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Arnault v. Nazareno, G.R. No.

L-3820, July 18, 1950 Although there is no provision in the [1935] Constitution expressly investing
either House of Congress with power to make investigations and exact testimony
OZAETA, J.: 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
I. THE FACTS appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot
legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the
The Senate investigated the purchase by the government of two parcels of land, conditions which the legislation is intended to effect or change; and where the
known as Buenavista and Tambobong estates. An intriguing question that the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information – which is not
Senate sought to resolve was the apparent irregularity of the government’s infrequently true – recourse must be had to others who do possess it. Experience
payment to one Ernest Burt, a non-resident American citizen, of the total sum of has shown that mere requests for such information are often unavailing, and also
Php1.5 million for his alleged interest in the two estates that only amounted to that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some
Php20,000.00, which he seemed to have forfeited anyway long before. The Senate means of compulsion is essential to obtain what is needed.
sought to determine who were responsible for and who benefited from the
transaction at the expense of the government. xxx xxx xxx

Petitioner Jean Arnault, who acted as agent of Ernest Burt in the subject [W]e find that the question for the refusal to answer which the petitioner was held
transactions, was one of the witnesses summoned by the Senate to its hearings. In in contempt by the Senate is pertinent to the matter under inquiry. In fact, this is
the course of the investigation, the petitioner repeatedly refused to divulge not and cannot be disputed. Senate Resolution No. 8, the validity of which is not
the name of the person to whom he gave the amount of Php440,000.00, which he challenged by the petitioner, requires the Special Committee, among other things,
withdrew from the Php1.5 million proceeds pertaining to Ernest Burt. 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
Arnault was therefore cited in contempt by the Senate and was committed to the P440,000 involved in said deal is pertinent to that determination — it is in fact the
custody of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms for imprisonment until he answers the very thing sought to be determined. The contention is not that the question is
questions. He thereafter filed a petition for habeas corpus directly with the impertinent to the subject of the inquiry but that it has no relation or materiality to
Supreme Court questioning the validity of his detention. 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
II. THE ISSUE pertinent to the matter under inquiry.

1. Did the Senate have the power to punish the petitioner for contempt for xxx xxx xxx
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 If the subject of investigation before the committee is within the range of
beyond its period of legislative session? legitimate legislative inquiry and the proposed testimony of the witness called
3. May the petitioner rightfully invoke his right against self-incrimination? 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
[The Court DENIED the petition for habeas corpus filed by Arnault.] term beyond its period of legislative session.

1. Yes, the Senate had the power to punish the petitioner for contempt for We find no sound reason to limit the power of the legislative body to punish for
refusing to reveal the name of the person to whom he gave the Php440,000.00. 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
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constitutional function without impediment or obstruction. Legislative functions
may be and in practice are performed during recess by duly constituted ARNAULT vs. BALAGTAS
committees charged with the duty of performing investigations or conducting
hearing relative to any proposed legislation. To deny to such committees the Citation: G.R. No. L-6749; 97 Phil. 358; July 30, 1955
power of inquiry with process to enforce it would be to defeat the very purpose Ponente: Labrador
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 Topic: Legislative investigation; may Senate hold a person in contempt as a
of self-preservation is coexistent with the life to be preserved. punitive measure.

But the resolution of commitment here in question was adopted by the Senate, FACTS:
which is a continuing body and which does not cease exist upon the periodical This was a petition for habeas corpus filed by Jean Arnault against the Director
dissolution of the Congress . . . There is no limit as to time to the Senate’s power of Prisons, Balagtas. Arnault was incarcerated pursuant to a resolution by the
to punish for contempt in cases where that power may constitutionally be exerted Senate finding Arnault in contempt for refusing to disclose the name of a person
as in the present case. with whom he transacted business in relation to a government purchase of of the
Buenavista and Tambobong estates. The circumstances of Arnault's
3. NO, the petitioner may NOT rightfully invoke his right against self- incarceration are described in the companion case Arnaultvs.
incrimination. Nazareno (1950) which affirmed the Legislature's power to hold a person in
contempt for defying or refusing to comply with an order in a legislative inquiry.
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 latter’s verbal Arnault eventually divulged that he had transacted with one Jess D. Santos in
instruction, we find no basis upon which to sustain his claim that to reveal the relation to the Buenavista and Tambobong deal. Upon further inquiry, the
name of that person might incriminate him. There is no conflict of authorities on Senate, obviously not satisfied with Arnault's explanations, adopted Resolution
the applicable rule, to wit: No. 114. The title of the resolution states:

