she considered this retraction in her
resolution of the case. Even if she relied on it mere divergence of opinions between a judge and a partys counsel as to applicable
laws and jurisprudence is not sufficient ground for disqualifying the judge from hearing the case on the ground of bias and
partiality.8

As for Prosecutor Querubin, simply because he was the one who handled the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 13800, in
connection with which the documents allegedly falsified were used by petitioners, is not a reason for supposing he could not act
fairly. As any other counsel in a case, it was his duty to act with full devotion to [his clients] genuine interests, warm zeal in the
maintenance and defense of his rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability.9 It cannot be casually assumed that
because of his engagement in that case he had lost his objectivity to such an extent that he forsook his duty to see to it that
justice was done and not to act out of vindictiveness.
Indeed, Querubin is a public prosecutor, not a private attorney. In the familiar terminology, he is the representative not of an
ordinary party to a controversy but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to
govern at all and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case but that justice shall be
done.10 It may therefore be assumed that he was merely performing an official duty and that nothing personal was involved in his
recommendation to prosecute the cases.

Above all, it should be stressed that the decision to charge petitioners in the Sandiganbayan was the decision not only of one
person but of all those who in one way or another were called upon to act in the cases, namely: Graft Investigation Officer Gay
Maggie Balajadia-Violan, Deputy Ombudsman Cesar Nitorreda, Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez, and Special Prosecutor Aniano
Desierto. Indeed, Querubins only contribution to the process was to suggest the filing of three separate informations of
falsification of public documents against petitioners.

II.

The second ground for the petition is that the Office of the Ombudsman closed its eyes to the fact that in filing these cases,
complainant Teofilo Gelacio is guilty of forum-shopping and that his purpose for the filing of the cases is simply political
harassment. To buttress their contention, petitioners call attention to the factual background of the cases. 11

According to petitioners, way back in 1984 private respondent Teofilo Gelacio charged petitioner Paredes, Jr. with perjury on the
ground that in 1975 Paredes, Jr. made false statements in an affidavit which he used in support of his application for a free
patent. As already noted, the case which was filed with the Municipal Trial Court of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, and docketed
there as Criminal Case No. 1393, was dismissed on March 24, 1986 upon motion of the prosecution.

On October 28, 1986, Teofilo Gelacio filed another complaint against petitioner Paredes, Jr., then the acting governor of the
province. The complaint was for violation of 3 (a) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Allegedly, in 1976 petitioner Paredes, Jr., then the Provincial Attorney of Agusan del Sur, unduly persuaded, induced and
influenced the Public Land Inspector to approve his (Paredes, Jrs) application for a free patent. According to petitioners, this case
involved the same application for a free patent of petitioner Paredes, Jr., which was the subject of Criminal Case No. 1393.

The information was filed by Special Prosecutor Erdulfo Querubin in the Sandiganbayan where it was docketed as Criminal Case
No. 13800. Petitioner Paredes, Jr. moved to quash the information, but the court denied his motion. He then filed a motion for
reconsideration. It was in connection with this motion that the procurement of allegedly falsified documents, now the subject of
prosecution, was made by petitioner Paredes, Jr. The documents were used to support his motion for reconsideration.

On August 1, 1991, the Sandiganbayan reconsidered its previous resolution and dismissed Criminal Case No. 13800, although on
the ground of prescription. The Office of the Ombudsman sought a review of the action of the Sandiganbayan, but its petition
was dismissed by this Court on July 3, 1992 in G.R. No. 101724. The motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution was
likewise denied.

As an offshoot of the execution of these documents, two cases were filed by Teofilo Gelacio: (1) an administrative complaint (A.P.
Case No. P-90-3 96) for falsification of public documents which was filed with this Court against Mansueto Honrada, the clerk of
the MCTC who made certifications and (2) a complaint for falsification of public documents, initially filed as OMB-MIN-90-0053
with the Office of the Ombudsman and eventually as Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792, and 17793 in the Sandiganbayan, against
the petitioners and Atty. Generoso Sansaet.

The first case was dismissed for insufficiency of the evidence. But with respect to the second complaint, Graft Investigation
Officer Violan found probable cause to proceed against petitioners and against Atty. Sansaet and so recommended the filing of a
case against them. Her recommendation was approved by the Ombudsman on June 26, 1992, although upon the
recommendation of Special Prosecutor Querubin three separate informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan. Earlier on July
29, 1991, Atty. Sansaet, one of the respondents, executed an Affidavit of Explanations and Rectifications in which he stated that,
contrary to his previous affidavit, there was no arraignment held in Criminal Case No. 1393.

A. Petitioners contend that these cases should be dismissed, being merely the latest in a series of cases which arose out of the
same alleged incident - i.e. that of allegedly having induced the land inspector to approve his (Paredes, Jr.s) land application, 12 for
having been filed in violation of the rules on forum-shopping. Petitioners cite the following statement in Crisostomo v. Securities
and Exchange Commission:13

There is forum-shopping whenever as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than
by appeal or certiorari) in another. The principle applies not only with respect to suits filed in the courts while an administrative
proceeding is pending as in this case, in order to defeat administrative processes and in anticipation of an unfavorable
administrative ruling and a favorable court ruling. . . A violation of this rule shall constitute contempt of court and shall be a cause
for summary dismissal of both petitions, without prejudice to the taking of appropriate action against the counsel or the party
concerned.

The mere filing of several cases based on the same incident does not necessarily constitute forum-shopping. The test is whether
the several actions filed involve the same transactions, essential facts, and circumstances. 14 Here, although several cases were
filed by the same complainant against the same defendant and the subject matter of the actions of two of the cases was the
same incident (i.e., the application for free patent of petitioner Ceferino Paredes, Jr.), the fact is that the several cases involve
essentially different facts, circumstances and causes of action.

Thus, Criminal Case No. 1393, which was filed in the MCTC of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, was for perjury, based on false
statements allegedly made in 1975 by petitioner Paredes, Jr. in connection with his free patent application. Criminal Case No.
13800, which was filed in the Sandiganbayan, although based on the filing of the same application for free patent, was for
violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, on the allegation that petitioner, as Provincial Attorney, had unduly
influenced the Public Land Inspector to secure the approval of his free patent application. On the other hand, as already stated,
the present cases (Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792 and 17793) are for falsification of court records pertaining to Criminal Case
No. 1393. A.P. Case No. P-90-396 is an administrative case against petitioner Honrada based on the same incident and facts that
are subject of the preceding criminal cases. The rest are incidents of these cases, being the petition for review and motions for
reconsideration in Criminal Case No. 13800 and A.P. Case No. P-90-396.

Thus the present cases involve substantially different transactions, facts and circumstances from those involved in the other,
though related, cases. Although they arose from the same incident, i.e., petitioners public land application, they involve different
issues. It is well settled that a single act may offend against two or more distinct and related provisions of law 15 or that the same
act may give rise to criminal as well as administrative liability.16 As such, they may be prosecuted simultaneously or one after
another, so long as they do not place the accused in double jeopardy of being punished for the same offense.

Petitioners call attention to the fact that the administrative complaint against petitioner Honrada was dismissed. They invoke our
ruling in Maceda v. Vasquez17 that only this Court has the power to oversee court personnels compliance with laws and take the
appropriate administrative action against them for their failure to do so and that no other branch of the government may
exercise this power without running afoul of the principle of separation of powers.

But one thing is administrative liability. Quite another thing is the criminal liability for the same act. Our determination of the
administrative liability for falsification of public documents is in no way conclusive of his lack of criminal liability. As we have held
in Tan v. Comelec,18 the dismissal of an administrative case does not necessarily bar the filing of a criminal prosecution for the
same or similar acts which were the subject of the administrative complaint.

Petitioners assertion that private respondent Alterado has resorted to forum-shopping is unacceptable. The investigation then
being conducted by the Ombudsman on the criminal case for falsification and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act, on the one hand, and the inquiry into the administrative charges by the COMELEC, on the other hand, are entirely
independent proceedings. Neither would the results in one conclude the other. Thus an absolution from a criminal charge is not a
bar to an administrative prosecution (Office of the Court administrator v. Enriquez, 218 SCRA 1) or vice versa. 19

B. As final argument, petitioners allege that the complaint in Criminal Case Nos. 17791, 17792 and 17793 was filed by political
enemies of petitioner Paredes, Jr. merely to harass him and that there is in fact no probable cause to support the prosecution of
these cases. Petitioners cite the following which allegedly indicate that the charges below have merely been trumped up:

(1) The affidavit of Agusan del Sur District Citizens Attorney Lou Nueva, stating that then Congressman Democrito O. Plaza
instructed Atty. Leonardo Cadiz to secure a certification from Judge Ciriaco C. Ario that no arraignment had been held in Criminal
Case No. 1393, threatening that if the judge refused to give the certification, he (Congressman Plaza) would do everything against

Judge Ciriaco C. Ario, including reviving certain cases against Judge Ario; 20 and (2) The affidavit, dated November 5, 1990, of
Judge Ario in which he stated that he did not expect that the certificate which he had previously issued would be used in
evidence and that the use of the certificate in the cases below was against his conscience, because the cases were politically
motivated and he was not going to testify in any investigation concerning such certificate.21 At the same time petitioners seek to
minimize the retraction of Atty. Sansaet by ascribing political motivation for its execution. Petitioner Ceferino Paredes, Jr. claims
that Sansaets obsession has been to win in an election and that his loss to petitioner Paredes, Jr. in the May 11,
1992 congressional elections was Sansaets sixth defeat. As for private respondent Teofilo Gelacio, petitioners say he is a political
leader of Democrito Plaza. They claim that in 1991 Atty. Sansaet changed political affiliation and allied himself
with Democrito Plaza and Teofilo Gelacio.

Petitioners argue that the certifications made by the clerk of court with respect to an arraignment allegedly held on July 9, 1985
in Criminal Case No. 1393 is conclusive and cannot be altered by Atty. Sansaets claim to the contrary. They cite what is now Rule
132, 23 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, which provides that public instruments are evidence, even against a third person, of
the fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.

We find the foregoing averments to be unpersuasive. First of all, that the filing of the charges is politically motivated cannot
justify the prohibition of a criminal prosecution if there is otherwise evidence to support them. Here a preliminary investigation
of the complaint against petitioners was held during which petitioners were heard. Their evidence, as well as that of private
respondent Gelacio, was considered in great detail in the resolution of GIO II Violan. Violans resolution was reviewed by Special
Prosecutor Erdulfo Querubin who made his own detailed resolution concurring in the finding of Violn. We cannot say that, in
approving the resolutions of two investigators, the respondent Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor committed an abuse of their
discretion.

Indeed, this Court is loath to interfere with the discretion of the Ombudsman unless such discretion is clearly shown to have been
abused. As explained in Young v. Office of the Ombudsman:22

The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of
the Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the courts will be grievously hampered by
innumerable petitions assailing the dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with
regard to complaints filed before it, in much the same way that the courts would be extremely swamped if they could be
compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each time they decide to file an
information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant.

There are instances, constituting exceptions to the general rule, when this Court will intervene in the prosecution of cases. Some
of these instances were enumerated in Brocka v. Enrile,23 as follows:

a. Where injunction is justified by the necessity to afford protection to the constitutional rights of the accused; (Hernandez vs.
Albano, et al., L-19272, January 25, 1967, 19 SCRA 95)
b. When necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions; (Dimayuga, et
al. vs. Fernandez, 43 Phil. 304; Hernandez vs. Albano, supra; Fortun vs. Labang, et al. L-38383, May 27 1981, 104 SCRA 607)

c. When there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice;. (De Leon vs. Mabanag, 70 Phil. 202)

d. When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority; (Planas vs. Gil, 67 Phil 62)

e. Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation; (Young vs. Rafferty, 33 Phil 556; Yu Co Eng vs. Trinidad,
47 Phil. 385, 389)

f. When double jeopardy is clearly apparent; (Sangalang vs. People and Avendia, 109 Phil. 1140)

g. Where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense; (Lopez vs. City Judge, L-25795, October 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 616).

h. Where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution; (Rustia vs. Ocampo, CA-G.R. No. 4760, March 25, 1960)

i. Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance; (Recto vs. Castelo, 18 L.J. (1953), cited in
Ranoa vs. Alvendia, CA G.R. No. 30720-R, October 8, 1962; cf Guingona, et al. vs. City Fiscal, L-60033, April 4, 1984, 128 SCRA
577).

j. When there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and motion to quash on that ground has been denied;
(Salonga vs. Pano, et al., L-59524, February 18, 1985, 134 SCRA 438); and

k. Preliminary injunction has been issued by the Supreme Court to prevent the threatened unlawful arrest of petitioners.
(Rodriguez vs. Castelo, L-6374, August 1, 1953) (cited in Regalado, REMEDIAL LAW COMPENDIUM, p. 188 1988 Ed).

But none of these instances is present here.

What petitioners raise are questions which go to the weight to be given to the affidavits by Atty. Nueva and Judge Ario. These are
matters for the trial courts appreciation. A preliminary investigation is not a trial. The function of the government prosecutor
during the preliminary investigation is merely to determine the existence of probable cause. 24 As we explained in Pilapil vs.
Sandiganbayan,25 this function involves only the following:

Probable cause is a reasonable ground of presumption that a matter is, or may be, well-founded, such a state of facts in the mind
of the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong suspicion,
that a thing is so. (Words and Phrases, Probable Cause v. 34, p. 12) The term does not mean actual and positive cause nor does it
import absolute certainty. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus a finding of probable cause does not require
an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or
omission complained of constitutes the offense charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception of evidence of the
prosecution in support of the charge.

Secondly, to warrant a finding of political harassment so as to justify the grant of the extraordinary writs of certiorari and
prohibition, it must be shown that the complainant possesses the power and the influence to control the prosecution of cases.
Here, the prosecution is handled by the Office of the Ombudsman. Although it is intimated that Petitioner Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr.
is the subject of persecution by his political enemies in Agusan del Sur, it has not been alleged, much less shown, that his enemies
have influence and power over the national prosecution service.

To show political harassment petitioners must prove that public prosecutor, and not just the private complainant, is acting in bad
faith in prosecuting the case26 or has lent himself to a scheme that could have no other purpose than to place the accused in
contempt and disrepute.27 For it is only if he does so may the prosecutor, in conducting the preliminary investigation, be said to
have deserted the performance of his office to determine objectively and impartially the existence of probable cause and thus
justify judicial intervention in what is essentially his province.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Francisco, Hermosisima,
Jr., and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-2821 March 4, 1949

JOSE AVELINO, petitioner,


vs.
MARIANO J. CUENCO, respondent.

Vicente J. Francisco for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General Felix Angelo Bautista, Ramon Diokno and Lorenzo M. Taada for respondent.
Teehankee, Fernando, Sunico & Rodrigo; Vera, Montesines & Navarro; Felixberto M. Serrano and Vicente del Rosario as amici
curiae.

RESOLUTION

In G.R. No. L-2821, Avelino vs. Cuenco, the Court by a vote of six justices against four resolved to deny the petition.

Without prejudice to the promulgation of a more extended opinion, this is now written briefly to explain the principal grounds
for the denial.

The Court believes the following essential facts have been established:

In the session of the Senate of February 18, 1949, Senator Lorenzo M. Taadare quested that his right to speak on the next
session day, February 21, 1949, to formulate charges against the then Senate President Jose Avelino be reserved. His request was
approved.

On February 21, 1949, hours before the opening of the session Senator Taada and Senator Taada and Senator Prospero
Sanidad filed with the Secretary of the Senate a resolution enumerating charges against the then Senate President and ordering
the investigation thereof.

Although a sufficient number of senators to constitute a quorum were at the Senate session hall at the appointed time (10:00
A.M.), and the petitioner was already in his office, said petitioner delayed his appearance at the session hall until about 11:35
A.M. When he finally ascended the rostrum, he did not immediately open the session, but instead requested from the Secretary
a copy of the resolution submitted by Senators Taada and Sanidad and in the presence of the public he read slowly and carefully
said resolution, after which he called and conferred with his colleagues Senator Francisco and Tirona.
Shortly before 12:00 noon, due to the session be opened, the petitioner finally called the meeting to order. Except Senator Sotto
who was confined in a hospital and Senator Confesor who is in the United States, all the Senator were present.

Senator Sanidad, following a long established practice, moved that the roll call be dispensed with, but Senator Tirona opposed
said motion, obviously in pursuance of a premeditated plan of petitioner and his partisans to make use of dilatory tactics to
prevent Senator Taada from delivering his privilege speech. The roll was called.

Senator Sanidad next moved, as is the usual practice, to dispense with the reading of the minutes, but this motion was likewise
opposed by Senator Tirona and David, evidently, again, in pursuance of the above-mentioned conspiracy.

Before and after the roll call and before and after the reading of the minutes, Senator Taada repeatedly stood up to claim his
right to deliver his one-hour privilege speech but the petitioner, then presiding, continuosly ignored him; and when after the
reading of the minutes, Senator Taada instead on being recognized by the Chair, the petitioner announced that he would order
the arrest of any senator who would speak without being previously recognized by him, but all the while, tolerating the actions of
his follower, Senator Tirona, who was continuously shouting at Senator Sanidad "Out of order!" everytime the latter would ask
for recognition of Senator Taada.

At this juncture, some disorderly conduct broke out in the Senate gallery, as if by pre-arrangement. At about this same time
Senator Pablo Angeles David, one of the petitioner's followers, was recognized by petitioner, and he moved for adjournment of
session, evidently, again, in pursuance of the above-mentioned conspiracy to muzzle Senator Taada.

Senator Sanidad registered his opposition to the adjournment of the session and this opposition was seconded by herein
respondent who moved that the motion of adjournment be submitted to a vote. Another commotion ensued.

Senator David reiterated his motion for adjournment and herein respondent also reiterated his opposition to the adjournment
and again moved that the motion of Senator David be submitted to a vote.

Suddenly, the petitioner banged the gavel and abandoning the Chair hurriedly walked out of the session hall followed by Senator
David, Tirona, Francisco, Torres, Magalona and Clarin, while the rest of the senators remained. Whereupon Senator Melencio
Arranz, Senate President Pro-tempore, urged by those senators present took the Chair and proceeded with the session.

Senator Cabili stood up, and asked that it be made of record it was so made that the deliberate abandonment of the Chair
by the petitioner, made it incumbent upon Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz and the remaining members of the Senate to
continue the session in order not to paralyze the functions of the Senate.

Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz then suggested that respondent be designated to preside over the session which
suggestion was carried unanimously. the respondent thereupon took the Chair.

Upon motion of Senator Arranz, which was approved Gregorio Abad was appointedActing Secretary, because the Assistance
Secretary, who was then acting as Secretary, had followed the petitioner when the latter abandoned the session.

Senator Taada, after being recognized by the Chair, was then finally able to deliver his privilege speech. Thereafter Senator
Sanidad read aloud the complete text of said Resolution (No. 68), and submitted his motion for approval thereof and the same
was unanimously approved.

With Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz again occupying the Chair, after the respondent had yielded it to him, Senator
Sanidad introduced Resolution No. 67, entitled "Resolution declaring vacant the position of the President of the Senate and
designated the Honorable Mariano Jesus Cuenco Acting President of the Senate." Put to a vote, the said resolution was
unanimously approved.

Senator Cuenco took the oath.


The next day the President of the Philippines recognized the respondent as acting president of the Philippines Senate.

By his petition in this quo warranto proceeding petitioners asked the Court to declare him the rightful President of the Philippines
senate and oust respondent.

The Court has examined all principal angles of the controversy and believes that these are the crucial points:

a. Does the Court have jurisdiction over the subject-matter?

b. If it is has, were resolution Nos. 68 and 67 validly approved?

c. Should the petition be granted?

To the first question, the answer is in the negative, in view of the separation of powers, the political nature of the controversy
(Alejandrino vs. Quezon, 46 Phil., 83; Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192; Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil., 1) and the constitutional
grant to the Senate of the power to elect its own president, which power should not be interfered with, nor taken over, by the
judiciary. We refused to take cognizance of the Vera case even if the rights of the electors of the suspended senators were
alleged affected without any immediate remedy. A fortiori we should abstain in this case because the selection of the presiding
officer affect only the Senators themselves who are at liberty at any time to choose their officers, change or reinstate them.
Anyway, if, as the petition must imply to be acceptable, the majority of the Senators want petitioner to preside, his remedy lies in
the Senate Session Hall not in the Supreme Court.

The Court will not sally into the legitimate domain of the Senate on the plea that our refusal to intercede might lead into a crisis,
even a resolution. No state of things has been proved that might change the temper of the Filipino people as a peaceful and law-
abiding citizens. And we should not allow ourselves to be stampeded into a rash action inconsistent with the calm that should
characterized judicial deliberations.

The precedent of Werts vs. Roger does not apply, because among other reasons, the situation is not where two sets of senators
have constituted themselves into two senates actually functioning as such, (as in said Werts case), there being no question that
there is presently one Philippines Senate only. To their credit be it recorded that petitioner and his partisans have not erected
themselves into another Senate. The petitioner's claim is merely that respondent has not been duly elected in his place in the
same one Philippines Senate.

It is furthermore believed that the recognition accorded by the Chief Executive to the respondent makes it advisable, more than
ever, to adopt the hands-off policy wisely enunciated by this Court in matters of similar nature.

The second question depends upon these sub-questions. (1) Was the session of the so-called rump Senate a continuation of the
session validly assembled with twenty two Senators in the morning of February 21, 1949?; (2) Was there a quorum in that
session? Mr. Justice Montemayor and Mr. Justice Reyes deem it useless, for the present to pass on these questions once it is
held, as they do, that the Court has no jurisdiction over the case. What follows is the opinion of the other four on those four on
those sub-questions.

Supposing that the Court has jurisdiction, there is unanimity in the view that the session under Senator Arranz was a continuation
of the morning session and that a minority of ten senators may not, by leaving the Hall, prevent the other twelve senators from
passing a resolution that met with their unanimous endorsement. The answer might be different had the resolution been
approved only by ten or less.

If the rump session was not a continuation of the morning session, was it validly constituted? In other words, was there the
majority required by the Constitution for the transaction of the business of the Senate? Justice Paras, Feria, Pablo and Bengzon
say there was, firstly because the minute say so, secondly, because at the beginning of such session there were at least fourteen
senators including Senators Pendatun and Lopez, and thirdly because in view of the absence from the country of Senator Tomas
Confesor twelve senators constitute a majority of the Senate of twelve three senators. When the Constitution declares that a
majority of "each House" shall constitute a quorum, "the House: does not mean "all" the members. Even a majority of all the
members constitute "the House". (Missouri Pac. vs. Kansas, 63 Law ed. [U. S.], p. 239). There is a difference between a majority
of "the House", the latter requiring less number than the first. Therefore an absolute majority (12) of all the members of the
Senate less one (23), constitutes constitutional majority of the Senate for the purpose of a quorum. Mr. Justice Pablo believes
furthermore than even if the twelve did not constitute a quorum, they could have ordered the arrest of one, at least, of the
absent members; if one had been so arrested, there would be no doubt Quorum then, and Senator Cuenco would have been
elected just the same inasmuch as there would be eleven for Cuenco, one against and one abstained.

In fine, all the four justice agree that the Court being confronted with the practical situation that of the twenty three senators
who may participate in the Senate deliberations in the days immediately after this decision, twelve senators will support Senator
Cuenco and, at most, eleven will side with Senator Avelino, it would be most injudicious to declare the latter as the rightful
President of the Senate, that office being essentially one that depends exclusively upon the will of the majority of the senators,
the rule of the Senate about tenure of the President of that body being amenable at any time by that majority. And at any
session hereafter held with thirteen or more senators, in order to avoid all controversy arising from the divergence of opinion
here about quorum and for the benefit of all concerned,the said twelve senators who approved the resolutions herein involved
could ratify all their acts and thereby place them beyond the shadow of a doubt.

As already stated, the six justices hereinabove mentioned voted to dismiss the petition. Without costs.

Separate Opinions

MORAN, C.J., concurring:

I believe that this Court has jurisdiction over the case.1 The present crisis in the Senate is one that imperatively calls for the
intervention of the Court.

Respondent Cuenco cannot invoke the doctrine of non-interference by the courts with the Senate because the legal capacity of
his group of twelve senators to acts as a senate is being challenged by petitioner on the groundof lack of quorum (Attorney
General ex rel. Werts vs. Rogers et al., Atl. 726; 23 L. R. A., 352). If this group is found sufficient to constitute a quorum under the
Constitution, then its proceedings should be free from interference. But if it is not possessed of a valid quorum, then its
proceedings should be voided.

The issue as to the legal capacity of the Cuenco group to act as a senate cannot be considered a political question the
determination of which devolves exclusively upon the Senate. That issue involves a constitutional question which cannot be
validly decided either by the Cuenco group or by the Avelino group separately, for, if the Cuenco group has no quorum, the
Avelino has decidedly less. And for obvious reasons, the two groups cannot act together inasmuch as the members of the Avelino
group, possibly to avoid trouble, do not attend the sessions presided by the respondent believing as they do that the latter was
illegally elected. Upon the other hand, the Cuenco group believing itself as possessing the constitutional quorum and not desiring
to make any semblance of admission to the contrary, does not find it convenient to compel the attendance of any senator of the
Avelino group. Then the question arises--who will decide the conflict between the two groups? This anomalous situation will
continue while the conflict remains unsettled, and the conflict will remain unsettled while this Court refuses to intervene. In the
meantime the validity of all the laws, resolutions and other measures which may be passed by the Cuenco group will be open to
doubt because of an alleged lack of quorum in the body which authored them. This doubt may extend, in diverse forms, to the
House of Representative and to the other agencies of the government such as the Auditor General's Office. Thus, a general
situation of uncertainty, pregnant with grave dangers, is developing into confusion and chaos with severe harm to the nation.
This situation may, to a large extent, be stopped and constitutional processes may be restored in the Senate if only this Court, as
the guardian of the Constitutional, were to pronounce the final word on the constitutional mandate governing the existing
conflict between the two groups. And, in my opinion, under the present circumstances, this Court has no other alternative but to
meet challenge of the situation which demands the utmost of judicial temper and judicial statesmanship. As hereinbefore stated,
the present crisis in the Senate is one that imperatively calls for the intervention of this Court.

As to the legality of respondent's election as acting President of the Senate, 2I firmly believe that although petitioner's
adjournment of the session of February 21, 1949, was illegality cannot be countered with another illegality. The session wherein
respondent was elected as acting President of the Senate was illegal because when Senator Mabanag raised the question of
a quorum and the roll was called, only twelve senators were present. In the Philippines there are twenty-four senators, and
therefore, the quorum must be thirteen. The authorities on the matter are clear.

The constitution of our state ordains that a majority of each house shall constitute a quorum. the house of representative consist
of 125 members; 63 is a majority and quorum. When a majority or quorum are present, the house can do business; not
otherwise. A quorum possessed all the powers of the whole body, a majority of which quorum must, of course, govern. (In
re Gunn, 50 Kan., 155; 32 P., 470, 476; 19 L.R.A., 519.)

Quorum as used in U. S. C. A. Const. Art. 4 sec. 8, providing that a majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do
business, is, for the purpose of the Assembly, not less than the majority of the whole number of which the house may be
composed. Vacancies from death, resignation or failure to elect cannot be deducted in ascertaining the quorum. (Opinion of
Justice, 12 Fla. 653.)

The general rule is that a quorum is a majority of all the members and a majority of this majority may legislate and do the work of
the whole. (State vs. Ellington 117 N. C., 158; 23 S. E. 250-252, 30 L.R.A., 532; 53 Am. SR., 580.)

. . . a majority of each House is necessary to transact business, and a minority cannot transact business, this view being in keeping
with the provision of the Constitution permitting a smaller number than a quorum to adjourn from day to day merely.
(Earp vs. Riley, 40 OKL., 340; p. 164; Ralls vs. Wyand, 40 OKL., 323; 138 P. 158.)

The Constitution provides that "a majority of each (house) shall constitute a quorum to do business." In other words, when a
majority are present the House is in a position to do business. Its capacity to transact business is then established, created by the
mere presence of a majority, and depend upon the disposition or assent or action of any single member or faction of the majority
present. All that the Constitution required is the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present, the power of the
House arises. (U. S. vs. Ballin, Joseph & Co., 36 Law ed. 321, 325.)

If all the members of the select body or committee, or if all the agents are assembled, or if all have been duly notified, and the
minority refuse, or neglect to meet with the other, a majority of those present may act,provided those present constitute a
majority of the whole number. In other words, in such case, a major part of the whole is necessary to constitute a quorum, and a
majority of the quorum may act. If the major part withdraw so as to leave no quorum, the power of the minority to act is, in
general, considered to cease. (1 Dillon, Mun. Corp. 4th ed., sec. 283.) 3

Therefore, without prejudice to writing a more extensive opinion, if necessary, I believe that respondent Mariano J. Cuenco has
not been legally elected as acting President of the Senate. It is true that respondent Cuenco, in fact, must be the Senate President
because he represent the majority of the members now present in Manila, and, at any new session with a quorum, upon the
present senatorial alignment, he will be elected to said office. But precisely he is now the master of the situation, he must win his
victory in accordance with the Constitution. It is absolutely essential in the adolescent life of our Republic to insist, strictly and
uncompromisingly, on thedemocratic principles consecrated in our Constitution. By such efforts alone can we insure the future
of our political life as a republican form of government under the sovereignty of a Constitution from being a mockery.
The situation now in this Court is this there are four members who believe that there was no quorum in respondent's election
as against four other member who believe that there was such quorum. Two members declined to render their opinion on the
matter because of their refusal to assume jurisdiction. And, one member is absent from the Philippines. Thus, the question of
whether or not respondent has been legally elected is, to say the least, doubtful in this Court under the present conditions. This
doubt, which taint the validity of all the laws, resolutions and other measures that the Cuenco group has passed and may pass in
the future, can easily be dispelled by them by convening a session wherein thirteen senators are present and by reiterating
therein all that has been previously done by them. This is a suggestion coming from a humble citizen who is watching with a
happy heart the movement of this gallant group of prominent leaders campaigning for a clean and honest government in this
dear country of ours.

PERFECTO, J., dissenting:

In these quo warranto proceedings the question as to who among the parties is entitled to hold the position of President of the
Senate is in issue.

There is no question that up to Monday, February 21, 1949, at the time the controversial incidents took place, petitioner Jose
Avelino was rightful occupant of the position. the litigation has arisen because of the opposing contentions as to petitioner's
outer and as to respondent's election as acting President of the Senate, on February 21, 1949.

Petitioner contends that the proceedings in which a resolution was passed declaring the position of President of the Senate
vacant and electing respondent Mariano J. Cuenco as acting President of the Senate were illegal because, at the time, the session
for said day has been properly adjourned, and the twelve Senators who remained in the session hall had no right to convene in a
rump session, and said rump session lacked quorum, while respondent contents that the session which was opened by petitioner
had not been legally adjournment, the Senators who remained in the session hall had only continued the same session, and there
was quorum when the position of the President of the Senate was declared vacant and when respondent was elected as acting
President of Senate, to fill the vacate position.

Petitioner's version of the facts, as alleged in his petition, is to the effect that on Monday, February 21, 1949, at the time
petitioner opened the session in the Senate session hall, there were twenty two Senators present who answered the roll call;
Vicente J. Francisco. Fernando Lopez, Emiliano TriaTirona, Pablo Angeles David, Salipada Pendatun, Ramon Torres, Enrique
Magalona, Carlos Tan, Olegario Clarin, Melencio Arranz, Mariano Cuenco, Prospero Sanidad, Lorenzo Taada, Vicente Madrigal,
Geronima Pecson, Camilo Osias, Carlos Garcia, Ramon Diokno, Jose Vera, Tomas Cabili, Alejo Mabanag, and the petitioner Jose
Avelino. While the minutes of the preceding session was being read the crowd of more than 1,000 people who entered the
Senate hall to witness the session, became unruly, the repeated efforts of petitioner as well as the sergeant-at-arms and other
peace officers to maintain peace and order notwithstanding. Fights and commotions ensued and several shots were fired among
the audience. The Senator who spoke could not be heard because the spectators would either shout to drown their voices or
would demeans that some other Senator should take the floor and be recognized by petitioner. Pandemonium reigned and it was
impossible for the Senate to proceed with its deliberations free from undue pressure and without grave danger to its integrity as
a body and to the personal safety of the members thereof. Senator Pablo Angeles David moved for adjournment until Thursday,
February 24, 1949. There being no objection, petitioner adjourned the session until February 24, 1949. Thereupon petitioner and
nine other Senator namely, Vicente J. Francisco, Fernando Lopez, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Pablo Angeles David, Sulipada Pendatun,
Ramon Torres, Enriquez Magalona, Carlos Tan, and Olegario Clarin left the session hall. Senator Melencio Arranz, President Pro-
Tempore of Senate, went up the rostrum and, assuming the presidency of the chamber, convinced the remaining twelve
Senators into a rump session, in which a resolution was passed declaring vacant the position of the President of the Senate and
electing respondent as President of the Senate. Thereupon respondent pretended to assume the office of president of the
Senate and continues to pretend to assume said office.
Petitioner alleged five grounds to claim that respondent is usurping or illegally exercising the office of the President of the
Senate: 1. Petitioner had adjourned the session of the senate, the adjournment having been properly moved and, without
objection, favorably acted upon; 2. Petitioner had full power to adjourn the session even without motion under chapter II,
Section 8, paragraph (e) of the Rules of the Senate; 3 The ordinary daily session having been adjourned, no other session could be
called in the Senate on the same day; 4 The President Pr-tempore had no authority to assume the presidency except in the cases
specified in Chapter I, section 4 of the Rule of the Senate, and none of the conditions therein mentioned obtained at the time in
question; and 5. The twelve Senators that convened in the rump session did not constitute a quorum to do business under the
Constitution and the rule of the Senate, being less than one-half plus one of the twenty four members of the Senate.

Respondent's version of the events as follows:

(a) Since Friday, February 18, 1949, when Senator Lorenzo M. Taada announced and reserved in open session of the Senate that
on Monday, February 21, 1949, he would make use of his one-hour privilege, it was known that formal charges would be filed
against the then Senate President, petitioner in this case, on said date. Hours before the opening of the session on Monday,
February 21, 1949, Senators Lorenzo M. Taada and Prospero Sanidad registered in the Office of the secretary of the Senates a
resolution in which serious charges were preferred against the herein petitioner. A certified copy of said resolution, marked as
Exhibit "1" is hereto attacked and made an integral part hereof:

(b) Although a sufficient number of senators to constitute a quorum were at the Senate session hall at and before 10:00 A.M.,
schedule time for the session to begin, and in spite of the fact that the petitioner was already in his office, said petitioner
deliberately delayed his appearance at the session hall until about 11:35 A.M.;

(c) When finally the petitioner ascended the rostrum, he did not immediately open the session, but instead requested from the
Secretary a copy of the resolution submitted by Senator Taada and Sanidad and in the presence of the public the petitioner read
slowly and carefully said resolution, after which he called and conferred with his followers, Senators Francisco and Tirona;

(d) Shortly before 12:00 noon, due to the insistent requested of Senators Sanidad and Cuenco that the session be opened, the
petitioner finally called the meeting to order;

(e) Senator Sanidad, following a practice long established in the Senate, moved that the roll call be dispensed with as it was
evident that with the presence of all the 22 senator who could discharges their functions, there could be no question of
a quorum, but Senator Tirona opposed said motion, evidently in pursuance of a premeditated plan and conspiracy of petitioner
and his followers to make use of all sorts of dilatory tactics to prevent Senator Taada from delivering his privilege speech on the
charges filed against petitioner. The roll call affirmatively showed the presence of the following 22 Senators; Vicente J. Francisco,
Fernando Lopez, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Pablo Angeles David, Salipada Pendatun, Ramon Torres, Enrique Magalona, Carlos tan,
Olegario Clarin, Melencio Arranz, M. Jesus Cuenco, Prospero Sanidad, Lorenzo M. Taada, Vicente Madrigal, Geronima Pecson,
Camilo Osias, Carlos Garcia, Ramon Diokno, Jose Vera, Tomas Cabili, Alejo Mabanag and Jose Avelino;

(f) Senator Sanidad next moved, as in the usual practice, to dispense with the reading of the minute, but this motion was likewise
opposed by senator Tirona and David, evidently, again, in pursuance of the above-mentioned conspiracy;

(g) Before and after the roll call before and after the reading of the minutes, Senator Taada repeatedly took the floor to claim
his right to deliver his one-hour privilege speech in support of the charges against petitioner, but the latter, then presiding,
continually ignored him; and when after the reading of the minutes, Senator Taada instead on being recognized by the Chair,
the petitioner announced that he would being previously recognized by him, but all the while, tolerating the antics of his
follower, Senator Tirona, who was continuously and vociferously shouting at Senator Sanidad "Out of order! Out of order! Out of
order! . . .," everything the latter would ask the petitioner to recognized the right of Senator Taada to speak.

(h) At this juncture, some disorderly conduct broke out in the Senate gallery, as if by prearrangement, but the police officers
present were able to maintain order. No shots were fired among the audience, as alleged in the petition. It was at about this
same time that Senator Pablo Angeles David, one of petitioner's followers, was recognized by petitioner, and he moved for
adjournment of the session, evidently again, in pursuance of the above-mentioned conspiracy to prevent Senator Taada from
speaking;

(i) Senator Sanidad registered his opposition to the adjournment of the session and this opposition was seconded by herein
respondent who moved that the motion of adjournment be submitted to a vote;

(j) Senator David reiterated his motion for adjournment and herein respondent also reiterated his opposition to the adjournment
and again moved that the motion of Senator David be submitted to a vote;

(k) Suddenly, the petitioner abandoned the Chair and hurriedly walked out of the session hall.

(l) Without the session being adjournment, Senators David, Tirona, Francisco,Torres, Magalona, and Clarin followed the
petitioner out of the session hall, while the rest of the senators, as afore-named in sub-paragraph (e) hereof, remained to
continue the session abandoned by petitioner, whereupon Senator Melencio Arranz, as Senate Pro-tempore, took the Chair and
proceeded with the session.

(m) Senator Cabili took the floor and delivered a speech, whereby he asked that it be made of record as it was in so made
that the deliberate abandonment of the Chair by the petitioner, made it incumbent upon SenatePresident Pro-tempore Arranz
and the remaining members of the Senate to continue the session in order not to impede and paralyze the functions of the
Senate;

(n) Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz then suggested that respondent be designated to preside over the session, which
suggestion was carried unanimously. The respondent thereupon took the Chair.

(o) Upon motion of Senator Arranz, which was carried unanimously, Gregorio Abad was appointed Acting Secretary, as the
Assistance Secretary, who was then acting as Secretary, had followed the petitioner when the latter abandoned the session;

(p) Senator Taada, after being recognized by the Chair, was then finally able to deliver his privilege speech, Which took more
than hours, on the charges against the petitioner contained in the Resolution, attacked hereto as Exhibit "1", and moved for the
immediate consideration and approval ofsaid Resolution. Senator Sanidad reiterated this motion, after having firstread aloud the
complete text of said Resolution, and thereafter the same was unanimously approved;

(q) With Senate President Pro-tempore Arranz again occupying the Chair, after the respondent had yield edit to him, Senator
Sanidad introduced Resolution No. 67, entitled "Resolution declaring vacant the position of the President of the Senate and
designated the Honorable Mariano Jesus Cuenco Acting President of the Senate," a copy of which is herewith attacked and made
an integral part hereof as Exhibit "2". Put a vote, the said Resolutionwas unanimously approved, respondent having abstained
from voting;

(r) The respondent having been duly elected as Acting President of the Senate, immediately took his oath of Office in open
session, before Senate President Pro-Tempore Melencio Arranz, and since then, has been discharging the duties and exercising
the rights and prerogatives appertaining to said office;

(s) From the allegation of the petition, it clearly appears that the petitioner had only nine senators in his favor and twelve,
decidedly against him, which fact negates the petitioner's assertion that there was no opposition to the motion for adjournment
submitted by Senator David;

(t) From the beginning of the session of February 21, 1949, to the allegedadjournment, it was evidently and manifestly the
purpose of the petitioner to deprive Senator Taada of his right to take the floor and to speak on the charges filed against said
petitioner; that said petitioner resorted to all means to deprive the Senate of its right and prerogative to deliberate on Senate
Resolution No. 68, Exhibit "1", and that when the petitioner realized that a majority of the Senator who were present in the said
session was ready to approved said resolution, the petitioner abandoned the session;

(u) The minute of the session held on February 21, Exhibit 1949, a copy of which is hereto attacked and made an integral part
hereof as Exhibit "3", show that the petitioner illegally abandoned the Chair while the Senate was in session and that the
respondent has been duly elected Acting Senate President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Respondent alleges further that Senator David's motion for adjournment was objected to and not submitted to a vote and,
therefore, could not have been carried; that it is not true that petitioner had the power to adjourn the session even without
motion; that the session presided over, first by petitioner and then by respondent, was orderly, no Senator having been
threatened or intimidated by anybody, and after petitioner abandoned the session continued peacefully until its adjournment at
4:40 P.M.; that there was only one session held on said date; that petitioner's abandonment of the Chair in the face of an
impending ouster therefrom constituted a temporaryincapacity entitling the Senate President Pro-tempore to assume the Chair;
that there was quorum as, with the absence of Senator Tomas Confessor, whowas in the U. S. and of Senator Vicente Sotto, who
was seriously ill and confined in the Lourdes Hospital, the presence of at least twelve senators constitutes a quorum; that,
despite petitioner's claim that he adjourned the session to February 24, 1949, convinced that he did not count with the majority
of the Senators and not wanting to be investigated by the specialinvestigation committee regarding the grave charges preferred
against him, the petitioner deliberately did not appear at the session hall on said date.

