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Sabio vs Gordon

Sabio vs Gordon

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Published by: joannarizza on Jan 22, 2011
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Legislative InvestigationSabio Vs. Gordon
On February 20, 2006, Sen. M. Defensor-Santiago introduced Philippine SenateResolution No. 455 "directing an inquiry in aid of legislation on the anomalouslosses incurred by the Philippines Overseas Telecommunications Corporation(POTC), Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT), andPHILCOMSAT Holdings Corporation (PHC) due to the alleged improprieties in theiroperations by their respective Board of Directors."Said Resolution was referred to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officersand Investigations and Committee on Public Services. It was then transferred to theCommittee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises upon motion of Sen.F.Pangilinan.On May 8, 2006, Chief of Staff Rio C. Inocencio, under the authority of Senator R.Gordon, wrote Chairman Camilo L. Sabio of the PCGG, inviting him to be one of theresource persons in the public meeting jointly conducted by the Committee onGovernment Corporations and Public Enterprises and Committee on Public Servicesfor the deliberation of the Senate Resolution.On May 9, 2006, Sabio declined the invitation because of prior commitment. At thesame time, he invoked Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 that “ No member or staff of theCommission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial,legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its officialcognizance."Sen. Gordon issued a
Subpoena Ad Testificandum
requiring Sabio and PCGGCommissioners Ricardo Abcede, Nicasio Conti, Tereso Javier and Narciso Nario toappear in the public hearing and testify on what they know relative to the mattersspecified in Senate Resolution.Similar subpoenae were issued against the directors and officers of PhilcomsatHoldings.Again, Chairman Sabio refused to appear. He sent a letter to Sen. Gordon invokingSection 4(b) of E.O. No. 1. On the other hand, the directors of Philcomstat Holdingsraised the issues on the proper legislative inquiry.Another notice was sent to Sabio requiring him to appear and testify on the samesubject matter but the same did not comply. Sabio again sent a letter reiterating hisposition. This prompted Senator Gordon to issue an Order requiring Chairman Sabio andCommissioners Abcede, Conti, Javier and Nario to show cause why they should notbe cited in contempt of the Senate.
Unconvinced with the Compliance and Explanation, the Committee on GovernmentCorporations and Public Enterprises and the Committee on Public Services issued anOrder directing Major General Jose Balajadia (Ret.), Senate Sergeant-At-Arms, toplace Chairman Sabio and his Commissioners under arrest for contempt of theSenate.Sabio was arrested.Hence, he filed with the Supreme Court a petition for
habeas corpus
against theSenate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises andCommittee on Public Services, their Chairmen, Senators Richard Gordon and JokerP. Arroyo and Members.He together with Commissioners Abcede, Conti, Nario, and Javier, and the PCGG'snominees to Philcomsat Holdings Corporation, Manuel Andal and Julio Jalandoni fileda petition for certiorari and prohibition against the same respondents, and alsoagainst Senate President Manuel Villar, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the Sergeant-at-Arms, and the entire Senate.Meanwhile, Philcomsat Holdings Corporation and its officers and directors, filed apetition for certiorari and prohibition against the Senate Committees onGovernment Corporations and Public Enterprises and Public Services, theirChairmen, Senators Gordon and Arroyo, and Members.Sabio and the PCGG Commissioners alleged that:
Respondent Senate Committees disregarded Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1without any justifiable reason;
 The inquiries conducted by respondent Senate Committees are not in aid of legislation;
 The inquiries were conducted in the absence of duly published Senate Rulesof Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation; and
Respondent Senate Committees are not vested with the power of contempt.Philcomsat Holdings Corporation and its directors and officers alleged:1.Respondent Senate Committees have no jurisdiction over the subject matterstated in Senate Res. No. 455;2.The same inquiry is not in accordance with the Senate's Rules of ProcedureGoverning Inquiries in Aid of Legislation;
3.The subpoenae against the individual petitioners are void for having beenissued without authority;4.The conduct of legislative inquiry pursuant to Senate Res. No. 455 constitutesundue encroachment by respondents into justiciable controversies overwhich several courts and tribunals have already acquired jurisdiction; and5.The subpoenae violated petitioners' rights to privacy and against self-incrimination.In their Comment, the respondents countered the petitioners’ arguments:
the issues raised in the petitions involve political questions over which SC hasno jurisdiction2.Section 4(b) has been repealed by the Constitution;
Respondent Senate Committees are vested with contempt power;4.Senate's Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation havebeen duly published;
Respondents have not violated any civil right of the individual petitioners,such as their (a) right to privacy; and (b) right against self-incrimination; and
 The inquiry does not constitute undue encroachment into justiciablecontroversies.ISSUES:WON Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 constitutes a limitation on the power of legislativeinquiry, and a recognition by the State of the need to provide protection to thePCGG in order to ensure the unhampered performance of its duties under itscharter.HELD:Petition for Habeas Corpus has became moot because Sabio was allowed to gohome.Perched on one arm of the scale of justice is Article VI, Section 21 of the 1987Constitution granting respondent Senate Committees the power of legislativeinquiry. It reads: The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respectivecommittees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with itsduly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in oraffected by such inquiries shall be respected.On the other arm of the scale is Section 4(b) of E.O. No.1 limiting such power of legislative inquiry by exempting all PCGG members or staff from testifying in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding, thus:

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