Generally, the question whether testimony is privileged is for the determination RESOLUTION APPROVING THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL
of the Court. At least, it is not enough for the witness to say that the answer will COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE BUENAVISTA AND TAMBOBONG
incriminate him as he is not the sole judge of his liability. The danger of self- ESTATES DEAL, AND ORDERING THE DIRECTOR OF PRISON TO
incrimination must appear reasonable and real to the court, from all the CONTINUE HOLDING JEAN L. ARNAULT IN HIS CUSTODY, AND IN
circumstances, and from the whole case, as well as from his general conception of CONFINEMENT AND DETENTION AT THE NEW BILIBID PRISON AT
the relations of the witness. Upon the facts thus developed, it is the province of MUNTINLUPA, RIZAL, UNTIL THE SAID ARNAULT SHALL HAVE
the court to determine whether a direct answer to a question may criminate or not. PURGED HIMSELF OF CONTEMPT OF THE SENATE.
. . 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 xxx
provision against self-incrimination, unless he is at the same time liable to
prosecution and punishment for such violation. The witness cannot assert his WHEREAS, the Senate holds and finds that the situation of the said Jean L.
privilege by reason of some fanciful excuse, for protection against an imaginary Arnault has not materially changed since he was committed to prison for
danger, or to secure immunity to a third person. contempt of the Senate, and since the Supreme Court of the Philippines, in a
judgment long since become final, upheld the power and authority of the Senate
It is the province of the trial judge to determine from all the facts and to hold the said Jean L. Arnault in custody, detention, and confinement, said
circumstances of the case whether the witness is justified in refusing to answer. A power and authority having been held to be coercive rather than punitive, and
witness is not relieved from answering merely on his own declaration that an fully justified until the said Jean L. Arnault should have given the information
answer might incriminate him, but rather it is for the trial judge to decide that which he had withheld and continues contumaciously to withhold;
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WHEREAS, the insolent and manifest untruthful statements made by the said the Constitution. The only instances when judicial intervention may lawfully
Jean L. Arnault on the occasions above referred to constitute a continuing be invoke are when there has been a violation of a constitutional inhibition,
contempt of the Senate, and an added affront to its dignity and authority, such or when there has been an arbitrary exercise of the legislative discretion.
that , were they to be condoned or overlooked, the power and authority of the
Senate to conduct investigations would become futile and ineffectual because 2. YES. The legislature may hold a person in contempt or incarcerate him as a
they could be defied by any person of sufficient stubbornness and malice; punitive measure.

xxx Although the resolution studiously avoids saying that the confinement is a
punishment, but merely seeks to coerce the petitioner into telling the truth, the
The Court of First Instance ruled in favor of Petitioner Arnault and ordered his intention is evident that the continuation of the imprisonment ordered is in fact
release. partly punitive. This may be inferred from the confining made in the resolution
that petitioner's acts were arrogant and contumacious and constituted an affront
ISSUE: to the Senate's dignity and authority.
Whether or not Petitioner may be released from his Senate-imposed
incarceration. The legislature has the power to punish recalcitrant witnesses. This power is
founded upon reason and policy. Said power must be considered implied or
1. Whether or not the CFI has the right to review the findings of the Senate. incidental to the exercise of legislative power, or necessary to effectuate said
power. How could a legislative body obtain the knowledge and information on
2. Whether or not the Senate may hold a person in contempt or incarcerate him which to base intended legislation if it cannot require and compel the disclosure
as a punitive rather than as a coercive measure. of such knowledge and information, if it is impotent to punish a defiance of its
power and authority? The legislative department should not be constrained to
HELD: look to the courts whenever for every act of refusal, every act of defiance, every
YES. The Senate may continue to keep Petitioner incarcerated. act of contumacy with which it is faced.