Three special defenses are advanced by respondent: (a) Lack of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court; (b) No cause of action as there
are only nine Senators who had recognized petitioner's claim against twelve Senators or who have madepatent their loss of
confidence in him by voting in favor of his out ouster; and (c) The object of the action is to make the supreme Court a mere tool
of a minority group of ten Senators to impose petitioner's will over and above that of the twelve other members of the Senate, to
entrench petitionerin power.

In impugning the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, respondent contends that the present case is not justiciable, because it
involves a purely political question, the determination of which by the Senate is binding and conclusiveupon the court
(Alejandrino vs. Quezon, 43 Phil., 83; Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192) respondent has been recognized as acting President of the
Senate by the President of the Philippines and said recognition is binding and conclusive on the courts (Barcelon vs. Baker, 5 Phil.,
87; Severino vs. Governor-General, 16 Phil., 366); the Senate is the only body that can determine from time to time who shall be
its President and petitioner's only recourse lies in said body; and this Court's action in entertaining the petition would constitute
an invasion and an encroachment upon the powers, rights and prerogatives solely and exclusively appertaining to Congress, of
which the Senate is a branch.

Upon the conflicting claims of the parties as to the real events, this Court authorized the reception of evidence. Before passing to
consider and to weigh said evidence so as to determine the true events, it is only logical that we should first pass upon the
question of jurisdiction raised by respondent.

In attacking the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court respondent alleges, as first ground, that the present controversy is not
justiciable in nature, involving, as it does, a purely political question, the determination of which by the political agency
concerned, the Senate, is binding and conclusive on the courts.

The contention is untenable. In the first place, it begs question. It assumes as premises that the question has been determined by
the Senate, when the two opposing parties claim that each one of them represents the will of the Senate, and if the controversy
should be allowed to remainunsettled, it would be impossible to determine who is right and who is wrong, and who really
represent the Senate.

The question raised in the petition, although political in nature, are justiciable because they involve the enforcement of legal
precepts, such as the provisions of the Constitution and of the rules of the Senate. Thepower and authority to decided such
questions of law form part of the jurisdiction, not only expressly conferred on the Supreme Court, but of which, by express
prohibition of the Constitution, it cannot be divested.

SEC. 2. The Congress shall have the power to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of the various court, but may not
deprive the Supreme Court of its original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, nor
of its jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal, certiorari, or writ of error, as the law or the rules of the
court may provide, final judgment and decrees of inferior courts in

(1) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, law, ordinance or regulations is in question.

(2) All case involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.

(3) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any trial court is in issue.

(4) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is death or life imprisonment.

(5) All cases in which an error or question of law is involved.

Because the legal questions raised in this case cannot be decided without decided also what is the truth on the controversial
facts, by the very natureof things, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court reached the settlement of the conflict claims as to the
real events.

Respondent alleges that he has been recognized by the President of the Philippines as acting President of the Senate and that
executive recognition is binding and conclusive on the courts. The contention is erroneous. The actions of the President of the
Philippines cannot deprive the Supreme Court of the jurisdiction vested in it by the Constitution. If the Congress of the
Philippines, in which the Legislature power is vested, cannot deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to decide questions of
law, much less canthe president of the Philippines, on whom is vested the Executive power, which in the philosophical and
political hierarchy is of subordinate category to the of the Legislative power, do so. The power to enact laws is higher than the
power to execute them.

The third argument of argument of respondent, although based on truth, has nothing to do with the legal questions raised in this
case. It is true that the Senate is the only body that can determine from time who is and shall be its President, but when the legal
questions are raised in a litigation likein the present case, the proper court has the function, the province and the responsibility
to decide them. To shirk that responsibility is to commit a dereliction of official duty.

Finally, it is alleged that for this Court to entertain the petition, is invade and encroach upon the powers, rights and prerogatives
solely and exclusively appertaining to the Legislative Department, of which the Senate is a branch. The contention is erroneous.
The controversy as to thelegality of the adjournment declared by petitioner, of petitioner's ousters, as a result of the resolution
declaring vacant the position of President of the Senate, or respondent's election as acting President of the Senate, and as to
whether or not the twelve Senators who remained in the session hall could continue holding session and if they
constitute quorum, are all legal question upon which courts of justice have jurisdiction and the SupremeCourt is the final arbiter.

From the evidence, it appears that in the session of Friday, February 18, 1949, at the time the resolution of confidence in favor of
petitioner, introduced by the Senator Lopez, was being put to vote, Senator Taada voted,Senator Taada voted in the negative,
alleging as ground damaging facts, supported by several checks, highly detrimental to the personal and officialhonesty of
petitioner. At the same time, Senator Taada announced his intention of filing in the next session, to be held on Monday,
February 21, 1949, formal charges against petitioner and of delivering during the so-called privilege hour a speech in support of
said charges.

On said Monday morning, hour before the opening of the ordinary daily session, Senator Taada and Sanidad registered with the
Secretary of the Senate a resolution for the appointment of a Committee of three, composed of Senator Cuenco, Angeles David,
and Mabanag, with instructed to proceed immediately to investigate the serious charges against petitioner embodiedin the
document.

Said resolution, marked as Exhibit 1 of the respondent's answer, is as follow:

RESOLUTION ORDERING THE INVESTIGATION OF CHARGES FILED AGAINST THE SENATE PRESIDENT, JOSE AVELINO.

WHEREAS, Senate President Jose Avelino, in a caucus of high government officials of the Philippines Government and leaders of
the Liberal Partyheld at Malacaang palace on January 15, 1949, delivered a speech,wherein he advocated the protection, or, at
least, tolerance, of graft and corruption in the government, and placed the interest of grafters and corrupt officials as supreme
and above the welfare of the people, doctrine under which it is impossible for an honest and clean governmentto exist;

WHEREAS, this speech of Senate President Jose Avelino was given wide publicity by the press, especially the Chronicle Publication
in their issues of January 16 and 18, 1949, as follows:

The senate President defenses the abuses perpetrated by Liberal Party men. He called the investigations of the surplus property
commission irregularities and the immigration quota scadal as acts of injustice he describe the probe as "criminal" and "odious."
He flayed the National Bureau of Investigation agents for persecuting Liberal party leaders.

"We are not angels", he said. "When we die we all go to hell. It is better to be in hell because in that place are no investigations,
no secretary of justice, no secretary of interior to go after us."

Avelino, who is the present President of the Liberal party, ensured the President for his actuations which, he claimed, were
mainly responsible for the division of the party into two hostile camps.

Avelino asked the President to "tolerate" if he could not "permit", the abuse of the party in power, because why should we be
saints when in reality we are not?

He stressed that the present investigation being conducted by President Quirino on the surplus property scandal and the
immigration quota rackety has lowered the prestige of the Liberal Party in the eyes of the people, and is a desecration to the
memory of the late President Manuel Roxas. "It is a crime against the Liberal Party", Avelino said.

Defining his attitude regarding rights and privileges of those who are in power in the government, Avelino maintained that the
Liberal Party men are entitled to more considerations and should be given allowance to use the power and privilege. If they
abuse their power as all humans are prone to do, they will be given a certain measure of tolerance, Avelino said, adding, "What
are we in power for?"

Avelino cited the surplus property investigations as an attempt to besmear the memory of Presidential Roxas. As a result of these
investigations, the members of Congress are subjected to unjust and embarrassing questioning by NBI, Avelino said. And what is
worse is the fact that these senators and representatives are being pilloried in public without formal charges filed against them.
(Manila Chronicle issue of Jan. 16, 1949).

At last Saturday night's caucus Senate President Avelino for two hours lectured to President Quirino on Liberal Party discipline. At
the same time he demanded "tolerance" on the part of the Chief Executive by the party in power.

The investigations were conducted on vague charges, Avelino claimed. Nothing specific has teen filed against atop Liberal Party
man. And yet National Bureau of Investigation agents have persecuted top leader of the LiberalParty. That is not justice. That is
injustice. . . . It isodious. . . . It is criminal.

Why did you have to order an investigation Honorable Mr. President? If you cannot permit abuses, you must at leasttolerate
them. What are we in power for? We are not hypocrites. Why should we pretend to be saints when in realitywe are not? We are
not angels. And besides when we die we all go to hell. Anyway, it is preferable to go to hell wherethere are no investigations, no
Secretary of Justice, no Secretary of Interior to go after us.

When Jesus died on the Cross. He made a distinction between a good crook and the bad crooks. We can prepare to be good
crooks.

Avelino related the story of St. Francis of Assisi. Athief sought sanctuary in St. Francis' convent. When thesoldiers came to the
convent and ordered St. Francis to produce the wanted thief, St. Francis told the soldiers that thehunted man had gone the other
way.

Avelino then pointed out that even a saint had condoned the sins of a thief.

xxx xxx xxx

The investigation ordered by President Quirino, Avelino said, was a desecration of the memory of the late President Roxas. The
probe has lowered, instead of enhanced, the prestige of the Liberal Party and its leader in the eyes of the public.

If the present administration fails, it is Roxas and not Quirino that suffers by it, because Quirino's administration is only a
continuation of Roxas, Avelino said.

Avelino compared all political parties to business corporations, of which all members are stockholders. Every year the Liberal
Party makes an accounting of its loss profit. The Liberal Party, he said, has practically no dividends at all. It has lost even its
original capital. Then he mentionedthe appointments to the government of Nacionalistas like: Lino Castillejo,as governor of the
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Nicanor Carag, consulto Madrid; and Vicente Formoso, General Manager of the National
Tabacco Corporation."(Manila Chronicle issue of January 18, 1949.).

WHEREAS, after the first publication of the said speech in the Manila Chronicle issue of January 16, 1949, the Senate President, in
a letter to the said news report was a "maliciously distorted presentation of my remarks at that caucus, under a tendentious
headlines", and threatened that "unless the proper redness is given to me, therefore, I shall feel compelled to take the necessary
steps to protect my reputation and good name";

WHEREAS, the Chronicle Publication not only refuse to retract or make the rectification demanded by the Senate President, but
on the contrary, in their issue of January 18, 1949, challenged him to take his threatened action, stating that "in order to est
abolished the truth, we are inviting the Senate President to file a libel suit against the Chronicle" and further repeated the
publication of their reports on the Senate President speech in the same issue of January 18, 1949 as quoted above;

WHEREAS, notwithstanding in the considerable length of time that has elapsed, the Senate President has not carried out his
threat of filing action against the Chronicle Publication, thereby confirming, in effect, his doctrine of tolerance of graft and
corruption;

WHEREAS, in open and public session of the Senate on February 18, 1949, there were exhibited photostatic copies of four checks
totalling P566,405.60, which appears to have come into the possession and control of the Senate President, after he had
assumed his office;

WHEREAS, the first of the aforesaid check, which is Manager's Check No. M5375 of the National City Bank of the National City
Bank of New York, drawn on September 24, 1946, in favor of the Senate President in the amount of P312,500.00, was indorsed
by him to his wife, Mrs. Enriqueta C. Avelino, who deposited it in her current account with the Philippine National Bank on
October 26, 1946;
WHEREAS, the second of the aforesaid checks, which is Manager's Check No. 49706 of the Nederlands Indische Handelsbank,
drawn on October 21, 1946, in favor of the Senate President in the amount of P196,905.60, was indorsedby him to his son, Mr.
Jose Avelino, Jr., who cashed it October 22, 1946;

WHEREAS, the third of the aforesaid checks, which is Check No. 37262 of the Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank, drawn on
October 23,1946 by Chung Liu Ching Long & Co., Ltd., a Chinese concern, in favor of "cash", in the amount of P10,000.00, was
indorsed by the Senate President to his wife, Mrs. Enriqueta C. Avelino, who deposited it in her Saving Account No. 63436 with
the Philippines National Bank on October 26, 1946;

WHEREAS, the fourth of the aforesaid checks, which is Check No. 37268 of the Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank, drawn by the
aforementioned Chinese concern, Chiung Liu Ching Long and Co., Ltd., in the amount of P47,500.00 in favor of the Senate
President, was indorsed by him to his wife, Mrs. Enriqueta C. Avelino, who deposited it in her current account with the
Philippines National Bank on October 26, 1946;

WHEREAS, of the four checks aforementioned, the one for P196,905.60 was cashed by the Senate President's son, Jose Avelino,
Jr., on October 22, 1946; while of the three other checks totalling P370,000.00 which was deposited by the Senate President's
wife, Mrs. Enriqueta C. Avelino, in her saving and current accounts with the Philippines National Bank on October 26, 1946,
P325,000.00 were withdraw by her on same day;

WHEREAS, in the course of the speech delivered by the Senate President on the floor of the Senate on February 18, 1946, in an
attempt to explain the foregoing checks, he refused to be interpolated on the same, and his explanation lacked such details and
definiteness that it left many doubts unsettled;

WHEREAS, in the case of the check for P312,500.00 the Senate President explanation that the same represented proceeds from
the sale of surplus beer to cover party obligation is directly contradicted by the source of the same, Ching Ban Yek, who declared
under oath before the Horilleno Investigating Committee that the said sum of P312,500.00 had been loaned byhim to the Senate
President, who repaid the same within ten days;

WHEREAS, it appears that during the period from December 29, 1945 to April 30, 1948, deposits totalling P803,865.45 were
made in the current account of the Senate President's wife Mrs. Enriqueta C. Avelino, in the Philippine National Bank, of which
amount P6,204.86 were deposited before his election to office and the sum of P797,660.59 was deposited after his election;

WHEREAS, the tax returns of the Senate President do not bear explanation madein his speech of February 18, 1949 to the effect
that he and his wife had made substantial amounts in commercial transaction in shoes and liquor;

WHEREAS, in his said speech of February 18, 1949, the Senate President said that "en politica todo vale", and that inasmuch as
the Nacionalistas were prone to commit frauds, it was right for the Liberals to commit frauds in the electionsto even up with
frauds committed by the opposition;

WHEREAS, the said speech of February 18, 1949 delivered by the SEnate President justified the commission of electoral frauds,
which justification is a direct attack on the sovereignty of the people and may be a cause of unrest or resolution;

WHEREAS, the senate President, as ex-officio Chairman of the Commission on Appointments which passes upon all Presidential
appointment, including thoseto the judiciary, has abused the prerogatives of his office by seeking in several instances to interfere
with and influence some judge in decidingcase pending before, thereby imperilling the independence of the judiciaryand
jeopardizing the impartial administration of justice;

WHEREAS, the honor, dignity and prestige of the people and of the membersof the Senate demand a through, impartial and
immediate investigation of allforegoing; Now, therefore,
1 Be it resolved, To appoint, as they are hereby appointed
2 Committee of three (3) members of this Senate, to be com
3 posed of Senator Cuenco, Angeles David and Mabanag, who
4 shall immediately proceed to investigate the charges mentioned
5 above, with full powers to compel the attendance of witnesses
6 and the production of books of account, documents, and other
7 evidence, and to utilized the facilities and the services of such
8 personnel of this Senate as it may deem necessary, with in
9 structions to render its report and recommendations to the
10 Senate on or before Friday, February 25, 1949.

Adopted, February 21, 1949.

Although a sufficient number of Senators to constitute quorum were already present in said morning at and before 10:00 o'clock,
the schedule time for the daily session to begin, the session was not then opened, because petitioner failed to appear in the hall
until about 11:35, the time petitioner ascended the rostrum where, instead of calling the meeting to order, he asked for a copy of
the resolution introduced by the Senators Taada and Sanidad and, after reading it slowly, he called to his side Senators Angeles
David and Tirona and conferred with them.

Only after the insistent requests of Senators Sanidad and Cuenco that thesession be opened, that petitioner called the meeting
to order shortly before 12:00 o'clock noon.

Senator Sanidad moved that the roll call be dispensed with. Senator Tirona opposed the motion and the roll call showed the
presence of the following twenty two Senators: Vicente J. Francisco, Fernando Lopez, Emiliano TriaTirona, Pablo Angeles David,
Salipada Pendatun, Ramon Torres, Enrique Magalona, Carlos Tan, Olegario Clarin, Melencio Arranz, Mariano Jesus Cuenco,
Prospero Sanidad, Lorenzo Taada, Vicente Madrigal, Geronima Pecson,Camilo Osias, Carlos Garcia, Ramon Diokno, Jose Vera,
Tomas Cabili, Alejo Manag and Jose Avelino.

Senator Sanidad again moved that the reading of the minutes be dispersed with, but the motion was again opposed by Senator
Tirona whose opposition was joined by Senator Angeles David, and the reading of the minutes proceeded.

Senator Taada repeated took the floor to floor to claim his right to deliver his one-hour privilege speech in support of the
charges against petitioner,pursuant to the announcement he made in the session of February 18, 1949; he did it before and after
the roll call and the reading of the minutes. he wasignored by the Chair and petitioner announced that he would order the
arrestof any Senator who speak without having been previously recognized by him.Senator Sanidad requested the Chair to
recognized the right of Senator Taada to speak, and every time he would make the request, Senator Tirona would oppose him
upon the ground that the requests were out of order.

Meanwhile, commotion and disorder took place in the Senate gallery. Shout were heard from individuals of the audience, where
two fist fight took place. The detonation of a gun shot was heard from outside. Senator Angeles David, after being recognized by
the Chair, moved for adjournment of the session. The motion was objected by Senator Cuenco who, at the same time, moved
thatthe motion be submitted to vote. Petitioner, instead of submitting to vote the motion to adjourn, banged the gavel and
declared the session adjourned until next Thursday, February 24, 1949, and, thereupon, left the session hall followed by the nine
Senators (Vicente J. Francisco, Fernando Lopez, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Pablo Angeles David, Salipada Pendatun, Ramon Torres,
Enrique Magalona, Carlos Tan, and Olegario Clarin), supporting him. Twelve SEnator, respondent and his eleven supporters,
remained in the session hall. Senator Arranz, President Pro-tempore of the SEnate, ascended the rostrum,and called those
Senators present to order. Senator Mabanag raised the question of quorum and the question of quorum and the President Pro-
tempore ordered a roll call, to which all the twelve Senators remaining in the sessionhall answered.
The President Pro-tempore declared the presence of quorum and those presentproceeded to continue transacting business.
Senator Cabili took an made it of record that the deliberate abandonment of the Chair by petitioner made it incumbent upon the
Senate President Pro-tempore and those remainingmembers of the Senate to continue the session in order not to impede and
paralyze the functions of the Senate. Senator Arranz suggested that respondent be designated to preside over the session and
the suggestion was carried unanimously and respondent took the Chair.

Senator Taada delivered his privilege speech, which took two hours on the charge against petitioner contained in Resolution No.
68, Exhibit "1", and moved for the immediate consideration and approval of said resolution, thecomplete text of which was read.
The motion was seconded by Senator Sanidad, and the resolution was unanimously approved. Respondent yielded the Chair to
the President Pro-tempore and Senator Sanidad introduced Resolution No.67, Exhibit "2", which read as follows:

RESOLUTION DECLARING VACANT THE POSITION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND DESIGNATING THE HONORABLE
MARIANO JESUS CUENCO ACTING PRESIDENT OFTHE SENATE.

Resolved by the Senate in session assembled, That a quorum exists; that the Honorable Jose Avelino, President of the Senate
having abandoned the chair, his position is hereby declared vacant; and that, the Honorable Mariano JesusCuenco of Cebu,
designated Acting President of the SEnate, until further orders from this Body.

Adopted, February 21, 1949.

The resolutions unanimously approved, with respondent abstaining from voting. Pursuant to said resolution, respondent took his
oath of office inopen session before President Pro-Tempore Arranz and has started, since then,to discharge the duties, rights and
privileges of acting President of theSenate.

The above recital of facts is based on our findings on the evidence on record. From the said facts we believe the following
conclusions are unavoidable.

1. The adjournment declared by petitioner was arbitrary and illegal.

2. After petitioner and the 9 Senators supporting him had walked out from the session hall, the Senate could not continue
holding session and transact business for lack of quorum.

In the following discussion we will express the reasons in support of the above conclusions.

ILLEGAL ADJOURNMENT

A motion to adjourn has the highest precedence when a question is under debate and, with certain restriction, it has the highest
privilege under all other conditions. Under parliamentary practice, even questions of privilege and the motion to reconsider yield
to it. The motion to adjourn may be made after the "yeas'' and "nays" are ordered and before the roll call has begun, before
reading of the journal. The motion is not debatable and, after the motion is made, neither another motion nor an appeal may
intervene before the taking of the vote.

The power to adjourn is one of the exclusive prerogatives of a legislative chamber. It cannot be exercised by any single individual,
without usurpation of the collective prerogatives. It is too tremendous a power to be wieldedby a single individual. The functions
of the Senate and its opportunity to transact official business cannot be left to the discretion of a single individual without
jeopardizing the high purposes for which a legislative deliberative body is established in a democratic social order. Single-
handedindividual discretion on the matter may not mean anything other than placing the legislative chamber under a
unipersonal tyranny.

There is no provision in the present rules of the Senate which expressly or impliedly authorizes an adjournment without the
consent of the body or one which authorizes the presiding officer to decree motu proprio said adjournment, and the sound
parliamentary practice and experience in thiscountry and in the United States of America, upon which ours is patterned, would
not authorize the existence of such a provision.

Petitioner alleges that he ordered the adjournment because the motion of Senator Angeles David to said effect was properly
made and met with no objection. If this version of the facts is true, then it was right for petitioner to declare the adjournment,
because the absence of anyobjection, provided the motion was properly made and the other Senators after having been properly
apprised of the motion, did not object to it, was an evidence of an implied consent of all the members. The evidence, however,
fails to support petitioner's claim.

We are inclined to consider respondent's version to be more in consonance with truth. We are of opinion that the motion to
adjourn was actually objected to. Senator Taada was bent on delivering a speech he had ready onthe charges embodied in a
resolution fathered by himself and by Senator Sanidad, which both filed early in the morning, long before the session was
opened. The formulation of said charges had been announced days before,since the session of Friday, February 18, 1949, when
he showed photostatic copies of some checks as basis of a part of the charges to be filed. In said Friday session respondent's
group suffered defeat on the approval of the resolution of confidence fathered by Senator Lopez. And it is understandable that
respondent's group of Senators, believing themselves to constitute the majority, did not want to waste any time to give a
showing of said majority and must have decided to depose petitioner as soon as possible to wrestfrom him the Senate leadership
that upon democratic principles rightly belongs to them.

As a showing of eagerness to hurry up the unfolding events that would give them the control of the Senate, Senator Sanidad
moved to dispense with the roll call and the reading of the minutes, and had been requesting that Senator Taada be recognized
to take the floor. Senator Taada himself made attempts to deliver his speech.

Evidently, petitioner and his supported decided to adopt a blocking strategyto obstruct the process that would give due course to
the investigationof the serious charges made in resolution No. 68, Exhibit 1, and wouldeffect petitioner's ouster as President of
the Senate.

This strategy is evidence by the belated appearance of petitioner and his supporters at the session hall and petitioner's
procrastination in opening the session, by taking all his time in reading first the Taada and Sanidad resolution, formulating
charges against him, and conferring with Senators Angeles David and Tirona and in not calling to order the members of the
Senate before Senator's Cuenco and Sanidad began urging that the session beopened.

Petitioner's allegation that, even without motion from any member, he could adjourn the session under the rules of the Senate,
is not well taken. There is nothing in the rules of the Senate giving petitioner such authority. Theprovisions quoted in the petition
authorizes the Senate President to take measures to stop disorder, but that power does not include the one to adjourn.

The circumstances lead us to the conclusion that illegal adjournment and the walk out of the petitioner and his supporters from
the session hall had the purpose of defeating or, at least, delaying, action on the proposed investigation of the charges against
petitioner and of his impedingouster, by the decisive votes of respondent's group of Senators.

The adjournment decreed by petitioner was arbitrary and illegal.

QUORUM

There is no controversy that at the session in question there were present in the session hall only twelve Senators, those
composing respondent's group, and this fact had been ascertained by the roll call ordered by President Pro-tempore Arranz, after
Senator Mabanag had raised the question of quorum.

The Constitution provides:


A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may
compel the attendance of absent Members in such manner and under such penalties as such House may provide. (Sec. 10, Sub-
sec. 2 Article VI.)

The majority mentioned in the above provision cannot be other than the majority of the actual members of the Senate. The
words "each House" in the above provision refer to the full membership of each chamber of Congress.

The Senate was and actually is composed of 24 Senators, and a majority of them cannot be less than thirteen. Twelve is only half
of twenty-four. Nowhere and at no time has one-half even been the majority. Majority necessarily has to be more than one-half.

We have heard with interest the arguments advanced by respondent's counsel, premised on the fact that the above
constitutional provision does not use the words "of the members" and the theory of the amicus curiae that themajority
mentioned in the Constitution refers only to the majority of the members who can be reached by coercive processes. There is,
however, nothing in said arguments that can validly change the natural interpretation of theunmistakable wordings of the
Constitution. "Majority of each House" can mean only majority of the members of each House, and the number of said members
cannot be reduced upon any artificial or imaginary basis not authorized by the context of the Constitution itself or by the sound
processes of reason.

For all the foregoing, we conclude that:

1. The legal and constitutional issues raised by the petitioner in this case, notwithstanding their political nature and implications,
are justiciable and within the jurisdiction expressly conferred to the Supreme Court, which cannot be divested from it by express
prohibition of the Constitution. Should there be analogous controversy between two claimants to the position of the President of
the Philippines, according to the Solicitor General, one of the attorneys for respondent, the Supreme Court would have
jurisdiction to decide the controversy, because it would raise a constitutional question. Whether there was a quorum or not in
the meeting of twelve Senators in whichrespondent was elected acting President of the Senate, is a question that call for the
interpretation, application and enforcement of an express and specific provision of the Constitution. Should the two absent
Senators comeand attend the session and side with the petitioner's group, it is agreed that the Senate will be kept at a stand still,
because of the deadlock resulting from twelve Senators, each group supporting petitioner's and respondent's opposing claims to
the position of President of the Senate. Admitting that pressure of public opinion may not break the impasse, it hasbeen
suggested from respondent's side that it may invite revolution. Between the two alternatives, jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
and revolution, there is only one choice possible, and that is the one in consonance with the Constitution, which is complete
enough to offer orderly remedies for any wrong committed within the framework of democracy it established in this country.
Should this Supreme Court refuse to exercise jurisdiction in this case,such refusal can only be branded as judicial abdication, and
such shirking of official responsibility cannot expect acquittal in the judgment of history. The gravity of the issues involved in this
case, affecting not only the upper branch of Congress, but also the presidential succession as provided by Republic Act No. 181, is
a challenge to our sense of duty which we should not fail to meet.

2. The adjournment decreed by petitioner of the Monday session, without the authority of the Senate, was illegal and, therefore,
null and void.

3. The rump session held by twelve Senators, the respondent and his supporters, after petitioner and his nine supporters had
walked out from the session hall, had no constitutional quorum to transact business.

4. The resolution declaring vacant the position of the President of the Senate and choosing respondent as acting President of the
Senate, has been adopted in contravention of the Constitution for lack of quorum. The fact that respondent has been designated
only as acting President of the Senate, a position not contemplated by the Constitution or by Republic Act No. 181 on presidential
succession, so much so that his position in acting capacity, according to his own counsel, would not entitle respondent to
Succeedto the position of the President of the Philippines, emphasizes the invalidity of respondent's election.
Notwithstanding the importance of this case, the legal issues involved are very simple, and it would not be hard to reach a
prompt conclusion if we could view the controversies with the attitude of a mathematician tacklingan algebraic equation. Many
considerations which, from the point of view of laymen, of the press, of public opinion in general and the people at large, may
appear of great importance, such as who will wield the power to control the Senate and whether or not petitioner is guilty of the
serious charges filed against him, are completely alien to the questions that this Court must answer. The motives and motivations
of petitioner and respondent of their respective supporters in the Senate in taking the moves upon which this case has arisen are
their exclusive business and should not be minded for the purposes of our decision.

The members of the Senate were and are free to depose petitioner and to elect another Senator as president of the Senate, and
their freedom to make such change is subject only to the dictates of their own conscience and to anyverdict that the people,
through the electorate, may render at the polls, and to the judgment of historians and posterity. But in making such changes of
leadership, the Senate and the Senators are bound to follow the orderlyprocesses set and outlined by the Constitution and by the
rules adopted by the Senate as authorized by the fundamental law. Any step beyond said legal bounds may create a legal issue
which, once submitted to the proper courts of justice, the latter cannot simply wash their hands and ignore the issue upon the
pretext of lack of jurisdiction, adopting the indifferent attitude of a passerby who does not care whether the lashing of the wind
may causea live wire to ignite a neighboring house.

When a Senator or a number of Senators come to the Supreme Court, complaining that the President of the Senate has
adjourned or is adjourning the daily session of the Senate over and above objections voiced from thefloor and without obtaining
first the approval or consent of the majority, we cannot close our eyes to the complaint or bury our heads in the sand in ostrich
fashion: Otherwise, we would be disregarding ours sworn duty and,with our abstention or inaction, we would be printing the
stamp of our approval to the existence and continuation of a unipersonal tyranny imposed upon the upper chamber of Congress,
a tyranny that may obstruct and defeat the functioning and actuations of the Senate and, consequently, of the whole Congress,
thus depriving the country of the benefits of legislation.

When a member of the Senate comes to us complaining that he is being deprived of the powers and prerogative of the position
of President of the Senate, to which he has been duly elected because twelve Senators, without constituting a quorum, have
illegally convened and voted to depose him and to elect another Senator in his place, he raises a constitutional question of
momentous importance which we should not fail to answer without betraying the official trust reposed on us. Such complaint
constitutes, in effect, an accusation of usurpation of authority by the twelve Senators, in utter violation of the fundamental law.
The situation would demand ready and noother agency of government can offer that remedy than the Supreme Court itself with
whom the complaint has been filed.

The existence of a quorum in a collective body is an indispensable condition for effective collective action. Because a society or
collective body is composed of separate and independent individual units, it cannot exist without the moral annectent of proper
of organization and can onlyact in organized form. Every time it has to act, it has to an organic whole, and quorum here is the
organizing element without which the personality of the body cannot exist or be recognized. The importance of such organizing
element has been recognize by the members of our Constitutional Convention, and that is the reason why they inserted in the
Constitution the provision requiring the existence of quorum for the former National Assembly to transact official business and
that requirement was also imposed by the National Assembly when, amending the Constitution, it voted itself out ofexistence, to
be replaced by a bicameral Congress. The requirement, both in the original text of the Constitution and in the amendment, had
been ratified by the sovereign will of the people.

When we required a majority of a legislative chamber to constitute a quorum we did it for mighty reasons, such as that
democracy is based on the rule of the majority and, to allow a quorum of less than the majority of the members, one-half of
them for example, as in the present controversy, is to allow the anomalous and anarchic existence of two independent bodies
where the Constitution provides for only one. If the twelve Senators of respondent's group constitute quorum to transact official
business, what willpreclude the twelve remaining Senators from constituting themselves into a quorum to transact official
business? This is not impossible, should Senator Sotto decide to attend the session, even if carried in a stretcher, and Senator
Confesor returns from abroad and sides with petitioner's group. Then there will be, in effect, two Senate and, according to
respondent's theory the Supreme Court will have no jurisdiction to decide the conflict, and noone decide it except public opinion
or, in its failure, revolution. Such absurd situation and catastrophic result should be avoided:

Lack of jurisdiction is sometimes a refuge behind which weak courts may take shelter when afraid to displease the powerful.

Instead of disputing the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in this case, everybody must congratulate himself because petitioner,
instead of resorting to any high-handed mean to enforce his right to continue holding the positionof the President of the Senate,
has come to us for proper redress by the orderly by the orderly processes of judicial settlement. Notwithstanding the fact that
three year ago, he impugned the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and won his case on that ground the injustice then
committedagainst the suspended Senators Vera, Diokno and Romero now being more generally recognized petitioner came to
this Court to submit his case to our jurisdiction.

The action taken by petitioner in filing his complaint with this Supreme Court is premised on this sharing the conviction that said
Tribunal is the last bulwark of the rights and liberties of the people, the final arbiter on all constitutional conflicts, and the
ultimate redoubt of the majesty of the law. That conviction and faith should not be betrayed, but rather strengthened, and more
imperatively nowadays when the majesty of the law, the basic tenets of the Constitution, the principles of humanity springing
fromthe golden rule, which is the law of laws, are being the subject of bold onslaughts from many elements of society, bent on
taking justice in their own hands or on imposing their will through fraud or violence. The malady is widespread enough to
imperatively and urgently demand a more complete respect and faith in the effectiveness of our system of administration of
justice.

For the Supreme Court to renounce its jurisdiction in this case is to disappoint the believers in a philosophy and social order
based on constitutional processes and on legal juridical settlement of all conflicts that may beset a democracy. It has been said in
the hearing of this case that for this Court to refuse cognizance of it may not have other alternative,if the pressure of public
opinion may fail and by experience we know that it had suffered many failures than revolution. This immeasurable
responsibilityof this Supreme Court if it should falter in the performance of its plain duty and should dispose of this case with the
indifference with which a beach vacationist would dismiss a gust of wind.

The principle of separation of powers, so often invoked, to bind the hands of justice into futility, should not be understood as
absolute. It is an apt rule of the tri-partite division of government as enunciated by Aristotle and further developed by
Montequieu, as the best scheme to put in practice the system of check and balance considered necessary for a workable
democracy. To make absolute that principle is to open the doors irretrievable absurdity and to create three separate
governments within a government and three independent states within a state. Indeed, it is to avoid such a teratologiccreature
that the Constitutional Convention had not inserted among the principles embodied in the fundamental law.

Judicial determination of all constitutional or legal controversies is the inherent function of courts. The Constitution of the United
States of America, unlike our own Constitution, is silent a to the power of courts of justice to nullify an unconstitutional act of
Congress. Notwithstanding the silence, when the proper case arose, the United States Supreme Court, under the wise leadership
of Chief Justice Marshall, had not hesitated in declaring null and void a law enacted in contravention of constitutional provisions.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines should not fail to match such and outstanding evidence of evidence of
judicial statesmanship.

To bolster the stand against our assumption of jurisdiction in this case the theory has been advanced that, the President of the
Philippines having recognized respondent as a duly elected acting President of the Senate, that recognition is final and should
bind this Court. The theory sprouts from the same ideology under which a former king of England tried to order Lord Coke how
the latter should dispose of a pending litigation. Our answer is to paraphrase the great English judge by saying that nothing
should guide us except what in conscience we believe is becoming of our official functions, disregarding completely what the
President of the Philippines may say or feel about it.
As a matter of fact, two pretenders may dispute the office. As in the present case, Congress may split into two groups after a
presidential election and each group may proclaim a different candidate as the duly elected Presidentof the Philippines. Because
of a mistaken ideas to the scope of the principle of separation of powers, if the case is brought to us for decision, shall we, as
Pontious Pilate, wash our hands and let the people bleed and be crucifiedin the Calvary of revolution?

There is absolutely no merit in invoking the unfortunate decision in the case of Vera vs. Avelino, (77 Phil., 1.92). No one now
would regret more that such a decision had been rendered than petitioner himself, the very one whowon it upon the
pusillanimous judicial theory of lack of jurisdiction. The more said decision is forgotten, the better, it being one of the blemishes
without which the escutcheon of the post-liberation Supreme Court would be spotless.

We vote to render judgment granting the petition and ordering respondent to relinquish the powers, prerogative and privileges
of the position of the President of the Senate in favor of petitioner who, on the other side, should be restrained from putting any
obstacle or obstruction by illegal adjournments or otherwise, in the holding of the, regular daily session of the Senate. Said body
should be allowed to continue transacting official business unhampered by any procedure intended to impede the free
expressionof the will of the majority.

BRIONES, M., dissente:

Sin perjuicio de redactar una opinion mas extensa sobre mi voto en ese asunto, me permito adelantar las siguientes
observaciones:

(1) Esta Corte Suprema tiene jurisdiccion sobre el asunto. Reafirmo la posicion tomada por mi en los asuntos de
Vera contra Avelino (77 Phil., 192) y Mabanag contra Lopez Vito (78 Phil., 1). La cuestion constitutional y legal aqui debatida no es
de caracter puramente politico en el sentido de que esta Corte deba inhibirse de enjuiciarla, sino que es
perfectamente justiciable. Se plantea la cuestion de si el grupo de senadores que eligio al recurrido como presidente interino del
Senado tenia facultad para hacerlo. Se alega y se sostiene que no existia dicha facultad, puesto que cuando dicho grupo se reunio
no habia un quorum presente de conformidad con los terminos de la Constitucion y de los reglamentos del Senado. Esta cuestion
es justiciable y puede y debe ser enjuiciada, determinada y resuelta por esta Corte, ya que la parte agraviada ha venido a
nosotros en demanda de remedio. Esta Corte no puede lavarse las manos en un ademan de inhibicion pilatista; no puede
continuar con la politica de esconde-cabeza-en la arena-del-desierto estilo aveztruz. El issue constitucional y legal discutido es
importante, muy importante. Tiene repercusiones directas y vitalisimas en la vida, libertad y hacienda de los ciudadanos. Es el
negocio supremo de legislar lo que esta en debate. Es, por tanto, una de las esencias de la misma republica el tema de la
controversia. La escaramuza politica es lo de menos; el meollo juridico-constitucional es lo esencial e importante.

Es tanto mas urgente que esta Corte asuma jurisdiccion sobre el caso cuanto que el conflicto surgido en el Senado entre los dos
grupos politicos en guerra ha cobrado las proporciones de una tremenda crisis nacional, preada de graves peligros para la
estabilidad de nuestras instituciones politicas, para el orden publico y para la integridad de la existencia de la nacion.

Tenemos un precedente tipico en la jurisprudencia del Estado de New Jersey, Estados Unidos de America. Es el caso de
Werts vs. Rogers, del ao 1894, Atlantic Reporter, Vol. 28, p. 728, N. J. La analogia es completa. Tambien se disputaban la
presidencia del Senado dos Senadores, cada cual pretendiendo ser al legitimo. Tambien hubo dos facciones, cada cual
reclamando ostentar la genuina representacion popular. Un grupo se llamo "Adrian Senate" y el otro grupo "Rogers Senate", por
los nombres de los presidentes en disputa. Se arguyo igualmente que la Corte Suprema de New Jersey no podia asumir
jurisdiccion sobre el caso por tratarse de una cuestion eminentemente politica, por tanto no justiciable. La Corte, sin embargo,
conocio del caso y, por boca de su Presidente el eminente jurisconsulto Mr. Beasley, hizo el siguiente categorico
pronunciamiento:
. . . . That this court has the legal right to entertain jurisdiction in this case, displayed by this record, we have no doubt; and we
are further of opinion that it is scarcely possible to conceive of any crisis in public affairs that would more imperatively than the
present one call for the intervention of such judicial authority. (supra, p. 758.)

Ademas de la justiciabilidad de la materia en controversia, una de las principales razones invocadas por la Corte Suprema de New
Jersey para asumir jurisdiccion sobre el caso fue la extrema necesidad de resolver un dead lock que paralizaba la maquinaria
legislativa, afectaba a la estabilidad del gobierno y ponia en grave peligro los intereses publicos. Pregunto: no existe la misma
razon de extrema necesidad en el presunto caso? que duda cabe de que el conflicto entre las dos facciones en nuestro Senado
esta afectando seriamente a los intereses publicos? que duda cabe de que la normalidad constitucional esta rota, con grave
preocupacion de todo el mundo y con grave dao de la tranquilidad publica?

(2) El levantamiento de la sesion ordenado por el presidente Avelino fue ilegal y arbitrario. Estimo que el presidente Avelino
obro ilegal y arbitrariamente al ordenar el levantamiento de la sesion frente a la oposicion firme, energica y tenaz de algunos
senadores adversos a el. En vista de esta oposicion, el deber de la Mesa era someter a votacion la mocion de levantamiento de la
sesion presentada por el Senador Angeles David. Avelino no tenia el derecho, por si y ante si, de declarar levantada la sesion.
Solamente cuando no se formula ninguna objection es cuando rutinariamente el presiding officer puede dar por aprobada una
mocion de levantamiento de la sesion. Si la facultad de levantar la sesion no estuviera sujeta a la expresa voluntad de la mayoria,
seria un arma sumamente peligrosa en manos de un presidente despotico y arbitrario.

La pretension de que el Senador Avelino ordeno el levantamiento de la sesion en uso de sus facultades inherentes, en vista de
que el mismo creia que habia un peligro inminente de desorden y tumulto en la sala de sesiones, es completamente insostenible.
Las circunstancias del caso no justifican semejante pretension, a tenor de las pruebas obrantes en autos. Lo que debia haber
hecho el Senador Avelino era tratar de apaciguar al publico y prevenir todo conato de desorden. Tenia medios para hacerlo. No
lo hizo. En cambio, dejo la silla presidencial juntamente con los senadores de su grupo. Esto equivalia a una desercion y los
senadores del otro grupo tenian perfecto derecho a proceder como procedieron, quedandose en el salo para continuar
celebrando la sesion. Esta sesion venia a ser una tacita reconduccion una simple prolongacion de la sesion que habia sido
declarada abierta por el presidente Avelino con un quorum presente de 22 miembros.

