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CONSTITUTION I

A.Y. 1819– DEAN CANDELARIA


TOPIC Art VI (21): Legislative Investigation; Power to a. Directing an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged
Punish a Person under Investigation; Contempt and improprieties in the operations, causing anomalous losses, of
Detention the respective Board of Directors of:
CASE NO. G.R. No. 174340 i. The Philippines Overseas Telecommunications
CASE NAME Sabio v. Gordon Corporation (POTC)
PONENTE Sandoval-Guiterrez ii. Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation
(PHILCOMSAT), and
PETITIONER Presidential Commission on Good Government iii. PHILCOMSAT Holdings Corporation (PHC)
(PCGG) Chairman, Camilo L. Sabio; and directors b. Factual Antecedent:
and officers of PHILCOMSAT Holdings i. That in the last quarter of 2005, the Representation
Corporation and Entertainment Expense of the PHC skyrocketed
RESPONDENT Richard Gordon, in his Capacity as Chairman, and to P4.3 million, as compared to the previous year's
members of The Committee on Government mere P106 thousand
Corporations and Public Enterprises ii. That some board members established wholly owned
TYPE OF A consolidation of three petitions: PHC subsidiary called Telecommunications Center,
CASE 1.) Sabio’s Petition for Issuance of Writ of Inc. (TCI), where PHC funds are allegedly siphoned
Habeas Corpus 1. Where in 18 months, over P73 million had
2.) Sabio’s Petition for Certiorari and been allegedly advanced to TCI without any
Prohibition accountability report given to PHC and
3.) PHILCOMSAT’s Petition for Certiorari and PHILCOMSAT
Prohibition iii. That the Philippine Star reported that the executive
MEMBER Lead Dampil committee of PHILCOMSAT has precipitately
released P265 million and granted P125 million loan
ISSUE to a relative of an executive committee member
PRIMARY ISSUE c. 28 March 2006, transferred the conduct of investigations to:
1. W/N Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 is repealed by the 1987 Constitution i. The Committee on Government Corporations and
INCIDENTAL ISSUE Public Enterprises (the Committee)
2. W/N Senate Committees have the Power of Contempt
3. W/N Committee has violated any civil right of the petitioners 2. 8 May 2006, under the authority of Senator Richard Gordon (Sen.
Gordon), the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG)
RELEVANT FACTS Chairman, Camilo L. Sabio (Sabio), was invited to be one of the
resource persons in the Public Meeting in pursuance to P.S. No. 455
1. 20 February 2006, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago introduced a. 9 May 2006, Sabio declined the investigation by invoking
Philippine Senate Resolution No. 455 (P.S. No. 455) and was Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1
submitted to the Senate

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i. It provides that: "No member or staff of the [PCGG] 5. Unconvinced, the Committee directed the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to
shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any place Sabio and his commissioners under arrest for contempt.
judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding a. The order bears the approval of Senate President Villar and
concerning matters within its official [duties]." the majority of the Committees' members.
1. [Purpose of the Rule]: to ensure PCGG's
unhampered performance of its task Thus, three petitions were made:
ii. [Background]: on February 28, 1986, former 1.) Sabio and the Commissioner’s petition for Habeas Corpus against the
President Corazon C. Aquino installed her regime by Committee; and Sabio and the Commissioner’s petition for certiorari
issuing Executive Order (E.O.) No. 1 – which also and prohibition. Both petitions Alleging that:
created the PCGG, and the rules therewith. a. Committee disregarded Sec.4(b) of E.O. No. 1
b. Committee’s inquiries are not in aid of legislation
3. 10 August 2006, Sen. Gordon issued a Subpoena Ad Testificandum c. Inquiries were made in the absence of duly published Senate
requiring Sabio, PCGG commissioners, and officers and directors of Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation
PHILCOMSAT to appear in the Public Hearing on 23 August 2006 d. Committee is NOT vested with the Power of Contempt
still in pursuance of P.S. No. 455. 2.) PHILCOMSAT’s petition for certiorari and prohibition, alleging that:
a. 18 August 2006, Sabio still refused, still invoking Section a. Committee has no jurisdiction over the subject matter
4(b) of E.O. No. 1 b. Inquiries were made in the absence of duly published Senate
1. PHILCOMSAT refused, raising issues on Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation
the propriety of the legislative investigation c. Subpoenas are void for being issued without authority
ii. Thereafter, under the authority of Sen. Gordon, d. the conduct of legislative investigation constitutes undue
another notice was given to Sabio requiring him still encroachment into justiciable controversies over which
to appear and testify, this time on 6 September 2006 courts and tribunals have already acquired jurisdiction
1. 4 September 2006, Sabio still declined. e. the subpoenas violated petitioners' rights to privacy and
against self-incrimination
4. 7 September 2006, Sen Gordon issued an Order requiring Sabio and
the Commissioners to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in In their comments, the Committee countered that:
contempt of the Senate. 1.) the issues raised in the petitions involve political questions over
a. 11 September 2006, they submitted their Compliance and which this Court has no jurisdiction
Explanation, 2.) Sec.4(b) has already been repealed by the 1987 Constitution
1. still citing Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 3.) the Committee is vested with Power of Contempt
2. that the subject matter of the investigation is 4.) Committee has not violated any civil right of the individual
still under pending cases before the regular petitioners, such as their privacy and self-incrimination
courts – thus sub judice rule 5.) The investigation does not unduly encroach on justiciable
a. citing Bengzon v. Senate Blue controversies
Ribbon Committee