1. NO. In the first place, the CFI did NOT have the right to review the findings The exercise of the legislature's authority to deal with the defiant and
of the Senate. In the above quoted resolution, the Senate in stating that petitioner contumacious witness should be supreme and is not subject to judicial
“has failed and refused, and continues to fail and refuse, to reveal the person to interference, except when there is a manifest and absolute disregard of discretion
whom he gave the amount of P440,000” and that the situation of petitioner “has and a mere exertion of arbitrary power coming within the reach of constitutional
not materially charged since he was committed to prison”, clearly shows that the limitations.
Senate believes that Arnault was still trying to deceive them. The CFI on the
other hand arrogated unto itself to review such finding and held that Arnault
satisfactorily answered the questions of the Senate in its investigation of the The judgment appealed from should be, as it hereby is, reversed, and the petition
Buenavista and Tambobong deal. for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus denied. The order of the court
allowing the petitioner to give bail is declared null and void and the petitioner is
There is an inherent fundamental error in the course of action that the lower hereby ordered to be recommitted to the custody of the respondent. With cost
court followed. It assumed that courts have the right to review the findings of against the petitioner-appellee.
legislative bodies in the exercise of the prerogative of legislation, or interfere
with their proceedings or their discretion in what is known as the legislative
process. The Judicial department has no right or power or authority to do this, in
the same manner that the legislative department may not invade the judicial Bengzon vs Senate Blue Ribbon Committee
realm in the ascertainment of truth and in the application and interpretation of It was alleged that Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez and his wife together with the
the law, in what is known as the judicial process, because that would be in direct Marcoses unlawfully and unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the
conflict with the fundamental principle of separation of powers established by Filipino people. That they obtained with the help of the Bengzon Law Office and
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Ricardo Lopa – Cory’s brother in law, among others, control over some of the
biggest business enterprises in the country including MERALCO, PCI Bank, Shell
Philippines and Benguet Consolidated Mining Corporation. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee vs. Majaducon (G.R. No. 136760)

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile subsequently delivered a privilege speech alleging that Facts:
Lopa took over various government owned corporations which is in violation of This case had its aegis when the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee conducted an
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Contained in the speech is a motion to inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of the funds and investment of the
investigate on the matter. The motion was referred to the Committee on Armed Forces Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS). During
Accountability of Public Officers or the Blue Ribbon Committee. After committee the public hearings by the Blue Ribbon Committee, it appeared that the AFP-
hearing, Lopa refused to testify before the committee for it may unduly prejudice RSBS purchased a lot from Atty. Nilo J. Flaviano worth P10,500 per square
a pending civil case against him. Bengzon likewise refused invoking his right to meter. However, the deed of sale filed with the Register of Deeds indicated that
due process. Lopa however sent a letter to Enrile categorically denying his the purchase price of the lot was only P3,000 per square meter. The Committee
allegations and that his allegations are baseless and malicious. caused the service of a subpoena to Atty. Flaviano, directing him to appear and
testify before it. Respondent refused to appear and filed a petition for prohibition
Enrile subsequently took advantage of the Senate’s privilege hour upon which he and preliminary injunction with prayer for temporary restraining order with the
insisted to have an inquiry regarding the matter. The SBRC rejected Lopa’s and RTC of General Santos City. The trial court issued a TRO directing the
Bengzon’s plea. committee to cease and desist from proceeding with the inquiry. The Committee
Claiming that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is poised to subpoena them and filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction and failure to state
require their attendance and testimony in proceedings before the Committee, in a valid cause of action. The Trial Court denied the motion to dismiss. Hence, this
excess of its jurisdiction and legislative purpose, in clear and blatant disregard of petition for certiorari alleging that Judge Majaducon committed grave abuse of
their constitutional rights, and to their grave and irreparable damage, prejudice discretion and acted without or in excess of jurisdiction.
and injury, and that there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law, Bengzon et al filed a petition for prohibition Issue:
with a prayer for temporary restraining order and/or injunctive relief against the Whether or not respondent Judge Jose Majaducon committed grave abuse of
SBRC. discretion when he dismissed the petition for prohibition and issued the writ of
preliminary injunction.
ISSUE: Whether or not the inquiry sought by the SBRC be granted.
HELD: No, the inquiry cannot be given due course. The speech of Enrile The assailed resolution of respondent Judge Majaducon was issued without legal
contained no suggestion of contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the basis. The principle of separation of powers essentially means that legislation
Senate to look into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known belongs to Congress, execution to the Executive, and settlement of legal
as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.” In other words, the purpose of the controversies to the Judiciary. Each is prevented from invading the domain of
inquiry to be conducted by the Blue Ribbon Committee was to find out whether the others. When the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee served subpoena on
or not the relatives of Cory, particularly Lopa, had violated the law in connection respondent Flaviano to appear and testify before it in connection with its
with the alleged sale of the 36 or 39 corporations belonging to Kokoy to the Lopa investigation of the alleged misuse and mismanagement of the AFP-RSBS
Group. There appears to be, therefore, no intended legislation involved. Hence, funds, it did so pursuant to its authority to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation.
the contemplated inquiry by the SBRC is not really “in aid of legislation” because This is clearly provided in Article 6, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution:
it is not related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress, since the aim of
the investigation is to find out whether or not the relatives of the President or Mr. The Senate of the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees
Ricardo Lopa had violated Section 5 of RA No. 3019, the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published
Practices Act”, a matter that appears more within the province of the courts rather rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such
than of the legislature. Besides, the Court may take judicial notice that Mr. Ricardo inquiries shall be respected.
Lopa died during the pendency of this case.