(3) Sin embargo, la sesion prolongada se convirtio en ilegal por falta de quorum. Es cosa establecida y admitida por ambas
partes que al reanudarse la sesion estaban presentes los 12 miembros del grupo llamado "Senado de Cuenco" mas tres
senadores del grupo llamado "Senado de Avelino". En esta coyuntura el Senador Mabanag, del grupo de Cuenco, suscito la
cuestion del quorum, de cuyas resultas se ordeno por el Senador Arranz, que entonces presidia la sesion, la lectura de la lista.
Tambien es cosa establecida en autos y admitida por ambas partes que al comenzar el roll call o lectura de la lista, lot tres
senadores del grupo de Avelino salieron del salon y solamente respondieron al roll call los 12 senadores del grupo de Cuenco.

Resulta evidente de estos hechos que no habia quorum, por cuanto que componiendose el Senado de 24 miembros debidamente
elegidos y cualificados, el quorum para celebrar sesion valida debe ser de 13 miembros. Tanto la jurisprudencia federal como la
de los estados de la Union americana esta repleta de decisiones en las que se ha sentado firmemente la doctrina de que la base
para determinar el quorum legislativo es el numero total de miembros elegidos y debidamente cualificados de cada camara.1 En
el presente caso, como se ha dicho, ese numero total es 24. Por tanto, el grupo Cuenco no podia seguir celebrando validamente
sesion, en vista de la falta de quorum. De acuerdo con la Constitucion y los reglamentos, el grupo Cuenco tenia ante si dos
caminos para actuar: (a) suspender la sesion de dia en dia hasta obtener el necesario quorum; (b) o compeler la asistencia de
suficientes senadores del otro grupo para constituir dicho quorum, pudiendo a dicho efecto ordenar inclusive el arresto de los
huelguistas. (Constitucion de Filipinas, art. VI, sec. 10, ap. 2; 2 Reglamento del Senado, Cap. VI, arts. 23 y 24.3) Asi que todos los
procedimientos efectuados por el grupo Cuenco en dicha sesion eran nulos e ilegales.

Se ha insinuado que el cambio de fraseologia en el precepto constitucional sobre quorum es significativo. Efectivamente en el
texto original de 1935 se decia lo siguiente: "A majority of all the Members shall constitute a quorum to do business" . . . ,
mientras que en el texto enmendado de 1940 se dice: "A majority of each House shall constitute a qurrum to do business" . . . .
De esto se quiere deducir la consecuencia de que esta reforma habra sido por algo, y este algo acaso sea la posibilidad de una
base menor de la totalidad de miembros para determinar la existencia de un quorum. El argumento, a mi juicio, es insostenible,
por no llamarlo futil. Los autores de la enmienda no han hecho mas que copiar literalmente la fraseologia de la Constitucion
federal americana; y ya hemos visto que esta se ha interpretado en el sentido de que seala, como base para determinar
el quorum, la totalidad de los miembros electos y cualificados de cada camara. Por tanto, el cambio fraseologico, en vez de
denotar cambio en el significado, refuerza el sentido tradicional de que la base para la determinacion del quorum la totalidad de
los miembros electos y cualificados de cada camara. Aparte de que es elemental en hermeneutica legal que una misma cosa
puede expresarse en terminos diferentes.

Tambien se ha insinuado, con bastante ingenio, que en el caso que nos ocupa, la base mas racional para el quorum es 23,
excluyendo al Senador Confesor que se halla en America, pero incluyendo al Senador Sotto, que si bien no pudo estar presente
en la sesion de autos por estar gravemente enfermo, hallabase, sin embargo, en Manila susceptible en cualquier momento de ser
llamado por el Senado. El fundamento de esta opinion es que para la determinacion del quorum no debe ser contado un
miembro que esta fuera de la accion coercitiva de la camara. La proposicion es igualmente inaceptable. No solo no tiene ningun
precedente en la jurisprudencia, sino que es convencional, arbitraria, sometiendo el quorum, que debe ser algo permanente, a
ciertas eventualidades y contingencias. Hay que tener en cuenta que el precepto constitucional y la regla pertinente no
establecen ninguna salvedad. Donde la ley no distingue, no debemos distinguir.

(4) Cual es el remedio. No cabe duda de que una mayoria de Senadores tiene derecho a reorganizar el Senado en la forma que
les plazca, siempre que ello se sujete a las normas prescritas por la Constitucion, las leyes y los reglamentos. En el presente caso
el grupo Cuenco que al parecer forma la mayoria, por lo menos hasta la fecha, tiene en sus manos los instrumentos
constitucionales y legales para efectuar una reorganizacion. Puede convocar una sesion y compeler la asistencia de un numero
suficiente de Senadores para formar quorum, ordenando el arresto si fuese necesario de dichos senadores. Esto en el supuesto
de que el Senador Avelino y su grupo sigan boicoteando las sesiones del Senado para impedir la existencia de un quorum. Pero si
el grupo Avelino acude voluntariamente al Senado, entonces los dos grupos pueden buenamente restaurar la normalidad
constitucional, procediendo a efectuar la reorganizacion que desee y dicte la mayoria.

Hasta que esto se haga, el Senador Avelino es tecnicamente presidente del Senado. Es verdad que Avelino cometio una grave
arbitrariedad ordenando el levantamiento de la sesion sin derecho y facultad para ello; pero una arbitrariedad no justifica otra
arbitrariedad; la de destituirle por medios anticonstitucionales, ilegales y antireglamentarios. Los motivos de la accion de Avelino
y de la de sus adversarios no nos interesan para nada ni caen dentro de nuestra provincia; lo unico que nos concierne son sus
repercusiones juridicas.

Es de suma importancia, sobre todo en estos momentos incipientes de la republica, el que mantengamos rigida e
implacablemente la integridad de la Constitucion y de los procedimientos que prescribe. Solo de esta manera podremos evitar el
ciego desbordamiento de las pasiones politicas y personales, con todas sus funestas consecuencias. A toda costa hay que impedir
la formacion de un clima politico, social o moral que facilite las cuarteladas, los pronunciamientos, los golpes de mano y de
estado (coup d'main, coup d'etat) eso que caracteriza la historia azarosa de las llamadas "banana republicas". Un 19 Brumario
solamente se puede prevenir imponiendo con todo rigor, sin blandas transigencias, la observancia de la Constitucion y de las
leyes y reglamentos que la implementan.

Voto, por tanto, en favor de la concesion del recurso interpuesto.

TUASON, J., dissenting:


I agree with Mr. Justice Briones' dissenting opinion, that the twelve senators who elected Senator Cuenco Acting President of the
Senate did not constitute a quorum and, consequently, that his election was illegal.

It appears tome that the basis for computing a quorum of the Senate is thenumber of senators who have been elected and duly
qualified and who have not ceased to be senators by death or legal disqualification. If this were not so, what is the standard of
computation? No satisfactory, reasonable alternative has been or can be offered.

Absence abroad cannot be a disqualification unless by such absence, under the Constitution, a member of the Senate loses his
office, emoluments, and other prerogatives, temporarily or permanently. There is no claim that this happens when a senators'
presence at the session be the criterion, then serious illness or being in a remote island with which Manila has no regular means
of communication should operate to eliminate the sick or absent members from the counting for the purpose of determining the
presence of a majority.

The distinction made between absentees form legislative sessions who are in the Philippines and absentees who are in a foreign
country is, to my arbitrary and unreasonable. From both the theoretical and the practical by members of Congress are sometimes
found necessary to fulfill their missions. If we test the interpretation by its consequences, its unsoundness and dangers become
more apparent. The interpretation would allow any number of legislators, no matter how small, to transact business so long as it
is a majority of the legislators present in the country. Nothing in my opinion could have been farther from the minds of the
authors of the Constitution than to permit, under circumstances, less than a majority of the chosen and qualified representatives
of the people to approve measures that might vitally affect their lives, their liberty, happiness and property. The necessity of
arresting absent members to complete a quorum is too insignificant, compared with the necessity of the attendance of an
absolute majority, to make unamenability to arrest a factor for ruling out absentees who are beyond the legislature's process.
The Congress is eminently a law-making body and is little concerned with jurisdiction over its members. The power to order
arrest is an emergency measure and is rarely resorted to. Viewed in this light, it is doubtful if the authority to arrest could always
afford a satisfactory remedy even in the cases of members who were inside the Philippines territory. This is especially true in the
United States of America, after whose form of government ours is patterned and whose territorial possession extend to the other
side of the globe.

This case is easily distinguishable from Vera vs. Avelino, (77 Phil., 192), and Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, (78 Phil., 1).

In those cases the petitions were directed against an action of a recognized Senate exercising authority within it own domain.
Here the process sought is to be issued against an appointee of a senate that, it is alleged was not validly constituted to do
business because, among other reasons alleged, there was not quorum. The Court is not asked to interfere with an action of a
coordinate branch of the government so much as to test the legality of the appointment of the respondent.

Section 1, Rule 68, of the Rules of Court provides:

An action for usurpation of office of franchise may be brought in the name of the Republic of the Philippines against:

(a) A person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercise a public office, or a franchise, or an office in a corporation
created by authority of law;

xxx xxx xxx

This provision by its terms extends to every office. Its scope does not exclude officers appointed by the legislative branch of the
government. Although this Court has no control over either branch of the Congress, it does have the power to ascertain whether
or not one who pretends to be its officer is holding his office according to law or the Constitution. Political questions as a bar to
jurisdiction can only be raised by the supreme power, by the legislature, and not by one of its creatures. (Luther vs. Border, 48
U.S. 7 How. 1, 12 Law ed., 581.) If there were two lesser officers of the Senate appointed by different faction thereof and
contesting each other's right to the office, it would not be the Senate by the Court which would be called upon to decide the
controversy. There is more reason for the Court to intervene when the office of the President of the Senate is at stake. The
interest of the public are being greatly imperiled by the conflicting claims, and a speedy determination of the same is
imperatively demanded, in the interest of good government and public order.

Fundamentally this case is analogous to Attorney General, ex rel. Werts vs. Rogers, 23 Lawyers' Reports, annotated, 354, to which
I am indebted for much of the reasoning adduced in this dissent on the question of this Court's jurisdiction.

March 14, 1949

RESOLUTION

Considering the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner in case G.R. L-2821, Jose Avelino vs. Mariano J. Cuenco, the court,
without prejudice towriting later an extended opinion, has resolved, by a majority of seven,to assume jurisdiction over the case
in the light of subsequent events whichjustify its intervention; and, partly for the reasons stated in the first resolution of this
Court and partly upon the grounds stated by Mr. JusticeFeria, Mr. Justice Perfecto, and Mr. Justice Briones in their separate
opinions, to declare that there was a quorum at the session where respondent Mariano J. Cuenco was elected acting Senate
President.

The Chief agrees with the result of the majority's pronouncement of the quorum upon the ground that, under the peculiar
circumstances of the case,the constitutional requirement in that regard has become a mere formalism,it appearing from the
evidence that any new session with a quorum wouldresult in the respondent's election as Senate President, and that the Cuenco
group, taking cue from the dissenting opinions, has been trying to satisfy such formalism by issuing compulsory processes against
senators of the Avelino group, but to no avail, because of the latter's persistent effortsto block all avenues to constitutional
processes. For this reason, he believethat the group has done enough to satisfy the requirements of the Constitutionand that the
majority's ruling is in conformity with substantial justice and with the requirements of public interest.

The judgment of the Court is, therefore, that respondent Mariano J. Cuencohas been legally elected as Senate President and the
petition is petition is dismissed, with costs against petitioner.

Mr. Justice Paras concurs in the result, Mr. Justice Bengzon dissents on the question of jurisdiction but concurs on the question
of quorum.

Mr. Justice Tuason concurs on the question of jurisdiction but dissents on that on that of quorum.

Mr. Justice Montemayor dissent s of the question of jurisdiction and reserves his vote on the question of quorum.

Mr. Justice Reyes reserves the right to express the reasons for his vote.

FERIA, J., concurring:

In the case of Vera et al. vs. Avelino et al., (77 Phil., 192), the principal question raised was whether this Supreme Court had
jurisdiction to set aside the Pendatun resolution ordering that petitioners Vera, Diokno and Romero shall not be sworn to nor
seated as members of the Senate, and compel the respondents had no power to pass said resolution, because it was contraryto
the provisions of Sec. 11, Article VI, of the Constitution, which createdthe Electoral Tribunal for the Senate as well as for the
House of Representative, and provided that said Tribunal shall be judge of all contestsrelating to the election returns and
qualifications of their respective members. Respondent Avelino et al., who were represented by Senator Vicente Francisco and
the Solicitor General, impugned the jurisdiction of this Court to take this Court to take cognizance of said case on the ground that
the question therein involved was a political question, and petitioners Veraet al., who were represented by Attorney Jose W.
Diokno, who is now oneof the attorneys for respondents, who now contends that this Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the
present case, then maintained that this Court had jurisdiction.

And in the case of Mabanag et al. vs. Jose Lopez Vito et al., 78 Phil., 1, the question involved was whether it was within the
jurisdiction of this Court to take cognizance of the case and prohibit the respondents from enforcing the "Congressional
Resolution of both Houses proposing an amendment to the Philippines to be appended as an ordinance there", grantingcertain
rights to the citizens of the United states of American in the Philippines, on the ground that it was null and void because it was
not passedby the vote of three-fourths of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, voting separately, as
required by Sec. 1, Art. XV, of the Constitution, since if the Members of Congress who were not allowed to take part had been
counted, the affirmative votes in favor of the proposed amendment would have been short of the necessary three-fourths vote
in either branch of Congress. Petitioners Mabanag et al. contended that the Court had jurisdiction and the respondents
maintained the contrary on the ground that the question involved was apolitical one and within the exclusive province of the
Legislature.

The theory of Separation of Powers as evolved by the Courts of last resortfrom the State Constitution of the United States of
American, after which our owns is patterned, has given rise to the distinction between justiceable question which fall within the
province of the judiciary, and politicalquestions which are not within the jurisdiction of the judiciary and are to be decided, under
the Constitution, by the People in their sovereign capacity or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to
the legislative or executive branch of the government, except to the extent that the power to deal with such question has been
conferred upon the court byexpress or statutory provision. Although it is difficult to define a politicalquestion as
contradistinguished from a justiceable one, it has been generally held that the first involves political rights which consist in the
power to participate, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or managementof the government of the government, while
justiceable questions are those which affect civil, personal or property rights accorded to every member of the community or
nation.

Under such theory of Separation of Power, the judicial Supremacy is the power of judicial review in actual and appropriate case
and controversies that present justiceable issues, which fall within the jurisdiction or power allocated to the judiciary; but when
the issue is a political one which comeswithin the exclusive sphere of the legislative or executive department of the Government
to decide, the judicial department or Supreme Court has no powerto determine whether or not the act of the Legislative or Chief
Executiveis against the Constitution. What determines the jurisdiction of thecourts is the issue involved, and not the law or
constitutional provisionwhich may be applied. Divorced from the remedy sought, the declaration of this Court on the matter of
constitutionality or unconstitutionality of alegislative or executive act, would be a mere advisory opinion, without a coercive
force.

Relying on the ruling laid down in Severino vs. Governor General, 16 Phil.,336; Abueno vs. Wood, 45 Phil., 612; and Alejandrino vs.
Quezon, 46 Phil., 83, the Supreme Court upheld the contention of said respondent in both casesthat the question involved was a
political question and therefore this Court had no jurisdiction. I was one of the three Justice who held that this Courthad
jurisdiction, and dissented from the decision of the majority.

When the present case was first submitted to us, I concurred with the majority, in view of the ruling of the Court in said two
cases, which constitutes a precedent which is applicable a fortiori to the present case and must, therefore, be followed by the
virtue of the doctrine or maxim of stare decisis, and in order to escape the criticism voiced by Lord Bryce inAmerican
Commonwealth when he said that "The Supreme Court has changed its color i.e., its temper and tendencies, from time to time
according to the political proclivities of the men who composed it. . . . Their action flowed naturally from the habits of though
they had formed before their accession to the bench and from the sympathy they could not but feel for the doctrineon whose
behalf they had contended." (The ANNALS of the American Academyof Political and Social Science, May, 1936, p. 50).

Now that the petitioner, who obtained a ruling favorable to his contention in the Vera-Avelino case, supra, insist in his motion for
reconsideration that this Court assume jurisdiction and decide whether or not there was quorum in session of the Senate of
February 21, 1949, and is willing to abide by the decision of this Court (notwithstanding the aforementioned precedent),and
several of the Justices, who have held before that this Supreme Courthad no jurisdiction, now uphold the jurisdiction of this
Court, I gladly change my vote and concur with the majority in that this Court has jurisdiction over cases like the present in
accordance with my stand inthe above mentioned cases, so as to establish in this country the judicial supremacy, with the
Supreme Court as the final arbiter, to see that no one branch or agency of the government transcends the Constitution, not only
in justiceable but political questions as well.

But I maintain my opinion and vote in the resolution sought to be reconsidered,that there was a quorum in the session of the
Senate of Senate of February 21,1949, for the following reasons:

Art. 3 (4) Title VI of the Constitution of 1935 provided that "the majority of all the members of the National Assembly constitute
a quorum to do business" and the fact that said provision was amended in the Constitution of 1939,so as to read "a majority of
each House shall constitute a quorum to do business," shows the intention of the framers of the Constitution to basethe
majority, not on the number fixed or provided for the Constitution,but on actual members or incumbents, and this must be
limited to actual members who are not incapacitated to discharge their duties by reason of death, incapacity, or absence from
the jurisdiction of the house or forother causes which make attendance of the member concerned impossible, eventhrough
coercive process which each house is empowered to issue to compel itsmembers to attend the session in order to constitute
a quorum. That the amendment was intentional or made for some purpose, and not a mere oversight,or for considering the use
of the words "of all the members" as unnecessary, is evidenced by the fact that Sec. 5 (5) Title VI of the original Constitution
which required "concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly to expel a member" was amended by Sec.
10 (3) Article VI of the present Constitutional, so as to require "the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of each House".
Therefore, as Senator Confesor was in the United States and absent from the jurisdiction of the Senate, the actual members of
the SEnate at its session of February 21, 1949, were twenty-three (23) and therefore 12 constituted a majority.

This conclusion is in consonance with the legislative and judicial precedent. In the Resolution of both Houses proposing an
amendment of the Constitution of the Philippines to be appended to the Constitution, granting parity rightto American citizen in
the Philippines out of which the case of Mabanag vs. Lopez, supra arose, both Houses of Congress in computing the three-fourths
of all the members of the Senate and the House of Representative votingseparately, required by Sec. 1, Article XV of the
Constitution, the three-fourths of all the members was based, not on the number fixed or provided for in the Constitution, but on
the actual members who have qualifiedor were not disqualified. And in the case of People vs. Fuentes, 46 Phil., 22the provision of
Sec. 1, subsection 2, of Act No. 3104, which requiredunanimity of vote of the Supreme Court in imposing death excepted from
the court those members of the Court who were legally disqualified from the case, this Court held that the absence of the Chief
Justice Avancea, authorized by resolution of the Court, was a legal disqualification, and his vote was not necessary in the
determination of the unanimity of the decision imposing death penalty.

PABLO, J., concurrente:

Aungue los Sres. Magistrados Paras, Feria, Bengzon y yo, sosteniamos que este Tribunal no tenia jurisdiccion sobre el asunto
porque era de naturaleza eminentemente politico, emitimos, sin embargo, nuestra opinion de que los doce senadores
constituian quorum legal para tomar resoluciones. Desde luego, la opinion no surtio el efecto deseado. La huelga en el Senado
continua. Los recientes acontecimientos pueden trascender a peores, con sus inevitables repercusiones dentro y fuera del pais.
Cuando las pasiones politicas no van por el cauce de la prudencia pueden desbordase y causar fatales consecuencias. Es un sano
estadismo judicial evirtarlo y, si es necesario, impedirlo.

El recurrente pide que se reconsideresa nuestra dividida opinion. alegando que las divisiones civiles en varias naciones han
producido sangrientes luchas fratricidas. Si no tuviera en cuenta mas que la solitud original y los hechos probados, la mocion de
reconsideracion debe ser denegada en cuanto a mi voto sobre la falta de jurisdiccion. La jurisdiccion no se confiere por la simple
solicitud de una parte, ni por la anuencia de amas, sino por la ley o por la Constitucion.

La apelacion del recurrente de que este Tribunal asuma jurisdiccion para evitar derramamiento de sangre llega al corazon. Como
magistrado, no deben importante las consecuencias; pero como ciudadano, me duele ver una lucha enconada entre dos grupos
en el Senado sin fin practico. Al pueblo interesa que la Legislatura reanude su funcionamiento normal. Fuerza es transigir, pues,
para que haya seis votos que sostengan que este Tribunal tiene jurisdiccion. Si insisto en mi opinion anterior, fracasara todo
esfuerzo de reajustre de nuestras opiniones para dar fin a la crisis en el Senado.

El Sr. Presidente del Tribunal y los Sres. Magistrados Perfecto y briones opinian hoy que hubo quorum en la continuacion de la
sesion despues de la marcha del Senador Avelino y compaeros. Con ellos, ya hay siete votos que sostienen que las resoluciones
votadas por los doce senadores son legales y validas. pero para dar fuerza legal a esta conclusion, es indispensable que el tribunal
la declare con jurisdiccion. Contribuyo mi grando de arena a la feliz conclusion de un conflicto que esta minando el interes
publico: voto hoy por que el Tribunal asuma jurisdiccion para dar fuerza a mi opinion anterior de que los doce senadores
formaban quorum.

De be denegarse la mocion de reconsideracion.

PERFECTO, J., concurring:

The problem of democracy must be faced not in the abstract but as practical question, as part of the infinitely motley aspects of
human life. They cannot be considered as scientific propositions or hypothesis independently from the actual workings of the
unpredictable flights of the spirit which seen to elude the known laws of the external world. Experience appears to be the only
reliable guide in judging human conduct. Birth and death rates and incidence of illness are complied in statistics for the study and
determination of human behavior, and statistics are one of the means by which the teaching may render their quota of
contribution in finding the courses leading to the individual well-being and collective happiness.

The way this case has been disposed of by the Supreme Court, upon the evidence coming from many quarters and sectors, is
provenly far from being conducive to democratic eudaemonia. We intended to settle the controversy between petitioner and
respondent, but actually we left hanging in the air the important and, indeed, vital questions. They posed before us in quest of
enlightenment and reasonable and just in a quandary.

We can take judicial notice that legislative work has been at a standstill; the normal and ordinary functioning of the Senate has
been hampered by the non-attendance to sessions of about one-half of the members; warrants of arrest have been issued,
openly defied, and remained unexecuted like mere scraps of paper, notwithstanding the fact that the persons to be arrested are
prominent persons with well-known addresses and residences and have been in daily contact with news reporters and
photographers. Farce and mockery have been interspersed with actions and movements provoking conflicts which invite
bloodshed.

It is highly complimentary to our Republic and to our people that, notwithstanding the overflow of political passions and the
irreconcilable attitude of warring factions, enough self-restraint has been shown to avoid any clash of forces. Indeed there is no
denying that the situation, as abstaining in the upper chamber of congress, is highly explosive. It had echoed in the House of the
Representatives. It has already involved in the House of the Representatives. It has already involved the President of the
Philippines. The situation has created a veritable national crisis, and it is apparent that solution cannot be expected from any
quarter other then this Supreme Court, upon which the quarter other than this Supreme Court, upon which the hopes of the
people for an effective settlement are pinned.
The Avelino group, composed of eleven senators almost one-half of the entire body, are unanimous in belief that this Court
should take jurisdiction of the matter and decide the merits of the case one way or another, and they are committed to abide by
the decision regardless of whether they believe it to be right or mistaken. Among the members of the so-called Cuenco group,
there are several Senators who in not remote past (see Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192 and Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil., 1)
have shown their conviction that in cases analogous to the present the Supreme Court has and should exercise jurisdiction. If we
include the former attitude of the senator who is at present abroad, we will find out that they are in all eighteen (18) senators
who at one time or another recognized the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for the settlement of such momentous
controversies as the one now challenging our judicial statesmanship, our patriotism, our faith in democracy, the role of this Court
as the last bulwark of the Constitution.

In the House of Representatives unmistakable statements have been made supporting the stand of the eighteen (18) senators, or
of three-fourths (3/4) of the entire Upper Chamber, in support of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and of the contention
that we should decide this case on the merits.

Judicial "hands-off" policy is, in effect, a showing of official inferiority complex. Consequently like its parallel in the psychological
field, it is premised on notions of reality fundamentally wrong. It is an upshot of distorted past experience, warping the mind so
as to become unable to have a healthy appraisal of reality in its true form.

It is futile to invoke precedents in support of such an abnormal judicial abdication. The decision in the Alejandrino vs.Quezon, 46
Phil., 83, is absolutely devoid of any authority. It was rendered by a colonial Supreme Court to suit the imperialistic policies of the
masters. That explains its glaring inconsistencies.

Also frivolous is to invoke the decision in Vera vs. Avelino, (77 Phil., 192), and Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, (78 Phil., 1), both
patterned after the colonial philosophy pervading the decision in Alejandrino vs. Quezon, (46 Phil., 83.) Judicial emancipation
must not lag behind the political emancipation of our Republic. The judiciary ought to ripen into maturityif it has to be true to its
role as spokesman of the collective conscience, of the conscience of humanity.

For the Supreme Court to refuse to assume jurisdiction in the case is toviolate the Constitution. Refusal to exercise the judicial
power vested in it is to transgress the fundamental law. This case raises vital constitutionalquestions which no one can settle or
decide if this Court should refuse to decide them. It would be the saddest commentary to the wisdom, foresight and
statesmanship of our Constitutional Convention to have drafted a document leaving such a glaring hiatus in the organization of
Philippine democracy ifit failed to entrusted to the Supreme Court the authority to decide such constitutional questions.

Our refusal to exercise jurisdiction in this case is as unjustifiable as the refusal of senators on strike to attend the sessions of the
Senate and toperform their duties. A senatorial walkout defeats the legislative powervested by the Constitution in Congress.
Judicial walkouts are even more harmful than a laborers' strike or a legislative impasse. Society may go on normally while
laborers temporarily stop to work. Society may not be disrupted by delay in the legislative machinery. But society is menaced
with dissolution in the absence of an effective administration of justice. Anarchy and chaos are its alternatives.

There is nothing so subversive as official abdication or walkout by the highest organs and officers of government. If they should
fail to perform their functions and duties, what is the use for minor officials and employeesto perform theirs? The constitutional
question of quorum should not be leftunanswered.

Respondent's theory that twelve (12) senators constitute the majority requiredfor the Senate quorum is absolutely unacceptable.
The verbal changes made in the constitutional amendment, upon the creation of Congress to replace the National Assembly,
have not affected the substance of the constitutional concept of quorum in both the original and amended contexts. The words
"all the members" used in the original, for the determination of the quorum of the National Assembly, have been eliminated in
the amendment, as regards the house of Congress, because they were a mere surplusage. The writer of this opinion, as Member
of the Second National Assembly and in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Third Reading, was the one who proposed
the elimination of said surplusage, because "majority of each House" can mean only the majority of the members thereof,
without excluding anyone, that is, of all the members.

The word majority is a mathematical word. It has, as such, a precise and exactmathematical meaning. A majority means more
than one-half (). It can neverbe identified with one-half () or less than one-half (). It involved acomparative idea in which the
antithesis between more and less is etched in the background of reality as a metaphysical absolute as much as the antithesis of
all opposites, and in the same way that the affirmative cannot be confused with the negative, the creation with nothingness,
existence withnon-existence, truth with falsehood.

The Senate is composed of twelve four (24) senators. The majority of said senators cannot be less than thirteen (13). Twelve (12)
do not constitute the majority in a group composed of twelve four (24) units. This is so evident that is not necessary to have the
mathematical genius of Pythagoras, Euclid, Newton and Pascal to see it. Any elementary school student may immediately
perceive it.

No amount of mental gymnastic or juristic logodaedaly will convince anyone that one of the two equal number constitute a
majority part of the two numbers combined. The five (5) fingers of one hand cannot be the majorityof the combined ten (10)
fingers of the two hands. Majority is incompatiblewith equality. It implies the idea of superiority.

Majority is a derivative of major which, in its turn, is a derivative of the Latin "magnus," meaning great. Majority means the
greater of two numbers that are regarded as part of a total: the number greater than half. It implies a whole of which constitute
the greater part or portion. It presupposes the existence of a total and, in the present case, the total number of twelve four (24)
senators composing the Senate.

The above pronouncements notwithstanding, we are now inclined to conclude that for the purpose of choosing respondent
merely as Acting of the Senate, asan emergency measure to fill the vacuum created by petitioner's desertion of the office of
presiding officer by his walked in the session of February 21, 1949, the presence of the twelve (12) senators was enough quorum.

The Constitution provides:

(2) A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and
may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as such House may provide. (Sec. 10,
Article VI.)

The "smaller number" referred to in the above provision has to act collectively and cannot act as collective body to perform the
function specially vested in it by the Constitution unless presided by one among theirnumber. The collective body constituted by
said "smaller number" has to take measure to "compel the attendance of absent member in such manner and underpenalties as
such House may provide," so as to avoid disruption in the functions of the respective legislative chamber. Said "smaller number"
maybe twelve or even less than twelve senators to constitute a quorum for the election of a temporary or acting president, who
will have to act until normalcy is restored.

As events have developed after the decision in this case has been rendered on March 4, 1949, the picture of the petitioner's
attitude has acquired clearerand more definite form, and that picture brings us to the conclusion that thiscase turned into a
moot one.

At the hearing of this case for the reception of evidence before Mr. Justice Bengzon, Senator Mariano J. Cuenco, the respondent,
on cross-examination bySenator Vicente J. Francisco, counsel for petitioner, manifested that he waslooking for an opportunity to
renounce the position of Acting President of the Senate, and that if Senator Jose Avelino, the petitioner, should attend the
sessions. He would only make of record his protest, and never resort to force or violence to stop petitioner from presiding over
said sessions.
The last statement as to allowing petitioner to preside over the sessions was made by respondent under oath twice, and
petitioner, although he refused to attend the hearing of this case, so much so that, instead of testifying, he just signed an
affidavit which, under the rules of procedure, is inadmissible as incompetent and is as valueless as an empty gesture, could not
fail to learn about respondent's testimony, because it was given publicity, it is recorded in the transcript, and petitioner's
counsel, Senator Francisco, would certainly not have failed to inform him about it.

Notwithstanding respondent's testimony, petitioner failed to take advantage of it and continues to refuse to attend the sessions
of the Senate since he and his group of senators have walked out from the historic Monday session of February 21, 1949.

If petitioner is sincere in his desire of presiding over the sessions of the Senate, for which reason he has sought the help of the
Supreme Court, why has he failed to take advantage of the commitment made under oath by respondent since February 26,
1949? Why has he, since then, been not only failing but refusing to attend the sessions and preside over them? Why is it that
petitioner and his group of Senators have given occasion, in fact, compelled the senators of the Cuenco group to issue warrants
of arrest to remedy the lack of quorum that has been hampering the sessions of the Senate? Why is it that the Senate sergeant-
at-arms, his subordinates and the peace officers helping him, have to be hunting for the senators of the Avelino group in a, so far,
fruitless if not farcical endeavor to compel them to attend the sessions?

The events that have been unfolding before our eyes, played up everyday in screaming headlines in all newspapers and of which,
by their very nature, we cannot fail to take judicial notice, considered, weighed and analyzed in relation with the happenings in
the Friday and Monday sessions, February 18 and 21, 1949, have driven into our mind the conviction that, powers and prestige
which command the position of President of the Senate, he actually has no earnest desire to preside over the sessions of the
Senate, the most characteristic and important function of President of the Senate.

His refusal to attend the sessions, notwithstanding respondent's commitment to allow him to preside over them, can and should
logically be interpreted as an abandonment which entails forfeiture of office. (Santiago vs. Agustin, 46 Phil., 14; Ortiz vs. De
Guzman, 49 Phil., 371; 46 Corpus Juris p. 980-981; Wilkinson vs. City of Birmingham, 68 So. 999; 43 American Jurisprudence p.
27).

What are petitioner's reasons for refusing to attend the Senate sessions? What are his group's reason? They say that they want a
square decision on the merits of this case, for which reason the motion for reconsideration has been filed. Although we believe
that the Supreme majority vote, to exercise jurisdiction in this case, and the inconsistency in the position taken by some
Members of the majority has only increased public bewilderment, stronger reasons for petitioner and his group to sabotage the
sessions of the Senate.

If this Court had decided this case as the four dissenters would have it, there cannot be any doubt that the Senate impasse would
have been settled many days ago and, with it, the present national crisis hampering and armstringing the legislative machinery. .

The gravity of the situation cannot be gainsaid. The showings of open defiance to warrants of arrest are highly demoralizing.
People are asking and wondering if senators are placed above the law that they can simply ignore warrants of arrest and despite
the authority of the officers entrusted with the execution. Threats of violence pervade the air. Congress is neglecting the public
interests that demand remedial legislation. The present state of confusion, of alarm, of bewilderment, of strife would have ended
if, for the reasons we have stated in our dissenting opinion, the Supreme Court would have ordered petitioner's reposition.

Once petitioner had been recognized to continue to be the President of the Senate, he would certainly have attended the Senate
sessions to preside over them. Then the sessions with senators of the Avelino group attending, would have been held with the
constitutional quorum. The twelve senators of the Cuenco group would have the opportunity of voting solidly to ratify or to
reenact all the disputed actuations of the rump session of February 21, 1949, and there is no doubt that they would have
succeeded in ousting petitioner and electing respondent to the position of President of the Senate.
Everything then would have followed the normal course. With the presence of a clear and unquestionable quorum, petitioner
and his followers would have no ground for any complaint, and respondent could have assumed the Senate's presidency without
any hitch.

Of course, petitioner and the senators of his group might have resorted again to the same strategy, by quorum the rump session
of February 21, 1949, but it is not probable that they would have taken the same course of action after this Court, almost
unanimously declared that petitioner's action in adjourning the session of February 21, 1949, was arbitrary and illegal. At any
rate, the Senators of the Cuenco group would have been by then well prepared to have orders of arrest ready for immediate
execution before the striking senators could leave the building housing the session hall.

The abnormal situation in the Senate must be stopped at once. Legislation must go on. The serious charges filed or may be filed
against petitioner, respondent and other senators demand imperatively investigation and action to acquit the innocent and to
punish the guilty ones. Public interest cannot demand less.

Under such circumstances, petitioner has lost all title to claim the position in controversy. This result will not legally or practically
close any door for him to again seek the position by attending the sessions of the Senate and by securing a majority that would
support him in his bid.

The motion for reconsideration should be denied.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-17144 October 28, 1960

SERGIO OSMEA, JR., petitioner,


vs.
SALIPADA K. PENDATUN, LEON Z. GUINTO, JR., VICENTE L. PERALTA, FAUSTINO TOBIA, LORENZO G. TEVES, JOPSE J. ROY,
FAUSTINO DUGENIO, ANTONIO Y. DE PIO, BENJAMIN T. LIGOT, PEDRO G. TRONO, FELIPE ABRIGO, FELIPE S. ABELEDA, TECLA
SAN ANDRES ZIGA, ANGEL B. FERNADEZ, and EUGENIO S. BALTAO, in their capacity as members of the Special Committee
created by House Resolution No. 59,respondents.

Antonio Y. de Pio in his own behalf.


F. S. Abeleda, A. b. Fernandez. E. S. Baltao and Tecla San Andres Ziga in their own behalf.
C. T. Villareal and R. D. Bagatsing as amici curiae.

BENGZON, J.:

On July 14, 1960, Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr., submitted to this Court a verified petition for "declaratory relief, certiorari
and prohibition with preliminary injunction" against Congressman Salapida K. Pendatun and fourteen other congressmen in their
capacity as members of the Special Committee created by House Resolution No. 59. He asked for annulment of such Resolution
on the ground of infringenment of his parliamentary immunity; he also asked, principally, that said members of the special
committee be enjoined from proceeding in accordance with it, particularly the portion authorizing them to require him to
substantiate his charges against the President with the admonition that if he failed to do so, he must show cause why the House
should not punish him.
The petition attached a copy of House Resolution No. 59, the pertinent portions of which reads as follows:

WHEREAS, on the 23rd day of June, 1960 , the Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., Member of the House of Representatives from the
Second District of the province of Cebu, took the floor of this chamber on the one hour privilege to deliver a speech, entitled 'A
Message to Garcia;

WHEREAS, in the course of said speech, the Congressman from the Second District of Cebu stated the following:.

xxx xxx xxx

The people, Mr. President, have been hearing of ugly reports that under your unpopular administration the free things they used
to get from the government are now for sale at premium prices. They say that even pardons are for sale, and that regardless of
the gravity or seriousness of a criminal case, the culprit can always be bailed out forever from jail as long as he can come across
with a handsome dole. I am afraid, such an anomalous situation would reflect badly on the kind of justice that your
administration is dispensing. . . . .

WHEREAS, the charges of the gentleman from the Second District of Cebu, if made maliciously or recklessly and without basis in
truth and in fact, would constitute a serious assault upon the dignity and prestige of the Office of 37 3 the President, which is the
one visible symbol of the sovereignty of the Filipino people, and would expose said office to contempt and disrepute; . . . .

Resolved by the House of Representative, that a special committee of fifteen Members to be appointed by the Speaker be, and
the same hereby is, created to investigate the truth of the charges against the President of the Philippines made by Honorable
Sergio Osmea, Jr., in his privilege speech of June 223, 1960, and for such purpose it is authorized to summon Honorable Sergio
Osmea, jr., to appear before it to substantiate his charges, as well as to issue subpoena and/or subpoena duces tecum to require
the attendance of witnesses and/or the production of pertinent papers before it, and if Honorable Sergio Osmea, Jr., fails to do
so to require him to show cause why he should not be punished by the House. The special committee shall submit to the House a
report of its findings and recommendations before the adjournment of the present special session of the Congress of the
Philippines.

In support of his request, Congressman Osmea alleged; first, the Resolution violated his constitutional absolute parliamentary
immunity for speeches delivered in the House; second, his words constituted no actionable conduct; and third, after his allegedly
objectionable speech and words, the House took up other business, and Rule XVII, sec. 7 of the Rules of House provides that if
other business has intervened after the member had uttered obnoxious words in debate, he shall not be held to answer therefor
nor be subject to censure by the House.

Although some members of the court expressed doubts of petitioner's cause of action and the Court's jurisdiction, the majority
decided to hear the matter further, and required respondents to answer, without issuing any preliminary injunction. Evidently
aware of such circumstance with its implications, and pressed for time in view of the imminent adjournment of the legislative
session, the special committee continued to perform its talk, and after giving Congressman Osmea a chance to defend himself,
submitted its reports on July 18, 1960, finding said congressman guilty of serious disorderly behaviour; and acting on such report,
the House approved on the same daybefore closing its sessionHouse Resolution No. 175, declaring him guilty as
recommended, and suspending him from office for fifteen months.

Thereafter, on July 19, 1960, the respondents (with the exception of Congressmen De Pio, Abeleda, San Andres Ziga, Fernandez
and Balatao)1 filed their answer, challenged the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain the petition, defended the power of
Congress to discipline its members with suspension, upheld a House Resolution No. 175 and then invited attention to the fact
that Congress having ended its session on July 18, 1960, the Committeewhose members are the sole respondentshad
thereby ceased to exist.
There is no question that Congressman Osmea, in a privilege speech delivered before the House, made the serious imputations
of bribery against the President which are quoted in Resolution No. 59 and that he refused to produce before the House
Committee created for the purpose, evidence to substantiate such imputations. There is also no question that for having made
the imputations and for failing to produce evidence in support thereof, he was, by resolution of the House, suspended from
office for a period of fifteen months for serious disorderly behaviour.

Resolution No. 175 states in part:

WHEREAS, the Special Committee created under and by virtue of Resolution No. 59, adopted on July 8, 1960, found
Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr., guilty of serious disorderly behaviour for making without basis in truth and in fact, scurrilous,
malicious, reckless and irresponsible charges against the President of the Philippines in his privilege speech of June 23, 1960; and

WHEREAS, the said charges are so vile in character that they affronted and degraded the dignity of the House of Representative:
Now, Therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Representatives. That Representative Sergio Osmea, Jr., be, as he hereby is, declared guilty of
serious disorderly behaviour; and . . .

As previously stated, Osmea contended in his petition that: (1) the Constitution gave him complete parliamentary immunity,
and so, for words spoken in the House, he ought not to be questioned; (20 that his speech constituted no disorderly behaviour
for which he could be punished; and (3) supposing he could be questioned and discipline therefor, the House had lost the power
to do so because it had taken up other business before approving House Resolution No. 59. Now, he takes the additional position
(4) that the House has no power, under the Constitution, to suspend one of its members.

