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G.R. No. 82585; November 1988
FACTS: Luis Beltran is among the petitioners in this case. He, together with others,
was charged with libel by the then president Corzaon Aquino, when Soliven
broadcasted the statement that President Aquino hid under her bed during a coup d'
etat.. Cory herself filed a complaint-affidavitagainst him and others. Makasiar averred
that Cory cannot file a complaint affidavitbecause this would defeat her immunity from
suit. He grounded his contention on the principle that a president cannot be sued.
However, if a president would sue then the president would allow herself to be placed
under the courts jurisdiction and conversely she would be consenting to be sued
back. Also, considering the functions of a president, the president may not be able to
appear in court to be a witness for herself thus she may be liable for contempt.
1. Whether petitioners were denied due process when informations for libel
were filed against them although the finding of the existence of a prima facie
case was still under review by the Secretary of Justice and, subsequently, by
the President (MOOT).
2. Whether the constitutional rights of Beltran were violated when respondent
RTC judge issued a warrant for his arrest without personally examining the
complainant and the witnesses, if any, to determine probable cause (NO).
3. Whether the President of the Philippines, under the Constitution, may initiate
criminal proceedings against the petitioners through the filing of a complaintaffidavit (YES).
First Issue: Instead of submitting his counter-affidavits, petitioner filed a "Motion to
Declare Proceedings Closed," in effect waiving his right to refute the complaint by
filing counter-affidavits.
Due process of law does not require that the respondent in a criminal case actually
file his counter-affidavits before the preliminary investigation is deemed completed. All
that is required is that the respondent (herein petitioner) be given the opportunity to
submit counter-affidavits if he is so minded.
Second Issue: Art 3 Sec 2 of the Constitution provides for the issuance of warrants of

Art. III, Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for
any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or
things to be seized.
The Constitution does not require the judge to personally examine the complainant
and his witnesses. The judge is, however, required to personally evaluate the report
and the supporting documents submitted by the fiscal regarding the existence of
probable cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a warrant of arrest; or he may
disregard the fiscals report and require the submission of supporting affidavits of
witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of probable cause
if he finds no probable cause. On June 30, 1987, the Supreme Court unanimously
adopted Circular No. 12, setting down guidelines for the issuance of warrants of
arrest. It has not been shown that respondent judge has deviated from the prescribed
Third Issue: The rationale for the grant to the President of the privilege of immunity
from suit is to assure the exercise of Presidential duties and functions free from any
hindrance or distraction. Petitioner Beltran argues that the reasons which necessitate
presidential immunity from suit impose a correlative disability to file suit if criminal
proceedings ensue by virtue of the President's filing of her complaint-affidavit, she
may have to be a witness for the prosecution, bringing her under the trial court's
jurisdiction. This would be an indirect way defeat her privilege of immunity from suit,
as by testifying on the witness stand, she would be exposing herself to possible
contempt of court or perjury
The Court ruled that the immunity from suit may be invoked only by the holder of the
office; not by any other person in the President's behalf. An accused in a criminal
case in which the President is complainant cannot raise the presidential privilege as a
defense to prevent the case from proceeding against such accused. The President
may shed the protection afforded by the privilege and submit to the court's
jurisdiction. The choice of whether to exercise the privilege or to waive it is solely the
President's prerogative.