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ARNAULT VS NAZARENO 87 PHIL 29 (1950)

FACTS The Senate investigated the purchase by the government of two parcels of land, known as Buenavista and Tambobong estates. A question that the Senate sought to resolve was the obvious irregularity of the governments payment to one Ernest Burt, a non -resident American citizen, of the total sum of Php1.5 million for his alleged interest in the two estates that only amounted to Php20,000.00, which he seemed to have forfeited anyway long before. The Senate sought to determine who were responsible for and who benefited from the transaction at the expense of the government. Petitioner Jean Arnault, who acted as agent of Ernest Burt in the subject transactions, was one of the witnesses summoned by the Senate to its hearings. In the course of the investigation, the petitioner repeatedly refused to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the amount of Php440, 000.00, which he withdrew from the Php1.5 million proceeds pertaining to Ernest Burt. Arnault was therefore cited in contempt by the Senate and was committed to the custody of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms for imprisonment until he answers the questions. He thereafter filed a petition for habeas corpus directly with the Supreme Court questioning the validity of his detention. ISSUES 1. Did the Senate have the power to punish the petitioner for contempt for refusing to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the Php440,000.00? 2. Did the Senate have the authority to commit petitioner for contempt for a term beyond its period of legislative session? 3. May the petitioner rightfully invoke his right against self-incrimination? RULING 1. Yes, the Senate had the power to punish the petitioner for contempt for refusing to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the Php440, 000.00. Although there is no provision in the 1935 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 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 effect 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. We find that the question for the refusal to answer which the petitioner was held in contempt by the Senate is pertinent to the matter under inquiry. In fact, this is not and cannot be disputed. Senate Resolution No. 8, the validity of which is not challenged by the petitioner, requires the Special Committee, among other things, to determine the parties responsible for the Buenavista and Tambobong estates deal, and it is obvious that the name of the person to whom the witness gave the P440,000 involved in said deal is pertinent to that determination it is in fact the very thing sought to be determined. The contention is not that the question is impertinent to the subject of the inquiry but that it has no relation or materiality to any proposed legislation. We have already indicated that it is not necessary for the legislative body to show that every question propounded to a witness is material to any proposed or possible legislation; what is required is that is that it be pertinent to the matter under inquiry.

If the subject of investigation before the committee is within the range of legitimate legislative inquiry and the proposed testimony of the witness called relates to that subject, obedience, to its process may be enforced by the committee by imprisonment. 2. YES, the Senate had the authority to commit petitioner for contempt for a term beyond its period of legislative session. We find no sound reason to limit the power of the legislative body to punish for contempt to the end of every session and not to the end of the last session terminating the existence of that body. The very reason for the exercise of the power to punish for contempt is to enable the legislative body to perform its constitutional function without impediment or obstruction. Legislative functions may be and in practice are performed during recess by duly constituted committees charged with the duty of performing investigations or conducting hearing relative to any proposed legislation. To deny to such committees the power of inquiry with process to enforce it would be to defeat the very purpose for which that the power is recognized in the legislative body as an essential and appropriate auxiliary to is legislative function. It is but logical to say that the power of self-preservation is coexistent with the life to be preserved. But the resolution of commitment here in question was adopted by the Senate, which is a continuing body and which does not cease exist upon the periodical dissolution of the Congress . . . There is no limit as to time to t he Senates power to punish for contempt in cases where that power may constitutionally be exerted as in the present case. 3. NO, the petitioner may NOT rightfully invoke his right against selfincrimination. Since according to the witness himself the transaction was legal, and that he gave the [P440,000.00] to a representative of Burt in compliance with the latters verbal instruction, we find no basis upon which to sustain his claim that to reveal the name of that person might incriminate him. There is no conflict of authorities on the applicable rule, to wit: Generally, the question whether testimony is privileged is for the determination of the Court. At least, it is not enough for the witness to say that the answer will incriminate him as he is not the sole judge of his liability. The danger of self-incrimination must appear reasonable and real to the court, from all the circumstances, and from the whole case, as well as from his general conception of the relations of the witness. Upon the facts thus developed, it is the province of the court to determine whether a direct answer to a question may criminate or not. . . The fact that the testimony of a witness may tend to show that he has violated the law is not sufficient to entitle him to claim the protection of the constitutional provision against self-incrimination, unless he is at the same time liable to prosecution and punishment for such violation. The witness cannot assert his privilege by reason of some fanciful excuse, for protection against an imaginary danger, or to secure immunity to a third person. It is the province of the trial judge to determine from all the facts and circumstances of the case whether the witness is justified in refusing to answer. A witness is not relieved from answering merely on his own declaration that an answer might incriminate him, but rather it is for the trial judge to decide that question. The Court DENIED the petition for habeas corpus filed by Arnault.