Section 15, Article VI of our Constitution provides that "for any speech or debate" in Congress, the Senators or Members of the
House of Representative "shall not be questioned in any other place." This section was taken or is a copy of sec. 6, clause 1 of Art.
1 of the Constitution of the United States. In that country, the provision has always been understood to mean that although
exempt from prosecution or civil actions for their words uttered in Congress, the members of Congress may, nevertheless, be
questioned in Congress itself. Observe that "they shall not be questioned in any other place" than Congress.

Furthermore, the Rules of the House which petitioner himself has invoked (Rule XVII, sec. 7), recognize the House's power to hold
a member responsible "for words spoken in debate."

Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of
the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose "is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to
discharge his public trust with firmness and success" for "it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of
speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however powerful, to whom exercise of that liberty
may occasion offense."2 Such immunity has come to this country from the practices of Parliamentary as construed and applied by
the Congress of the United States. Its extent and application remain no longer in doubt in so far as related to the question before
us. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions
before the courts or any other forum outside of the Congressional Hall. But is does not protect him from responsibility before the
legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter disorderly or unbecoming a member thereof.
In the United States Congress, Congressman Fernando Wood of New York was censured for using the following language on the
floor of the House: "A monstrosity, a measure the most infamous of the many infamous acts of the infamous Congress." (Hinds'
Precedents, Vol. 2,. pp. 798-799). Two other congressmen were censured for employing insulting words during debate. (2 Hinds'
Precedents, 799-801). In one case, a member of Congress was summoned to testify on a statement made by him in debate, but
invoked his parliamentary privilege. The Committee rejected his plea. (3 Hinds' Precedents 123-124.)

For unparliamentary conduct, members of Parliament or of Congress have been, or could be censured, committed to prison 3,
even expelled by the votes of their colleagues. The appendix to this decision amply attest to the consensus of informed opinion
regarding the practice and the traditional power of legislative assemblies to take disciplinary action against its
members, including imprisonment, suspension or expulsion. It mentions one instance of suspension of a legislator in a foreign
country.

And to cite a local illustration, the Philippine Senate, in April 1949, suspended a senator for one year.

Needless to add, the Rules of Philippine House of Representatives provide that the parliamentary practices of the Congress of the
United States shall apply in a supplementary manner to its proceedings.

This brings up the third point of petitioner: the House may no longer take action against me, he argues, because after my speech,
and before approving Resolution No. 59, it had taken up other business. Respondents answer that Resolution No. 59 was
unanimously approved by the House, that such approval amounted to a suspension of the House Rules, which according to
standard parliamentary practice may done by unanimous consent.

Granted, counters the petitioner, that the House may suspended the operation of its Rules, it may not, however, affect past acts
or renew its rights to take action which had already lapsed.

The situation might thus be compared to laws4 extending the period of limitation of actions and making them applicable to
actions that had lapsed. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld such laws as against the contention that they
impaired vested rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Campbell vs. Holt, 115 U. S. 620). The states hold divergent
views. At any rate, court are subject to revocation modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them." 5 And it has
been said that "Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observancem, the courts have no concern. They may
be waived or disregarded by the legislative body." Consequently, "mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not
invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisited number of members have agreed to a particular
measure."6

The following is quoted from a reported decision of the Supreme court of Tennessee:

The rule here invoked is one of parliamentary procedure, and it is uniformly held that it is within the power of all deliberative
bodies to abolish, modify, or waive their own rules of procedure, adopted for the orderly con duct of business, and as security
against hasty action. (Bennet vs. New Bedford, 110 Mass, 433; Holt vs.Somerville, 127 Mass. 408, 411; City of Sadalia vs. Scott,
104 Mo. App. 595, 78 S. W. 276; Ex parte Mayor, etc., of Albany, 23 Wend. [N. Y.] 277, 280; Wheelock vs. City of Lowell, 196
Mass. 220, 230. 81 N. e. 977, 124 Am. St. Rep. 543, 12 Ann. Cas. 1109; City of Corinth vs. Sharp, 107 Miss. 696, 65 So. 888;
McGraw vs.Whitson, 69 Iowa, 348, 28 N. W. 632; Tuell vs. Meacham Contracting Co. 145 Ky. 181, 186, 140 S. W. Ann. Cas. 1913B,
802.) [Takenfrom the case of Rutherford vs. City of Nashville, 78 south Western Reporter, p. 584.]

It may be noted in this connection, that in the case of Congressman Stanbery of Ohio, who insulted the Speaker, for which Act a
resolution of censure was presented, the House approved the resolution, despite the argument that other business had
intervened after the objectionable remarks. (2 Hinds' Precedents pp. 799-800.)

On the question whether delivery of speeches attacking the Chief Executive constitutes disorderly conduct for which Osmea
may be discipline, many arguments pro and con have been advanced. We believe, however, that the House is the judge of what
constitutes disorderly behaviour, not only because the Constitution has conferred jurisdiction upon it, but also because the
matter depends mainly on factual circumstances of which the House knows best but which can not be depicted in black and
white for presentation to, and adjudication by the Courts. For one thing, if this Court assumed the power to determine whether
Osmea conduct constituted disorderly behaviour, it would thereby have assumed appellate jurisdiction, which the Constitution
never intended to confer upon a coordinate branch of the Government. The theory of separation of powers fastidiously observed
by this Court, demands in such situation a prudent refusal to interfere. Each department, it has been said, had exclusive
cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere. (Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil.,
139.)
SEC. 200. Judicial Interference with Legislature. The principle is well established that the courts will not assume a jurisdiction in
any case amount to an interference by the judicial department with the legislature since each department is equally independent
within the power conferred upon it by the Constitution. . . . .

The general rule has been applied in other cases to cause the courts to refuse to intervene in what are exclusively legislative
functions. Thus, where the stated Senate is given the power to example a member, the court will not review its action or
revise even a most arbitrary or unfair decision. (11 Am. Jur., Const. Law, sec. p. 902.) [Emphasis Ours.].

The above statement of American law merely abridged the landmark case of Clifford vs. French.7 In 1905, several senators who
had been expelled by the State Senate of California for having taken a bribe, filed mandamus proceeding to compel
reinstatement, alleging the Senate had given them no hearing, nor a chance to make defense, besides falsity of the charges of
bribery. The Supreme Court of California declined to interfere , explaining in orthodox juristic language:

Under our form of government, the judicial department has no power to revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the
legislative department, or of either house thereof, taking in pursuance of the power committed exclusively to that department by
the Constitution. It has been held by high authority that, even in the absence of an express provision conferring the power, every
legislative body in which is vested the general legislative power of the state has the implied power to expel a member for any
cause which it may deem sufficient. In Hiss. vs. Barlett, 3 Gray 473, 63 Am. Dec. 768, the supreme court of Mass. says, in
substance, that this power is inherent in every legislative body; that it is necessary to the to enable the body 'to perform its high
functions, and is necessary to the safety of the state;' 'That it is a power of self-protection, and that the legislative body must
necessarily be the sole judge of the exigency which may justify and require its exercise. '. . . There is no provision authority courts
to control, direct, supervise, or forbid the exercise by either house of the power to expel a member. These powers are functions of
the legislative department and therefore, in the exercise of the power this committed to it, the senate is supreme. An attempt by
this court to direct or control the legislature, or either house thereof, in the exercise of the power, would be an attempt to exercise
legislative functions, which it is expressly forbidden to do.

We have underscored in the above quotation those lines which in our opinion emphasize the principles controlling this litigation.
Although referring to expulsion, they may as well be applied to other disciplinary action. Their gist as applied to the case at bar:
the House has exclusive power; the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere.

Our refusal to intervene might impress some readers as subconscious hesitation due to discovery of impermissible course of
action in the legislative chamber. Nothing of that sort: we merely refuse to disregard the allocation of constitutional functions
which it is our special duty to maintain. Indeed, in the interest of comity, we feel bound to state that in a conscientious survey of
governing principles and/or episodic illustrations, we found the House of Representatives of the United States taking the position
upon at least two occasions, that personal attacks upon the Chief Executive constitute unparliamentary conduct or breach of
orders.8 And in several instances, it took action against offenders, even after other business had been considered.9

Petitioner's principal argument against the House's power to suspend is the Alejandrino precedent. In 1924, Senator Alejandrino
was, by resolution of Senate, suspended from office for 12 months because he had assaulted another member of the that Body
or certain phrases the latter had uttered in the course of a debate. The Senator applied to this Court for reinstatement,
challenging the validity of the resolution. Although this Court held that in view of the separation of powers, it had no jurisdiction
to compel the Senate to reinstate petitioner, it nevertheless went on to say the Senate had no power to adopt the resolution
because suspension for 12 months amounted to removal, and the Jones Law (under which the Senate was then functioning) gave
the Senate no power to remove an appointive member, like Senator Alejandrino. The Jones Law specifically provided that "each
house may punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds votes, expel
an elective member (sec. 18). Note particularly the word "elective."
The Jones Law, it mist be observed, empowered the Governor General to appoint "without consent of the Senate and without
restriction as to residence senators . . . who will, in his opinion, best represent the Twelfth District." Alejandrino was one
appointive Senator.

It is true, the opinion in that case contained an obiter dictum that "suspension deprives the electoral district of representation
without that district being afforded any means by which to fill that vacancy." But that remark should be understood to refer
particularly to the appointive senator who was then the affected party and who was by the same Jones Law charged with the
duty to represent the Twelfth District and maybe the view of the Government of the United States or of the Governor-General,
who had appointed him.

It must be observed, however, that at that time the Legislature had only those power which were granted to it by the Jones
Law10; whereas now the Congress has the full legislative powers and preprogatives of a sovereign nation, except as restricted by
the Constitution. In other words, in the Alejandrino case, the Court reached the conclusion that the Jones Law did not give the
Senate the power it then exercisedthe power of suspension for one year. Whereas now, as we find, the Congress has the
inherent legislative prerogative of suspension11 which the Constitution did not impair. In fact, as already pointed out, the
Philippine Senate suspended a Senator for 12 months in 1949.

The Legislative power of the Philippine Congress is plenary, subject only to such limitations are found in the Republic's
Constitution. So that any power deemed to be legislative by usage or tradition, is necessarily possessed by the Philippine
Congress, unless the Constitution provides otherwise. (Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192, 212 .)

In any event, petitioner's argument as to the deprivation of the district's representation can not be more weightly in the matter
of suspension than in the case of imprisonment of a legislator; yet deliberative bodies have the power in proper cases, to commit
one of their members to jail.12

Now come questions of procedure and jurisdiction. the petition intended to prevent the Special Committee from acting tin
pursuance of House Resolution No. 59. Because no preliminary injunction had been issued, the Committee performed its task,
reported to the House, and the latter approved the suspension order. The House had closed it session, and the Committee has
ceased to exist as such. It would seem, therefore, the case should be dismissed for having become moot or academic. 13 Of
course, there is nothing to prevent petitioner from filing new pleadings to include all members of the House as respondents, ask
for reinstatement and thereby to present a justiciable cause. Most probable outcome of such reformed suit, however, will be a
pronouncement of lack of jurisdiction, as in Vera vs. Avelino14 and Alejandrino vs. Qeuaon.15

At any rate, having perceived suitable solutions to the important questions of political law, the Court thought it proper to express
at this time its conclusions on such issues as were deemed relevant and decisive.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition has to be, and is hereby dismissed. So ordered.

Paras, C. J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Gutierrez David, Paredes, and Dizon, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

REYES, J. B. L., J., dissenting:

I concur with the majority that the petition filed by Congressman Osmea, Jr. does not make out a case either for declaratory
judgment or certiorari, since this Court has no original jurisdiction over declaratory judgment proceedings, and certiorari is
available only against bodies exercising judicial or quasi-judicial powers. The respondent committee, being merely fact finding,
was not properly subject to certiorari.
I submit, however, that Congressman Osmea was entitled to invoke the Court's jurisdiction on his petition for a writ of
prohibition against the committee, in so far as House Resolution No. 59 (and its sequel, Resolution No. 175) constituted an
unlawful attempt to divest him of an immunity from censure or punishment, an immunity vested under the very Rules of the
House of Representatives.

House Rule XVII, on Decorum and Debates, in its section V, provides as follows:

If it is requested that a Member be called to order for words spoken in debate, the Member making such request shall indicate
the words excepted to, and they shall be taken down in writing by the Secretary and read aloud to the House; but the Member
who uttered them shall not be held to answer, nor be subject to the censure of the House therefor, if further debate or other
business has intervened.

Now, it is not disputed that after Congressman Osmea had delivered his speech and before the House adopted, fifteen days
later, the resolution (No. 59) creating the respondent Committee and empowering it to investigate and recommend proper
action in the case, the House had acted on other matters and debated them. That being the case, the Congressman, even before
the resolution was adopted, had ceased to be answerable for the words uttered by him in his privilege speech. By the express
wording of the Rules, he was no longer subject to censure or disciplinary action by the House. Hence, the resolution, in so far as it
attempts to divest him of the immunity so acquired and subject him to discipline and punishment, when he was previously not so
subject, violates the constitutional inhibition against ex post facto legislation, and Resolution Nos. 59 and 175 are legally
obnoxious and invalid on that score. The rule is well established that a law which deprives an accused person of any substantial
right or immunity possessed by him before its passage is ex post facto as to prior offenses (Cor. Jur. vol. 16-A, section 144, p. 153;
People vs. Mc Donnell, 11 Fed. Supp. 1015; People vs. Talklington, 47 Pac. 2d 368; U. S. vs.Garfinkel, 69 F. Supp. 849).

The foregoing also answer the contention that since the immunity was but an effect of section 7 of House Rule XVII, the House
could, at any time, remove it by amending those Rules, and Resolutions Nos. 59 and 175 effected such an amendment by
implication. the right of the House to amend its Rules does not carry with it the right to retroactive divest the petitioner of an
immunity he had already acquired. The Bill of Rights is against it.

It is contended that as the liability for his speech attached when the Congressman delivered it, the subsequent action of the
House only affected the procedure for dealing with that liability. But whatever liability Congressman Sergio Osmea, Jr. then
incurred was extinguished when the House thereafter considered other business; and this extinction is a substantive right that
can not be subsequently torn away to his disadvantage. On an analogous issue, this Court, in People vs. Parel, 44 Phil., 437 has
ruled:

In regards to the point that the subject of prescription of penalties and of penal actions pertains to remedial and not substantive
law, it is to be observed that in the Spanish legal system, provisions for limitation or prescription of actions are invariably
classified as substantive and not as remedial law; we thus find the provisions for the prescription of criminal actions in the Penal
Code and not in the 'Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal.' This is in reality a more logical law. In criminal cases prescription is not,
strictly speaking, a matter of procedure; it bars or cuts off the right to punish the crime and consequently, goes directly to the
substance of the action. . . . (Emphasis supplied.).

I see no substantial difference, from the standpoint of the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws, that the
objectionable measures happen to be House Resolutions and not statutes. In so far as the position of petitioner Osmea is
concerned, the essential point is that he is being subjected to a punishment to which he was formerly not amenable. And while
he was only meted out a suspension of privileges that suspension is as much a penalty as imprisonment or a fine, which the
House could have inflicted upon him had it been so minded. Such punitive action is violative of the spirit, if not of the letter, of
the constitutional provision against ex post facto legislation. Nor is it material that the punishment was inflicted in the exercise of
disciplinary power. "The ex post facto effect of a law," the Federal Supreme Court has ruled, "can not be evaded by giving civil
form to that which is essentially criminal" (Burgess vs. Salmon, 97 L. Ed. [U. S.] 1104, 1106; Cummings vs. MIssouri, 18 L. Ed. 276).
The plain purpose of the immunity provided by the House rules is to protect the freedom of action of its members and to relieve
them from the fear of disciplinary action taken upon second thought, as a result of political convenience, vindictiveness, or
pressures. it is unrealistic to overlook that, without the immunity so provided, no member of Congress can remain free from the
haunting fear that his most innocuous expressions may at any time afterwards place him in jeopardy of punishment whenever a
majority, however transient, should feel that the shifting sands of political expediency so demand. A rule designed to assure that
members of the House of the House may freely act as their conscience and sense of duty should dictate complements the
parliamentary immunity from outside pressure enshrined in our Constitution, and is certainly deserving of liberal interpretation
and application.

The various precedents, cited in the majority opinion, as instances of disciplinary taken notwithstanding intervening business, are
not truly applicable. Of the five instances cited by Deschkler (in his edition of Jefferson's Manual), the case of Congressman
Watson of Georgia involved also printed disparaging remarks by the respondent (III Hinds' Precedents, sec. 2637), so that the
debate immunity rule afforded no defense; that of Congressmen Weaver and Sparks was one of censure for actual disorderly
conduct (II Hinds, sec. 1657); while the cases of Congressmen Stanbery of Ohio, Alex Long of Ohio, and of Lovell Rousseau of
Kentucky (II Hinds, sec. 1248, 1252 and 1655) were decided under Rule 62 of the U. s. House of Representatives as it stood before
the 1880 amendments, and was differently worded. Thus, in the Rousseau case, the ruling of Speaker Colfax was to the following
effect (II Hinds' Precedents, page 1131):

This sixty-second rule is divided in the middle a semicolon, and the Chair asks the attention of the gentleman from Iowa (Mr.
Wilson) top the language of that rule, as it settles the whole question:

62. If a Member be called to order for words spoken in debate, the person calling him to be order shall repeat the words
excerpted to

That is, the "calling to order" is "excepting" to words spoken in debate "and they shall be taken done in writing at the Clerk's
table; and no Member shall be held to answer, or be subject to the censure of the House, for words spoken, or other business
has intervened, after the words spoken, and before exception to them shall have been taken.

The first part of this rule declares that "calling to order" is "excepting to words spoken in debate." the second part of the rule
declares that a Member shall not be held subject to censure for words spoken in debate if other business has intervened after
the words have been spoken and before "exception" to them has been taken. Exception to the words of the gentleman from
Iowa (Mr. Grinnell) was taken by the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Harding), the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Banks), the
gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Rosseau), and also by the Speaker of the House, as the records of the Congressional Globe will
show. The distinction is obvious between the two parts of the rule. In the first part it speaks of a Member excepting to language
of another and having the words taken down. In the last part of the rule it says he shall not be censured thereafter unless
exception to his words were taken; but it omits to add as an condition that words must also have been taken down. The
substantial point, indeed the only point, required in the latter part of the rule is, that exception to the objectionable words must
have taken.

The difference between the Rules as invoked in these cases and the Rules of our House of Representatives is easily apparent. As
Rule 62 of the United States House of Representatives stood before 1880, all that was required to preserve the disciplinary
power of the Hose was that exception should have been taken to the remarks on the floor before further debate or other
business intervened. Under the rules of the Philippines House of Representatives, however, the immunity becomes absolute if
other debate or business has taken place before the motion for censure is made, whether or not exceptions or point of order
have been made to the remarks complained of at the time they were uttered.

While it is clear that the parliamentary immunity established in Article VI, section 15 of our Constitution does not bar the
members being questioned and disciplined by Congress itself fro remarks made on the floor, that disciplinary power does not, as
I have noted, include the right to retroactively amend the rules so as to divest a member of an immunity already gained. And if
Courts can shield an ordinary citizen from the effects of ex post facto legislation, I see no reason why a member of Congress
should be deprived of the same protection. Surely membership in the Legislature does not mean forfeiture of the liberties
enjoyed by the individual citizen.

The Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. If may not by its rules ignore constitutional
restraint or violate fundamental rights and there should be a reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding
established by the rule and the result which is sought to be attained. But within these limitation all matters of method are open
to the determination of the House, and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some other way would be better, more
accurate or even more just. (U. S. vs. Ballin, Joseph & Co., 36 Law Ed., 324-325.)

Court will not interfere with the action of the state senate in reconsideration its vote on a resolution submitting an amendment
to the Constitution, where its action was in compliance with its own rules, and there was no constitutional provision to the
contrary. (Crawford vs. Gilchrist, 64 Fla. 41, 59 So. 963) (Emphasis supplied.).

Finally, that this Court possesses no power to direct or compel the Legislature to act in any specified manner, should not deter it
from recognizing and declaring the unconstitutionality and nullify of the questioned resolutions and of all action that has been
disbanded after the case was filed, the basic issues remain so important as to require adjudication by this Court.

LABRADOR, J., dissenting:

I fully concur in the above dissent Mr. Justice J. B. L. Reyes, Reyes, and I venture to add:

Within a constitutional government and in a regime which purports to be one of law, where law is supreme, even the Congress in
the exercise of the power conferred upon it to discipline its members, must follow the rules and regulation that it had itself
promulgated for its guidance and for that of its members. The rules in force at the time Congressman Osmea delivered the
speech declared by the House to constitutes a disorderly conduct provides:

. . . but the Member who uttered them shall not be held to answer, nor be subject to the censure of the House therefor, if further
debate or other business has intervened. (Rule XVII, Sec. 7, Rules, House of Representatives.)

Congressman Osmea delivered the speech in question on June 23, 1960. It was only on July 8, or 15 days after June 23, 1060
when the House created the committee that would investigated him. For fully 15 days the House took up other matters. All that
was done, while the speech was being delivered, was to have certains portions thereof deleted. I hold that pursuant to its own
Rules the House may no longer punish Congressman Osmea for the delivered fifteen days before.

The fact that no action was promptly taken to punish Congressman Osmea immediately after its delivery, except to have some
part of the speech deleted, show that the members of the House did not consider Osmea's speech a disorderly conduct. The
idea to punish Congressman Osmea, which came 15 days after, was, therefore, an afterthought. It is, therefore, clear that
Congressman Osmea is being made to answer for an act, after the time during which he could be punished therefor had lapsed.

The majority opinion holds that the House can amend its rules any time. We do not dispute this principle, but we hold that the
House may not do so in utter disregard of the fundamental principle of law that an amendment takes place only after its
approval, or, as in this case, to the extent of punishing an offense after the time to punishing an had elapsed. Since the rule, that
a member can be punished only before other proceedings have intervened, was in force at the time Congressman Osmea
delivered his speech, the House may not ignore said rule. It is said in the majority opinion that the rule limiting the period for
imposition of a penalty for a speech to the day it was made, is merely one of procedure. With due respect to the majority, we do
not think that it is merely a rule of procedure; we believe it actually is a limitation of the time in which the House may take
punitive action against an offending member; it is alienation (in reference to time) on the liability to punishment. As Mr. Justice
J.B.L., Reyes points out, the rule is substantive, not merely a procedural principle, and may not be ignored when invoked.

If this Government of laws and not of men, then the House should observe its own rule and not violate it by punishing a member
after the period for indictment and punishment had already passed. Not because the subject of the Philippic is no less than the
Chief Magistrate of the nation should the rule of the House be ignored by itself. It is true that our Government is based on the
principle of separation of powers between the three branches thereof. I also agree to the corollary proposition that this Court
should not interfere with the legislature in the manner it performs its functions; but I also hold that the Court cannot abandon its
duty to pronounce what the law is when any of its (the House) members, or any humble citizen, invokes the law.

Congressman Osmea had invoked the protection of a rule of the House. I believe it is our bounden duty to state what the rule
being invoked by him is, to point out the fact that the rule is being violated in meting out punishment for his speech; we should
not shirk our responsibility to declare his rights under the rule simply on the board excuse of separation of powers. Even the
legislature may not ignore the rule it has promulgated for the government of the conduct of its members, and the fact that a
coordinate branches of the Government is involved, should not deter us from performing our duty. We may not possess the
power to enforce our opinion if the House chooses to disregard the same. In such case the members thereof stand before the bar
of public opinion to answer for their act in ignoring what they themselves have approved as their norm of conduct.

Let it be clearly understood that the writer of this dissent personally believe that vitreous attacks against the Chief Executive, or
any official or citizen for that matter, should be condemned. But where the Rules, promulgated by the House itself, fix the period
during which punishment may be meted out, said Rules should be enforced regardless of who may be prejudicated thereby. Only
in that way may the supermacy of the law be maintained.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 127255. August 14, 1997]

JOKER P. ARROYO, EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOHN HENRY R. OSMEA, WIGBERTO E. TAADA, and RONALDO B. ZAMORA, petitioners,
vs. JOSE DE VENECIA, RAUL DAZA, RODOLFO ALBANO, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE, AND THE
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari and/or prohibition challenging the validity of Republic Act No. 8240, which amends certain
provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code by imposing so-called sin taxes (actually specific taxes) on the manufacture and
sale of beer and cigarettes.

Petitioners are members of the House of Representatives. They brought this suit against respondents Jose de Venecia, Speaker of
the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, Majority Leader Rodolfo Albano, the Executive Secretary, the Secretary
of Finance, and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, charging violation of the rules of the House which petitioners claim are
constitutionally mandated so that their violation is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution.

The law originated in the House of Representatives as H. No. 7198. This bill was approved on third reading on September 12,
1996 and transmitted on September 16, 1996 to the Senate which approved it with certain amendments on third reading on
November 17, 1996. A bicameral conference committee was formed to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the House and
Senate versions of the bill.

The bicameral conference committee submitted its report to the House at 8 a.m. on November 21, 1996. At 11:48 a.m., after a
recess, Rep. Exequiel Javier, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, proceeded to deliver his sponsorship speech, after
which he was interpellated. Rep. Rogelio Sarmiento was first to interpellate. He was interrupted when Rep. Arroyo moved to
adjourn for lack of quorum. Rep. Antonio Cuenco objected to the motion and asked for a head count. After a roll call, the Chair
(Deputy Speaker Raul Daza) declared the presence of a quorum.[1] Rep. Arroyo appealed the ruling of the Chair, but his motion
was defeated when put to a vote. The interpellation of the sponsor thereafter proceeded.

Petitioner Rep. Joker Arroyo registered to interpellate. He was fourth in the order, following Rep. Rogelio Sarmiento, Rep. Edcel
C. Lagman and Rep. Enrique Garcia. In the course of his interpellation, Rep. Arroyo announced that he was going to raise a
question on the quorum, although until the end of his interpellation he never did. What happened thereafter is shown in the
following transcript of the session on November 21, 1996 of the House of Representatives, as published by Congress in the
newspaper issues of December 5 and 6, 1996:

MR. ALBANO. Mr. Speaker, I move that we now approve and ratify the conference committee report.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). Any objection to the motion?

MR. ARROYO. What is that, Mr. Speaker?

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). There being none, approved.

(Gavel)

MR. ARROYO. No, no, no, wait a minute, Mr. Speaker, I stood up. I want to know what is the question that the Chair asked the
distinguished sponsor.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). There was a motion by the Majority Leader for approval of the report, and the Chair called for
the motion.

MR. ARROYO. Objection, I stood up, so I wanted to object.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is suspended for one minute.

(It was 3:01 p.m.)

(3:40 p.m., the session was resumed)

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is resumed.

MR. ALBANO. Mr. Speaker, I move to adjourn until four oclock, Wednesday, next week.

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Daza). The session is adjourned until four oclock, Wednesday, next week.

(It was 3:40 p.m.)

On the same day, the bill was signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate and
certified by the respective secretaries of both Houses of Congress as having been finally passed by the House of Representatives
and by the Senate on November 21, 1996. The enrolled bill was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos on November 22,
1996.

Petitioners claim that there are actually four different versions of the transcript of this portion of Rep. Arroyos interpellation: (1)
the transcript of audio-sound recording of the proceedings in the session hall immediately after the session adjourned at 3:40
p.m. on November 21, 1996, which petitioner Rep. Edcel C. Lagman obtained from the operators of the sound system; (2) the
transcript of the proceedings from 3:00 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. of November 21, 1996, as certified by the Chief of the Transcription
Division on November 21, 1996, also obtained by Rep. Lagman; (3) the transcript of the proceedings from 3:00 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
of November 21, 1996 as certified by the Chief of the Transcription Division on November 28, 1996, also obtained by Rep.
Lagman; and (4) the published version abovequoted. According to petitioners, the four versions differ on three points, to wit: (1)
in the audio-sound recording the word approved, which appears on line 13 in the three other versions, cannot be heard; (2) in
the transcript certified on November 21, 1996 the word no on line 17 appears only once, while in the other versions it is repeated
three times; and (3) the published version does not contain the sentence (Y)ou better prepare for a quorum because I will raise
the question of the quorum, which appears in the other versions.

Petitioners allegations are vehemently denied by respondents. However, there is no need to discuss this point as petitioners have
announced that, in order to expedite the resolution of this petition, they admit, without conceding, the correctness of the
transcripts relied upon by the respondents. Petitioners agree that for purposes of this proceeding the word approved appears in
the transcripts.

Only the proceedings of the House of Representatives on the conference committee report on H. No. 7198 are in
question. Petitioners principal argument is that R.A. No. 8240 is null and void because it was passed in violation of the rules of
the House; that these rules embody the constitutional mandate in Art. VI, 16(3) that each House may determine the rules of its
proceedings and that, consequently, violation of the House rules is a violation of the Constitution itself. They contend that the
certification of Speaker De Venecia that the law was properly passed is false and spurious.

More specifically, petitioners charge that (1) in violation of Rule VIII, 35 and Rule XVII, 103 of the rules of the House, [2] the Chair,
in submitting the conference committee report to the House, did not call for the yeas or nays, but simply asked for its approval
by motion in order to prevent petitioner Arroyo from questioning the presence of a quorum; (2) in violation of Rule XIX,
112,[3] the Chair deliberately ignored Rep. Arroyos question, What is that . . . Mr. Speaker? and did not repeat Rep. Albanos
motion to approve or ratify; (3) in violation of Rule XVI, 97,[4] the Chair refused to recognize Rep. Arroyo and instead proceeded
to act on Rep. Albanos motion and afterward declared the report approved; and (4) in violation of Rule XX, 121-122, Rule XXI,
123, and Rule XVIII, 109,[5] the Chair suspended the session without first ruling on Rep. Arroyos question which, it is alleged, is a
point of order or a privileged motion. It is argued that Rep. Arroyos query should have been resolved upon the resumption of the
session on November 28, 1996, because the parliamentary situation at the time of the adjournment remained upon the
resumption of the session.

Petitioners also charge that the session was hastily adjourned at 3:40 p.m. on November 21, 1996 and the bill certified by
Speaker Jose De Venecia to prevent petitioner Rep. Arroyo from formally challenging the existence of a quorum and asking for a
reconsideration.

Petitioners urge the Court not to feel bound by the certification of the Speaker of the House that the law had been properly
passed, considering the Courts power under Art. VIII, 1 to pass on claims of grave abuse of discretion by the other departments
of the government, and they ask for a reexamination of Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,[6] which affirmed the conclusiveness of
an enrolled bill, in view of the changed membership of the Court.

The Solicitor General filed a comment in behalf of all respondents. In addition, respondent De Venecia filed a supplemental
comment. Respondents defense is anchored on the principle of separation of powers and the enrolled bill doctrine. They argue
that the Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of the rules of the House and that there is no justification for
reconsidering the enrolled bill doctrine. Although the Constitution provides in Art. VI, 16(3) for the adoption by each House of its
rules of proceedings, enforcement of the rules cannot be sought in the courts except insofar as they implement constitutional
requirements such as that relating to three readings on separate days before a bill may be passed. At all events, respondents
contend that, in passing the bill which became R.A. No. 8240, the rules of the House, as well as parliamentary precedents for
approval of conference committee reports on mere motion, were faithfully observed.
In his supplemental comment, respondent De Venecia denies that his certification of H. No. 7198 is false and spurious and
contends that under the journal entry rule, the judicial inquiry sought by the petitioners is barred. Indeed, Journal No. 39 of the
House of Representatives, covering the sessions of November 20 and 21, 1996, shows that On Motion of Mr. Albano, there being
no objection, the Body approved the Conference Committee Report on House Bill No. 7198. [7] This Journal was approved on
December 2, 1996 over the lone objection of petitioner Rep. Lagman. [8]

After considering the arguments of the parties, the Court finds no ground for holding that Congress committed a grave abuse of
discretion in enacting R.A. No. 8240. This case is therefore dismissed.

First. It is clear from the foregoing facts that what is alleged to have been violated in the enactment of R.A. No. 8240 are merely
internal rules of procedure of the House rather than constitutional requirements for the enactment of a law, i.e., Art. VI, 26-
27. Petitioners do not claim that there was no quorum but only that, by some maneuver allegedly in violation of the rules of the
House, Rep. Arroyo was effectively prevented from questioning the presence of a quorum.

Petitioners contend that the House rules were adopted pursuant to the constitutional provision that each House may determine
the rules of its proceedings[9] and that for this reason they are judicially enforceable. To begin with, this contention stands the
principle on its head. In the decided cases,[10] the constitutional provision that each House may determine the rules of its
proceedings was invoked by parties, although not successfully, precisely to support claims of autonomy of the legislative branch
to conduct its business free from interference by courts. Here petitioners cite the provision for the opposite purpose of invoking
judicial review.

But the cases, both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into allegations
that, in enacting a law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a
violation of a constitutional provision or the rights of private individuals. In Osmea v. Pendatun,[11] it was held: At any rate, courts
have declared that the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of
the body adopting them. And it has been said that Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance, the
courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body. Consequently, mere failure to conform to
parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have
agreed to a particular measure.

In United States v. Ballin, Joseph & Co.,[12] the rule was stated thus: The Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules
of proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and there should be a
reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the result which is sought to be
attained. But within these limitations all matters of method are open to the determination of the House, and it is no
impeachment of the rule to say that some other way would be better, more accurate, or even more just. It is no objection to the
validity of a rule that a different one has been prescribed and in force for a length of time. The power to make rules is not one
which once exercised is exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be exercised by the House, and within the
limitations suggested, absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or tribunal.

In Crawford v. Gilchrist,[13] it was held: The provision that each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings does not
restrict the power given to a mere formulation of standing rules, or to the proceedings of the body in ordinary legislative matters;
but in the absence of constitutional restraints, and when exercised by a majority of a constitutional quorum, such authority
extends to a determination of the propriety and effect of any action as it is taken by the body as it proceeds in the exercise of any
power, in the transaction of any business, or in the performance of any duty conferred upon it by the Constitution.

In State ex rel. City Loan & Savings Co. v. Moore,[14] the Supreme Court of Ohio stated: The provision for reconsideration is no
part of the Constitution and is therefore entirely within the control of the General Assembly. Having made the rule, it should be
regarded, but a failure to regard it is not the subject-matter of judicial inquiry. It has been decided by the courts of last resort of
many states, and also by the United States Supreme Court, that a legislative act will not be declared invalid for noncompliance
with rules.

In State v. Savings Bank,[15] the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut declared itself as follows: The Constitution declares that
each house shall determine the rules of its own proceedings and shall have all powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of
a free and independent state. Rules of proceedings are the servants of the House and subject to its authority. This authority may
be abused, but when the House has acted in a matter clearly within its power, it would be an unwarranted invasion of the
independence of the legislative department for the court to set aside such action as void because it may think that the House has
misconstrued or departed from its own rules of procedure.

In McDonald v. State,[16] the Wisconsin Supreme Court held: When it appears that an act was so passed, no inquiry will be
permitted to ascertain whether the two houses have or have not complied strictly with their own rules in their procedure upon
the bill, intermediate its introduction and final passage. The presumption is conclusive that they have done so. We think no court
has ever declared an act of the legislature void for non-compliance with the rules of procedure made by itself, or the respective
branches thereof, and which it or they may change or suspend at will. If there are any such adjudications, we decline to follow
them.

Schweizer v. Territory[17] is illustrative of the rule in these cases. The 1893 Statutes of Oklahoma provided for three readings on
separate days before a bill may be passed by each house of the legislature, with the proviso that in case of an emergency the
house concerned may, by two-thirds vote, suspend the operation of the rule. Plaintiff was convicted in the district court of
violation of a law punishing gambling. He appealed contending that the gambling statute was not properly passed by the
legislature because the suspension of the rule on three readings had not been approved by the requisite two-thirds
vote. Dismissing this contention, the State Supreme Court of Oklahoma held:

We have no constitutional provision requiring that the legislature should read a bill in any particular manner. It may, then, read
or deliberate upon a bill as it sees fit, either in accordance with its own rules, or in violation thereof, or without making any
rules. The provision of section 17 referred to is merely a statutory provision for the direction of the legislature in its action upon
proposed measures. It receives its entire force from legislative sanction, and it exists only at legislative pleasure. The failure of
the legislature to properly weigh and consider an act, its passage through the legislature in a hasty manner, might be reasons for
the governor withholding his signature thereto; but this alone, even though it is shown to be a violation of a rule which the
legislature had made to govern its own proceedings, could be no reason for the courts refusing its enforcement after it was
actually passed by a majority of each branch of the legislature, and duly signed by the governor. The courts cannot declare an act
of the legislature void on account of noncompliance with rules of procedure made by itself to govern its deliberations. McDonald
v. State, 80 Wis. 407, 50 N.W. 185; In re Ryan, 80 Wis. 414, 50 N. W. 187; State v. Brown, 33 S.C. 151, 11 S. E. 641; Railway Co. v.
Gill, 54 Ark. 101, 15 S. W. 18.

We conclude this survey with the useful summary of the rulings by former Chief Justice Fernando, commenting on the power of
each House of Congress to determine its rules of proceedings. He wrote:

Rules are hardly permanent in character. The prevailing view is that they are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the
pleasure of the body adopting them as they are primarily procedural. Courts ordinarily have no concern with their
observance. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body. Consequently, mere failure to conform to them does not
have the effect of nullifying the act taken if the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure. The above
principle is subject, however, to this qualification. Where the construction to be given to a rule affects persons other than
members of the legislative body the question presented is necessarily judicial in character. Even its validity is open to question in
a case where private rights are involved.[18]
In this case no rights of private individuals are involved but only those of a member who, instead of seeking redress in the House,
chose to transfer the dispute to this Court. We have no more power to look into the internal proceedings of a House than
members of that House have to look over our shoulders, as long as no violation of constitutional provisions is shown.

Petitioners must realize that each of the three departments of our government has its separate sphere which the others may not
invade without upsetting the delicate balance on which our constitutional order rests. Due regard for the working of our system
of government, more than mere comity, compels reluctance on our part to enter upon an inquiry into an alleged violation of the
rules of the House. We must accordingly decline the invitation to exercise our power.

Second. Petitioners, quoting former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcions sponsorship in the Constitutional Commission, contend
that under Art. VIII, 1, nothing involving abuse of discretion [by the other branches of the government] amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction is beyond judicial review.[19] Implicit in this statement of the former Chief Justice, however, is an
acknowledgment that the jurisdiction of this Court is subject to the case and controversy requirement of Art. VIII, 5 and,
therefore, to the requirement of a justiciable controversy before courts can adjudicate constitutional questions such as those
which arise in the field of foreign relations. For while Art. VIII, 1 has broadened the scope of judicial inquiry into areas normally
left to the political departments to decide, such as those relating to national security, [20] it has not altogether done away with
political questions such as those which arise in the field of foreign relations. As we have already held, under Art. VIII, 1, this
Courts function

is merely [to] check whether or not the governmental branch or agency has gone beyond the constitutional limits of its
jurisdiction, not that it erred or has a different view. In the absence of a showing . . . [of] grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction, there is no occasion for the Court to exercise its corrective power. . . . It has no power to look into what it
thinks is apparent error.[21]

If, then, the established rule is that courts cannot declare an act of the legislature void on account merely of noncompliance with
rules of procedure made by itself, it follows that such a case does not present a situation in which a branch of the government
has gone beyond the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction so as to call for the exercise of our Art. VIII, 1 power.

Third. Petitioners claim that the passage of the law in the House was railroaded. They claim that Rep. Arroyo was still making a
query to the Chair when the latter declared Rep. Albanos motion approved.

What happened is that, after Rep. Arroyos interpellation of the sponsor of the committee report, Majority Leader Rodolfo Albano
moved for the approval and ratification of the conference committee report. The Chair called out for objections to the
motion. Then the Chair declared: There being none, approved. At the same time the Chair was saying this, however, Rep. Arroyo
was asking, What is that . . . Mr. Speaker? The Chair and Rep. Arroyo were talking simultaneously. Thus, although Rep. Arroyo
subsequently objected to the Majority Leaders motion, the approval of the conference committee report had by then already
been declared by the Chair, symbolized by its banging of the gavel.

Petitioners argue that, in accordance with the rules of the House, Rep. Albanos motion for the approval of the conference
committee report should have been stated by the Chair and later the individual votes of the Members should have been
taken. They say that the method used in this case is a legislators nightmare because it suggests unanimity when the fact was that
one or some legislators opposed the report.

No rule of the House of Representatives has been cited which specifically requires that in cases such as this involving approval of
a conference committee report, the Chair must restate the motion and conduct a viva voce or nominal voting. On the other
hand, as the Solicitor General has pointed out, the manner in which the conference committee report on H. No. 7198 was
approved was by no means a unique one. It has basis in legislative practice. It was the way the conference committee report on
the bills which became the Local Government Code of 1991 and the conference committee report on the bills amending the
Tariff and Customs Code were approved.
In 1957, the practice was questioned as being contrary to the rules of the House. The point was answered by Majority Leader
Arturo M. Tolentino and his answer became the ruling of the Chair. Mr. Tolentino said:

Mr. Tolentino. The fact that nobody objects means a unanimous action of the House. Insofar as the matter of procedure is
concerned, this has been a precedent since I came here seven years ago, and it has been the procedure in this House that if
somebody objects, then a debate follows and after the debate, then the voting comes in.