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Hence, the RTC of General Santos City, or any court for that matter, had no The department heads and the military officers who were invited by the Senate
authority to prohibit the Committee from requiring respondent t appear and committee then invoked EO 464 to except themselves. Despite EO 464, the
testify before it. scheduled hearing proceeded with only 2 military personnel attending. For
defying President Arroyo’s order barring military personnel from testifying before
Also, the ruling in Bengzon vs. Blue Ribbon Committee cited by the respondent legislative inquiries without her approval, Brig. Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan
does not apply in this case. The factual circumstances therein are different from were relieved from their military posts and were made to face court martial
those in the case at bar. In Bengzon, no intended legislation was involved and proceedings. EO 464’s constitutionality was assailed for it is alleged that it
the subject matter of the inquiry was more within the province of the courts infringes on the rights and duties of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of
rather than the legislature. On the other hand, there was in this case a clear legislation and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws.
legislative purpose, and this is to look into the reported misuse and
mismanagement of the AFP-RSBS funds, with the intention of enacting ISSUE: Whether or not EO 464 is constitutional.
appropriate legislation to protect the rights and interests of the officers and HELD: The SC ruled that EO 464 is constitutional in part. To determine the
members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. validity of the provisions of EO 464, the SC sought to distinguish Section 21 from
Section 22 of Art 6 of the 1987 Constitution. The Congress’ power of inquiry is
expressly recognized in Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution. Although
SENATE vs ERMITA there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of
Congress with power to make investigations and exact testimony to the end that it
495 SCRA 170 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Legislative Branch – may exercise its legislative functions advisedly and effectively, such power is so
Question Hour – Constitutionality of E.O. 464 far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the
power of inquiry – with process to enforce it – is an essential and appropriate
In 2005, scandals involving anomalous transactions about the North Rail Project auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or
as well as the Garci tapes surfaced. This prompted the Senate to conduct a public effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the
hearing to investigate the said anomalies particularly the alleged overpricing in legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not
the NRP. The investigating Senate committee issued invitations to certain itself possess the requisite information – which is not infrequently true – recourse
department heads and military officials to speak before the committee as resource must be had to others who do possess it.
persons. Ermita submitted that he and some of the department heads cannot attend
the said hearing due to pressing matters that need immediate attention. AFP Chief Section 22 on the other hand provides for the Question Hour. The Question Hour
of Staff Senga likewise sent a similar letter. Drilon, the senate president, excepted is closely related with the legislative power, and it is precisely as a complement
the said requests for they were sent belatedly and arrangements were already made to or a supplement of the Legislative Inquiry. The appearance of the members of
and scheduled. Subsequently, GMA issued EO 464 which took effect Cabinet would be very, very essential not only in the application of check and
immediately. balance but also, in effect, in aid of legislation. Section 22 refers only to Question
Hour, whereas, Section 21 would refer specifically to inquiries in aid of
EO 464 basically prohibited Department heads, Senior officials of executive legislation, under which anybody for that matter, may be summoned and if he
departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by the refuses, he can be held in contempt of the House. A distinction was thus made
executive privilege; Generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the between inquiries in aid of legislation and the question hour. While attendance
Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of Staff are was meant to be discretionary in the question hour, it was compulsory in inquiries
covered by the executive privilege; Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with in aid of legislation. Sections 21 and 22, therefore, while closely related and
rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the judgment complementary to each other, should not be considered as pertaining to the same
of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege; Senior national power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct inquiries in
security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are aid of legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for
covered by the executive privilege; and Such other officers as may be determined legislation, while the other pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the
by the President, from appearing in such hearings conducted by Congress without objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress’ oversight
first securing the president’s approval. function. Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of
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executive officials under Section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their because of prior commitment. At the same time, he invoked Section 4(b) of E.O.
basis in the principle of separation of powers. No. 1 “No member or staff of the Commission shall be required to testify or
produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding
While the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot concerning matters within its official cognizance.” Apparently, the purpose is to
frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands ensure PCGG’s unhampered performance of its task. Gordon’s Subpoenae Ad
for information. When Congress exercises its power of inquiry, the only way for Testificandum was repeatedly ignored by Sabio hence he threatened Sabio to be
department heads to exempt themselves therefrom is by a valid claim of cited with contempt.
privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department
heads. Only one executive official may be exempted from this power — the ISSUE: Whether or not Section 4 of EO No. 1 is constitutional.
President on whom executive power is vested, hence, beyond the reach of
Congress except through the power of impeachment. It is based on her being the HELD: No. It can be said that the Congress’ power of inquiry has gained more
highest official of the executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a co-equal solid existence and expansive construal. The Court’s high regard to such power
branch of government which is sanctioned by a long-standing custom. The is rendered more evident in Senate v. Ermita, where it categorically ruled that “the
requirement then to secure presidential consent under Section 1, limited as it is power of inquiry is broad enough to cover officials of the executive
only to appearances in the question hour, is valid on its face. For under Section branch.” Verily, the Court reinforced the doctrine in Arnault that “the operation
22, Article VI of the Constitution, the appearance of department heads in the of government, being a legitimate subject for legislation, is a proper subject for