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A.Y. 1819– DEAN CANDELARIA
RATIO DECIDENDI “Although there is no provision in the Constitution
expressly investing either House of Congress with
1.) YES – Sec. 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 is repealed by the 1987 Constitution. power to make investigations and exact testimony to
the end that it may exercise its legislative functions
RULE: Section 3, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution states that: advisedly and effectively, such power is so far
“All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of incidental to the legislative function as to be implied.
instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this In other words, the power of inquiry — with process
Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or to enforce it — is an essential and appropriate
revoked.” (Thus, the real issue now is whether Section 4(b) of E.O. auxiliary to the legislative function”
No. 1 is unconstitutional or not.)
As Section 4(b) exempts the PCGG members and staff from the
APPLICATION: Congress' Power of Inquiry, it is in direct contention against the 1987
A. Section 21, Article VI (Congress’ Power of Inquiry) Constitution.
This provision provides that: “The Senate or the House of
Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct B. Section 1, Article XI (Principle of Public Accountability)
inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published This provision provides that: “Public office is a public trust. Public
rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people,
such inquiries shall be respected.” serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
The 1987 Constitution recognizes the power of investigation, not just
of Congress, but also of "any of its committee." It constitutes a direct As Section 4(b) is in the nature of an immunity – by placing the PCGG
conferral of investigatory power upon the committees as well, and members and staff beyond the reach of courts, Congress, and other
it means that the mechanisms which the Houses can take in order to administrative bodies – it is inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution.
effectively perform its investigative function – such as the Power of
Inquiry and Power of Contempt – are also available to the committees, C. Section 28, Article II (Policy of Full Disclosure), and Section 7,
such as herein Committee on Government Corporations and Public Article III (Right to Public Information)
Enterprises. Sec. 28, Art. II provides that: “Subject to reasonable conditions
a. AMERICAN JURSIPRUDENCE prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy
Before the Congress’ Power of Inquiry was made explicit by of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving
the 1973 Constitution and was expanded by the 1987 public interest.”
Constitution, it has already been recognized in foreign Sec. 7, Art. III provides that: “The right of the people to information
jurisdictions, and adopted in the Philippines through the case on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to
of Arnault v. Nazareno, in citing U.S. case McGrain v. official records xxx pertaining to official acts xxx shall be
Daugherty: afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be
provided by law.”

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A.Y. 1819– DEAN CANDELARIA
These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote Arnault: When the framers of the Constitution choose to
transparency, and as well as provide the people sufficient information adopt the principle of separation of powers, a it must have
to enable them to exercise effectively their constitutional rights. The intended each department's authority to be full and complete.
right to information goes hand-in-hand with the the conduct of How could the authority and power become complete if it is
inquiries in aid of legislation – as it is not only intended to benefit impotent by itself to punish or deal with acts committed
Congress, but also the citizenry. The extent to which the people’s right against its authority or dignity?
to participate and be involved in government acts – such as legislation
of certain laws – largely depends on how much they know as well. FURTHER: In Negros Oriental II Electric Cooperative, Inc.
v. Sangguniang Panlungsod of Dumaguete, The Court
As Section 4(b) limits or obstructs the power of Congress to secure characterized contempt power as a matter of self-preservation
from PCGG members and staff information and other data in aid of
its power to legislate, it is inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution. 3.) NO – the Committee did not violate any civil rights.