....

Mr. Speaker, a point of order was raised by the gentleman from Leyte, and I wonder what his attitude is now on his point of
order. I should just like to state that I believe that we have had a substantial compliance with the Rules. The Rule invoked is not
one that refers to statutory or constitutional requirement, and a substantial compliance, to my mind, is sufficient. When the
Chair announces the vote by saying Is there any objection? and nobody objects, then the Chair announces The bill is approved on
second reading. If there was any doubt as to the vote, any motion to divide would have been proper. So, if that motion is not
presented, we assume that the House approves the measure. So I believe there is substantial compliance here, and if anybody
wants a division of the House he can always ask for it, and the Chair can announce how many are in favor and how many are
against.[22]

Indeed, it is no impeachment of the method to say that some other way would be better, more accurate and even more
just.[23] The advantages or disadvantages, the wisdom or folly of a method do not present any matter for judicial
consideration.[24] In the words of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, this Court cannot provide a second opinion on what is the best
procedure. Notwithstanding the deference and esteem that is properly tendered to individual congressional actors, our
deference and esteem for the institution as a whole and for the constitutional command that the institution be allowed to
manage its own affairs precludes us from even attempting a diagnosis of the problem. [25]

Nor does the Constitution require that the yeas and the nays of the Members be taken every time a House has to vote, except
only in the following instances: upon the last and third readings of a bill,[26] at the request of one-fifth of the Members
present,[27] and in repassing a bill over the veto of the President.[28] Indeed, considering the fact that in the approval of the
original bill the votes of the Members by yeas and nays had already been taken, it would have been sheer tedium to repeat the
process.

Petitioners claim that they were prevented from seeking reconsideration allegedly as a result of the precipitate suspension and
subsequent adjournment of the session.[29] It would appear, however, that the session was suspended to allow the parties to
settle the problem, because when it resumed at 3:40 p.m. on that day Rep. Arroyo did not say anything anymore.While it is true
that the Majority Leader moved for adjournment until 4 p.m. of Wednesday of the following week, Rep. Arroyo could at least
have objected if there was anything he wanted to say. The fact, however, is that he did not. The Journal of November 21, 1996 of
the House shows:

ADJOURNMENT OF SESSION

On motion of Mr. Albano, there being no objection, the Chair declared the session adjourned until four oclock in the afternoon of
Wednesday, November 27, 1996.

It was 3:40 p.m. Thursday, November 21, 1996. (emphasis added)

This Journal was approved on December 2, 1996. Again, no one objected to its approval except Rep. Lagman.

It is thus apparent that petitioners predicament was largely of their own making. Instead of submitting the proper motions for
the House to act upon, petitioners insisted on the pendency of Rep. Arroyos question as an obstacle to the passage of the
bill. But Rep. Arroyos question was not, in form or substance, a point of order or a question of privilege entitled to
precedence.[30] And even if Rep. Arroyos question were so, Rep. Albanos motion to adjourn would have precedence and would
have put an end to any further consideration of the question.[31]

Given this fact, it is difficult to see how it can plausibly be contended that in signing the bill which became R.A. No. 8240,
respondent Speaker of the House be acted with grave abuse of his discretion. Indeed, the phrase grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction has a settled meaning in the jurisprudence of procedure. It means such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment by a tribunal exercising judicial or quasi judicial power as to amount to lack of power. As Chief
Justice Concepcion himself said in explaining this provision, the power granted to the courts by Art. VIII, 1 extends to cases where
a branch of the government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to
constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. [32]

Here, the matter complained of concerns a matter of internal procedure of the House with which the Court should not be
concerned. To repeat, the claim is not that there was no quorumbut only that Rep. Arroyo was effectively prevented from
questioning the presence of a quorum. Rep. Arroyos earlier motion to adjourn for lack of quorum had already been defeated, as
the roll call established the existence of a quorum. The question of quorum cannot be raised repeatedly especially when the
quorum is obviously present for the purpose of delaying the business of the House. [33] Rep. Arroyo waived his objection by his
continued interpellation of the sponsor for in so doing he in effect acknowledged the presence of a quorum. [34]

At any rate it is noteworthy that of the 111 members of the House earlier found to be present on November 21, 1996, only the
five, i.e., petitioners in this case, are questioning the manner by which the conference committee report on H. No. 7198 was
approved on that day. No one, except Rep. Arroyo, appears to have objected to the manner by which the report was approved.
Rep. John Henry Osmea did not participate in the bicameral conference committee proceedings. [35] Rep. Lagman and Rep.
Zamora objected to the report[36] but not to the manner it was approved; while it is said that, if voting had been conducted, Rep.
Taada would have voted in favor of the conference committee report. [37]

Fourth. Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of H. No. 7198 by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate
and the certification by the secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed on November 21, 1996 are conclusive of its
due enactment. Much energy and learning is devoted in the separate opinion of Justice Puno, joined by Justice Davide, to
disputing this doctrine. To be sure, there is no claim either here or in the decision in the EVAT cases [Tolentino v. Secretary of
Finance] that the enrolled bill embodies a conclusive presumption. In one case[38] we went behind an enrolled bill and consulted
the Journal to determine whether certain provisions of a statute had been approved by the Senate.

But, where as here there is no evidence to the contrary, this Court will respect the certification of the presiding officers of both
Houses that a bill has been duly passed. Under this rule, this Court has refused to determine claims that the three-fourths vote
needed to pass a proposed amendment to the Constitution had not been obtained, because a duly authenticated bill or
resolution imports absolute verity and is binding on the courts.[39] This Court quoted from Wigmore on Evidence the following
excerpt which embodies good, if old-fashioned, democratic theory:

The truth is that many have been carried away with the righteous desire to check at any cost the misdoings of Legislatures. They
have set such store by the Judiciary for this purpose that they have almost made them a second and higher Legislature. But they
aim in the wrong direction. Instead of trusting a faithful Judiciary to check an inefficient Legislature, they should turn to improve
the Legislature. The sensible solution is not to patch and mend casual errors by asking the Judiciary to violate legal principle and
to do impossibilities with the Constitution; but to represent ourselves with competent, careful, and honest legislators, the work
of whose hands on the statute-roll may come to reflect credit upon the name of popular government. [40]

This Court has refused to even look into allegations that the enrolled bill sent to the President contained provisions which had
been surreptitiously inserted in the conference committee:
[W]here allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed have no more basis than
another allegation that the Conference Committee surreptitiously inserted provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should
decline the invitation to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. To disregard the enrolled bill rule in such cases would be to
disregard the respect due the other two departments of our government. [41]

It has refused to look into charges that an amendment was made upon the last reading of a bill in violation of Art. VI, 26(2) of the
Constitution that upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment shall be allowed. [42]

In other cases,[43] this Court has denied claims that the tenor of a bill was otherwise than as certified by the presiding officers of
both Houses of Congress.

The enrolled bill doctrine, as a rule of evidence, is well established. It is cited with approval by text writers here and
abroad.[44] The enrolled bill rule rests on the following considerations:

. . . As the President has no authority to approve a bill not passed by Congress, an enrolled Act in the custody of the Secretary of
State, and having the official attestations of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, of the President of the Senate, and of
the President of the United States, carries, on its face, a solemn assurance by the legislative and executive departments of the
government, charged, respectively, with the duty of enacting and executing the laws, that it was passed by Congress. The respect
due to coequal and independent departments requires the judicial department to act upon that assurance, and to accept, as
having passed Congress, all bills authenticated in the manner stated; leaving the court to determine, when the question properly
arises, whether the Act, so authenticated, is in conformity with the Constitution. [45]

To overrule the doctrine now, as the dissent urges, is to repudiate the massive teaching of our cases and overthrow an
established rule of evidence.

Indeed, petitioners have advanced no argument to warrant a departure from the rule, except to say that, with a change in the
membership of the Court, the three new members may be assumed to have an open mind on the question of the enrolled bill
rule. Actually, not three but four (Cruz, Feliciano, Bidin, and Quiason, JJ.) have departed from the Court since our decision in the
EVAT cases and their places have since been taken by four new members (Francisco, Hermosisima, Panganiban, and
Torres, JJ.) Petitioners are thus simply banking on the change in the membership of the Court.

Moreover, as already noted, the due enactment of the law in question is confirmed by the Journal of the House of November 21,
1996 which shows that the conference committee report on H. No. 7198, which became R.A. No. 8240, was approved on that
day. The keeping of the Journal is required by the Constitution. Art. VI, 16(4) provides:

Each House shall keep a Journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may, in its
judgment, affect national security; and the yeas and nays on any question shall, at the request of one-fifth of the Members
present, be entered in the Journal.

Each House shall also keep a Record of its proceedings.

The Journal is regarded as conclusive with respect to matters that are required by the Constitution to be recorded
therein.[46] With respect to other matters, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Journals have also been accorded
conclusive effect. Thus, in United States v. Pons,[47] this Court spoke of the imperatives of public policy for regarding the Journals
as public memorials of the most permanent character, thus: They should be public, because all are required to conform to them;
they should be permanent, that rights acquired today upon the faith of what has been declared to be law shall not be destroyed
tomorrow, or at some remote period of time, by facts resting only in the memory of individuals. As already noted, the bill which
became R.A. No. 8240 is shown in the Journal. Hence its due enactment has been duly proven.

___________________
It would be an unwarranted invasion of the prerogative of a coequal department for this Court either to set aside a legislative
action as void because the Court thinks the House has disregarded its own rules of procedure, or to allow those defeated in the
political arena to seek a rematch in the judicial forum when petitioners can find their remedy in that department itself. The Court
has not been invested with a roving commission to inquire into complaints, real or imagined, of legislative skullduggery. It would
be acting in excess of its power and would itself be guilty of grave abuse of its discretion were it to do so. The suggestion made in
a case[48] may instead appropriately be made here: petitioners can seek the enactment of a new law or the repeal or amendment
of R.A. No. 8240. In the absence of anything to the contrary, the Court must assume that Congress or any House thereof acted in
the good faith belief that its conduct was permitted by its rules, and deference rather than disrespect is due the judgment of that
body.[49]

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Melo, Kapunan, Francisco, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.

Romero, J., has a separate opinion.

Puno, J., has a separate concurring and dissenting opinion.

Davide, Jr., J., joined the concurring and dissenting opinion of Justice Puno.

Vitug, J., has a separate concurring opinion.

Regalado, J., in the result.

Bellosillo, J., took no part due to relationship with parties.

Panganiban, J., took no part. Former counsel of a party.

Torres, Jr., J., on leave during the deliberations.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-11530 August 12, 1916

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JUAN PONS, defendant-appellant.

Jose Varela y Calderon for appellant.


Attorney-General Avancea for appellee.

TRENT, J.:

The information in this case reads:

The undersigned charges Gabino Beliso, Juan Pons, and Jacinto Lasarte with the crime of illegal importation of opium, committed
as follows:
That on or about the 10th day of April, 1915, the said accused, conspiring together and plotting among themselves, did,
knowingly, willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and fraudulently, bring from a foreign country, to wit, that of Spain, on board the
steamer Lopez y Lopez, and import and introduce into the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, and within the jurisdiction of the
court, 520 tins containing 125 kilograms of opium of the value of P62,400, Philippine currency; and that, then and there, the said
accused, also conspiring together and plotting among themselves, did receive and conceal the said quantity of opium and aided
each other in the transportation, receipt and concealment of the same after the said opium had been imported, knowing that
said drug had been unlawfully brought, imported and illegally introduced into the Philippine Islands from a foreign country; an
act committed in violation of law."

On motion of counsel Juan Pons and Gabino Beliso were tried separately. (Jacinto Lasarte had not yet been arrested.) Each were
found guilty of the crime charged and sentenced accordingly, the former to be confined in Bilibid Prison for the period of two
years, to pay a fine of P1,000, to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to the payment of
one-half of the costs. The same penalties were imposed upon the latter, except that he was sentenced to pay a fine of P3,000.
Both appealed. Beliso later withdrew his appeal and the judgment as to him has become final.

The contentions for reversal are numerous (twenty-five assignments of error) and are greatly multiplied by their reiteration in a
somewhat changed form of statement under the many propositions embraced in the elaborate printed brief, but their essence,
when correctly understood, are these: The court erred (a) in denying this appellant's motion, dated May 6, 1915, and reproduced
on July 27, 1915, and (b) in finding that the legal evidence of record establishes the guilt of the appellant, Juan Pons, beyond a
reasonable doubt.

In his motion above mentioned, counsel alleged and offered to prove that the last day of the special session of the Philippine
Legislature for 1914 was the 28th day of February; that Act No. 2381, under which Pons must be punished if found guilty, was not
passed or approved on the 28th of February but on March 1 of that year; and that, therefore, the same is null and void. The
validity of the Act is not otherwise questioned. As it is admitted that the last day of the special session was, under the Governor-
General's proclamation, February 28 and that the appellant is charged with having violated the provisions of Act No. 2381, the
vital question is the date of adjournment of the Legislature, and this reduces itself to two others, namely, (1) how that is to be
proved, whether by the legislative journals or extraneous evidence and (2) whether the court can take judicial notice of the
journals. These questions will be considered in the reversed order.

Act No. 1679 provides that the Secretary of the Commission shall perform the duties which would properly be required of the
Recorder of the Commission under the existing law. And rules 15 and 16 of the Legislative Procedure of the Philippine
Commission provides, among other things, "that the proceedings of the Commission shall be briefly and accurately stated on the
journal," and that it shall be the duty of the Secretary "to keep a correct journal of the proceedings of the Commission." On page
793 of volume 7 of the Commission Journal for the ordinary and special sessions of the Third Philippine Legislature, the following
appears:

The Journal for Saturday, February 28, 1914, was approved. Adjournment sine die of the Commission as a Chamber of the
Philippine Legislature. The hour of midnight having arrived, on motion of Commissioner Palma, the Commission, as a Chamber of
the Philippine Legislature, adjourned sine die.

The Act of Congress, approved July 1, 1902, provides, among other things, in section 7, that the Philippine Assembly "shall keep
in journal of its proceedings, which shall be published . . . ." In obedience to this mandate, the journal of the Assembly's
proceedings for the sessions of 1914 was duly published and it appears therein (vol. 9, p. 1029), that the Assembly adjourned sine
die at 12 o'clock midnight on February 28, 1914.

Section 275 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that the existence of the "official acts of the legislative, executive, and judicial
departments of the United States and of the Philippine Islands ... shall be judicially recognized by the court without the
introduction of proof; but the court may receive evidence upon any of the subjects in this section states, when it shall find it
necessary for its own information, and may resort for its aid to appropriate books, documents, or evidence." And section 313 [as
amended by sec. 1 of Act No. 2210], of the same Code also provides that:

Official documents may be proved as follows: . . . .

(2) The proceedings of the Philippine Commission, or of any legislative body that may be provided for the Philippine Islands, or of
Congress, by the journals of those bodies or of either house thereof, or by published statutes or resolutions, or by copies certified
by the clerk or secretary or printed by their order: Provided, That in the case of Acts of the Philippine Commission or the
Philippine Legislature when there is in existence a copy signed by the presiding officers and the secretaries of said bodies, it shall
be conclusive proof of the provisions of such Act and of the due enactment thereof.

While there are no adjudicated cases in this jurisdiction upon the exact question whether the courts may take judicial notice of
the legislative journals, it is well settled in the United States that such journals may be noticed by the courts in determining the
question whether a particular bill became a law or not. (The State ex rel. Herron vs. Smith, 44 Ohio, 348, and cases cited therein.)
The result is that the law and the adjudicated cases make it our duty to take judicial notice of the legislative journals of the
special session of the Philippine Legislature of 1914. These journals are not ambiguous or contradictory as to the actual time of
the adjournment. They show, with absolute certainty, that the Legislature adjourned sine die at 12 o'clock midnight on February
28, 1914.

Passing over the question whether the printed Act (No. 2381), published by authority of law, is conclusive evidence as to the date
when it was passed, we will inquire whether the courts may go behind the legislative journals for the purpose of determining the
date of adjournment when such journals are clear and explicit. From the foregoing it is clear that this investigation belongs
entirely to that branch of legal science which embraces and illustrates the laws of evidence. On the one hand, it is maintained
that the Legislature did not, as we have indicated, adjourn at midnight on February 28, 1914, but on March 1st, and that this
allegation or alleged fact may be established by extraneous evidence; while, on the other hand, it is urged that the contents of
the legislative journals are conclusive evidence as to the date of adjournment. In order to understand these opposing positions, it
is necessary to consider the nature and character of the evidence thus involved. Evidence is understood to be that which proves
or disproves "any matter in question or to influence the belief respecting it," and "conclusive evidence is that which establishes
the fact, as in the instance of conclusive presumptions." (Bouvier's Law Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 701 et seq.) Counsel for the
appellant, in order to establish his contention, must necessarily depend upon the memory or recollection of witnesses, while the
legislative journals are the acts of the Government or sovereign itself. From their very nature and object the records of the
Legislature are as important as those of the judiciary, and to inquiry into the veracity of the journals of the Philippine Legislature,
when they are, as we have said, clear and explicit, would be to violate both the letter and the spirit of the organic laws by which
the Philippine Government was brought into existence, to invade a coordinate and independent department of the Government,
and to interfere with the legitimate powers and functions of the Legislature. But counsel in his argument says that the public
knows that the Assembly's clock was stopped on February 28, 1914, at midnight and left so until the determination of the
discussion of all pending matters. Or, in other words, the hands of the clock were stayed in order to enable the Assembly to
effect an adjournment apparently within the time fixed by the Governor's proclamation for the expiration of the special session,
in direct violation of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902. If the clock was, in fact, stopped, as here suggested, "the resultant evil
might be slight as compared with that of altering the probative force and character of legislative records, and making the proof of
legislative action depend upon uncertain oral evidence, liable to loss by death or absence, and so imperfect on account of the
treachery of memory. Long, long centuries ago, these considerations of public policy led to the adoption of the rule giving verity
and unimpeachability to legislative records. If that character is to be taken away for one purpose, it must be taken away for all,
and the evidence of the laws of the state must rest upon a foundation less certain and durable than that afforded by the law to
many contracts between private individuals concerning comparatively trifling matters." (Capito vs. Topping, W. Va., 22 L. R. A. [N.
S.], 1089.) Upon the same point the court, in the State ex rel. Herron vs. Smith (44 Ohio, 348), decided in 1886, said:

Counsel have exhibited unusual industry in looking up the various cases upon this question; and, out of a multitude of citations,
not one is found in which any court has assumed to go beyond the proceedings of the legislature, as recorded in the journals
required to be kept in each of its branches, on the question whether a law has been adopted. And if reasons for the limitation
upon judicial inquiry in such matters have not generally been stated, in doubtless arises from the fact that they are apparent.
Imperative reasons of public policy require that the authenticity of laws should rest upon public memorials of the most
permanent character. They should be public, because all are required to conform to them; they should be permanent, that right
acquired to-day upon the faith of what has been declared to be law shall not be destroyed to-morrow, or at some remote period
of time, by facts resting only in the memory of individuals.

In the case from which this last quotation is taken, the court cited numerous decisions of the various states in the American
Union in support of the rule therein laid down, and we have been unable to find a single case of a later date where the rule has
been in the least changed or modified when the legislative journals cover the point. As the Constitution of the Philippine
Government is modeled after those of the Federal Government and the various states, we do not hesitate to follow the courts in
that country in the matter now before us. The journals say that the Legislature adjourned at 12 midnight on February 28, 1914.
This settles the question, and the court did not err in declining to go behind these journals.

On or about the 5th or 6th of April, 1915, the Spanish mail steamer Lopez y Lopez arrived at Manila from Spain, bringing, among
other cargo, twenty-five barrels which were manifested as "wine" and consigned to Jacinto Lasarte. Gabino Beliso had been,
prior to the arrival of this cargo, engaged in the business of a wine merchant, with an office and warehouse located at 203 Calle
San Anton in this city. The shipper's invoice and bill of lading for the twenty-five barrels were delivered to Gregorio Cansipit, a
customs broker, by Beliso. These documents were indorsed as follows: "Deliver to Don Gabino Beliso" and signed "Jacinto
Lasarte." Cansipit conducted the negotiations incident to the release of the merchandise from the customhouse and the twenty-
five barrels were delivered in due course to the warehouse of Beliso at the aforementioned street and number. Beliso signed the
paper acknowledging delivery. Shortly thereafter the custom authorities, having noticed that shipments of merchandise
manifested as "wine" had been arriving in Manila from Spain, consigned to persons whose names were not listed as merchants,
and having some doubt as to the nature of the merchandise so consigned, instituted an investigation and traced on the 10th of
April, 1915, the twenty-five barrels to Beliso's warehouse, being aided by the customs registry number of the shipment, the entry
number, and the serial number of each barrel. It was found that the twenty-five barrels began to arrive on bull carts at Beliso's
warehouse about 11 o'clock on the morning of April 9. Before the merchandise arrived at that place, the appellant, Juan Pons,
went to Beliso's warehouse and joined Beliso in the latter's office, where the two engaged in conversation. Pons then left and
shortly thereafter several of the barrels arrived and were unloaded in Beliso's bodega. He called one of his employees, Cornelius
Sese, and directed him to go out and get a bull cart. This Sese did and returned with the vehicle. Beliso then carefully selected
five barrels out of the shipment of twenty-five and told Sese to load these five on the cart and to deliver them to Juan Pons at
No. 144 Calle General Solano. This order was complied with by Sese and the barrels delivered to Pons at the place designated.
Pursuing their investigation, which started on the 10th, the customs secret service agents entered Beliso's bodega on that date
before the office was opened and awaited the arrival of Beliso. Sese was found in the bodega and placed under arrest. The
agents then proceeded to separate the recent shipment from the other merchandise stored in the warehouse, identifying the
barrels by the customs registry and entry numbers. Only twenty of the twenty-five barrels could be found on Beliso's premises.
Upon being questioned or interrogated, Sese informed the customs agents that the five missing barrels had been delivered by
him to Pons at 144 Calle General Solano by order of Beliso. The agents, accompanied by Sese, proceeded to 144 Calle General
Solano and here found the five missing barrels, which were identified by the registry and entry numbers as well as by the serial
numbers. The five barrels were empty, the staves having been sprung and the iron hoops removed. Five empty tins, each
corresponding in size to the heads of the five barrels, were found on the floor nearby. The customs officers noticed several
baskets of lime scattered about the basement of the house and on further search they found 77 tins of opium in one of these
baskets. There was no one in the house when this search was made, but some clothing was discovered which bore the initials "J.
P." It then became important to the customs agents to ascertain the owner and occupant of house No. 144 on Calle General
Solano where the five barrels were delivered. The owner was found, upon investigation, to be Mariano Limjap, and from the
latter's agent it was learned that the house was rented by one F. C. Garcia. When the lease of the house was produced by the
agent of the owner, the agents saw that the same was signed "F. C. Garcia, by Juan Pons." After discovering these facts they
returned to the house of Beliso and selected three of the twenty barrels and ordered them returned to the customhouse. Upon
opening these three barrels each was found to contain a large tin fitted into the head of the barrel with wooden cleats and
securely nailed. Each large tin contained 75 small tins of opium. A comparison of the large tins taken out of the three barrels with
the empty ones found at 144 Calle General Solano show, says the trial court, "that they were in every way identical in size, form,
etc."

While the customs officers were still at the office and warehouse of Beliso on the morning of April 10, Pons, apparently unaware
that anything unusual was going on, arrived there and was placed under arrest, and taken to the office of Captain Hawkins, chief
of the customs secret service, and according to Hawkins, voluntarily confessed his participation in the smuggling of the opium. He
maintained, however, that the 77 tins of opium found at 144 Calle General Solano represented the entire importation. Pons,
being at the customhouse under arrest at the time the three barrels were opened and the customs officers appearing to be no
doubt as to which end of the barrels contained the opium, Pons showed the officers how to open the barrels and pointed out
that the end of the barrel, which had the impression of a bottle stamped in the wood, contained the opium. On seeing the 195
tins of opium taken from the three barrels, Pons further stated that he had delivered some 250 tins of opium of this shipment to
a Chinaman at 7.30 a. m. on the morning of April 10, following the instructions given him by Beliso. On being further questioned,
Pons stated that he and Beliso had been partners in several opium transactions; that the house at No. 144 Calle General Solano
had been leased by him at the suggestion of Beliso for the purpose of handling the prohibited drug; and that he and Beliso had
shared the profits of a previous importation of opium. Sese testified that he had delivered a previous shipment to 144 Calle
General Solano. The customs agents then went with Pons to his house and found in his yard several large tin receptacles, in every
way similar to those found at 144 Calle General Solano and those taken from the barrels at the customhouse. At first Pons stated
that F. C. Garcia was a tobacco merchant traveling in the between the Provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, and later he retracted
this statement and admitted that Garcia was a fictitious person. But during the trial of this case in the court below Pons testified
that Garcia was a wine merchant and a resident of Spain, and that Garcia had written him a letter directing him to rent a house
for him (Garcia) and retain it until the arrival in the Philippine Islands of Garcia. According to Pons this letter arrived on the same
steamer which brought the 25 barrels of "wine," but that he had destroyed it because he feared that it would compromise him.
On being asked during the trial why he insisted, in purchasing wine from Beliso, in receiving a part of the wine which had just
arrived on the Lopez y Lopez, answered, "Naturally because F. C. Garcia told me in this letter that this opium was coming in
barrels of wine sent to Beliso by a man the name of Jacinto Lasarte, and that is the reason I wanted to get these barrels of wine."

The foregoing are substantially the fats found by the trial court and these fats establish the guilt of the appellant beyond any
question of a doubt, notwithstanding his feeble attempt to show that the opium as shipped to him from Spain by a childhood
fried named Garcia. The appellant took a direct part in this huge smuggling transaction and profited thereby. The penalty
imposed by the trial court is in accordance with la and the decisions of this court in similar cases.

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs. So ordered.

Torres, Johnson, Moreland, and Araullo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 89914 November 20, 1991


JOSE F.S. BENGZON JR., ABELARDO TERMULO, JOSE MANTECON, VICENTE MILLS JR., LEONARDO
GAMBOA, KURT BACHMANN JR., JOSE V.E. JIMENEZ, ERNESTO CALUYA, AGERICO UNGSON, SUSAN
ROXAS, ELVIE CASTILLO, and CYNTHIA SABIDO LIMJAP, petitioners,
vs.
THE SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE AND ITS MEMBERS, represented by and through the CHAIRMAN,
HON. WIGBERTO TAADA, respondents, JOSE S. SANDEJAS, intervenor.

Bengzon, Zarraga, Narciso, Cudala, Pecson & Bengson for petitioners.


Balgos & Perez for intervening petitioner.

Eddie Tamondong and Antonio T. Tagaro for respondents.

PADILLA, J.:

This is a petition for prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or injuective relief, to
enjoin the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon committee from requiring the petitioners to testify and produce evidence at
its inquiry into the alleged sale of the equity of Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopa Group in thirty-six (36) or
thirty-nine (39) corporations.

On 30 July 1987, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government
(PCGG), assisted by the Solicitor General, filed with the Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0035 (PCGG Case No. 35)
entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, et al.", for reconveyance, reversion, accounting,
restitution and damages.

The complaint was amended several times by impleading new defendants and/or amplifying the allegations therein.
Under the Second Amended Complaint, 1 the herein petitioners were impleaded as party defendants.

The complaint insofar as pertinent to herein petitioners, as defendants, alleges among others that:

14. Defendants Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez and Juliette Gomez Romualdez, acting by themselves and/or in unlawful
concert with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, and taking undue advantage of their relationship,
influence and connection with the latter Defendant spouses, engaged in devices, schemes and strategems to unjuestly
enrigh themselves at the expense of Plaintiff and the Filipino people, among others:

(a) Obatained, with the active 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, namely: Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Jose Vicente E. Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo C. Cruz;
Jose S. Sandejas and his fellow senior managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings groups of companies such as Leonardo
Gamboa, Vicente T. Mills, Jr., Jose M. Mantecon, Abelardo S. Termulo, Rex C. Drilon II and Kurt Bachmann, Jr.,
control of some of the biggest business enterprises in the Philippines, such as the Manila Corporation (MERALCO),
Benguet Consolidated and the Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCI Bank) by employing devious financial
schemes and techniques calculated to require the massive infusion and hemorrhage of government funds with
minimum or negligible "cashout" from Defendant Benjamin Romualdez...

xxx xxx xxx

(m) manipulated, with the support, assistance and collaboration of Philgurantee officials led by chairman Cesar E.A.
Virata and the Senior managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings, Inc. led by Jose S. Sandejas, Jr., Jose M. Mantecom and Kurt
S. Bachmann, Jr., among others, the formation of Erectors Holdings, Inc. without infusing additional capital solely for
the purpose of Erectors Incorporated with Philguarantee in the amount of P527,387,440.71 with insufficient
securities/collaterals just to enable Erectors Inc, to appear viable and to borrow more capitals, so much so that its
obligation with Philgurantee has reached a total of more than P2 Billion as of June 30, 1987.
(n) at the onset of the present Administration and/or within the week following the February 1986 People's Revolution,
in conspiracy with, supoort, assistance and collaboration of the abovenamed lawyers of the Bengzon Law Offices, or
specifically Defendants Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., V.E. Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr.,
manipulated, shcemed, and/or executed a series of devices intended to conceal and place, and/or for the purpose of
concealing and placing, beyond the inquiry and jurisdiction of the Presidential Commission on Good Government
(PCGG) herein Defendant's individual and collective funds, properties, and assets subject of and/or suited int he
instant Complaint.

(o) manuevered, with the technical know-how and legalitic talents of the FMMC senior manager and some of the
Bengzon law partners, such as Attys. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Amando V. Faustino, Jose
Vicente E. Jimenez and Leonardo C. Cruz, the purported sale of defendant Benjamin Romualdez's interests in the (i)
Professional Managers, (ii) A & E International Corporation (A & E), (iii) First Manila Managerment Corporation
(FMMC), (iv) Philippine World Travel Inc. (PWTI) and its subsidiaries consisting of 36 corporations in all, to PNI
Holdings, Inc. (wjose purported incorporations are all members of Atty. Jose F.S. Bengzon's law firm) for only P5
million on March 3, 1986 or three days after the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government on
February 28, 1986, for the sole purpose of deceiving and preempting the Government, particularly the PCGG, and
making it appear that defendant Benjamin Romualdez had already divested himself of his ownership of the same when
in truth and in fact, his interests are well intact and being protected by Atty. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. and some of his law
partners, together with the FMMC senior managers who still control and run the affiars of said corporations, and in
order to entice the PCGG to approve the said fictitious sale, the above-named defendants offered P20 million as
"donation" to the Government;

(p) misused, with the connivance, support and technical assitance of the Bengzon law firm represented by Atty. Jose
F.S. Bengzon, Jr. as legal counsel, together with defendants Cesar Zalamea, Antonio Ozaeta, Mario D. Camacho amd
Senen J. Gabaldon as members of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Commercial International bank (PCIB), the
Meralco Pension Fund (Fund, for short) in the amount of P25 million by cuasing it to be invested in the PCIB and
through the Bank's TSG, assigned to PCI Development and PCI Equity at 50% each, the Fund's (a) 8,028.011
common shares in the Bank and (b) "Deposit in Subscription" in the amount of P4,929.972.50 but of the agreed
consideration of P28 million for the said assignment, PCI Development and PCI Equity were able to pay only
P5,500.00 downpayment and the first amortization of P3,937,500.00 thus prompting the Fund to rescind its
assignment, and the consequent reversion of the assigned brought the total shareholding of the Fund to 11,470,555
voting shares or 36.8% of the voting stock of the PCIB, and this development (which the defendants themselves
orchestrated or allowed to happen) was used by them as an excuse for the unlawful dismantling or cancellation of the
Fund's 10 million shares for allegedly exceeding the 30-percent ceiling prescribed by Section 12-B of the General
Banking Act, although they know for a fact that what the law declares as unlawful and void ab initio are the
subscriptions in excess of the 30% ceiling "to the extent of the excess over any of the ceilings prescribed ..." and not
the whole or entire stockholding which they allowed to stay for six years (from June 30, 1980 to March 24, 1986);

(q) cleverly hid behind the veil of corporate entity, through the use of the names and managerial expertise of the FMMC
senior manager and lawyers identified as Jose B. Sandejas, Leonardo Gamboa, Vicente T. Mills, Abelardo S, Termulo,
Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Jose M. Mantecon, Rex C. Drilon II, Kurt Bachmann, Jr. together with the legal talents of
corporate lawyers, such as Attys. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., Jose V.E. Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo
C. Cruz, the ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin T. Romualdez including, among others, the 6,229,177 shares in PCIB
registered in the names of Trans Middle East Phils. Equities, Inc. and Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr. which they refused to
surrender to PCGG despite their disclosure as they tried and continue to exert efforts in getting hold of the same as
well as the shares in Benguet registered in the names of Palm Avenue Holdings and Palm Avenue Realty
Development Corp. purportedly to be applied as payment for the claim of P70 million of a "merger company of the First
Manila Managerment Corp. group" supposedly owned by them although the truth is that all the said firms are still
beneficially owned by defendants Benjamin Romualdez.

xxx xxx xxx

On 28 September 1988, petitioner (as defendants) filed their respective answers. 2 Meanwhile, from 2 to 6 August
1988, conflicting reports on the disposition by the PCGG of the "Romualdez corporations" were carried in various
metropolitan newspapers. Thus, one newspaper reported that the Romuladez firms had not been sequestered
because of the opposition of certain PCGG officials who "had worked prviously as lawyers of the Marcos crony firms."
Another daily reported otherwise, while others declared that on 3 March 1986, or shortly after the EDSA February 1986
revolution, the Romualdez companies" were sold for P5 million, without PCGG approval, to a holding company
controlled by Romualdez, and that Ricardo Lopa, the President's brother-in-law, had effectively taken over the firms,
even pending negotiations for the purchase of the corporations, for the same price of P5 million which was reportedly
way below the fair value of their assets. 3

On 13 September 1988, the Senate Minority Floor Leader, Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile delivered a speech "on a matter of personal privilege" before the Senate on the alleged "take-over
personal privilege" before the Senate on the alleged "take-over of SOLOIL Incorporated, the flaship of the First Manila Management of Companies (FMMC) by Ricardo Lopa" and
called upon "the Senate to look into the possible violation of the law in the case, particularly with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act." 4

On motion of Senator Orlando Mercado, the matter was referred by the Senate to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers (Blue Ribbon Committee). 5Thereafter,

the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee started its investigation on the matter. Petitioners and Ricardo Lopa were
subpoenaed by the Committee to appear before it and testify on "what they know" regarding the "sale of thirty-six (36)
corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez."

At the hearing held on 23 May 1989, Ricardo Lopa declined to testify on the ground that his testimony may "unduly
prejudice" the defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. likewise
refused to testify involing his constitutional right to due process, and averring that the publicity generated by
respondents Committee's inquiry could adversely affect his rights as well as those of the other petitioners who are his
co-defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, thereupon, suspended its inquiry and directed the petitioners to file their
memorandum on the constitutional issues raised, after which, it issued a 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 constitutional rights, and to their grave and irreparable damager, prejudice and injury, and that there is no
appeal nor any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the petitioners filed the present petition for prohibition with a prayer for temporary restraning
order and/or injunctive relief.

Meanwhile, one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan, Jose S. Sandejas, filed with the Court of motion for intervention, 8
which the Court
granted in the resolution 9 of 21 December 1989, and required the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to
comment on the petition in intervention. In compliance, therewith, respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee filed its
comment 10 thereon.

Before discussing the issues raised by petitioner and intervenor, we will first tackle the jurisdictional question raised by
the respondent Committee.

In its comment, respondent Committee claims that this court cannot properly inquire into the motives of the lawmakers
in conducting legislative investigations, much less cna it enjoin the Congress or any its regular and special commitees
like what petitioners seek from making inquiries in aid of legislation, under the doctrine of separation of powers,
which obtaines in our present system of government.

The contention is untenable. In Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 11 the Court held:

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not hrough express
provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of
matters wihtin its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three
powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and
independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure
coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government...

xxx xxx xxx

But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power to the
executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government. The ovelapping and interlacing of funcstions
and duties between the several deaprtments, however, sometimes makes it hard to say just where the political
excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated, in
cases of conflict, the judicial departments is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the
proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.

xxx xxx xxx

The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such
powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the
judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries; it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it
does not inr eality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation
assigned to it by tyhe Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to established
for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantess to them. This is in
thruth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the
Constitution. Even the, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after
full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis
mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile
conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon
questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More thatn that, courts accord the presumption of
constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
also becuase the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of
the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the government.

The "allocation of constituional boundaries" is a task that this Court must perfomr under the Constitution. Moreowever,
as held in a recent case, 12 "(t)he political question doctrine neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of
the rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that
obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said provision by no means does away with kthe applicability
of the principle in appropriate cases." 13

The Court is thus of the considered view that it has jurisdiction over the present controversy for the purpose of determining the scope and extent of the power of the Senate Blue
Ribbon Committee to conduct inquiries into private affirs in purported aid of legislation.

Coming to the specific issues raised in this case, petitioners contend that (1) the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's inquiry has no valid legislative purpose, i.e., it is not done in aid of
legislation; (2) the sale or disposition of hte Romualdez corporations is a "purely private transaction" which is beyond the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to inquire into;
and (3) the inquiry violates their right to due process.

The 1987 Constition expressly recognizes the power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. 14 Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof
provides:

The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committee may conduct inquiries in aid of
legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by
such inquiries shall be respected. 15
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not, therefore, absolute or unlimited. Its exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the
Constitution. Thus, as provided therein, the investigation must be "in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure" and that "the rights of persons
appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected." It follows then that the rights of persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including the right to due process and
the right not to be compelled to testify against one's self.

The power to conduct formal inquiries or investigations in specifically provided for in Sec. 1 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. Such inquiries
may refer to the implementation or re-examination of any law or in connection with any proposed legislation or the formulation of future legislation. They may also extend to any and all
matters vested by the Constitution in Congress and/or in the Seante alone.

As held in Jean L. Arnault vs. Leon Nazareno, et al., 16


the inquiry, to be within the jurisdiction of the legislative body making it, must 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.

Under Sec. 4 of the aforementioned Rules, the Senate may refer to any committee or committees any speech or
resolution filed by any Senator which in tis judgment requires an appropriate inquiry in aid of legislation. In order
therefore to ascertain the character or nature of an inquiry, resort must be had to the speech or resolution under which
such an inquiry is proposed to be made.

A perusal of the speech of Senator Enrile reveals that he (Senator Enrile) made a statement which was published in
various newspapers on 2 September 1988 accusing Mr. Ricardo "Baby" Lopa of "having taken over the FMMC Group
of Companies." As a consequence thereof, Mr. Lopa wrote a letter to Senator Enrile on 4 September 1988
categorically denying that he had "taken over " the FMMC Group of Companies; that former PCGG Chairman Ramon
Diaz himself categorically stated in a telecast interview by Mr. Luis Beltran on Channel 7 on 31 August 1988 that there
has been no takeover by him (Lopa); and that theses repeated allegations of a "takeover" on his (Lopa's) part of
FMMC are baseless as they are malicious.

The Lopa reply prompted Senator Enrile, during the session of the Senate on 13 September 1988, to avail of the
privilege hour, 17 so that he could repond to the said Lopa letter, and also to vindicate his reputation as a Member of
the Senate of the Philippines, considering the claim of Mr. Lopa that his (Enrile's) charges that he (Lopa) had taken
over the FMMC Group of Companies are "baseless" and "malicious." Thus, in his speech, 18Senator Enrile said,
among others, as follows:

Mr. President, I rise this afternnon on a matter of personal privilege; the privilege being that I received, Mr. President, a
letter dated September 4, 1988, signed by Mr. ricardo A. Lopa, a.k.a. or Baby Lopa, wherein he denied categorically
that he has taken over the First Manila Management Group of Companies which includes SOLOIL Incorporated.

xxx xxxx xxx

In answer to Mr. Lopa, I will quote pertinent portions from an Official Memorandum to the Presidential Commission of
Good Government written and signed by former Governor, now Congressman Jose Ramirez, in his capacity as head of
the PCGG Task Force for Region VIII. In his memorandum dated July 3, 1986, then Governor Ramirez stated that
when he and the members of his task force sought to serve a sequestration order on the management of SOLOIL in
Tanauan, Leyte, management officials assured him that relatives of the President of the Philippines were personally
discussing and representing SOLOIL so that the order of sequestration would be lifted and that the new owner was Mr.
Ricardo A. Lopa.

I will quote the pertinent portions in the Ramire's memorandum.

The first paragraph of the memorandum reads as follows and I quote, Mr. President:
"Our sequestration work of SOLOIL in Tanauan, Leyte was not heeded by management because they said another
representation was being made to this Commission for the ventual lifting of our sequestrationorder. They even assured
us that Mr. Ricardo Lopa and Peping Cojunangco were personally discussing and representing SOLOIL, so the order
of sequestration will finally be lifted. While we attempted to carry on our order, management refused to cooperate and
vehemently turned down our request to make available to us the records of the company. In fact it was obviously clear
that they will meet us with forcethe moment we insist on doing normally our assigned task. In view of the impending
threat, and to avoid any untoward incident we decided to temporarily suspend our work until there is a more categorical
stand of this Commission in view of the seemingly influential represetation being made by SOLOIL for us not to
continue our work."