question hour is discretionary on their part. Section 1 cannot, however, be applied investigation” and that “the power of inquiry is co-extensive with the power to
to appearances of department heads in inquiries in aid of legislation. Congress is legislate”. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts
not bound in such instances to respect the refusal of the department head to appear and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving
in such inquiry, unless a valid claim of privilege is subsequently made, either by public interest.
the President herself or by the Executive Secretary.
When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are Article III, Section 7
implementing the statutes which it has issued, its right to such information is not The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be
as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining
department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data
such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such
Congress may only request their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in
which Congress requires their appearance is ‘in aid of legislation’ under Section
limitations as may be provided by law. Commented [1]:
21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons stated in Arnault.
These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-
making and in the operations of the government, as well as provide the people
SABIO vs GORDON sufficient information to enable them to exercise effectively their constitutional
rights. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public
On February 20, 2006, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago introduced Senate Res. discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective
No. 455 “directing an inquiry in aid of legislation on the anomalous losses implementation.
incurred by the Philippines Overseas Telecommunications Corporation
(POTC), Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (PHILCOMSAT),
and PHILCOMSAT Holdings Corporation (PHC) due to the alleged improprieties Standard Chartered Bank vs Senate Committee on Banks
in their operations by their respective Board of Directors.” Pursuant to this, on
May 8, 2006, Senator Richard Gordon, wrote Chairman Camilo Sabio of the FACTS:
PCGG inviting him to be one of the resource persons in the public meeting jointly SCB Phil Branch had criminal and civil charges against them before the courts
conducted by the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises in Metro Manila for selling unregistered foreign securities in violation of
and Committee on Public Services. Chairman Sabio declined the invitation Securities Regulation Code (RA 8799). Enrile, in his privileged speech, urged
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the Senate to immediately conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, to prevent the Legislative (Sec 21) & Oversight (Sec 22) Powers
occurrences of a similar fraudulent in the future. The respondent Committee then
set an initial hearing to investigate, in aid of legislation thereto. SCB stressed In April April 2007, DOTC entered into a contract with Zhong Xing
that there were cases allegedly involving the same issues subject of legislative Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) for the supply of equipment and services
inquiry, thus posting a challenge to the jurisdiction of respondent Committee to for the National Broadband Network (NBN) Project in the amount of
continue with the inquiry. $329,481,290.00 (approximately P16 Billion Pesos). The Project was to be
financed by the People’s Republic of China. The Senate passed various resolutions
ISSUE: relative to the NBN deal. On the other hand, Joe De Venecia issued a statement
Whether or not the respondent Committee, by aid of legislation, would encroach that several high executive officials and power brokers were using their influence
upon the judicial powers vested solely in the courts who took cognizance of the to push the approval of the NBN Project by the NEDA.
foregoing cases. Neri, the head of NEDA, was then invited to testify before the Senate Blue Ribbon.
He appeared in one hearing wherein he was interrogated for 11 hrs and during
RULING: which he admitted that Abalos of COMELEC tried to bribe him with P200M in
Yes. The unmistakable objective of the investigation, as set forth in the exchange for his approval of the NBN project. He further narrated that he
resolution, as initiated in the privileged speech of Senate President Enrile, was informed President Arroyo about the bribery attempt and that she instructed him
simply "to denounce the illegal practices committed by a foreign bank in selling not to accept the bribe. However, when probed further on what they discussed
unregistered foreign securities xxx", and at the conclusion of the said speech "to about the NBN Project, Neri refused to answer, invoking “executive privilege“. In
immediately conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, so as to prevent the particular, he refused to answer the questions on (a) whether or not President
occurrence of a similar fraudulent in the future." Arroyo followed up the NBN Project, (b) whether or not she directed him to
prioritize it, and (c) whether or not she directed him to approve. He later refused
The mere filing of a criminal or administrative complaint before a court or a to attend the other hearings and Ermita sent a letter to the SBRC averring that the
quasi-judicial body should not automatically bar the conduct of legislation. The communications between GMA and Neri is privileged and that the jurisprudence
exercise of sovereign legislative authority, of which the power of legislative laid down in Senate vs Ermita be applied. The SBRC cited Neri for contempt.
inquiry is an essential component, cannot be made subordinate to a criminal or
an administrative investigation. ISSUE: Whether or not the three questions sought by the SBRC to be answered
falls under executive privilege.
The intent of legislative inquiries is to arrive at a policy determination, which
may or may not be enacted into law. Except only when it exercises the power to HELD: The oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory
punish for contempt, the committees of the Senate or the House of process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of legislation.
Representatives cannot penalize violators even there is overwhelmingly evidence
The communications elicited by the three (3) questions are covered by
of criminal culpability. Other than proposing or initiating amendatory or
the presidential communications privilege.
remedial legislation, respondent Committee can only recommend measures to
address or remedy whatever irregularities may be unearthed during the 1st, the communications relate to a “quintessential and non-delegable power”
investigation, although it may include in its Report a recommendation for of the President, i.e. the power to enter into an executive agreement with other
criminal indictment of persons who may appear liable. At best, the countries. This authority of the President to enter into executive
recommendation, along with the evidence, contained in such Report would only agreements without the concurrence of the Legislature has traditionally been
be persuasive, but it is still up to the prosecutorial agencies and the courts to recognized in Philippine jurisprudence.
determine the liabilities of the offender.
2nd, the communications are “received” by a close advisor of the President. Under
the “operational proximity” test,petitioner can be considered a close advisor,
NERI vs Senate being a member of President Arroyo’s cabinet. And
49 SCRA 77 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department
– Inquiry in aid of legislation – Executive Privilege