JOSE F.S. BENGZON JR., ET. AL. vs. SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE 203 SCRA 767 (1991)
FACTS On 30 July 1987, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), filed a complaint with Sandiganbayan against the petitioners of this case. PCGG allege, among others, that: defendants (petitioners therein) Benjamin Kokoy Romualdez and Juliette. Gomez Romualdez, alleged cronies of former President Marcos and First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, engaged in schemes and stratagems to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the Filipino people. Among these stratagems are (1) obtained control of some big business enterprises such as MERALCO, Pilipinas Shell, and PCI Bank, (2) manipulated the formation of Erectors Holding Inc, to appear viable and borrow more capital, reaching a total of more than P2 billion, (3) collaborated with lawyers (petitioners therein) of the Bengzon Law Offices in concealing funds and properties, in maneuvering the purported sale of interests in certain corporations, in misusing the Meralco Pension Fund worth P25 million, and in cleverly hiding behind the veil of corporate entity. On 13 September 1988, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile delivered a speech before the Senate on the alleged takeover of SolOil Incorporated by Ricardo Lopa (who died during the pendency of this case) and called upon the senate to look into possible violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or RA 3019. The Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers or Blue Ribbon Committee (SBRC) started its investigation through a hearing on 23 May 1989, but Lopa and Bengzon declined to testify. The SBRC rejected petitioner Bengzons plea and voted to pursue its investigation. Petitioner claims that the SBRC, in requiring their attendance and testimony, acted in excess of its jurisdiction and legislative purpose. Hence this petition.

ISSUES 1. WON the court has jurisdiction over this case. 2. WON the SBRCs inquiry has a valid legislative purpose. 3. WON the sale or disposition of the Romualdez corporations is a purely private transaction which is beyond the power of the SBRC to inquire into. 4. WON the inquiry violates the petitioners right to due process. HELD

1. Yes, as the court held in Angara vs. Electoral Commission, the Constitution provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the departments of the government, and it is the judiciary that was vested of the powers to determine the scope, nature and extent of such powers.

2. No, the speech of Sen. Enrile contained no suggestion on contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the Senate to look into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of RA 3019. The purpose of the inquiry to be conducted by respondent SBRC was to find out WON the relatives of President Aquino, particularly Ricardo Lopa, had violated the law in connection with the alleged sale of the 36/39 corporations of Kokoy Romualdez to the Lopa Group. There appears, therefore, no intended legislation involved. The inquiry also is not conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 2123 (SR 2123), as the committee alleges. The inquiry under SR 2123 is to look into the charges against PCGG filed by stockholders of Oriental Petroleum in connection with the implementation of Section 26 Article XVIII of the Constitution. 3. Yes, Mr. Lopa and the petitioners are not connected with the government and did their acts as private citizens; hence such a case of alleged graft and corruption is within the jurisdiction, not of the SBRC, but of the courts. Sandiganbayan already took jurisdiction of this issue before the SBRC did. The inquiry of the respondent committee into the same justiciable controversy already before the Sandiganbayan would be an encroachment of into the exclusive domain of judicial jurisdiction. 4. No, the Constitution provides the right of an accused of a crime to remain silent; this extends also to respondents in administrative investigation but only if they partake of the nature of a criminal proceeding. This is not so in this case. BUT since the court already held that the inquiry is not in aid of legislation, the petitioners therein cannot be compelled to testify.