Another pertinent portion of the same memorandum is paragraph five, which reads as follows, and I quote Mr.
President:

"The President, Mr. Gamboa, this is, I understand, the President of SOLOIL, and the Plant Superintendent, Mr.
Jimenez including their chief counsel, Atty. Mandong Mendiola are now saying that there have been divestment, and
that the new owner is now Mr. Ricardo Lopa who according to them, is the brother-in-law of the President. They even
went further by telling us that even Peping Cojuangco who we know is the brother of her excellency is also interested
in the ownership and management of SOLOIL. When he demanded for supporting papers which will indicate aforesaid
divestment, Messrs. Gamboa, Jimenez and Mendiola refused vehemently to submit these papers to us, instead they
said it will be submitted directly to this Commission. To our mind their continuous dropping of names is not good for
this Commission and even to the President if our dersire is to achieve respectability and stability of the government."

The contents of the memorandum of then Governor and now Congressman Jose Ramirez were personally confirmed
by him in a news interview last September 7, 1988.

xxx xxxx xxx

Also relevant to this case, Mr. President, is a letter of Mr. Ricardo Lopa himself in August 11, 1988 issue of the
newspaper Malaya headlined "On Alleged Takeover of Romualdez Firms."

Mr. Lopa states in the last paragraph of the published letter and I quote him:

12. As of this writing, the sales agreement is under review by the PCGG solely to determine the appropriate price. The
sale of these companies and our prior rigtht to requires them have never been at issue.

Perhaps I could not make it any clearer to Mr. Lopa that I was not really making baseless and malicious statements.

Senator Enrile concluded his privilege speech in the following tenor:

Mr. President, it may be worthwhile for the Senate to look into the possible violation of the law in the case particularly
with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 5 of which reads as follows and
I quote:

Sec. 5. Prohibition on certain relatives. It shall be unlawful for the spouse or for nay relative, by consanguinity or
affinity, within the third civil degree, of the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Philippines, the
President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to intervene directly or indirectly, in any
business, transaction, contract or application with the Government: Provided, that this section shall not apply to any
person who prior to the assumption of office of any of the above officials to whom he is related, has been already
dealing with the Government along the same line of business, nor to any transaction, contract or application filed by
him for approval of which is not discretionary on the part of the officials concerned but depends upon compliance with
requisites provided by law, nor to any act lawfully performed in an official capacity or in the exercise of a profession.

Mr. President, I have done duty to this Senate and to myself. I leave it to this august Body to make its own conclusion.
Verily, the speech of Senator Enrile contained no suggestion of contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the
Senate to look into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known as "The Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act." I other words, the purpose of the inquiry to be conducted by respondent Blue Ribbon commitee was to
find out whether or not the relatives of President Aquino, particularly Mr. ricardo Lopa, had violated the law in
connection with the alleged sale of the 36 or 39 corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopaa
Group. There appears to be, therefore, no intended legislation involved.

The Court is also not impressed with the respondent Committee's argument that the questioned inquiry is to be
conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 212. The said resolution was introduced by Senator Jose D. Lina in view
of the representaions made by leaders of school youth, community groups and youth of non-governmental
organizations to the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports Development, to look into the charges against the PCGG
filed by three (3) stockholders of Oriental petroleum, i.e., that it has adopted a "get-rich-quick scheme" for its nominee-
directors in a sequestered oil exploration firm.The pertinent portion of Senate Resolution No. 212 reads as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREAS, recent developments have shown that no less than the Solicitor-General has stated that the PCGG
Chairman and at least three Commissioners should resign and that the agency should rid itself of "ineptness,
incompetence and corruption" and that the Sandiganbayan has reportedly ordered the PCGG to answer charges filed
by three stockholders of Oriental Petroleum that it has adopted a "get-rich-quick scheme" for its nominee-directors in a
sequestered oil exploration firm;

WHEREAS, leaders of school youth, community groups and youth of non-governmental organization had made
representations to the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports Development to look into the charges against the
PCGG since said agency is a symbol of the changes expected by the people when the EDSA revolution took place and
that the ill-gotten wealth to be recovered will fund priority projects which will benefit our people such as CARP, free
education in the elementary and secondary levels reforestration, and employment generation for rural and urban
workers;

WHEREAS, the government and the present leadeship must demonstrate in their public and private lives integrity,
honor and efficient management of government services lest our youth become disillusioned and lose hope and return
to an Idelogy and form of government which is repugnant to true freedom, democratic participation and human rights:
Now, therefore, be it.

Resolved by the Senate, That the activities of the Presidential Commission on Good Government be investigated by
the appropriate Committee in connection with the implementation of Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution. 19

Thus, the inquiry under Senate Resolution No. 212 is to look into the charges against the PCGG filed by the three (3) stockholders of Oriental Petroleum in connection with the
implementation of Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution.

It cannot, therefore, be said that the contemplated inquiry on the subject of the privilege speech of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, i.e., the alleged sale of the 36 (or 39) corporations
belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopa Group is to be conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 212 because, firstly, Senator Enrile did not indict the PCGG, and,
secondly, neither Mr. Ricardo Lopa nor the herein petitioners are connected with the government but are private citizens.

It appeals, therefore, that the contemplated inquiry by respondent Committee is not really "in aid of legislation" becuase it is not related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress,
since the aim of the investigation is to find out whether or not the ralatives of the President or Mr. Ricardo Lopa had violated Section 5 RA No. 3019, the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act", a matter that appears more within the province of the courts rather than of the legislature. Besides, the Court may take judicial notice that Mr. Ricardo Lopa died during
the pendency of this case. In John T. Watkins vs. United States, 20 it was held held:
... The power of congress to conduct investigations in inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. it
encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed, or possibly needed
statutes. It includes surveys of defects in our social,economic, or political system for the purpose of enabling Congress
to remedy them. It comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government to expose corruption, inefficiency
or waste. But broad asis this power of inquiry, it is not unlimited. There is no general authority to expose the private
affairs ofindividuals without justification in terms of the functions of congress. This was freely conceded by Solicitor
General in his argument in this case. Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial agency. These are functions of the
executive and judicial departments of government. No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to and in furtherance
of a legitimate task of Congress. Investigations conducted soly for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or
to "punish" those investigated are indefensible. (emphasis supplied)

It can not be overlooked that when respondent Committee decide to conduct its investigation of the petitioners, the
complaint in Civil No. 0035 had already been filed with the Sandiganbayan. A perusal of that complaint shows that one
of its principal causes of action against herein petitioners, as defendants therein, is the alleged sale of the 36 (or 39)
corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez. Since the issues in said complaint had long been joined by
the filing of petitioner's respective answers thereto, the issue sought to be investigated by the respondent Commitee is
one over which jurisdiction had been acquired by the Sandiganbayan. In short, the issue had been pre-empted by that
court. To allow the respondent Committee to conduct its own investigation of an issue already before the
Sandiganbayan would not only pose the possibility of conflicting judgments betweena legislative commitee and a
judicial tribunal, but if the Committee's judgment were to be reached before that of the Sandiganbayan, the possibility
of its influence being made to bear on the ultimate judgment of the Sandiganbayan can not be discounted.

In fine, for the rspondent Committee to probe and inquire into the same justiciable controversy already before the
Sandiganbayan, would be an encroachment into the exclusive domain of judicial jurisdiction that had much earlier set
in. In Baremblatt vs. United States, 21 it was held that:

Broad as it is, the power is not, howevern, without limitations. Since congress may only investigate into those areas in
which it may potentially legislate or appropriate, it cannot inquire into matters which are within the exclusive province of
one of the other branches of the government. Lacking the judicial power given to the Judiciary, it cannot inquire into
mattes that are exclusively the concern of the Judiciary. Neither can it suplant the Executive in what exclusively
belongs to the Executive. ...

Now to another matter. It has been held that "a congressional committee's right to inquire is 'subject to all relevant
limitations placed by the Constitution on governmental action,' including "'the relevant limitations of the Bill of
Rights'." 22

In another case

... the mere semblance of legislative purpose would not justify an inquiry in the face of the Bill of Rights. The critical element is the exeistence of, and the weight to be ascribed to, the
interest of the Congress in demanding disclosures from an unwilling witness. We cannot simply assume, however, that every congressional investigation is justified by a public need
that over-balances any private rights affected. To do so would be to abdicate the responsibility placed by the Constitution upon the judiciary to insure that the Congress does not
unjustifiably encroah upon an individual's right to privacy nor abridge his liberty of speech, press, religion or assembly. 23

One of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution to an individual is the right against self-incrimination. 24
Thir right constured as the right to remain
completely silent may be availed of by the accused in a criminal case; but kit may be invoked by other witnesses only
as questions are asked of them.

This distinction was enunciated by the Court in Romeo Chavez vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al. 25thus
Petitioner, as accused, occupies a different tier of protection from an ordinary witness. Whereas an ordinary witness
may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer
is hot at him, an accused may altother refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any all questions.

Moreover, this right of the accused is extended to respondents in administrative investigations but only if they partake
of the nature of a criminal proceeding or analogous to a criminal proceeding. In Galman vs. Pamaran,26 the Court
reiterated the doctrine in Cabal vs. Kapuanan (6 SCRA 1059) to illustrate the right of witnesses to invoke the right
against self-incrimination not only in criminal proceedings but also in all other types of suit

It was held that:

We did not therein state that since he is not an accused and the case is not a criminal case, Cabal cannot refuse to
take the witness stand and testify, and that he can invoke his right against self-incrimination only when a question
which tends to elicit an answer that will incriminate him is propounded to him. Clearly then, it is not the characeter of
the suit involved but the nature of the proceedings that controls. The privilege has consistenly been held to extend to
all proceedings sanctioned by law and to all cases in which punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness, whether
a party or not.

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.

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

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Feliciano, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr. and Romero, JJ.,
concur.

Separate Opinions

PARAS, J., concurring:

I concur principally because any decision of the respondent committee may unduly influence the Sandiganbayan

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

I regret that I must express a strong dissent the Court's opinion in this case.

The Court is asserting a power which I believe we do not possess. We are encroaching on the turf of Congress. We
are prohibiting the Senate from proceeding with a consitutionally vested function. We are stopping the Senate Blue
Ribbon Committee from exercising a legislative prerogative investigations in aid of legislation. We do so becuase we
somehow feel that the purported aim is not the real purpose.
The Court has no power to second guess the motives behind an act of a House of Congress. Neither can we substitute
our judgment for its judgment on a matter specifically given to it by the Constitution. The scope of the legislative power
is broad. it emcompasses practically every aspect of human or corporate behavior capable of regulation. How can this
Court say that unraveling the tangled and secret skeins behind the acquisition by Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez of 39
corporations under the past regime and their sudden sale to the Lopa Group at the outset of the new dispensation will
not result in useful legislation?

The power of either House of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent. It needs no textual grant. As stated
in Arnault v. Nazareno, 87 Phil. 29 (1950)

Our form of government being patterned after the American system the framers of our Constitution having drawn
largely from American institutions and practices we can, in this case, properly draw also from American precedents
in interpreting analogous provisions of our Constitution, as we have done in other cases in the past.

Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make
investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisely and effectively, such
power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the power of inquiry with
process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot
legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to
affect or change: and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not
infrequently true recourse must be had to others who do possess it. ... (At p. 45)

The framers of the present Constitution were not content to leave the power inherent, incidental or implied. The power
is now expressed as follows:

Sec. 21 The Senate or the House of Representatives or may of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in
aid of legialtion in accordance with its duly published rules of precedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected
by such inquiries shall be respected.

Apart from the formal requirement of publishing the rules of procedure, I agree that there are three queries which, if
answered in the affirmative, may give us cause to intervene.

First, is the matter being investigated one on which no valid legislation could possibly be enacted?

Second, is Congress encroaching on terrain which the Constitution has reserved as the exclusive domain of another
branch of government?

And third, is Congress violating the basic liberties of an individual?

The classic formulation of the power of the Court to interpret the meaning of "in aid of legislation" is expressed
in Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168 (1880).

The House of Representatives passed a resolution creating a committee to investigate the financial relations between
Jay Cooke and Co., a depositary of federal funds and a real estate pool. A debtor of Jay Cooke and Co, Kilbourn,
general manager of the pool refused to answer questions put to him by the Committee and to produce certain book sna
papers. Consequently, he was ordered jailed for forty-five days. He brought an action for false imprisonment and the
Supreme Court decided in his favor.

Speaking through Justice Miller, the Court ruled:

The resolution adopted as a sequence of this preamble contains no hint of any intention of final action by Congress on
the subject, In all the argument of the case no suggestion has been made of what the House of Respresentatives or
the Congress could have done in the way of remedying the wrong or securing the creditors of Jay Cooke and Co., or
even the United States. Was it to be simply a fruitless investigation into the personal affiars of individuals? If so the
House of Representatives had no power or authority in the matter more than any other equal number of gentlemen
interested for the government of their country. By fruitless we mean that it could result in no valid legislation on the
subject to which the inquiry referrred. (Kilbourn v. Thompson, Id. at page 388)

The Kilbourn decision is, however, crica 1880. The world has turned over many times since that era. The same court
which validated separate but equal facilities against of racial discrimination and ruled that a private contract may bar
improved labor standards and social justice legislation has reversed itslef on these and many other questions.

In McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135; 71 L. Ed. 580 [1927], the court went beyond the express terms of the Senate
resolution directing the investigation of a former Attorney General for non-feasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance in
office. It presumed that the action of the Senate was with a legitimate object.

... Plainly the subject was one on which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information
which the investigation was calculated to elicit. This becomes manifest when it is reflected that the functions of the
Department of Justice, the powers and duties of the Attorney-General and the duties of his assitants, are all subject to
regulation by congressional legislation, and that the department is maintained and its activitites are carried on under
such appropriations as in the judgment of Congress are needed from year to year.

The only legitimate object the Senate could have in ordering the investigation was to aid it in legislating, and we think
the subject was the real object. An express avowal of the object would have been better; but in view of the particular
subject matter was not indispenable. In People ex rel. Mc Donald v. Keeler, 99, N.Y. 463, 52 Am. Rep. 49, 2 N.E. 615,
where the Court of Appeals of New york sustained an investigation order by the House of Representatives of that state
where the resolution contained no avowal, but disclosed that it definitely related to the administrative of public office the
duties of which were subject to legislative regulation, the court said (pp. 485, 487): Where public institutions under the
control of the State are ordered to be investigated, it is generally with the view of some legislative action respecting
them, and the same may be said in respect of public officers,' And again "We are bound to presume that the action of
the legislative body was with a legitimate object if it is capable of being so construed, and we have no right to assume
that the contrary was intended." (McGrain v. Daugherty Id., at page 594-595, Emphasis supplied)

The American Court was more categorical in United States v. Josephson, 333 U.S. 858 (1938). It declared that
declaration of legislative purpose was conclusive on the Courts:

Whatever may be said of the Committee on the un-American activities, its authorizing resolution recites it is in aid of
legislation and that fact is establshed for courts.

And since the matter before us in somethingwe inherited from the American constitutional system, rulings from the
decision of federal courts may be apropos. (Stamler v. Willis, 287 F. Supp. 734 [1968]

The Court cannot probe into the motives of the members of the Congress.

Barsky v. United States, 167 F. 2d 241 [1948]

The measure of the power of inquiry is the potentiality that constitutional legislation might ensue from information
derived from such inquiry.

The possibility that invalid as well as valid legislation might ensue from an inquiry does not limit the power of inquiry,
since invalid legislation might ensue from any inquiry.

United States v. Shelton, 148 F. Supp. 926 [1957]

The contention of the defendant that the hearing at which he testified and from which the indictment arose was not in
furtherance og a legislative purpose proceeds on the assumption that a failure to have specific legislation in
contemplation, or a failure to show that legislation was in fact enacted, estabished an absence of legislative purpose.
This argument is patently unsound. The investigative power of Congress is not subject to the limitation that hearings
must result in legislation or recommendations for legislation.
United States v. Deutch (147 F. Supp. 89 (1956)

Under the Constitution of the U.S., the Federal Government is a government of limited powers. The Congress, being
the legislative branch of the Federal Government, is also clothed with limited legislative powers. In orders, however, to
carry its legislative powers into effect successfully, it has always been held that Congress has the power to secure
information concerning matters in respect to which it has the authority to legislate. In fact, it would seem that Congress
must secure information in order to legislate intelligently. Beyond that, the Congress has the right secure information in
order to determine whether or not to legislate on a particular subject matter on which it is within its constitutional
powers to act. (Emphasis Supplied)

The even broader scope of legislative investigation in the Philippine context is explained by a member of the
Constitutional Commission.

The requirement that the investigation be "in aid of legislation" is an essential element for establishing the jurisdiction of
the legislative body. It is, however, a requirement which is not difficult to satisfy becuase, unlike in the United States,
where legislative power is shared by the United State Congress and the states legislatures, the totality of legislative
power is possessed by the Congress nad its legislative field is well-nigh unlimited. "It would be difficult to define any
limits by which the subject matter of its inquiry can be bounded." (Supra, at p. 46) Moreover, it is not necessary that
every question propounded to a witness must be material to a proposed legislation. "In other words, the materiality of
the question must be determined by its direct relation to the subject of the inquiry and not by its indirect relation to any
proposed or possible legislation. The reason is that the necessity or lack of necessity for legislative action and form
and character of the action itself are determined by the sum total of the information to be gathered as a result of the
investigation, and not by a fraction to be gathered as a result of the investigation, and not by a fraction of such
information elicited from a single question. (Id., at 48)

On the basis of this interpretation of what "in aid of legislation" means, it can readily be seen that the phrase
contributes practically nothing towards protecting witnesses. Practically any investigation can be in aid of the broad
legislative power of Congress. The limitation, therefore cannot effectively prevent what Kilbourn v. Thompson (103 U.S.
168 [1880]) characterized as "roving commissions" or what Watkins v. United States (354 U.S. 178, 200 [1957] labeled
as exposure for the sake of exposure. (Bernas, Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, 1st Ed., page
132).

Applying the above principles to the present casem, it can readily be seen that the Senate is investigating an area
where it may potentially legislate. The ease with which relatives of the President were allegedly able to amass great
wealth under the past regime is a legitimate area of inquiry. And if we tack on the alleged attempts o f relatives of a
succeeding adminsitration to duplicate the feat, the need for remedial legislation becomes more imperative.

Our second area of concern is congressional encroachment on matters reserved by the Constitution for the Executive
or the Judiciary.

The majority opinion cites the decision in Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936) explaining our power to
determined conflicting claims of authority. It is indeed the function on this Court to allocate constitutional boundaries
but in the exercise of this "umpire" function we have to take care that we do not keep any of the three great
departments of government from performing functions peculiar to each department or specifically vested to it sby the
Constitution. When a power is vested, ti carries with is everything legitimately neede to exercise it.

It may be argued that the investigation into the Romualdez Lopa transactions is more appropriate for the
Department of Justice and the judiciary. This argument misses the point of legislative inquiry.

The prosecution of offenders by the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman and their trial before courts of justice is
intended to punish persons who violate the law. Legislative investigations go further. The aim is to arrive at policy
determinations which may or may not be enacted into legislation. Referral to prosecutors or courts of justice is an
added bonus. For sure, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee knows it cannot sentence any offender, no matter how
overwhelming the proof that it may gatherm to a jail term. But certainly, the Committee can recommend to Congress
how the situation which enabled get-rich-quick schemes to flourish may be remedied. The fact that the subject of the
investigation may currently be undergoing trial does not restrict the power of Congress to investigate for its own
purposes. The legislative purpose is distinctly different from the judicial purpose.

In Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263, 73 L ed. 692 (1928), leases of naval reservations to oil companies were
investigated by the United States Senate. On a finding that certain leases were fraudulent, court action was
recommended. In other words, court action on one hand and legislation on the other, are not mutually exclusive. They
may complement each other.

... It may be conceded that Congress is without authority to compel disclosyres for the purpose of aiding the
prosecution of pending suits; but the authority of that body, directly or through it Committees, to require pertinent
disclosures in aid of its own consitutional power is not abridged because the information sought to be elicited may also
be of use in such suits... It is plain that investigation of the matters involved in suits brought or to be commenced under
the Senate resolution directing the institution of suits for the cancellation of the leases might directly aid in respect of
legislative action... (Sinclair v. United States, Id.at page 698).

In United States v. Orman, 207 F. 2d Ed. 148 (1953), the court declared that it was pertinent for a legislative committee
to seek facts indicating that a witness was linked to unlawful intestate gambling.

The power of a congressional committee to investigate matters cannot be challenged on the ground that the
Committee went beyond the scope of any contemplated legislative and assumed the functions of a grand jury. Whre
the genral subject of investigation is one concerning which Congress can legislate, and the information sought might
aid the congressional consideration, in such a situation a legitimate legislative purpose must be presumed...

I submit that the filing of indictments or informations or the trial of certain persons cannot, by themselves, half the
intitiation or stop the progress of legislative investigations.

The other ground which I consider the more important one is where the legislative investigation violates the liberties of
the witnesses.

The Constitution expressly provides that "the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be
respected.

It should be emphasized that the constitutional restriction does not call for the banning or prohibition of investigations
where a violation of a basis rights is claimed. It only requires that in the course of the proceedings, the right of persons
should be respected.

What the majority opinion mandates is a blanket prohibition against a witness testifying at all, simply because he is
already facing charges before the Sandiganbayan. To my mind, the Consitution allows him to interpose objections
whenever an incriminating question is posed or when he is compelled to reveal his ocurt defenses, but not ot refuse to
take the witness stand completely.

Arnault v. Nazareno, supra, illustrates the reticence, with which the court views petitions to curtail legislative
investigations even where an invocation of individual liberties is made.

In Arnault, the entire country already knew the name of the presidential realtive whom the Sentate was trying to link to
the Tambobong-Buenavista estate anomalies. Still, the Court did not interfere when Arnault refused to answer specific
questions directed at him and he was punished for hir refusal. The Court did not restrain the Senate when Arnault was
sent o the national penitentiary for an indefinite visit until the name which the Senate wanted him to utter was
extracted. Only when the imprisonment became ureasonably prolonged and the situation in Congress had changed
was he released.

As pointed out by the respondents, not one question has been asked requiring an answer that would incriminate the
petitioners. The allegation that their basic rights are vilolated is not only without basis but is also premature.
I agree with the respondents that the slae of 39 Romualdez corporations to Mr. Lopa is not a purely private transaction
into which the Senate may not inquire. if this were so, much of the work of the Presidential Commission on Good
Government (PCGG) as it seeks to recover illegally acquired wealth would be negated. Much of what PCGG is trying
to recover is the product of arrangements which are not only private but also secret and hidden.

I therefore, vote to DISMISS the petition.

Narvasa, J., dissents.

CRUZ, J., dissenting:

I regret I am unable to give my concurrence, I do not agree that the investigation being conducted by the Blue Ribbon
Committee is not in aid of legislation.

In Arnault v. Nazareno, 87 Phil. 29, this Court observed that "we are bound to presume that the action of the legislative
body was with a legitimate object if it is capable of being so construed, and we have no right ot assume that the
contrary was intended." (People ex rel. Mc Donald vs. Keeler, 99 N.Y. 463; 52 Am. Rep., 49; 2 N.E., 615, quoted with
approval by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGrain vs. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135). As far as I know, that is still the rule
today.

More importantly, the presumption is supported by the established facts. The inquiry is sustainable as an implied of
power the legislature and even as expressly limited by the Constitution.

The inquiry deals with alleged manipulations of public funds and illicit acquisitions of properties now being claimed by
the PCGG for the Republic of the Philippines. The purpose of the Committee is to ascertain if and how such anomalies
have been committed. It is settled that the legislature has a right to investigate the disposition of the public funds it has
appropriated; indeed, "an inquiry into the expenditure of all public money is na indispensable duty of the legislature."
Moreover, an investigation of a possible violation of a law may be useful in the drafting of amendatory legislation to
correct or strengthen that law.

The ponencia quotes lengthily from Senator Enrile's speech and concludes that it "contained no suggestions of
contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the Senate to look into a possible violation of section 5 of R.A. No.
3019." However, according to McGrain v. Daugherty, supra:

Primarily, the purpose for which legislative inquiry and investigation is pursued is to serve as an aid in legislation.
Through it, the legislature is able to obtain facts or data in aid fo proposed legislation. However, it is not necessary that
the resolution ordering an investigation should in terms expressly state that the object of the inquiry is to obtain data in
aid of proposed legislation. It is enough that such purpose appears from a consideration of the entire proceedings or
one in which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was
calculated to elicit. An express avowal of the object would be better, but such is not indispensable. (Emphasis
supplied).

The petitioner's contention that the questioned investigation would compel them to reveal their defense in the cases
now pending against them in the Sandigangbayan is untenable. They know or should know that they cannot be
compelled to answer incriminating questions. The case of Chavez v. Court of Appeals, 24 SCRA 663, where we held
that an accused may refuse at the outset to take the stand on the ground that the questions to be put by the prosecutor
will tend to incriminate him is, of course, not applicable to them. They are not facing criminal charges before the Blue
Ribbon Committee. Like any ordinary witness, they can invoke the right against self-incrimination only when and as the
incriminating question is propounded.

While it is true that the Court is now allowed more leeway in reviewing the traditionally political acts of the legislative
and executive departments, the power must be exercised with the utmost circumspection lest we unduly trench on their
prerogatives and disarrange the constitutional separation of powers. That power is available to us only if there is a
clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion, which I do not see in the case at bar.
Guided by the presumption and the facts, I vote to DISMISS the petition.

Narvasa, J., dissents.

# Separate Opinions

PARAS, J., concurring:

I concur principally because any decision of the respondent committee may unduly influence the Sandiganbayan

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

I regret that I must express a strong dissent the Court's opinion in this case.

The Court is asserting a power which I believe we do not possess. We are encroaching on the turf of Congress. We
are prohibiting the Senate from proceeding with a consitutionally vested function. We are stopping the Senate Blue
Ribbon Committee from exercising a legislative prerogative investigations in aid of legislation. We do so becuase we
somehow feel that the purported aim is not the real purpose.

The Court has no power to second guess the motives behind an act of a House of Congress. Neither can we substitute
our judgment for its judgment on a matter specifically given to it by the Constitution. The scope of the legislative power
is broad. it emcompasses practically every aspect of human or corporate behavior capable of regulation. How can this
Court say that unraveling the tangled and secret skeins behind the acquisition by Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez of 39
corporations under the past regime and their sudden sale to the Lopa Group at the outset of the new dispensation will
not result in useful legislation?

The power of either House of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent. It needs no textual grant. As stated
in Arnault v. Nazareno, 87 Phil. 29 (1950)

Our form of government being patterned after the American system the framers of our Constitution having drawn
largely from American institutions and practices we can, in this case, properly draw also from American precedents
in interpreting analogous provisions of our Constitution, as we have done in other cases in the past.

Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make
investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisely and effectively, such
power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the power of inquiry with
process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot
legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to
affect or change: and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not
infrequently true recourse must be had to others who do possess it. ... (At p. 45)

The framers of the present Constitution were not content to leave the power inherent, incidental or implied. The power
is now expressed as follows:

Sec. 21 The Senate or the House of Representatives or may of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in
aid of legialtion in accordance with its duly published rules of precedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected
by such inquiries shall be respected.

Apart from the formal requirement of publishing the rules of procedure, I agree that there are three queries which, if
answered in the affirmative, may give us cause to intervene.
First, is the matter being investigated one on which no valid legislation could possibly be enacted?

Second, is Congress encroaching on terrain which the Constitution has reserved as the exclusive domain of another
branch of government?

And third, is Congress violating the basic liberties of an individual?

The classic formulation of the power of the Court to interpret the meaning of "in aid of legislation" is expressed
in Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168 (1880).

The House of Representatives passed a resolution creating a committee to investigate the financial relations between
Jay Cooke and Co., a depositary of federal funds and a real estate pool. A debtor of Jay Cooke and Co, Kilbourn,
general manager of the pool refused to answer questions put to him by the Committee and to produce certain book sna
papers. Consequently, he was ordered jailed for forty-five days. He brought an action for false imprisonment and the
Supreme Court decided in his favor.

Speaking through Justice Miller, the Court ruled:

The resolution adopted as a sequence of this preamble contains no hint of any intention of final action by Congress on
the subject, In all the argument of the case no suggestion has been made of what the House of Respresentatives or
the Congress could have done in the way of remedying the wrong or securing the creditors of Jay Cooke and Co., or
even the United States. Was it to be simply a fruitless investigation into the personal affiars of individuals? If so the
House of Representatives had no power or authority in the matter more than any other equal number of gentlemen
interested for the government of their country. By fruitless we mean that it could result in no valid legislation on the
subject to which the inquiry referrred. (Kilbourn v. Thompson, Id. at page 388)

The Kilbourn decision is, however, crica 1880. The world has turned over many times since that era. The same court
which validated separate but equal facilities against of racial discrimination and ruled that a private contract may bar
improved labor standards and social justice legislation has reversed itslef on these and many other questions.

In McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135; 71 L. Ed. 580 [1927], the court went beyond the express terms of the Senate
resolution directing the investigation of a former Attorney General for non-feasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance in
office. It presumed that the action of the Senate was with a legitimate object.

... Plainly the subject was one on which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information
which the investigation was calculated to elicit. This becomes manifest when it is reflected that the functions of the
Department of Justice, the powers and duties of the Attorney-General and the duties of his assitants, are all subject to
regulation by congressional legislation, and that the department is maintained and its activitites are carried on under
such appropriations as in the judgment of Congress are needed from year to year.

The only legitimate object the Senate could have in ordering the investigation was to aid it in legislating, and we think
the subject was the real object. An express avowal of the object would have been better; but in view of the particular
subject matter was not indispenable. In People ex rel. Mc Donald v. Keeler, 99, N.Y. 463, 52 Am. Rep. 49, 2 N.E. 615,
where the Court of Appeals of New york sustained an investigation order by the House of Representatives of that state
where the resolution contained no avowal, but disclosed that it definitely related to the administrative of public office the
duties of which were subject to legislative regulation, the court said (pp. 485, 487): Where public institutions under the
control of the State are ordered to be investigated, it is generally with the view of some legislative action respecting
them, and the same may be said in respect of public officers,' And again "We are bound to presume that the action of
the legislative body was with a legitimate object if it is capable of being so construed, and we have no right to assume
that the contrary was intended." (McGrain v. Daugherty Id., at page 594-595, Emphasis supplied)

The American Court was more categorical in United States v. Josephson, 333 U.S. 858 (1938). It declared that
declaration of legislative purpose was conclusive on the Courts:
Whatever may be said of the Committee on the un-American activities, its authorizing resolution recites it is in aid of
legislation and that fact is establshed for courts.

And since the matter before us in somethingwe inherited from the American constitutional system, rulings from the
decision of federal courts may be apropos. (Stamler v. Willis, 287 F. Supp. 734 [1968]

The Court cannot probe into the motives of the members of the Congress.

Barsky v. United States, 167 F. 2d 241 [1948]

The measure of the power of inquiry is the potentiality that constitutional legislation might ensue from information
derived from such inquiry.

The possibility that invalid as well as valid legislation might ensue from an inquiry does not limit the power of inquiry,
since invalid legislation might ensue from any inquiry.

United States v. Shelton, 148 F. Supp. 926 [1957]

The contention of the defendant that the hearing at which he testified and from which the indictment arose was not in
furtherance og a legislative purpose proceeds on the assumption that a failure to have specific legislation in
contemplation, or a failure to show that legislation was in fact enacted, estabished an absence of legislative purpose.
This argument is patently unsound. The investigative power of Congress is not subject to the limitation that hearings
must result in legislation or recommendations for legislation.

United States v. Deutch (147 F. Supp. 89 (1956)

Under the Constitution of the U.S., the Federal Government is a government of limited powers. The Congress, being
the legislative branch of the Federal Government, is also clothed with limited legislative powers. In orders, however, to
carry its legislative powers into effect successfully, it has always been held that Congress has the power to secure
information concerning matters in respect to which it has the authority to legislate. In fact, it would seem that Congress
must secure information in order to legislate intelligently. Beyond that, the Congress has the right secure information in
order to determine whether or not to legislate on a particular subject matter on which it is within its constitutional
powers to act. (Emphasis Supplied)

The even broader scope of legislative investigation in the Philippine context is explained by a member of the
Constitutional Commission.

The requirement that the investigation be "in aid of legislation" is an essential element for establishing the jurisdiction of
the legislative body. It is, however, a requirement which is not difficult to satisfy becuase, unlike in the United States,
where legislative power is shared by the United State Congress and the states legislatures, the totality of legislative
power is possessed by the Congress nad its legislative field is well-nigh unlimited. "It would be difficult to define any
limits by which the subject matter of its inquiry can be bounded." (Supra, at p. 46) Moreover, it is not necessary that
every question propounded to a witness must be material to a proposed legislation. "In other words, the materiality of
the question must be determined by its direct relation to the subject of the inquiry and not by its indirect relation to any
proposed or possible legislation. The reason is that the necessity or lack of necessity for legislative action and form
and character of the action itself are determined by the sum total of the information to be gathered as a result of the
investigation, and not by a fraction to be gathered as a result of the investigation, and not by a fraction of such
information elicited from a single question. (Id., at 48)

On the basis of this interpretation of what "in aid of legislation" means, it can readily be seen that the phrase
contributes practically nothing towards protecting witnesses. Practically any investigation can be in aid of the broad
legislative power of Congress. The limitation, therefore cannot effectively prevent what Kilbourn v. Thompson (103 U.S.
168 [1880]) characterized as "roving commissions" or what Watkins v. United States (354 U.S. 178, 200 [1957] labeled
as exposure for the sake of exposure. (Bernas, Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, 1st Ed., page
132).
Applying the above principles to the present casem, it can readily be seen that the Senate is investigating an area
where it may potentially legislate. The ease with which relatives of the President were allegedly able to amass great
wealth under the past regime is a legitimate area of inquiry. And if we tack on the alleged attempts o f relatives of a
succeeding adminsitration to duplicate the feat, the need for remedial legislation becomes more imperative.

Our second area of concern is congressional encroachment on matters reserved by the Constitution for the Executive
or the Judiciary.

The majority opinion cites the decision in Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936) explaining our power to
determined conflicting claims of authority. It is indeed the function on this Court to allocate constitutional boundaries
but in the exercise of this "umpire" function we have to take care that we do not keep any of the three great
departments of government from performing functions peculiar to each department or specifically vested to it sby the
Constitution. When a power is vested, ti carries with is everything legitimately neede to exercise it.

It may be argued that the investigation into the Romualdez Lopa transactions is more appropriate for the
Department of Justice and the judiciary. This argument misses the point of legislative inquiry.

The prosecution of offenders by the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman and their trial before courts of justice is
intended to punish persons who violate the law. Legislative investigations go further. The aim is to arrive at policy
determinations which may or may not be enacted into legislation. Referral to prosecutors or courts of justice is an
added bonus. For sure, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee knows it cannot sentence any offender, no matter how
overwhelming the proof that it may gatherm to a jail term. But certainly, the Committee can recommend to Congress
how the situation which enabled get-rich-quick schemes to flourish may be remedied. The fact that the subject of the
investigation may currently be undergoing trial does not restrict the power of Congress to investigate for its own
purposes. The legislative purpose is distinctly different from the judicial purpose.

In Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263, 73 L ed. 692 (1928), leases of naval reservations to oil companies were
investigated by the United States Senate. On a finding that certain leases were fraudulent, court action was
recommended. In other words, court action on one hand and legislation on the other, are not mutually exclusive. They
may complement each other.

... It may be conceded that Congress is without authority to compel disclosyres for the purpose of aiding the
prosecution of pending suits; but the authority of that body, directly or through it Committees, to require pertinent
disclosures in aid of its own consitutional power is not abridged because the information sought to be elicited may also
be of use in such suits... It is plain that investigation of the matters involved in suits brought or to be commenced under
the Senate resolution directing the institution of suits for the cancellation of the leases might directly aid in respect of
legislative action... (Sinclair v. United States, Id.at page 698).

In United States v. Orman, 207 F. 2d Ed. 148 (1953), the court declared that it was pertinent for a legislative committee
to seek facts indicating that a witness was linked to unlawful intestate gambling.

The power of a congressional committee to investigate matters cannot be challenged on the ground that the
Committee went beyond the scope of any contemplated legislative and assumed the functions of a grand jury. Whre
the genral subject of investigation is one concerning which Congress can legislate, and the information sought might
aid the congressional consideration, in such a situation a legitimate legislative purpose must be presumed...

I submit that the filing of indictments or informations or the trial of certain persons cannot, by themselves, half the
intitiation or stop the progress of legislative investigations.

The other ground which I consider the more important one is where the legislative investigation violates the liberties of
the witnesses.

The Constitution expressly provides that "the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be
respected.
It should be emphasized that the constitutional restriction does not call for the banning or prohibition of investigations
where a violation of a basis rights is claimed. It only requires that in the course of the proceedings, the right of persons
should be respected.

What the majority opinion mandates is a blanket prohibition against a witness testifying at all, simply because he is
already facing charges before the Sandiganbayan. To my mind, the Consitution allows him to interpose objections
whenever an incriminating question is posed or when he is compelled to reveal his ocurt defenses, but not ot refuse to
take the witness stand completely.

Arnault v. Nazareno, supra, illustrates the reticence, with which the court views petitions to curtail legislative
investigations even where an invocation of individual liberties is made.

In Arnault, the entire country already knew the name of the presidential realtive whom the Sentate was trying to link to
the Tambobong-Buenavista estate anomalies. Still, the Court did not interfere when Arnault refused to answer specific
questions directed at him and he was punished for hir refusal. The Court did not restrain the Senate when Arnault was
sent o the national penitentiary for an indefinite visit until the name which the Senate wanted him to utter was
extracted. Only when the imprisonment became ureasonably prolonged and the situation in Congress had changed
was he released.

As pointed out by the respondents, not one question has been asked requiring an answer that would incriminate the
petitioners. The allegation that their basic rights are vilolated is not only without basis but is also premature.

I agree with the respondents that the slae of 39 Romualdez corporations to Mr. Lopa is not a purely private transaction
into which the Senate may not inquire. if this were so, much of the work of the Presidential Commission on Good
Government (PCGG) as it seeks to recover illegally acquired wealth would be negated. Much of what PCGG is trying
to recover is the product of arrangements which are not only private but also secret and hidden.

I therefore, vote to DISMISS the petition.

Narvasa, J., dissents.

CRUZ, J., dissenting:

I regret I am unable to give my concurrence, I do not agree that the investigation being conducted by the Blue Ribbon
Committee is not in aid of legislation.

In Arnault v. Nazareno, 87 Phil. 29, this Court observed that "we are bound to presume that the action of the legislative
body was with a legitimate object if it is capable of being so construed, and we have no right ot assume that the
contrary was intended." (People ex rel. Mc Donald vs. Keeler, 99 N.Y. 463; 52 Am. Rep., 49; 2 N.E., 615, quoted with
approval by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGrain vs. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135). As far as I know, that is still the rule
today.

More importantly, the presumption is supported by the established facts. The inquiry is sustainable as an implied of
power the legislature and even as expressly limited by the Constitution.

The inquiry deals with alleged manipulations of public funds and illicit acquisitions of properties now being claimed by
the PCGG for the Republic of the Philippines. The purpose of the Committee is to ascertain if and how such anomalies
have been committed. It is settled that the legislature has a right to investigate the disposition of the public funds it has
appropriated; indeed, "an inquiry into the expenditure of all public money is na indispensable duty of the legislature."
Moreover, an investigation of a possible violation of a law may be useful in the drafting of amendatory legislation to
correct or strengthen that law.

The ponencia quotes lengthily from Senator Enrile's speech and concludes that it "contained no suggestions of
contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the Senate to look into a possible violation of section 5 of R.A. No.
3019." However, according to McGrain v. Daugherty, supra:
Primarily, the purpose for which legislative inquiry and investigation is pursued is to serve as an aid in legislation.
Through it, the legislature is able to obtain facts or data in aid fo proposed legislation. However, it is not necessary that
the resolution ordering an investigation should in terms expressly state that the object of the inquiry is to obtain data in
aid of proposed legislation. It is enough that such purpose appears from a consideration of the entire proceedings or
one in which legislation could be had and would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was
calculated to elicit. An express avowal of the object would be better, but such is not indispensable. (Emphasis
supplied).

The petitioner's contention that the questioned investigation would compel them to reveal their defense in the cases
now pending against them in the Sandigangbayan is untenable. They know or should know that they cannot be
compelled to answer incriminating questions. The case of Chavez v. Court of Appeals, 24 SCRA 663, where we held
that an accused may refuse at the outset to take the stand on the ground that the questions to be put by the prosecutor
will tend to incriminate him is, of course, not applicable to them. They are not facing criminal charges before the Blue
Ribbon Committee. Like any ordinary witness, they can invoke the right against self-incrimination only when and as the
incriminating question is propounded.

While it is true that the Court is now allowed more leeway in reviewing the traditionally political acts of the legislative
and executive departments, the power must be exercised with the utmost circumspection lest we unduly trench on their
prerogatives and disarrange the constitutional separation of powers. That power is available to us only if there is a
clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion, which I do not see in the case at bar.