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3rd, there is no adequate showing of a compelling need that would justify the Whether or not publication of the Rules of Procedures Governing Inquiries in
limitation of the privilege and of the unavailability of the information elsewhere Aid of Legislation through the Senate’s website, satisfies the due process
by an appropriate investigating authority. requirement of law.

170338 December 23, 2008 The publication of the Rules of Procedure in the website of the Senate, or in
pamphlet form available at the Senate, is not sufficient under the Tañada v.
Facts: Tuvera ruling which requires publication either in the Official Gazette or in a
Tapes ostensibly containing a wiretapped conversation purportedly between the newspaper of general circulation. The Rules of Procedure even provide that the
President of the Philippines and a high-ranking official of the Commission on rules "shall take effect seven (7) days after publication in two (2) newspapers of
Elections (COMELEC) surfaced. The tapes, notoriously referred to as the "Hello general circulation," precluding any other form of publication. Publication in
Garci" tapes, allegedly contained the President’s instructions to COMELEC accordance with Tañada is mandatory to comply with the due process
Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to manipulate in her favor results of the 2004 requirement because the Rules of Procedure put a person’s liberty at risk. A
presidential elections. These recordings were to become the subject of heated person who violates the Rules of Procedurecould be arrested and detained by the
legislative hearings conducted separately by committees of both Houses of Senate.
The invocation by the respondents of the provisions of R.A. No. 8792, otherwise
Intervenor Sagge alleges violation of his right to due process considering that he known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, to support their claim of valid
is summoned to attend the Senate hearings without being apprised not only of publication through the internet is all the more incorrect. R.A. 8792 considers an
his rights therein through the publication of the Senate Rules of Procedure electronic data message or an electronic document as the functional equivalent
Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, but also of the intended legislation of a written document only for evidentiary purposes. In other words, the law
which underpins the investigation. He further intervenes as a taxpayer bewailing merely recognizes the admissibility in evidence (for their being the original) of
the useless and wasteful expenditure of public funds involved in the conduct of electronic data messages and/or electronic documents. It does not make the
the questioned hearings. internet a medium for publishing laws, rules and regulations.
The respondents in G.R. No. 179275 admit in their pleadings and even on oral Given this discussion, the respondent Senate Committees, therefore, could not,
argument that the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of in violation of the Constitution, use its unpublished rules in the legislative
Legislation had been published in newspapers of general circulation only in inquiry subject of these consolidated cases. The conduct of inquiries in aid of
1995 and in 2006. With respect to the present Senate of the 14th Congress, legislation by the Senate has to be deferred until it shall have caused the
however, of which the term of half of its members commenced on June 30, publication of the rules, because it can do so only "in accordance with its duly
2007, no effort was undertaken for the publication of these rules when they first published rules of procedure."
opened their session.
SPS Dela Paz vs Senate
Respondents justify their non-observance of the constitutionally mandated
publication by arguing that the rules have never been amended since 1995 and, Inquiry in Aid of Legislation – Jurisdiction and Publication
despite that, they are published in booklet form available to anyone for free, and
accessible to the public at the Senate’s internet web page. In October 2008, Gen. De La Paz, a senior officer of the PNP, headed a delegation
of 8 to attend an Interpol GA. De La Paz brought with him his wife and 3 days
Issue: after the scheduled GA, de la Paz is also scheduled to retire. After the GA, De La
Paz was apprehended in the departure area for he was carrying with him
€105,000.00 (P6,930,000.00). He was also carrying with him €45,000.00
(P2,970,000.00). He failed to declare in writing that he is carrying such an amount

