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Disini v.

Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 180564
22 June 2010
Facts:
In 1989, the Philippine Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) wanted Jesus Disini to testify against
the Westinghouse Electric Corporation before the United States District Court of New Jersey and in the
arbitration case filed against the Republic before the International Chamber of Commerce Court of
Arbitration. Disini worked as an executive assistant for the various companies of Herminio Disini, his
second cousin, from 1971-1984. The Republic believed that the Westinghouse contract for the construction
of the Bataan Power Plant, brokered by one of Herminios companies, had been tended with anomalies.
On 18 February 1989, the PCGG and Disini entered into an Immunity Agreement under which Disini
agreed to testify for the government. The PCGG guaranteed Disini that apart from the two cases, it shall
not compel Disini to testify in any foreign or local proceeding brought by the Republic against Herminio.
Disini complied with his undertaking, but 27 February 2007, Sandiganbayan issued a subpoena duces
tecum and ad testificandum against Disini. The same commanded him to testify and produce documents
before the Court on 6 and 30 March 2007 in an action by the Republic against Herminio.
Procedures:
Disini filed a motion to quash citing the Immunity Agreement, but the Sandiganbayan ignored the motion
and issued another subpoena.
On 19 July 2007, the PCGG issued Resolution 2007-031, revoking and nullifying the Immunity Agreement
as it prohibited the latter from requiring Disini to testify against Herminio.
On 16 August 2007, Sandiganbayan denied Disinis motion to quash.
Issue:
Whether the PCGG may revoke or terminate the Immunity Agreement.
Ruling:
No, the PCGG may not revoke the Immunity Agreement.
Reasoning:
Section 5 of Executive Order 14 vests the PCGG to grant immunity to witnesses. Here, the PCGG offered
Disini, not only criminal and civil immunity, but also immunity against being compelled to testify in any
domestic or foreign proceeding other than the two cases identified in the Immunity Agreement. The case
against the Westinghouse had so huge a financial impact on the Republic that it was willing to waive its
power and right to compel Disinis testimony in other cases.
Though the government cannot be barred by estoppel based on unauthorized acts of public officers, such
principle cannot apply in this case since the PCGG acted within its authority when it procided Disini with a
guarantee against having to testify in other cases.
Rule of the Case:
The petition is granted and Resolution 2007-031 of the PCGG and Resolution of Sandiganbayan in
Republic of the Philippines v. Herminio T. Disini et al., is annulled.