Guided by the presumption and the facts, I vote to DISMISS the petition.

Narvasa, J., dissents.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 170338 December 23, 2008

VIRGILIO O. GARCILLANO, petitioner,


vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEES ON PUBLIC INFORMATION, PUBLIC ORDER AND
SAFETY, NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, and
SUFFRAGE AND ELECTORAL REFORMS, respondents.

x----------------------x

G.R. No. 179275 December 23, 2008

SANTIAGO JAVIER RANADA and OSWALDO D. AGCAOILI, petitioners,


vs.
THE SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY THE SENATE PRESIDENT THE
HONORABLE MANUEL VILLAR, respondents.

x----------------------x

MAJ. LINDSAY REX SAGGE, petitioner-in-intervention

x----------------------x
AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., BENIGNO NOYNOY C. AQUINO, RODOLFO G. BIAZON, PANFILO M. LACSON,
LOREN B. LEGARDA, M.A. JAMBY A.S. MADRIGAL, and ANTONIO F. TRILLANES, respondents-intervenors

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

More than three years ago, tapes ostensibly containing a wiretapped conversation purportedly between the President
of the Philippines and a high-ranking official of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) surfaced. They captured
unprecedented public attention and thrust the country into a controversy that placed the legitimacy of the present
administration on the line, and resulted in the near-collapse of the Arroyo government. The tapes, notoriously referred
to as the "Hello Garci" tapes, allegedly contained the Presidents instructions to COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio
Garcillano to manipulate in her favor results of the 2004 presidential elections. These recordings were to become the
subject of heated legislative hearings conducted separately by committees of both Houses of Congress. 1

In the House of Representatives (House), on June 8, 2005, then Minority Floor Leader Francis G. Escudero delivered a
privilege speech, "Tale of Two Tapes," and set in motion a congressional investigation jointly conducted by the
Committees on Public Information, Public Order and Safety, National Defense and Security, Information and
Communications Technology, and Suffrage and Electoral Reforms (respondent House Committees). During the
inquiry, several versions of the wiretapped conversation emerged. But on July 5, 2005, National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) Director Reynaldo Wycoco, Atty. Alan Paguia and the lawyer of former NBI Deputy Director Samuel
Ong submitted to the respondent House Committees seven alleged "original" tape recordings of the supposed three-
hour taped conversation. After prolonged and impassioned debate by the committee members on the admissibility and
authenticity of the recordings, the tapes were eventually played in the chambers of the House. 2

On August 3, 2005, the respondent House Committees decided to suspend the hearings indefinitely. Nevertheless,
they decided to prepare committee reports based on the said recordings and the testimonies of the resource persons.3

Alarmed by these developments, petitioner Virgilio O. Garcillano (Garcillano) filed with this Court a Petition for
Prohibition and Injunction, with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction 4docketed
as G.R. No. 170338. He prayed that the respondent House Committees be restrained from using these tape recordings
of the "illegally obtained" wiretapped conversations in their committee reports and for any other purpose. He further
implored that the said recordings and any reference thereto be ordered stricken off the records of the inquiry, and the
respondent House Committees directed to desist from further using the recordings in any of the House proceedings. 5

Without reaching its denouement, the House discussion and debates on the "Garci tapes" abruptly stopped.

After more than two years of quiescence, Senator Panfilo Lacson roused the slumbering issue with a privilege speech,
"The Lighthouse That Brought Darkness." In his discourse, Senator Lacson promised to provide the public "the whole
unvarnished truth the whats, whens, wheres, whos and whys" of the alleged wiretap, and sought an inquiry into
the perceived willingness of telecommunications providers to participate in nefarious wiretapping activities.

On motion of Senator Francis Pangilinan, Senator Lacsons speech was referred to the Senate Committee on National
Defense and Security, chaired by Senator Rodolfo Biazon, who had previously filed two bills6 seeking to regulate the
sale, purchase and use of wiretapping equipment and to prohibit the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from
performing electoral duties.7

In the Senates plenary session the following day, a lengthy debate ensued when Senator Richard Gordon aired his
concern on the possible transgression of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 42008 if the body were to conduct a legislative inquiry
on the matter. On August 28, 2007, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered a privilege speech, articulating her
considered view that the Constitution absolutely bans the use, possession, replay or communication of the contents of
the "Hello Garci" tapes. However, she recommended a legislative investigation into the role of the Intelligence Service
of the AFP (ISAFP), the Philippine National Police or other government entities in the alleged illegal wiretapping of
public officials.9
On September 6, 2007, petitioners Santiago Ranada and Oswaldo Agcaoili, retired justices of the Court of Appeals,
filed before this Court a Petition for Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or
Writ of Preliminary Injunction,10 docketed as G.R. No. 179275, seeking to bar the Senate from conducting its scheduled
legislative inquiry. They argued in the main that the intended legislative inquiry violates R.A. No. 4200 and Section 3,
Article III of the Constitution.11

As the Court did not issue an injunctive writ, the Senate proceeded with its public hearings on the "Hello Garci" tapes
on September 7,12 1713 and October 1,14 2007.

Intervening as respondents,15 Senators Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., Benigno Noynoy C. Aquino, Rodolfo G. Biazon,
Panfilo M. Lacson, Loren B. Legarda, M.A. Jamby A.S. Madrigal and Antonio F. Trillanes filed their Comment 16 on the
petition on September 25, 2007.

The Court subsequently heard the case on oral argument.17

On October 26, 2007, Maj. Lindsay Rex Sagge, a member of the ISAFP and one of the resource persons summoned
by the Senate to appear and testify at its hearings, moved to intervene as petitioner in G.R. No. 179275. 18

On November 20, 2007, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. Nos. 170338 and 179275. 19

It may be noted that while both petitions involve the "Hello Garci" recordings, they have different objectivesthe first is
poised at preventing the playing of the tapes in the House and their subsequent inclusion in the committee reports, and
the second seeks to prohibit and stop the conduct of the Senate inquiry on the wiretapped conversation.

The Court dismisses the first petition, G.R. No. 170338, and grants the second, G.R. No. 179275.

-I-

Before delving into the merits of the case, the Court shall first resolve the issue on the parties standing, argued at
length in their pleadings.

In Tolentino v. COMELEC,20 we explained that "[l]egal standing or locus standi refers to a personal and substantial
interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury because of the challenged governmental
act x x x," thus,

generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when (1) he can show that he has personally suffered some actual or
threatened injury because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the
challenged action; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action. 21

The gist of the question of standing is whether a party has "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the
controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so
largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."22

However, considering that locus standi is a mere procedural technicality, the Court, in recent cases, has relaxed the
stringent direct injury test. David v. Macapagal-Arroyo23 articulates that a "liberal policy has been observed, allowing
ordinary citizens, members of Congress, and civic organizations to prosecute actions involving the constitutionality or
validity of laws, regulations and rulings."24 The fairly recent Chavez v. Gonzales25 even permitted a non-member of the
broadcast media, who failed to allege a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy, to challenge the acts of the
Secretary of Justice and the National Telecommunications Commission. The majority, in the said case, echoed the
current policy that "this Court has repeatedly and consistently refused to wield procedural barriers as impediments to
its addressing and resolving serious legal questions that greatly impact on public interest, in keeping with the Courts
duty under the 1987 Constitution to determine whether or not other branches of government have kept themselves
within the limits of the Constitution and the laws, and that they have not abused the discretion given to them." 26
In G.R. No. 170338, petitioner Garcillano justifies his standing to initiate the petition by alleging that he is the person
alluded to in the "Hello Garci" tapes. Further, his was publicly identified by the members of the respondent committees
as one of the voices in the recordings.27 Obviously, therefore, petitioner Garcillano stands to be directly injured by the
House committees actions and charges of electoral fraud. The Court recognizes his standing to institute the petition for
prohibition.

In G.R. No. 179275, petitioners Ranada and Agcaoili justify their standing by alleging that they are concerned citizens,
taxpayers, and members of the IBP. They are of the firm conviction that any attempt to use the "Hello Garci" tapes will
further divide the country. They wish to see the legal and proper use of public funds that will necessarily be defrayed in
the ensuing public hearings. They are worried by the continuous violation of the laws and individual rights, and the
blatant attempt to abuse constitutional processes through the conduct of legislative inquiries purportedly in aid of
legislation.28

Intervenor Sagge alleges violation of his right to due process considering that he is summoned to attend the Senate
hearings without being apprised not only of his rights therein through the publication of the Senate Rules of Procedure
Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, but also of the intended legislation which underpins the investigation. He
further intervenes as a taxpayer bewailing the useless and wasteful expenditure of public funds involved in the conduct
of the questioned hearings.29

Given that petitioners Ranada and Agcaoili allege an interest in the execution of the laws and that intervenor Sagge
asserts his constitutional right to due process,30 they satisfy the requisite personal stake in the outcome of the
controversy by merely being citizens of the Republic.

Following the Courts ruling in Francisco, Jr. v. The House of Representatives,31 we find sufficient petitioners Ranadas
and Agcaoilis and intervenor Sagges allegation that the continuous conduct by the Senate of the questioned
legislative inquiry will necessarily involve the expenditure of public funds. 32 It should be noted that in Francisco, rights
personal to then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. had been injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House
of Representatives, yet the Court granted standing to the petitioners therein for, as in this case, they invariably invoked
the vindication of their own rightsas taxpayers, members of Congress, citizens, individually or in a class suit, and
members of the bar and of the legal professionwhich were also supposedly violated by the therein assailed
unconstitutional acts.33

Likewise, a reading of the petition in G.R. No. 179275 shows that the petitioners and intervenor Sagge advance
constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as
precedents. The issues are of transcendental and paramount importance not only to the public but also to the Bench
and the Bar, and should be resolved for the guidance of all.34

Thus, in the exercise of its sound discretion and given the liberal attitude it has shown in prior cases climaxing in the
more recent case of Chavez, the Court recognizes the legal standing of petitioners Ranada and Agcaoili and intervenor
Sagge.

- II -

The Court, however, dismisses G.R. No. 170338 for being moot and academic. Repeatedly stressed in our prior
decisions is the principle that the exercise by this Court of judicial power is limited to the determination and resolution
of actual cases and controversies.35 By actual cases, we mean existing conflicts appropriate or ripe for judicial
determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, for otherwise the decision of the Court will amount to an advisory opinion.
The power of judicial inquiry does not extend to hypothetical questions because any attempt at abstraction could only
lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. 36 Neither will the Court
determine a moot question in a case in which no practical relief can be granted. A case becomes moot when its
purpose has become stale.37 It is unnecessary to indulge in academic discussion of a case presenting a moot question
as a judgment thereon cannot have any practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, cannot be enforced. 38

In G.R. No. 170338, petitioner Garcillano implores from the Court, as aforementioned, the issuance of an injunctive writ
to prohibit the respondent House Committees from playing the tape recordings and from including the same in their
committee report. He likewise prays that the said tapes be stricken off the records of the House proceedings. But the
Court notes that the recordings were already played in the House and heard by its members. 39 There is also the widely
publicized fact that the committee reports on the "Hello Garci" inquiry were completed and submitted to the House in
plenary by the respondent committees.40 Having been overtaken by these events, the Garcillano petition has to be
dismissed for being moot and academic. After all, prohibition is a preventive remedy to restrain the doing of an act
about to be done, and not intended to provide a remedy for an act already accomplished.41

- III -

As to the petition in G.R. No. 179275, the Court grants the same. The Senate cannot be allowed to continue with the
conduct of the questioned legislative inquiry without duly published rules of procedure, in clear derogation of the
constitutional requirement.

Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides that "[t]he Senate or the House of Representatives, or
any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules
of procedure." The requisite of publication of the rules is intended to satisfy the basic requirements of due
process.42 Publication is indeed imperative, for it will be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen
for the transgression of a law or rule of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one.43What
constitutes publication is set forth in Article 2 of the Civil Code, which provides that "[l]aws shall take effect after 15
days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation
in the Philippines."44

The respondents in G.R. No. 179275 admit in their pleadings and even on oral argument that the Senate Rules of
Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation had been published in newspapers of general circulation only in
1995 and in 2006.45 With respect to the present Senate of the 14th Congress, however, of which the term of half of its
members commenced on June 30, 2007, no effort was undertaken for the publication of these rules when they first
opened their session.

Recently, the Court had occasion to rule on this very same question. In Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of
Public Officers and Investigations,46 we said:

Fourth, we find merit in the argument of the OSG that respondent Committees likewise violated Section 21 of Article VI
of the Constitution, requiring that the inquiry be in accordance with the "duly published rules of procedure." We
quote the OSGs explanation:

The phrase "duly published rules of procedure" requires the Senate of every Congress to publish its rules of procedure
governing inquiries in aid of legislation because every Senate is distinct from the one before it or after it. Since
Senatorial elections are held every three (3) years for one-half of the Senates membership, the composition of the
Senate also changes by the end of each term. Each Senate may thus enact a different set of rules as it may deem
fit. Not having published its Rules of Procedure, the subject hearings in aid of legislation conducted by the
14th Senate, are therefore, procedurally infirm.

Justice Antonio T. Carpio, in his Dissenting and Concurring Opinion, reinforces this ruling with the following
rationalization:

The present Senate under the 1987 Constitution is no longer a continuing legislative body. The present Senate has
twenty-four members, twelve of whom are elected every three years for a term of six years each. Thus, the term of
twelve Senators expires every three years, leaving less than a majority of Senators to continue into the next
Congress. The 1987 Constitution, like the 1935 Constitution, requires a majority of Senators to "constitute a quorum to
do business." Applying the same reasoning in Arnault v. Nazareno, the Senate under the 1987 Constitution is not a
continuing body because less than majority of the Senators continue into the next Congress. The consequence is that
the Rules of Procedure must be republished by the Senate after every expiry of the term of twelve Senators. 47

The subject was explained with greater lucidity in our Resolution48 (On the Motion for Reconsideration) in the same
case, viz.:
On the nature of the Senate as a "continuing body," this Court sees fit to issue a clarification. Certainly, there is no
debate that the Senate as an institution is "continuing," as it is not dissolved as an entity with each national election
or change in the composition of its members. However, in the conduct of its day-to-day business the Senate of each
Congress acts separately and independently of the Senate of the Congress before it. The Rules of the Senate itself
confirms this when it states:

RULE XLIV
UNFINISHED BUSINESS

SEC. 123. Unfinished business at the end of the session shall be taken up at the next session in the same status.

All pending matters and proceedings shall terminate upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be taken
by the succeeding Congress as if present for the first time.

Undeniably from the foregoing, all pending matters and proceedings, i.e., unpassed bills and even legislative
investigations, of the Senate of a particular Congress are considered terminated upon the expiration of that Congress
and it is merely optional on the Senate of the succeeding Congress to take up such unfinished matters, not in the
same status, but as if presented for the first time. The logic and practicality of such a rule is readily apparent
considering that the Senate of the succeeding Congress (which will typically have a different composition as that of the
previous Congress) should not be bound by the acts and deliberations of the Senate of which they had no part. If the
Senate is a continuing body even with respect to the conduct of its business, then pending matters will not be deemed
terminated with the expiration of one Congress but will, as a matter of course, continue into the next Congress with the
same status.

This dichotomy of the continuity of the Senate as an institution and of the opposite nature of the conduct of its business
is reflected in its Rules. The Rules of the Senate (i.e. the Senates main rules of procedure) states:

RULE LI
AMENDMENTS TO, OR REVISIONS OF, THE RULES

SEC. 136. At the start of each session in which the Senators elected in the preceding elections shall begin their term of
office, the President may endorse the Rules to the appropriate committee for amendment or revision.

The Rules may also be amended by means of a motion which should be presented at least one day before its
consideration, and the vote of the majority of the Senators present in the session shall be required for its approval.

RULE LII
DATE OF TAKING EFFECT

SEC. 137. These Rules shall take effect on the date of their adoption and shall remain in force until they are amended
or repealed.

Section 136 of the Senate Rules quoted above takes into account the new composition of the Senate after an election
and the possibility of the amendment or revision of the Rules at the start of each session in which the newly elected
Senators shall begin their term.

However, it is evident that the Senate has determined that its main rules are intended to be valid from the date of their
adoption until they are amended or repealed. Such language is conspicuously absent from the Rules.
The Rules simply state "(t)hese Rules shall take effect seven (7) days after publication in two (2) newspapers of
general circulation." The latter does not explicitly provide for the continued effectivity of such rules until they are
amended or repealed. In view of the difference in the language of the two sets of Senate rules, it cannot be presumed
that the Rules (on legislative inquiries) would continue into the next Congress. The Senate of the next Congress may
easily adopt different rules for its legislative inquiries which come within the rule on unfinished business.
The language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution requiring that the inquiry be conducted in accordance with the
duly published rules of procedure is categorical. It is incumbent upon the Senate to publish the rules for its legislative
inquiries in each Congress or otherwise make the published rules clearly state that the same shall be effective in
subsequent Congresses or until they are amended or repealed to sufficiently put public on notice.

If it was the intention of the Senate for its present rules on legislative inquiries to be effective even in the next
Congress, it could have easily adopted the same language it had used in its main rules regarding effectivity.

Respondents justify their non-observance of the constitutionally mandated publication by arguing that the rules have
never been amended since 1995 and, despite that, they are published in booklet form available to anyone for free, and
accessible to the public at the Senates internet web page.49

The Court does not agree. The absence of any amendment to the rules cannot justify the Senates defiance of the
clear and unambiguous language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. The organic law instructs, without more,
that the Senate or its committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation only in accordance with duly published
rules of procedure, and does not make any distinction whether or not these rules have undergone amendments or
revision. The constitutional mandate to publish the said rules prevails over any custom, practice or tradition followed by
the Senate.

Justice Carpios response to the same argument raised by the respondents is illuminating:

The publication of the Rules of Procedure in the website of the Senate, or in pamphlet form available at the Senate, is
not sufficient under the Taada v. Tuvera ruling which requires publication either in the Official Gazette or in a
newspaper of general circulation. The Rules of Procedure even provide that the rules "shall take effect seven (7) days
after publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation," precluding any other form of publication. Publication in
accordance with Taada is mandatory to comply with the due process requirement because the Rules of
Procedure put a persons liberty at risk. A person who violates the Rules of Procedure could be arrested and detained
by the Senate.

The invocation by the respondents of the provisions of R.A. No. 8792,50 otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce
Act of 2000, to support their claim of valid publication through the internet is all the more incorrect. R.A. 8792 considers
an electronic data message or an electronic document as the functional equivalent of a written document only
for evidentiary purposes.51 In other words, the law merely recognizes the admissibility in evidence (for their being the
original) of electronic data messages and/or electronic documents. 52 It does not make the internet a medium for
publishing laws, rules and regulations.

Given this discussion, the respondent Senate Committees, therefore, could not, in violation of the Constitution, use its
unpublished rules in the legislative inquiry subject of these consolidated cases. The conduct of inquiries in aid of
legislation by the Senate has to be deferred until it shall have caused the publication of the rules, because it can do so
only "in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure."

Very recently, the Senate caused the publication of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of
Legislation in the October 31, 2008 issues of Manila Bulletin and Malaya. While we take judicial notice of this fact, the
recent publication does not cure the infirmity of the inquiry sought to be prohibited by the instant petitions. Insofar as
the consolidated cases are concerned, the legislative investigation subject thereof still could not be undertaken by the
respondent Senate Committees, because no published rules governed it, in clear contravention of the Constitution.

With the foregoing disquisition, the Court finds it unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised in the consolidated
petitions.

WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 170338 is DISMISSED, and the petition in G.R. No. 179275 is GRANTED. Let
a writ of prohibition be issued enjoining the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines and/or any of its committees from
conducting any inquiry in aid of legislation centered on the "Hello Garci" tapes.

SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

*RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision
were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

G.R. No. 169777* April 20, 2006

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by FRANKLIN M. DRILON, in his capacity as Senate President,
JUAN M. FLAVIER, in his capacity as Senate President Pro Tempore, FRANCIS N. PANGILINAN, in his capacity
as Majority Leader, AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., in his capacity as Minority Leader, SENATORS RODOLFO G.
BIAZON, "COMPANERA" PIA S. CAYETANO, JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA, LUISA "LOI" EJERCITO
ESTRADA, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, RICHARD J. GORDON, PANFILO M. LACSON, ALFREDO S.LIM, M. A.
MADRIGAL, SERGIO OSMENA III, RALPH G. RECTO, and MAR ROXAS, Petitioners,
vs.
EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo, and anyone acting in his stead and in behalf of the President of the Philippines, Respondents.

x-------------------------x

G.R. No. 169659 April 20, 2006

BAYAN MUNA represented by DR. REYNALDO LESACA, JR., Rep. SATUR OCAMPO, Rep. CRISPIN BELTRAN,
Rep. RAFAEL MARIANO, Rep. LIZA MAZA, Rep. TEODORO CASINO, Rep. JOEL VIRADOR, COURAGE
represented by FERDINAND GAITE, and COUNSELS FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIBERTIES (CODAL) represented
by ATTY. REMEDIOS BALBIN, Petitioners,
vs.
EDUARDO ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo, Respondent.

x-------------------------x

G.R. No. 169660 April 20, 2006

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, AVELINO J. CRUZ, JR., in his capacity as
Secretary of Defense, and GENEROSO S. SENGA, in his capacity as AFP Chief of Staff, Respondents.

x-------------------------x

G.R. No. 169667 April 20, 2006

ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC. (ALG), Petitioner,


vs.
HON. EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, Respondent.

x-------------------------x

G.R. No. 169834 April 20, 2006

PDP- LABAN, Petitioner,


vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, Respondent.

x-------------------------x

G.R. No. 171246 April 20, 2006

JOSE ANSELMO I. CADIZ, FELICIANO M. BAUTISTA, ROMULO R. RIVERA, JOSE AMOR AMORANDO, ALICIA
A. RISOS-VIDAL, FILEMON C. ABELITA III, MANUEL P. LEGASPI, J. B. JOVY C. BERNABE, BERNARD L.
DAGCUTA, ROGELIO V. GARCIA, and the INTEGRATED BAR FOR THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioners,
vs.
HON. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


A transparent government is one of the hallmarks of a truly republican state. Even in the early history of republican
thought, however, it has been recognized that the head of government may keep certain information confidential in
pursuit of the public interest. Explaining the reason for vesting executive power in only one magistrate, a distinguished
delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention said: "Decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch will generally
characterize the proceedings of one man, in a much more eminent degree than the proceedings of any greater
number; and in proportion as the number is increased, these qualities will be diminished." 1

History has been witness, however, to the fact that the power to withhold information lends itself to abuse, hence, the
necessity to guard it zealously.

The present consolidated petitions for certiorari and prohibition proffer that the President has abused such power by
issuing Executive Order No. 464 (E.O. 464) last September 28, 2005. They thus pray for its declaration as null and
void for being unconstitutional.

In resolving the controversy, this Court shall proceed with the recognition that the issuance under review has come
from a co-equal branch of government, which thus entitles it to a strong presumption of constitutionality. Once the
challenged order is found to be indeed violative of the Constitution, it is duty-bound to declare it so. For the
Constitution, being the highest expression of the sovereign will of the Filipino people, must prevail over any issuance of
the government that contravenes its mandates.

In the exercise of its legislative power, the Senate of the Philippines, through its various Senate Committees, conducts
inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation which call for, inter alia, the attendance of officials and employees of the
executive department, bureaus, and offices including those employed in Government Owned and Controlled
Corporations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

On September 21 to 23, 2005, the Committee of the Senate as a whole issued invitations to various officials of the
Executive Department for them to appear on September 29, 2005 as resource speakers in a public hearing on the
railway project of the North Luzon Railways Corporation with the China National Machinery and Equipment Group
(hereinafter North Rail Project). The public hearing was sparked by a privilege speech of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
urging the Senate to investigate the alleged overpricing and other unlawful provisions of the contract covering the
North Rail Project.

The Senate Committee on National Defense and Security likewise issued invitations 2 dated September 22, 2005 to the
following officials of the AFP: the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Hermogenes C. Esperon;
Inspector General of the AFP Vice Admiral Mateo M. Mayuga; Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the AFP Rear
Admiral Tirso R. Danga; Chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP Brig. Gen. Marlu Q. Quevedo; Assistant
Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Brig. Gen. Francisco V. Gudani; and Assistant Commandant,
Corps of Cadets of the PMA, Col. Alexander F. Balutan, for them to attend as resource persons in a public hearing
scheduled on September 28, 2005 on the following: (1) Privilege Speech of Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., delivered
on June 6, 2005 entitled "Bunye has Provided Smoking Gun or has Opened a Can of Worms that Show Massive
Electoral Fraud in the Presidential Election of May 2005"; (2) Privilege Speech of Senator Jinggoy E. Estrada delivered
on July 26, 2005 entitled "The Philippines as the Wire-Tapping Capital of the World"; (3) Privilege Speech of Senator
Rodolfo Biazon delivered on August 1, 2005 entitled "Clear and Present Danger"; (4) Senate Resolution No. 285 filed
by Senator Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal Resolution Directing the Committee on National Defense and Security to
Conduct an Inquiry, in Aid of Legislation, and in the National Interest, on the Role of the Military in the So-called
"Gloriagate Scandal"; and (5) Senate Resolution No. 295 filed by Senator Biazon Resolution Directing the Committee
on National Defense and Security to Conduct an Inquiry, in Aid of Legislation, on the Wire-Tapping of the President of
the Philippines.

Also invited to the above-said hearing scheduled on September 28 2005 was the AFP Chief of Staff, General
Generoso S. Senga who, by letter3 dated September 27, 2005, requested for its postponement "due to a pressing
operational situation that demands [his utmost personal attention" while "some of the invited AFP officers are currently
attending to other urgent operational matters."

On September 28, 2005, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon received from Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita a
letter4 dated September 27, 2005 "respectfully request[ing] for the postponement of the hearing [regarding the
NorthRail project] to which various officials of the Executive Department have been invited" in order to "afford said
officials ample time and opportunity to study and prepare for the various issues so that they may better enlighten the
Senate Committee on its investigation."

Senate President Drilon, however, wrote5 Executive Secretary Ermita that the Senators "are unable to accede to [his
request]" as it "was sent belatedly" and "[a]ll preparations and arrangements as well as notices to all resource persons
were completed [the previous] week."

Senate President Drilon likewise received on September 28, 2005 a letter 6 from the President of the North Luzon
Railways Corporation Jose L. Cortes, Jr. requesting that the hearing on the NorthRail project be postponed or
cancelled until a copy of the report of the UP Law Center on the contract agreements relative to the project had been
secured.

On September 28, 2005, the President issued E.O. 464, "Ensuring Observance of the Principle of Separation of
Powers, Adherence to the Rule on Executive Privilege and Respect for the Rights of Public Officials Appearing in
Legislative Inquiries in Aid of Legislation Under the Constitution, and For Other Purposes," 7 which, pursuant to Section
6 thereof, took effect immediately. The salient provisions of the Order are as follows:

SECTION 1. Appearance by Heads of Departments Before Congress. In accordance with Article VI, Section 22 of
the Constitution and to implement the Constitutional provisions on the separation of powers between co-equal
branches of the government, all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the government shall secure the
consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress.

When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance
shall only be conducted in executive session.

SECTION. 2. Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege.

(a) Nature and Scope. - The rule of confidentiality based on executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of
government and rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23
May 1995). Further, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees provides that Public Officials and Employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information
officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.

Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers
covered by this executive order, including:

Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public official covered by this executive order
(Almonte vs. Vasquez G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July
2002);

Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not be divulged
(Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R.
No. 130716, 9 December 1998).

Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements (Chavez
v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);

Discussion in close-door Cabinet meetings (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No.
130716, 9 December 1998);

Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002).

(b) Who are covered. The following are covered by this executive order:
Senior officials of executive departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by the executive
privilege;

Generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the
Chief of Staff are covered by the executive privilege;

Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the
judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege;

Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are covered by the executive
privilege; and

Such other officers as may be determined by the President.

SECTION 3. Appearance of Other Public Officials Before Congress. All public officials enumerated in Section 2 (b)
hereof shall secure prior consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress to ensure the
observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege and respect for the
rights of public officials appearing in inquiries in aid of legislation. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Also on September 28, 2005, Senate President Drilon received from Executive Secretary Ermita a copy of E.O. 464,
and another letter8 informing him "that officials of the Executive Department invited to appear at the meeting [regarding
the NorthRail project] will not be able to attend the same without the consent of the President, pursuant to [E.O. 464]"
and that "said officials have not secured the required consent from the President." On even date which was also the
scheduled date of the hearing on the alleged wiretapping, Gen. Senga sent a letter 9 to Senator Biazon, Chairperson of
the Committee on National Defense and Security, informing him "that per instruction of [President Arroyo], thru the
Secretary of National Defense, no officer of the [AFP] is authorized to appear before any Senate or Congressional
hearings without seeking a written approval from the President" and "that no approval has been granted by the
President to any AFP officer to appear before the public hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and
Security scheduled [on] 28 September 2005."

Despite the communications received from Executive Secretary Ermita and Gen. Senga, the investigation scheduled
by the Committee on National Defense and Security pushed through, with only Col. Balutan and Brig. Gen. Gudani
among all the AFP officials invited attending.

For defying President Arroyos order barring military personnel from testifying before legislative inquiries without her
approval, Brig. Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan were relieved from their military posts and were made to face court
martial proceedings.

As to the NorthRail project hearing scheduled on September 29, 2005, Executive Secretary Ermita, citing E.O. 464,
sent letter of regrets, in response to the invitations sent to the following government officials: Light Railway Transit
Authority Administrator Melquiades Robles, Metro Rail Transit Authority Administrator Roberto Lastimoso, Department
of Justice (DOJ) Chief State Counsel Ricardo V. Perez, then Presidential Legal Counsel Merceditas Gutierrez,
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Undersecretary Guiling Mamonding, DOTC Secretary
Leandro Mendoza, Philippine National Railways General Manager Jose Serase II, Monetary Board Member Juanita
Amatong, Bases Conversion Development Authority Chairperson Gen. Narciso Abaya and Secretary Romulo L.
Neri.10 NorthRail President Cortes sent personal regrets likewise citing E.O. 464. 11

On October 3, 2005, three petitions, docketed as G.R. Nos. 169659, 169660, and 169667, for certiorari and prohibition,
were filed before this Court challenging the constitutionality of E.O. 464.

In G.R. No. 169659, petitioners party-list Bayan Muna, House of Representatives Members Satur Ocampo, Crispin
Beltran, Rafael Mariano, Liza Maza, Joel Virador and Teodoro Casino, Courage, an organization of government
employees, and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), a group of lawyers dedicated to the promotion of
justice, democracy and peace, all claiming to have standing to file the suit because of the transcendental importance of
the issues they posed, pray, in their petition that E.O. 464 be declared null and void for being unconstitutional; that
respondent Executive Secretary Ermita, in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Arroyo, be
prohibited from imposing, and threatening to impose sanctions on officials who appear before Congress due to
congressional summons. Additionally, petitioners claim that E.O. 464 infringes on their rights and impedes them from
fulfilling their respective obligations. Thus, Bayan Muna alleges that E.O. 464 infringes on its right as a political party
entitled to participate in governance; Satur Ocampo, et al. allege that E.O. 464 infringes on their rights and duties as
members of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of legislation and conduct oversight functions in the
implementation of laws; Courage alleges that the tenure of its members in public office is predicated on, and
threatened by, their submission to the requirements of E.O. 464 should they be summoned by Congress; and CODAL
alleges that its members have a sworn duty to uphold the rule of law, and their rights to information and to transparent
governance are threatened by the imposition of E.O. 464.

In G.R. No. 169660, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, claiming that his constitutional rights as a citizen, taxpayer and law
practitioner, are affected by the enforcement of E.O. 464, prays in his petition that E.O. 464 be declared null and void
for being unconstitutional.

In G.R. No. 169667, petitioner Alternative Law Groups, Inc.12 (ALG), alleging that as a coalition of 17 legal resource
non-governmental organizations engaged in developmental lawyering and work with the poor and marginalized sectors
in different parts of the country, and as an organization of citizens of the Philippines and a part of the general public, it
has legal standing to institute the petition to enforce its constitutional right to information on matters of public concern,
a right which was denied to the public by E.O. 464,13 prays, that said order be declared null and void for being
unconstitutional and that respondent Executive Secretary Ermita be ordered to cease from implementing it.

On October 11, 2005, Petitioner Senate of the Philippines, alleging that it has a vital interest in the resolution of the
issue of the validity of E.O. 464 for it stands to suffer imminent and material injury, as it has already sustained the
same with its continued enforcement since it directly interferes with and impedes the valid exercise of the Senates
powers and functions and conceals information of great public interest and concern, filed its petition for certiorari and
prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 169777 and prays that E.O. 464 be declared unconstitutional.

On October 14, 2005, PDP-Laban, a registered political party with members duly elected into the Philippine Senate
and House of Representatives, filed a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 169834,
alleging that it is affected by the challenged E.O. 464 because it hampers its legislative agenda to be implemented
through its members in Congress, particularly in the conduct of inquiries in aid of legislation and transcendental issues
need to be resolved to avert a constitutional crisis between the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Meanwhile, by letter14 dated February 6, 2006, Senator Biazon reiterated his invitation to Gen. Senga for him and other
military officers to attend the hearing on the alleged wiretapping scheduled on February 10, 2005. Gen. Senga replied,
however, by letter15 dated February 8, 2006, that "[p]ursuant to Executive Order No. 464, th[e] Headquarters requested
for a clearance from the President to allow [them] to appear before the public hearing" and that "they will attend once
[their] request is approved by the President." As none of those invited appeared, the hearing on February 10, 2006 was
cancelled.16

In another investigation conducted jointly by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Blue Ribbon
Committee on the alleged mismanagement and use of the fertilizer fund under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani
program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), several Cabinet officials were invited to the hearings scheduled on
October 5 and 26, November 24 and December 12, 2005 but most of them failed to attend, DA Undersecretary Belinda
Gonzales, DA Assistant Secretary Felix Jose Montes, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority Executive Director Norlito R.
Gicana,17 and those from the Department of Budget and Management18 having invoked E.O. 464.

In the budget hearings set by the Senate on February 8 and 13, 2006, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson
Ignacio R. Bunye,19 DOJ Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez20 and Department of Interior and Local Government
Undersecretary Marius P. Corpus21 communicated their inability to attend due to lack of appropriate clearance from the
President pursuant to E.O. 464. During the February 13, 2005 budget hearing, however, Secretary Bunye was allowed
to attend by Executive Secretary Ermita.

On February 13, 2006, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz and the incumbent members of the Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, as taxpayers, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as the official organization of all
Philippine lawyers, all invoking their constitutional right to be informed on matters of public interest, filed their petition
for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 171246, and pray that E.O. 464 be declared null and void.

All the petitions pray for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining respondents from implementing,
enforcing, and observing E.O. 464.

In the oral arguments on the petitions conducted on February 21, 2006, the following substantive issues were
ventilated: (1) whether respondents committed grave abuse of discretion in implementing E.O. 464 prior to its
publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation; and (2) whether E.O. 464 violates the
following provisions of the Constitution: Art. II, Sec. 28, Art. III, Sec. 4, Art. III, Sec. 7, Art. IV. Sec. 1, Art. VI, Sec. 21,
Art. VI, Sec. 22, Art. XI, Sec. 1, and Art. XIII, Sec. 16. The procedural issue of whether there is an actual case or
controversy that calls for judicial review was not taken up; instead, the parties were instructed to discuss it in their
respective memoranda.

After the conclusion of the oral arguments, the parties were directed to submit their respective memoranda, paying
particular attention to the following propositions: (1) that E.O. 464 is, on its face, unconstitutional; and (2) assuming that
it is not, it is unconstitutional as applied in four instances, namely: (a) the so called Fertilizer scam; (b) the NorthRail
investigation (c) the Wiretapping activity of the ISAFP; and (d) the investigation on the Venable contract. 22

Petitioners in G.R. No. 16966023 and G.R. No. 16977724 filed their memoranda on March 7, 2006, while those in G.R.
No. 16966725 and G.R. No. 16983426 filed theirs the next day or on March 8, 2006. Petitioners in G.R. No. 171246 did
not file any memorandum.

Petitioners Bayan Muna et al. in G.R. No. 169659, after their motion for extension to file memorandum 27 was granted,
subsequently filed a manifestation28 dated March 14, 2006 that it would no longer file its memorandum in the interest of
having the issues resolved soonest, prompting this Court to issue a Resolution reprimanding them. 29

Petitioners submit that E.O. 464 violates the following constitutional provisions:

Art. VI, Sec. 2130

Art. VI, Sec. 2231

Art. VI, Sec. 132

Art. XI, Sec. 133

Art. III, Sec. 734

Art. III, Sec. 435

Art. XIII, Sec. 16 36

Art. II, Sec. 2837

Respondents Executive Secretary Ermita et al., on the other hand, pray in their consolidated memorandum 38 on March
13, 2006 for the dismissal of the petitions for lack of merit.

The Court synthesizes the issues to be resolved as follows:

1. Whether E.O. 464 contravenes the power of inquiry vested in Congress;

2. Whether E.O. 464 violates the right of the people to information on matters of public concern; and
3. Whether respondents have committed grave abuse of discretion when they implemented E.O. 464 prior to its
publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Essential requisites for judicial review

Before proceeding to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of E.O. 464, ascertainment of whether the requisites for a
valid exercise of the Courts power of judicial review are present is in order.

Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1)
there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act
must have standing to challenge the validity of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal
and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its
enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of
constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.39

Except with respect to the requisites of standing and existence of an actual case or controversy where the
disagreement between the parties lies, discussion of the rest of the requisites shall be omitted.

Standing

Respondents, through the Solicitor General, assert that the allegations in G.R. Nos. 169659, 169660 and 169667 make
it clear that they, adverting to the non-appearance of several officials of the executive department in the investigations
called by the different committees of the Senate, were brought to vindicate the constitutional duty of the Senate or its
different committees to conduct inquiry in aid of legislation or in the exercise of its oversight functions. They maintain
that Representatives Ocampo et al. have not shown any specific prerogative, power, and privilege of the House of
Representatives which had been effectively impaired by E.O. 464, there being no mention of any investigation called
by the House of Representatives or any of its committees which was aborted due to the implementation of E.O. 464.

As for Bayan Munas alleged interest as a party-list representing the marginalized and underrepresented, and that of
the other petitioner groups and individuals who profess to have standing as advocates and defenders of the
Constitution, respondents contend that such interest falls short of that required to confer standing on them as parties
"injured-in-fact."40

Respecting petitioner Chavez, respondents contend that Chavez may not claim an interest as a taxpayer for the
implementation of E.O. 464 does not involve the exercise of taxing or spending power.41

With regard to the petition filed by the Senate, respondents argue that in the absence of a personal or direct injury by
reason of the issuance of E.O. 464, the Senate and its individual members are not the proper parties to assail the
constitutionality of E.O. 464.

Invoking this Courts ruling in National Economic Protectionism Association v. Ongpin 42 and Valmonte v. Philippine
Charity Sweepstakes Office,43 respondents assert that to be considered a proper party, one must have a personal and
substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain direct injury due to the enforcement of E.O.
464.44

That the Senate of the Philippines has a fundamental right essential not only for intelligent public decision-making in a
democratic system, but more especially for sound legislation45 is not disputed. E.O. 464, however, allegedly stifles the
ability of the members of Congress to access information that is crucial to law-making.46 Verily, the Senate, including
its individual members, has a substantial and direct interest over the outcome of the controversy and is the proper
party to assail the constitutionality of E.O. 464. Indeed, legislators have standing to maintain inviolate the prerogative,
powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office and are allowed to sue to question the validity of any
official action which they claim infringes their prerogatives as legislators.47

In the same vein, party-list representatives Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), Teodoro Casino (Bayan Muna), Joel Virador
(Bayan Muna), Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), and Liza Maza (Gabriela) are allowed to sue
to question the constitutionality of E.O. 464, the absence of any claim that an investigation called by the House of
Representatives or any of its committees was aborted due to the implementation of E.O. 464 notwithstanding, it being
sufficient that a claim is made that E.O. 464 infringes on their constitutional rights and duties as members of Congress
to conduct investigation in aid of legislation and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws.

The national political party, Bayan Muna, likewise meets the standing requirement as it obtained three seats in the
House of Representatives in the 2004 elections and is, therefore, entitled to participate in the legislative process
consonant with the declared policy underlying the party list system of affording citizens belonging to marginalized and
underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties who lack well-defined political constituencies to contribute to the
formulation and enactment of legislation that will benefit the nation. 48

As Bayan Muna and Representatives Ocampo et al. have the standing to file their petitions, passing on the standing of
their co-petitioners Courage and Codal is rendered unnecessary.49

In filing their respective petitions, Chavez, the ALG which claims to be an organization of citizens, and the incumbent
members of the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP in behalf of its lawyer members, 50 invoke their constitutional right
to information on matters of public concern, asserting that the right to information, curtailed and violated by E.O. 464, is
essential to the effective exercise of other constitutional rights 51 and to the maintenance of the balance of power
among the three branches of the government through the principle of checks and balances. 52

It is well-settled that when suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner in assailing the constitutionality of laws,
presidential decrees, orders, and other regulations, must be direct and personal. In Franciso v. House of
Representatives,53 this Court held that when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the mere fact that
he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest.