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and this is in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and
the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. De La
Paz and his group was later released but the €s were confiscated by the Russians.
Upon arrival to the Philippines, De La Paz was issued a subpoena by the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations for the investigation it was to conduct involving
the Moscow incident. De La Paz averred that the said committee does not have
jurisdiction of the case. De La Paz argued that the Committee is devoid of any
jurisdiction to investigate the Moscow incident as the matter does not involve state
to state relations as provided in paragraph 12, Section 13, Rule 10 of the Senate
Rules of Procedure (Senate Rules). They further claim that respondent Committee
violated the same Senate Rules when it issued the warrant of arrest without the
required signatures of the majority of the members of respondent Committee.
They likewise assail the very same Senate Rules because the same were not
published as required by the Constitution, and thus, cannot be used as the basis of
any investigation involving them relative to the Moscow incident.
ISSUE: Whether or not the said Committee has jurisdiction over the matter.
HELD: The SC ruled against De La Paz. Section 16(3), Article VI of the
Philippine Constitution states:”Each House shall determine the rules of its
proceedings.” This provision has been traditionally construed as a grant of full
discretionary authority to the Houses of Congress in the formulation, adoption and
promulgation of its own rules. The challenge to the jurisdiction of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, raised by petitioner in the case at bench, in effect,
asks this Court to inquire into a matter that is within the full discretion of the
Senate. The issue partakes of the nature of a political question. Also, the signatures
were properly obtained as evidenced by the approval of the Senate president and
it is shown that the gathering of the signatures is in accordance with the Rules. It
is also shown that the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of
Legislation were also published in two newspapers of general circulation.

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