2.) YES – Senate Committees have the Power of Contempt. RULE: The power of inquiry must be subject to the limitations placed by the
Constitution on government action, especially the Bill of Rights.
NOTE: The Order of Arrest for "contempt of Senate Committees and the
Philippine Senate" was approved by Senate President Villar and APPLICATION:
signed by fifteen (15) Senators. From this, it can be concluded that A. Right to Privacy
the Order is under the authority, not only of the respondent Senate The court must determine whether: (1) the directors and officers of
Committees, but of the entire Senate. PHILCOMSAT has exhibited a reasonable expectation of privacy; and if
so, (2) whether that expectation has been violated by unreasonable
RULE: Section 21, Article VI grants the power of inquiry not only to the government intrusion. But the right to privacy is not absolute where there
Senate and the House of Representatives, but also to any of their is an overriding compelling state interest.
respective committees; and the conferral of the legislative power of
inquiry upon any committee of Congress must carry with it all powers PHILCOMSAT has no reasonable expectation of privacy over matters
necessary and proper for its effective discharge – such as the Power involving their offices in a corporation where the government has interest.
to hold someone in contempt. (See: Ratio 1, Rule 1(A) Application) The alleged anomalies in the PHILCOMSAT, PHC and POTC, ranging
a. JURSIPRUDENCE in millions of pesos, and the conspiratorial participation of the PCGG and
The Philippines through the case of Arnault v. Nazareno, its officials are compelling reasons for the Senate to exact vital
also in citing U.S. case McGrain v. Daugherty: information from the directors and officers of PHILCOMSAT, as well as
McGrain: “Experience has shown that mere from Chairman Sabio and his Commissioners.
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 .”

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B. Privilege Against Self-Incrimination DOCTRINE/PRECEDENT
What is important is that respondent Senate Committees have sufficient For the purposes of the class topic, this case
Rules to guide them when the right against self-incrimination is invoked. (1) HOLDS that Senate Committees have the Power of Contempt.
Section 19 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Section 21, Article VI grants the power of inquiry not only to the
Aid of Legislation states that: Senate and the House of Representatives, but also to any of their
respective committees; and the conferral of the legislative power of
“A witness can invoke his right against self-incrimination only when inquiry upon any committee of Congress must carry with it all powers
a question tends to elicit an answer that will incriminate him is necessary and proper for its effective discharge – such as the Power
propounded to him. However, he may offer to answer any question in to hold someone in contempt
an executive session.
RELEVANT LAWS
No person can refuse to testify or be placed under oath or affirmation
or answer questions before an incriminatory question is asked. His 1.) Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1
invocation of such right does not by itself excuse him from his duty “No member or staff of the [PCGG] shall be required to testify or
to give testimony. produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative
proceeding concerning matters within its official [duties].”
In such a case, the Committee, by a majority vote of the members 2.) Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution
present there being a quorum, shall determine whether the right has “The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective
been properly invoked. If the Committee decides otherwise, it shall committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance
resume its investigation and the question or questions previously with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons
refused to be answered shall be repeated to the witness. If the latter appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.”
continues to refuse to answer the question, the Committee may punish 3.) Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution
him for contempt for contumacious conduct.” “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at
all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost
DISPOSITIVE POSITION responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism
Wherefore the petitions are DENIED. Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 is declared and justice, and lead modest lives.”
REPEALED by the 1987 Constitution. The petitioners are ordered to comply 4.) Section 28, Article II of the 1987 Constitution
with the Subpoena Ad Testificandum issued by respondent Senate “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts
Committees. and implements a policyof full public disclosure of all its transactions
involving public interest.”
Petition for Habeas Corpus is DENIED for being moot because per agreement 5.) Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution
of the parties, petitioner Chairman Sabio was allowed to go home. “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern
shall be recognized. Access to official records xxx pertaining to
official acts xxx shall beafforded the citizen, subject to such
limitations as may be provided by law.”

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6.) Section 19 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in
Aid of Legislation
“A witness can invoke his right against self-incrimination only when
a question tends to elicit an answer that will incriminate him is
propounded to him. However, he may offer to answer any question in
an executive session.

No person can refuse to testify or be placed under oath or affirmation


or answer questions before an incriminatory question is asked. His
invocation of such right does not by itself excuse him from his duty
to give testimony.

In such a case, the Committee, by a majority vote of the members


present there being a quorum, shall determine whether the right has
been properly invoked. If the Committee decides otherwise, it shall
resume its investigation and the question or questions previously
refused to be answered shall be repeated to the witness. If the latter
continues to refuse to answer the question, the Committee may punish
him for contempt for contumacious conduct.”