As for petitioner PDP-Laban, it asseverates that it is clothed with legal standing in view of the transcendental issues
raised in its petition which this Court needs to resolve in order to avert a constitutional crisis. For it to be accorded
standing on the ground of transcendental importance, however, it must establish (1) the character of the funds (that it is
public) or other assets involved in the case, (2) the presence of a clear case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory
prohibition by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the government, and (3) the lack of any party with a
more direct and specific interest in raising the questions being raised. 54 The first and last determinants not being
present as no public funds or assets are involved and petitioners in G.R. Nos. 169777 and 169659 have direct and
specific interests in the resolution of the controversy, petitioner PDP-Laban is bereft of standing to file its petition. Its
allegation that E.O. 464 hampers its legislative agenda is vague and uncertain, and at best is only a "generalized
interest" which it shares with the rest of the political parties. Concrete injury, whether actual or threatened, is that
indispensable element of a dispute which serves in part to cast it in a form traditionally capable of judicial
resolution.55 In fine, PDP-Labans alleged interest as a political party does not suffice to clothe it with legal standing.

Actual Case or Controversy

Petitioners assert that an actual case exists, they citing the absence of the executive officials invited by the Senate to
its hearings after the issuance of E.O. 464, particularly those on the NorthRail project and the wiretapping controversy.

Respondents counter that there is no case or controversy, there being no showing that President Arroyo has actually
withheld her consent or prohibited the appearance of the invited officials. 56 These officials, they claim, merely
communicated to the Senate that they have not yet secured the consent of the President, not that the President
prohibited their attendance.57 Specifically with regard to the AFP officers who did not attend the hearing on September
28, 2005, respondents claim that the instruction not to attend without the Presidents consent was based on its role as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, not on E.O. 464.

Respondents thus conclude that the petitions merely rest on an unfounded apprehension that the President will abuse
its power of preventing the appearance of officials before Congress, and that such apprehension is not sufficient for
challenging the validity of E.O. 464.
The Court finds respondents assertion that the President has not withheld her consent or prohibited the appearance of
the officials concerned immaterial in determining the existence of an actual case or controversy insofar as E.O. 464 is
concerned. For E.O. 464 does not require either a deliberate withholding of consent or an express prohibition issuing
from the President in order to bar officials from appearing before Congress.

As the implementation of the challenged order has already resulted in the absence of officials invited to the hearings of
petitioner Senate of the Philippines, it would make no sense to wait for any further event before considering the present
case ripe for adjudication. Indeed, it would be sheer abandonment of duty if this Court would now refrain from passing
on the constitutionality of E.O. 464.

Constitutionality of E.O. 464

E.O. 464, to the extent that it bars the appearance of executive officials before Congress, deprives Congress of the
information in the possession of these officials. To resolve the question of whether such withholding of information
violates the Constitution, consideration of the general power of Congress to obtain information, otherwise known as the
power of inquiry, is in order.

The power of inquiry

The Congress power of inquiry is expressly recognized in Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution which reads:

SECTION 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries
in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or
affected by such inquiries shall be respected. (Underscoring supplied)

This provision is worded exactly as Section 8 of Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution except that, in the latter, it vests
the power of inquiry in the unicameral legislature established therein the Batasang Pambansa and its committees.

The 1935 Constitution did not contain a similar provision. Nonetheless, in Arnault v. Nazareno, 58 a case decided in
1950 under that Constitution, the Court already recognized that the power of inquiry is inherent in the power to
legislate.

Arnault involved a Senate investigation of the reportedly anomalous purchase of the Buenavista and Tambobong
Estates by the Rural Progress Administration. Arnault, who was considered a leading witness in the controversy, was
called to testify thereon by the Senate. On account of his refusal to answer the questions of the senators on an
important point, he was, by resolution of the Senate, detained for contempt. Upholding the Senates power to punish
Arnault for contempt, this Court held:

Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make
investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisedly and effectively,
such power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the power of inquiry with
process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot
legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to
affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not
infrequently true recourse must be had to others who do possess it. Experience has shown that mere requests for
such information are often unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or
complete; so some means of compulsion is essential to obtain what is needed. 59 . . . (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

That this power of inquiry is broad enough to cover officials of the executive branch may be deduced from the same
case. The power of inquiry, the Court therein ruled, is co-extensive with the power to legislate.60 The matters which
may be a proper subject of legislation and those which may be a proper subject of investigation are one. It follows that
the operation of government, being a legitimate subject for legislation, is a proper subject for investigation.
Thus, the Court found that the Senate investigation of the government transaction involved in Arnault was a proper
exercise of the power of inquiry. Besides being related to the expenditure of public funds of which Congress is the
guardian, the transaction, the Court held, "also involved government agencies created by Congress and officers whose
positions it is within the power of Congress to regulate or even abolish."

Since Congress has authority to inquire into the operations of the executive branch, it would be incongruous to hold
that the power of inquiry does not extend to executive officials who are the most familiar with and informed on
executive operations.

As discussed in Arnault, the power of inquiry, "with process to enforce it," is grounded on the necessity of information
in the legislative process. If the information possessed by executive officials on the operation of their offices is
necessary for wise legislation on that subject, by parity of reasoning, Congress has the right to that information and the
power to compel the disclosure thereof.

As evidenced by the American experience during the so-called "McCarthy era," however, the right of Congress to
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is, in theory, no less susceptible to abuse than executive or judicial power. It may
thus be subjected to judicial review pursuant to the Courts certiorari powers under Section 1, Article VIII of the
Constitution.

For one, as noted in Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,61 the inquiry itself might not properly be in aid of
legislation, and thus beyond the constitutional power of Congress. Such inquiry could not usurp judicial functions.
Parenthetically, one possible way for Congress to avoid such a result as occurred in Bengzon is to indicate in its
invitations to the public officials concerned, or to any person for that matter, the possible needed statute which
prompted the need for the inquiry. Given such statement in its invitations, along with the usual indication of the subject
of inquiry and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof, there would be less room for speculation on the part
of the person invited on whether the inquiry is in aid of legislation.

Section 21, Article VI likewise establishes crucial safeguards that proscribe the legislative power of inquiry. The
provision requires that the inquiry be done in accordance with the Senate or Houses duly published rules of procedure,
necessarily implying the constitutional infirmity of an inquiry conducted without duly published rules of procedure.
Section 21 also mandates that the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries be respected, an
imposition that obligates Congress to adhere to the guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

These abuses are, of course, remediable before the courts, upon the proper suit filed by the persons affected, even if
they belong to the executive branch. Nonetheless, there may be exceptional circumstances, none appearing to obtain
at present, wherein a clear pattern of abuse of the legislative power of inquiry might be established, resulting in
palpable violations of the rights guaranteed to members of the executive department under the Bill of Rights. In such
instances, depending on the particulars of each case, attempts by the Executive Branch to forestall these abuses may
be accorded judicial sanction.

Even where the inquiry is in aid of legislation, there are still recognized exemptions to the power of inquiry, which
exemptions fall under the rubric of "executive privilege." Since this term figures prominently in the challenged order, it
being mentioned in its provisions, its preambular clauses,62 and in its very title, a discussion of executive privilege is
crucial for determining the constitutionality of E.O. 464.

Executive privilege

The phrase "executive privilege" is not new in this jurisdiction. It has been used even prior to the promulgation of the
1986 Constitution.63 Being of American origin, it is best understood in light of how it has been defined and used in the
legal literature of the United States.

Schwartz defines executive privilege as "the power of the Government to withhold information from the public, the
courts, and the Congress."64 Similarly, Rozell defines it as "the right of the President and high-level executive branch
officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and ultimately the public." 65
Executive privilege is, nonetheless, not a clear or unitary concept. 66 It has encompassed claims of varying
kinds.67Tribe, in fact, comments that while it is customary to employ the phrase "executive privilege," it may be more
accurate to speak of executive privileges "since presidential refusals to furnish information may be actuated by any of
at least three distinct kinds of considerations, and may be asserted, with differing degrees of success, in the context of
either judicial or legislative investigations."

One variety of the privilege, Tribe explains, is the state secrets privilege invoked by U.S. Presidents, beginning with
Washington, on the ground that the information is of such nature that its disclosure would subvert crucial military or
diplomatic objectives. Another variety is the informers privilege, or the privilege of the Government not to disclose the
identity of persons who furnish information of violations of law to officers charged with the enforcement of that law.
Finally, a generic privilege for internal deliberations has been said to attach to intragovernmental documents reflecting
advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions
and policies are formulated. 68

Tribes comment is supported by the ruling in In re Sealed Case, thus:

Since the beginnings of our nation, executive officials have claimed a variety of privileges to resist disclosure of
information the confidentiality of which they felt was crucial to fulfillment of the unique role and responsibilities of the
executive branch of our government. Courts ruled early that the executive had a right to withhold documents that might
reveal military or state secrets. The courts have also granted the executive a right to withhold the identity of
government informers in some circumstances and a qualified right to withhold information related to pending
investigations. x x x"69 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The entry in Blacks Law Dictionary on "executive privilege" is similarly instructive regarding the scope of the doctrine.

This privilege, based on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, exempts the executive from disclosure
requirements applicable to the ordinary citizen or organization where such exemption is necessary to the discharge of
highly important executive responsibilities involved in maintaining governmental operations, and extends not only to
military and diplomatic secrets but also to documents integral to an appropriate exercise of the executive domestic
decisional and policy making functions, that is, those documents reflecting the frank expression necessary in intra-
governmental advisory and deliberative communications.70 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

That a type of information is recognized as privileged does not, however, necessarily mean that it would be considered
privileged in all instances. For in determining the validity of a claim of privilege, the question that must be asked is not
only whether the requested information falls within one of the traditional privileges, but also whether that privilege
should be honored in a given procedural setting.71

The leading case on executive privilege in the United States is U.S. v. Nixon, 72 decided in 1974. In issue in that case
was the validity of President Nixons claim of executive privilege against a subpoena issued by a district court requiring
the production of certain tapes and documents relating to the Watergate investigations. The claim of privilege was
based on the Presidents general interest in the confidentiality of his conversations and correspondence. The U.S.
Court held that while there is no explicit reference to a privilege of confidentiality in the U.S. Constitution, it is
constitutionally based to the extent that it relates to the effective discharge of a Presidents powers. The Court,
nonetheless, rejected the Presidents claim of privilege, ruling that the privilege must be balanced against the public
interest in the fair administration of criminal justice. Notably, the Court was careful to clarify that it was not there
addressing the issue of claims of privilege in a civil litigation or against congressional demands for information.

Cases in the U.S. which involve claims of executive privilege against Congress are rare. 73 Despite frequent assertion of
the privilege to deny information to Congress, beginning with President Washingtons refusal to turn over treaty
negotiation records to the House of Representatives, the U.S. Supreme Court has never adjudicated the
issue.74 However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a case decided earlier in the same
year as Nixon, recognized the Presidents privilege over his conversations against a congressional
subpoena.75 Anticipating the balancing approach adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon, the Court of Appeals
weighed the public interest protected by the claim of privilege against the interest that would be served by disclosure to
the Committee. Ruling that the balance favored the President, the Court declined to enforce the subpoena. 76
In this jurisdiction, the doctrine of executive privilege was recognized by this Court in Almonte v. Vasquez. 77Almonte
used the term in reference to the same privilege subject of Nixon. It quoted the following portion of the Nixon decision
which explains the basis for the privilege:

"The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of his conversations and correspondences, like the claim of
confidentiality of judicial deliberations, for example, has all the values to which we accord deference for the privacy of
all citizens and, added to those values, is the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and
even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decision-making. A President and those who assist him must be free to
explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so in a way many would be
unwilling to express except privately. These are the considerations justifying a presumptive privilege for Presidential
communications. The privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation
of powers under the Constitution x x x " (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Almonte involved a subpoena duces tecum issued by the Ombudsman against the therein petitioners. It did not
involve, as expressly stated in the decision, the right of the people to information. 78 Nonetheless, the Court recognized
that there are certain types of information which the government may withhold from the public, thus acknowledging, in
substance if not in name, that executive privilege may be claimed against citizens demands for information.

In Chavez v. PCGG,79 the Court held that this jurisdiction recognizes the common law holding that there is a
"governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other
national security matters."80 The same case held that closed-door Cabinet meetings are also a recognized limitation on
the right to information.

Similarly, in Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, 81 the Court ruled that the right to information does not extend to
matters recognized as "privileged information under the separation of powers," 82 by which the Court meant Presidential
conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet meetings. It also held that information on
military and diplomatic secrets and those affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by law
enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused were exempted from the right to information.

From the above discussion on the meaning and scope of executive privilege, both in the United States and in this
jurisdiction, a clear principle emerges. Executive privilege, whether asserted against Congress, the courts, or the
public, is recognized only in relation to certain types of information of a sensitive character. While executive privilege is
a constitutional concept, a claim thereof may be valid or not depending on the ground invoked to justify it and the
context in which it is made. Noticeably absent is any recognition that executive officials are exempt from the duty to
disclose information by the mere fact of being executive officials. Indeed, the extraordinary character of the exemptions
indicates that the presumption inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure.

Validity of Section 1

Section 1 is similar to Section 3 in that both require the officials covered by them to secure the consent of the President
prior to appearing before Congress. There are significant differences between the two provisions, however, which
constrain this Court to discuss the validity of these provisions separately.

Section 1 specifically applies to department heads. It does not, unlike Section 3, require a prior determination by any
official whether they are covered by E.O. 464. The President herself has, through the challenged order, made the
determination that they are. Further, unlike also Section 3, the coverage of department heads under Section 1 is not
made to depend on the department heads possession of any information which might be covered by executive
privilege. In fact, in marked contrast to Section 3 vis--vis Section 2, there is no reference to executive privilege at all.
Rather, the required prior consent under Section 1 is grounded on Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution on what
has been referred to as the question hour.

SECTION 22. The heads of departments may upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President, or upon the
request of either House, as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be heard by such House on any
matter pertaining to their departments. Written questions shall be submitted to the President of the Senate or the
Speaker of the House of Representatives at least three days before their scheduled appearance. Interpellations shall
not be limited to written questions, but may cover matters related thereto. When the security of the State or the public
interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall be conducted in executive session.

Determining the validity of Section 1 thus requires an examination of the meaning of Section 22 of Article VI. Section
22 which provides for the question hour must be interpreted vis--vis Section 21 which provides for the power of either
House of Congress to "conduct inquiries in aid of legislation." As the following excerpt of the deliberations of the
Constitutional Commission shows, the framers were aware that these two provisions involved distinct functions of
Congress.

MR. MAAMBONG. x x x When we amended Section 20 [now Section 22 on the Question Hour] yesterday, I noticed
that members of the Cabinet cannot be compelled anymore to appear before the House of Representatives or before
the Senate. I have a particular problem in this regard, Madam President, because in our experience in the Regular
Batasang Pambansa as the Gentleman himself has experienced in the interim Batasang Pambansa one of the
most competent inputs that we can put in our committee deliberations, either in aid of legislation or in congressional
investigations, is the testimonies of Cabinet ministers. We usually invite them, but if they do not come and it is a
congressional investigation, we usually issue subpoenas.

I want to be clarified on a statement made by Commissioner Suarez when he said that the fact that the Cabinet
ministers may refuse to come to the House of Representatives or the Senate [when requested under Section 22] does
not mean that they need not come when they are invited or subpoenaed by the committee of either House when it
comes to inquiries in aid of legislation or congressional investigation. According to Commissioner Suarez, that is
allowed and their presence can be had under Section 21. Does the gentleman confirm this, Madam President?

MR. DAVIDE. We confirm that, Madam President, because Section 20 refers only to what was originally the Question
Hour, whereas, Section 21 would refer specifically to inquiries in aid of legislation, under which anybody for that matter,
may be summoned and if he refuses, he can be held in contempt of the House. 83 (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

A distinction was thus made between inquiries in aid of legislation and the question hour. While attendance was meant
to be discretionary in the question hour, it was compulsory in inquiries in aid of legislation. The reference to
Commissioner Suarez bears noting, he being one of the proponents of the amendment to make the appearance of
department heads discretionary in the question hour.

So clearly was this distinction conveyed to the members of the Commission that the Committee on Style, precisely in
recognition of this distinction, later moved the provision on question hour from its original position as Section 20 in the
original draft down to Section 31, far from the provision on inquiries in aid of legislation. This gave rise to the following
exchange during the deliberations:

MR. GUINGONA. [speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Style] We now go, Mr. Presiding Officer,
to the Article on Legislative and may I request the chairperson of the Legislative Department, Commissioner Davide, to
give his reaction.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Davide is recognized.|avvphi|.net

MR. DAVIDE. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. I have only one reaction to the Question Hour. I propose that instead
of putting it as Section 31, it should follow Legislative Inquiries.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What does the committee say?

MR. GUINGONA. I ask Commissioner Maambong to reply, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. MAAMBONG. Actually, we considered that previously when we sequenced this but we reasoned that in Section
21, which is Legislative Inquiry, it is actually a power of Congress in terms of its own lawmaking; whereas, a Question
Hour is not actually a power in terms of its own lawmaking power because in Legislative Inquiry, it is in aid of
legislation. And so we put Question Hour as Section 31. I hope Commissioner Davide will consider this.
MR. DAVIDE. The Question Hour is closely related with the legislative power, and it is precisely as a complement to or
a supplement of the Legislative Inquiry. The appearance of the members of Cabinet would be very, very essential not
only in the application of check and balance but also, in effect, in aid of legislation.

MR. MAAMBONG. After conferring with the committee, we find merit in the suggestion of Commissioner Davide. In
other words, we are accepting that and so this Section 31 would now become Section 22. Would it be, Commissioner
Davide?

MR. DAVIDE. Yes.84 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Consistent with their statements earlier in the deliberations, Commissioners Davide and Maambong proceeded from
the same assumption that these provisions pertained to two different functions of the legislature. Both Commissioners
understood that the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is different from the power to conduct inquiries
during the question hour. Commissioner Davides only concern was that the two provisions on these distinct powers be
placed closely together, they being complementary to each other. Neither Commissioner considered them as identical
functions of Congress.

The foregoing opinion was not the two Commissioners alone. From the above-quoted exchange, Commissioner
Maambongs committee the Committee on Style shared the view that the two provisions reflected distinct functions
of Congress. Commissioner Davide, on the other hand, was speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on
the Legislative Department. His views may thus be presumed as representing that of his Committee.

In the context of a parliamentary system of government, the "question hour" has a definite meaning. It is a period of
confrontation initiated by Parliament to hold the Prime Minister and the other ministers accountable for their acts and
the operation of the government,85 corresponding to what is known in Britain as the question period. There was a
specific provision for a question hour in the 1973 Constitution86 which made the appearance of ministers mandatory.
The same perfectly conformed to the parliamentary system established by that Constitution, where the ministers are
also members of the legislature and are directly accountable to it.

An essential feature of the parliamentary system of government is the immediate accountability of the Prime Minister
and the Cabinet to the National Assembly. They shall be responsible to the National Assembly for the program of
government and shall determine the guidelines of national policy. Unlike in the presidential system where the tenure of
office of all elected officials cannot be terminated before their term expired, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet remain
in office only as long as they enjoy the confidence of the National Assembly. The moment this confidence is lost the
Prime Minister and the Cabinet may be changed.87

The framers of the 1987 Constitution removed the mandatory nature of such appearance during the question hour in
the present Constitution so as to conform more fully to a system of separation of powers. 88 To that extent, the question
hour, as it is presently understood in this jurisdiction, departs from the question period of the parliamentary system.
That department heads may not be required to appear in a question hour does not, however, mean that the legislature
is rendered powerless to elicit information from them in all circumstances. In fact, in light of the absence of a
mandatory question period, the need to enforce Congress right to executive information in the performance of its
legislative function becomes more imperative. As Schwartz observes:

Indeed, if the separation of powers has anything to tell us on the subject under discussion, it is that the Congress has
the right to obtain information from any source even from officials of departments and agencies in the executive
branch. In the United States there is, unlike the situation which prevails in a parliamentary system such as that in
Britain, a clear separation between the legislative and executive branches. It is this very separation that makes the
congressional right to obtain information from the executive so essential, if the functions of the Congress as the elected
representatives of the people are adequately to be carried out. The absence of close rapport between the legislative
and executive branches in this country, comparable to those which exist under a parliamentary system, and the
nonexistence in the Congress of an institution such as the British question period have perforce made reliance by the
Congress upon its right to obtain information from the executive essential, if it is intelligently to perform its legislative
tasks. Unless the Congress possesses the right to obtain executive information, its power of oversight of administration
in a system such as ours becomes a power devoid of most of its practical content, since it depends for its effectiveness
solely upon information parceled out ex gratia by the executive.89 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sections 21 and 22, therefore, while closely related and complementary to each other, should not be considered as
pertaining to the same power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of
legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while the other pertains to the power
to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress oversight function.

When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes which it has
issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such
department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In such instances, Section 22, in
keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only request their appearance. Nonetheless, when
the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is "in aid of legislation" under Section 21, the appearance is
mandatory for the same reasons stated in Arnault.90

In fine, the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is
performed in pursuit of legislation. This is consistent with the intent discerned from the deliberations of the
Constitutional Commission.

Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under Section 21 and the lack of it
under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of separation of powers. While the executive branch is a co-equal
branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands
for information.

When Congress exercises its power of inquiry, the only way for department heads to exempt themselves therefrom is
by a valid claim of privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department heads. Only one executive
official may be exempted from this power the President on whom executive power is vested, hence, beyond the
reach of Congress except through the power of impeachment. It is based on her being the highest official of the
executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a co-equal branch of government which is sanctioned by a long-
standing custom.

By the same token, members of the Supreme Court are also exempt from this power of inquiry. Unlike the Presidency,
judicial power is vested in a collegial body; hence, each member thereof is exempt on the basis not only of separation
of powers but also on the fiscal autonomy and the constitutional independence of the judiciary. This point is not in
dispute, as even counsel for the Senate, Sen. Joker Arroyo, admitted it during the oral argument upon interpellation of
the Chief Justice.

Having established the proper interpretation of Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the Court now proceeds to
pass on the constitutionality of Section 1 of E.O. 464.

Section 1, in view of its specific reference to Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution and the absence of any
reference to inquiries in aid of legislation, must be construed as limited in its application to appearances of department
heads in the question hour contemplated in the provision of said Section 22 of Article VI. The reading is dictated by the
basic rule of construction that issuances must be interpreted, as much as possible, in a way that will render it
constitutional.

The requirement then to secure presidential consent under Section 1, limited as it is only to appearances in the
question hour, is valid on its face. For under Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the appearance of department
heads in the question hour is discretionary on their part.

Section 1 cannot, however, be applied to appearances of department heads in inquiries in aid of legislation. Congress
is not bound in such instances to respect the refusal of the department head to appear in such inquiry, unless a valid
claim of privilege is subsequently made, either by the President herself or by the Executive Secretary.

Validity of Sections 2 and 3

Section 3 of E.O. 464 requires all the public officials enumerated in Section 2(b) to secure the consent of the President
prior to appearing before either house of Congress. The enumeration is broad. It covers all senior officials of executive
departments, all officers of the AFP and the PNP, and all senior national security officials who, in the judgment of the
heads of offices designated in the same section (i.e. department heads, Chief of Staff of the AFP, Chief of the PNP,
and the National Security Adviser), are "covered by the executive privilege."

The enumeration also includes such other officers as may be determined by the President. Given the title of Section 2
"Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege" , it is evident that under the rule of ejusdem generis, the
determination by the President under this provision is intended to be based on a similar finding of coverage under
executive privilege.

En passant, the Court notes that Section 2(b) of E.O. 464 virtually states that executive privilege actually covers
persons. Such is a misuse of the doctrine. Executive privilege, as discussed above, is properly invoked in relation to
specific categories of information and not to categories of persons.

In light, however, of Sec 2(a) of E.O. 464 which deals with the nature, scope and coverage of executive privilege, the
reference to persons being "covered by the executive privilege" may be read as an abbreviated way of saying that the
person is in possession of information which is, in the judgment of the head of office concerned, privileged as defined
in Section 2(a). The Court shall thus proceed on the assumption that this is the intention of the challenged order.

Upon a determination by the designated head of office or by the President that an official is "covered by the executive
privilege," such official is subjected to the requirement that he first secure the consent of the President prior to
appearing before Congress. This requirement effectively bars the appearance of the official concerned unless the
same is permitted by the President. The proviso allowing the President to give its consent means nothing more than
that the President may reverse a prohibition which already exists by virtue of E.O. 464.

Thus, underlying this requirement of prior consent is the determination by a head of office, authorized by the President
under E.O. 464, or by the President herself, that such official is in possession of information that is covered by
executive privilege. This determination then becomes the basis for the officials not showing up in the legislative
investigation.

In view thereof, whenever an official invokes E.O. 464 to justify his failure to be present, such invocation must be
construed as a declaration to Congress that the President, or a head of office authorized by the President, has
determined that the requested information is privileged, and that the President has not reversed such determination.
Such declaration, however, even without mentioning the term "executive privilege," amounts to an implied claim that
the information is being withheld by the executive branch, by authority of the President, on the basis of executive
privilege. Verily, there is an implied claim of privilege.

The letter dated September 28, 2005 of respondent Executive Secretary Ermita to Senate President Drilon illustrates
the implied nature of the claim of privilege authorized by E.O. 464. It reads:

In connection with the inquiry to be conducted by the Committee of the Whole regarding the Northrail Project of the
North Luzon Railways Corporation on 29 September 2005 at 10:00 a.m., please be informed that officials of the
Executive Department invited to appear at the meeting will not be able to attend the same without the consent of the
President, pursuant to Executive Order No. 464 (s. 2005), entitled "Ensuring Observance Of The Principle Of
Separation Of Powers, Adherence To The Rule On Executive Privilege And Respect For The Rights Of Public Officials
Appearing In Legislative Inquiries In Aid Of Legislation Under The Constitution, And For Other Purposes". Said officials
have not secured the required consent from the President. (Underscoring supplied)

The letter does not explicitly invoke executive privilege or that the matter on which these officials are being requested
to be resource persons falls under the recognized grounds of the privilege to justify their absence. Nor does it
expressly state that in view of the lack of consent from the President under E.O. 464, they cannot attend the hearing.

Significant premises in this letter, however, are left unstated, deliberately or not. The letter assumes that the invited
officials are covered by E.O. 464. As explained earlier, however, to be covered by the order means that a
determination has been made, by the designated head of office or the President, that the invited official possesses
information that is covered by executive privilege. Thus, although it is not stated in the letter that such determination
has been made, the same must be deemed implied. Respecting the statement that the invited officials have not
secured the consent of the President, it only means that the President has not reversed the standing prohibition
against their appearance before Congress.

Inevitably, Executive Secretary Ermitas letter leads to the conclusion that the executive branch, either through the
President or the heads of offices authorized under E.O. 464, has made a determination that the information required by
the Senate is privileged, and that, at the time of writing, there has been no contrary pronouncement from the President.
In fine, an implied claim of privilege has been made by the executive.

While there is no Philippine case that directly addresses the issue of whether executive privilege may be invoked
against Congress, it is gathered from Chavez v. PEA that certain information in the possession of the executive may
validly be claimed as privileged even against Congress. Thus, the case holds:

There is no claim by PEA that the information demanded by petitioner is privileged information rooted in the separation
of powers. The information does not cover Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-
door Cabinet meetings which, like internal-deliberations of the Supreme Court and other collegiate courts, or executive
sessions of either house of Congress, are recognized as confidential. This kind of information cannot be pried open by
a co-equal branch of government. A frank exchange of exploratory ideas and assessments, free from the glare of
publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the independence of decision-making of those
tasked to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial power. This is not the situation in the instant case.91 (Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

Section 3 of E.O. 464, therefore, cannot be dismissed outright as invalid by the mere fact that it sanctions claims of
executive privilege. This Court must look further and assess the claim of privilege authorized by the Order to determine
whether it is valid.

While the validity of claims of privilege must be assessed on a case to case basis, examining the ground invoked
therefor and the particular circumstances surrounding it, there is, in an implied claim of privilege, a defect that renders
it invalid per se. By its very nature, and as demonstrated by the letter of respondent Executive Secretary quoted above,
the implied claim authorized by Section 3 of E.O. 464 is not accompanied by any specific allegation of the basis thereof
(e.g., whether the information demanded involves military or diplomatic secrets, closed-door Cabinet meetings, etc.).
While Section 2(a) enumerates the types of information that are covered by the privilege under the challenged order,
Congress is left to speculate as to which among them is being referred to by the executive. The enumeration is not
even intended to be comprehensive, but a mere statement of what is included in the phrase "confidential or classified
information between the President and the public officers covered by this executive order."

Certainly, Congress has the right to know why the executive considers the requested information privileged. It does not
suffice to merely declare that the President, or an authorized head of office, has determined that it is so, and that the
President has not overturned that determination. Such declaration leaves Congress in the dark on how the requested
information could be classified as privileged. That the message is couched in terms that, on first impression, do not
seem like a claim of privilege only makes it more pernicious. It threatens to make Congress doubly blind to the
question of why the executive branch is not providing it with the information that it has requested.

A claim of privilege, being a claim of exemption from an obligation to disclose information, must, therefore, be clearly
asserted. As U.S. v. Reynolds teaches:

The privilege belongs to the government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived by a private
party. It is not to be lightly invoked. There must be a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department
which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer. The court itself must determine
whether the circumstances are appropriate for the claim of privilege, and yet do so without forcing a disclosure of the
very thing the privilege is designed to protect.92 (Underscoring supplied)

Absent then a statement of the specific basis of a claim of executive privilege, there is no way of determining whether it
falls under one of the traditional privileges, or whether, given the circumstances in which it is made, it should be
respected.93 These, in substance, were the same criteria in assessing the claim of privilege asserted against the
Ombudsman in Almonte v. Vasquez94 and, more in point, against a committee of the Senate in Senate Select
Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon.95

A.O. Smith v. Federal Trade Commission is enlightening:

[T]he lack of specificity renders an assessment of the potential harm resulting from disclosure impossible, thereby
preventing the Court from balancing such harm against plaintiffs needs to determine whether to override any claims of
privilege.96 (Underscoring supplied)

And so is U.S. v. Article of Drug:97

On the present state of the record, this Court is not called upon to perform this balancing operation. In stating its
objection to claimants interrogatories, government asserts, and nothing more, that the disclosures sought by claimant
would inhibit the free expression of opinion that non-disclosure is designed to protect. The government has not shown
nor even alleged that those who evaluated claimants product were involved in internal policymaking, generally, or
in this particular instance. Privilege cannot be set up by an unsupported claim. The facts upon which the privilege is
based must be established. To find these interrogatories objectionable, this Court would have to assume that the
evaluation and classification of claimants products was a matter of internal policy formulation, an assumption in which
this Court is unwilling to indulge sua sponte.98 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Mobil Oil Corp. v. Department of Energy99 similarly emphasizes that "an agency must provide precise and certain
reasons for preserving the confidentiality of requested information."

Black v. Sheraton Corp. of America100 amplifies, thus:

A formal and proper claim of executive privilege requires a specific designation and description of the documents within
its scope as well as precise and certain reasons for preserving their confidentiality. Without this specificity, it is
impossible for a court to analyze the claim short of disclosure of the very thing sought to be protected. As the affidavit
now stands, the Court has little more than its sua sponte speculation with which to weigh the applicability of the claim.
An improperly asserted claim of privilege is no claim of privilege. Therefore, despite the fact that a claim was made by
the proper executive as Reynolds requires, the Court can not recognize the claim in the instant case because it is
legally insufficient to allow the Court to make a just and reasonable determination as to its applicability. To recognize
such a broad claim in which the Defendant has given no precise or compelling reasons to shield these documents from
outside scrutiny, would make a farce of the whole procedure.101 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Due respect for a co-equal branch of government, moreover, demands no less than a claim of privilege clearly stating
the grounds therefor. Apropos is the following ruling in McPhaul v. U.S: 102

We think the Courts decision in United States v. Bryan, 339 U.S. 323, 70 S. Ct. 724, is highly relevant to these
questions. For it is as true here as it was there, that if (petitioner) had legitimate reasons for failing to produce the
records of the association, a decent respect for the House of Representatives, by whose authority the subpoenas
issued, would have required that (he) state (his) reasons for noncompliance upon the return of the writ. Such a
statement would have given the Subcommittee an opportunity to avoid the blocking of its inquiry by taking other
appropriate steps to obtain the records. To deny the Committee the opportunity to consider the objection or remedy is
in itself a contempt of its authority and an obstruction of its processes. His failure to make any such statement was "a
patent evasion of the duty of one summoned to produce papers before a congressional committee[, and] cannot be
condoned." (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)

Upon the other hand, Congress must not require the executive to state the reasons for the claim with such particularity
as to compel disclosure of the information which the privilege is meant to protect. 103 A useful analogy in determining
the requisite degree of particularity would be the privilege against self-incrimination. Thus, Hoffman v. U.S.104 declares:

The witness is not exonerated from answering merely because he declares that in so doing he would incriminate
himself his say-so does not of itself establish the hazard of incrimination. It is for the court to say whether his silence
is justified, and to require him to answer if it clearly appears to the court that he is mistaken. However, if the witness,
upon interposing his claim, were required to prove the hazard in the sense in which a claim is usually required to be
established in court, he would be compelled to surrender the very protection which the privilege is designed to
guarantee. To sustain the privilege, it need only be evident from the implications of the question, in the setting in which
it is asked, that a responsive answer to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be
dangerous because injurious disclosure could result." x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The claim of privilege under Section 3 of E.O. 464 in relation to Section 2(b) is thus invalid per se. It is not asserted. It
is merely implied. Instead of providing precise and certain reasons for the claim, it merely invokes E.O. 464, coupled
with an announcement that the President has not given her consent. It is woefully insufficient for Congress to
determine whether the withholding of information is justified under the circumstances of each case. It severely
frustrates the power of inquiry of Congress.

In fine, Section 3 and Section 2(b) of E.O. 464 must be invalidated.

No infirmity, however, can be imputed to Section 2(a) as it merely provides guidelines, binding only on the heads of
office mentioned in Section 2(b), on what is covered by executive privilege. It does not purport to be conclusive on the
other branches of government. It may thus be construed as a mere expression of opinion by the President regarding
the nature and scope of executive privilege.

Petitioners, however, assert as another ground for invalidating the challenged order the alleged unlawful delegation of
authority to the heads of offices in Section 2(b). Petitioner Senate of the Philippines, in particular, cites the case of the
United States where, so it claims, only the President can assert executive privilege to withhold information from
Congress.

Section 2(b) in relation to Section 3 virtually provides that, once the head of office determines that a certain information
is privileged, such determination is presumed to bear the Presidents authority and has the effect of prohibiting the
official from appearing before Congress, subject only to the express pronouncement of the President that it is allowing
the appearance of such official. These provisions thus allow the President to authorize claims of privilege by mere
silence.

Such presumptive authorization, however, is contrary to the exceptional nature of the privilege. Executive privilege, as
already discussed, is recognized with respect to information the confidential nature of which is crucial to the fulfillment
of the unique role and responsibilities of the executive branch,105 or in those instances where exemption from
disclosure is necessary to the discharge of highly important executive responsibilities.106 The doctrine of executive
privilege is thus premised on the fact that certain informations must, as a matter of necessity, be kept confidential in
pursuit of the public interest. The privilege being, by definition, an exemption from the obligation to disclose
information, in this case to Congress, the necessity must be of such high degree as to outweigh the public interest in
enforcing that obligation in a particular case.

In light of this highly exceptional nature of the privilege, the Court finds it essential to limit to the President the power to
invoke the privilege. She may of course authorize the Executive Secretary to invoke the privilege on her behalf, in
which case the Executive Secretary must state that the authority is "By order of the President," which means that he
personally consulted with her. The privilege being an extraordinary power, it must be wielded only by the highest
official in the executive hierarchy. In other words, the President may not authorize her subordinates to exercise such
power. There is even less reason to uphold such authorization in the instant case where the authorization is not explicit
but by mere silence. Section 3, in relation to Section 2(b), is further invalid on this score.

It follows, therefore, that when an official is being summoned by Congress on a matter which, in his own judgment,
might be covered by executive privilege, he must be afforded reasonable time to inform the President or the Executive
Secretary of the possible need for invoking the privilege. This is necessary in order to provide the President or the
Executive Secretary with fair opportunity to consider whether the matter indeed calls for a claim of executive privilege.
If, after the lapse of that reasonable time, neither the President nor the Executive Secretary invokes the privilege,
Congress is no longer bound to respect the failure of the official to appear before Congress and may then opt to avail
of the necessary legal means to compel his appearance.
The Court notes that one of the expressed purposes for requiring officials to secure the consent of the President under
Section 3 of E.O. 464 is to ensure "respect for the rights of public officials appearing in inquiries in aid of legislation."
That such rights must indeed be respected by Congress is an echo from Article VI Section 21 of the Constitution
mandating that "[t]he rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected."

In light of the above discussion of Section 3, it is clear that it is essentially an authorization for implied claims of
executive privilege, for which reason it must be invalidated. That such authorization is partly motivated by the need to
ensure respect for such officials does not change the infirm nature of the authorization itself.

Right to Information

E.O 464 is concerned only with the demands of Congress for the appearance of executive officials in the hearings
conducted by it, and not with the demands of citizens for information pursuant to their right to information on matters of
public concern. Petitioners are not amiss in claiming, however, that what is involved in the present controversy is not
merely the legislative power of inquiry, but the right of the people to information.

There are, it bears noting, clear distinctions between the right of Congress to information which underlies the power of
inquiry and the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. For one, the demand of a citizen for the
production of documents pursuant to his right to information does not have the same obligatory force as a subpoena
duces tecum issued by Congress. Neither does the right to information grant a citizen the power to exact testimony
from government officials. These powers belong only to Congress and not to an individual citizen.

Thus, while Congress is composed of representatives elected by the people, it does not follow, except in a highly
qualified sense, that in every exercise of its power of inquiry, the people are exercising their right to information.

To the extent that investigations in aid of legislation are generally conducted in public, however, any executive
issuance tending to unduly limit disclosures of information in such investigations necessarily deprives the people of
information which, being presumed to be in aid of legislation, is presumed to be a matter of public concern. The
citizens are thereby denied access to information which they can use in formulating their own opinions on the matter
before Congress opinions which they can then communicate to their representatives and other government officials
through the various legal means allowed by their freedom of expression. Thus holds Valmonte v. Belmonte:

It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the
government may perceive and be responsive to the peoples will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the
extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the
discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit. 107(Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

The impairment of the right of the people to information as a consequence of E.O. 464 is, therefore, in the sense
explained above, just as direct as its violation of the legislatures power of inquiry.

Implementation of E.O. 464 prior to its publication

While E.O. 464 applies only to officials of the executive branch, it does not follow that the same is exempt from the
need for publication. On the need for publishing even those statutes that do not directly apply to people in general,
Taada v. Tuvera states:

The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, for strictly speaking all laws relate
to the people in general albeit there are some that do not apply to them directly. An example is a law granting
citizenship to a particular individual, like a relative of President Marcos who was decreed instant naturalization. It surely
cannot be said that such a law does not affect the public although it unquestionably does not apply directly to all the
people. The subject of such law is a matter of public interest which any member of the body politic may question in the
political forums or, if he is a proper party, even in courts of justice.108 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Although the above statement was made in reference to statutes, logic dictates that the challenged order must be
covered by the publication requirement. As explained above, E.O. 464 has a direct effect on the right of the people to
information on matters of public concern. It is, therefore, a matter of public interest which members of the body politic
may question before this Court. Due process thus requires that the people should have been apprised of this issuance
before it was implemented.

Conclusion

Congress undoubtedly has a right to information from the executive branch whenever it is sought in aid of legislation. If
the executive branch withholds such information on the ground that it is privileged, it must so assert it and state the
reason therefor and why it must be respected.

The infirm provisions of E.O. 464, however, allow the executive branch to evade congressional requests for information
without need of clearly asserting a right to do so and/or proffering its reasons therefor. By the mere expedient of
invoking said provisions, the power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is frustrated. That is
impermissible. For

[w]hat republican theory did accomplishwas to reverse the old presumption in favor of secrecy, based on the divine
right of kings and nobles, and replace it with a presumption in favor of publicity, based on the doctrine of popular
sovereignty. (Underscoring supplied)109

Resort to any means then by which officials of the executive branch could refuse to divulge information cannot be
presumed valid. Otherwise, we shall not have merely nullified the power of our legislature to inquire into the operations
of government, but we shall have given up something of much greater value our right as a people to take part in
government.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTLY GRANTED. Sections 2(b) and 3 of Executive Order No. 464 (series of 2005),
"Ensuring Observance of the Principle of Separation of Powers, Adherence to the Rule on Executive

Privilege and Respect for the Rights of Public Officials Appearing in Legislative Inquiries in Aid of Legislation Under the
Constitution, and For Other Purposes," are declared VOID. Sections 1 and 2(a) are, however, VALID.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice