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EN BANC

[G.R. Nos. 132875-76. February 3, 2000.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES , plaintiff-appellee, vs . ROMEO G.


JALOSJOS , accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Prospero Cresceni, Gancayco, Balasbas & Associates, Saguisag & Associates,
Balisado Law Office, and Lazaro Law Office for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

Accused-appellant is a full- edged member of Congress who is now con ned at the
national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape on two counts and acts of
lasciviousness on six counts is pending appeal. Accused-appellant led a motion asking
that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a Congressman, including attendance at
legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the rst
instance of a non-bailable offense.
Accused-appellant insisted that having been re-elected by his constituents, he had
the duty to perform the functions of a Congressman. According to him, his covenant with
his constituents cannot be defeated by insuperable procedural restraint arising from
pending criminal cases. He asserted that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the
hierarchy of government.
When the voters of his district elected accused-appellant to Congress, they did so
with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action. They did so with the
knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results, which he could accomplish
within the confines of prison.
What the accused-appellant seeks is not of an emergency nature. Allowing accused-
appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for ve days or more
in a week virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position.
As such, an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellant's status to that of a
special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system.
The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public o cers has never
been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. Accused-appellant is only one of 250
members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate,
charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical
absence of one or a few of its members.
The Court cannot validate badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public
welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain
groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded.
The Court found the election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable
classi cation in criminal enforcement. The functions and duties of the o ce are not
substantial distinctions, which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their
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freedom and restrict in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and con nement are germane
to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class. The Court
was constrained to rule against the accused-appellant's claim that re-election to public
office gives priority to any other right or interest, including the police power of the State.
Instant motion was denied.

SYLLABUS

1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; PUBLIC OFFICERS; PRIVILEGES ARISING FROM BEING


ELECTED MAY BE ENLARGED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. — True, election is the expression
of the sovereign power of the people. In the exercise of suffrage, a free people expects to
achieve the continuity of government and the perpetuation of its bene ts. However, inspite
of its importance, the privileges and rights arising from having been elected may be
enlarged or restricted by law. There is an unfortunate misimpression in the public mind
that election or appointment to high government o ce, by itself, frees the o cial from the
common restraints of general law. Privilege has to be granted by law, not inferred from the
duties of a position. In fact, the higher the rank, the greater is the requirement of obedience
rather than exemption.
2. ID.; ID.; RULING IN AGUINALDO CASE (212 SCRA 768, AT 773) DOES NOT APPLY
IN IMPRISONMENT ARISING FROM ENFORCEMENT OF CRIMINAL LAW; CONFINEMENT
PENDING APPEAL IS NOT REMOVAL. — Accused-appellant's reliance on the ruling in
Aguinaldo v. Santos, which states, inter alia, that — "The Court should never remove a public
o cer for acts done prior to his present term of o ce. To do otherwise would be to
deprive the people of their right to elect their o cers. When a people have elected a man
to o ce, it must be assumed that they did this with the knowledge of his life and
character, and that they disregarded or forgave his fault or misconduct, if he had been
guilty of any. It is not for the Court, by reason of such fault or misconduct, to practically
overrule the will of the people," will not extricate him from his predicament. It can be readily
seen in the above-quoted ruling that the Aguinaldo case involves the administrative
removal of a public o cer for acts done prior to his present term of o ce. It does not
apply to imprisonment arising from the enforcement of criminal law. Moreover, in the
same way that preventive suspension is not removal, con nement pending appeal is not
removal. He remains a congressman unless expelled by Congress or, otherwise,
disqualified.
3. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; PARLIAMENTARY
IMMUNITY FROM ARREST AND DETENTION; GRANTED IN A RESTRICTIVE SENSE AND
MAY NOT BE EXTENDED BY INTENDMENT, IMPLICATION OR EQUITABLE
CONSIDERATION. — The immunity from arrest or detention of Senators and members of
the House of Representatives, the latter customarily addressed as Congressmen, arises
from a provision of the Constitution. The history of the provision shows that the privilege
has always been granted in a restrictive sense. The provision granting an exemption as a
special privilege cannot be extended beyond the ordinary meaning of its terms. It may not
be extended by intendment, implication or equitable considerations.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; SCOPE. — The 1935 Constitution provided in its Article VI on the
Legislative Department: Sec. 15. The Senators and Members of the House of
Representatives shall in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace be
privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of Congress, and in going to
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and returning from the same; . . .. Because of the broad coverage of felony and breach of
the peace, the exemption applied only to civil arrests. A congressman like the accused-
appellant, convicted under Title Eleven of the Revised Penal Code could not claim
parliamentary immunity from arrest. He was subject to the same general laws governing
all persons still to be tried or whose convictions were pending appeal. The 1973
Constitution broadened the privilege of immunity as follows: Article VIII, Sec. 9. A Member
of the Batasang Pambansa shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years
imprisonment, be privileged from arrest during his attendance at its sessions and in going
to and returning from the same. For offenses punishable by more than six years
imprisonment, there was no immunity from arrest. The restrictive interpretation of
immunity and the intent to con ne it within carefully de ned parameters is illustrated by
the concluding portion of the provision, to wit: . . . but the Batasang Pambansa shall
surrender the member involved to the custody of the law within twenty four hours after its
adjournment for a recess or for its next session, otherwise such privilege shall cease upon
its failure to do so. The present Constitution adheres to the same restrictive rule minus the
obligation of Congress to surrender the subject Congressman to the custody of the law.
The requirement that he should be attending sessions or committee meetings has also
been removed. For relatively minor offenses, it is enough that Congress is in session. cEaCTS

5. ID.; ID.; MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CANNOT COMPEL ABSENT MEMBERS TO


ATTEND SESSION IF REASONS FOR ABSENCE IS A LEGITIMATE ONE. — The accused-
appellant argues that a member of Congress' function to attend sessions is underscored
by Section 16 (2), Article VI of the Constitution . . .. However, the accused-appellant has not
given any reason why he should be exempted from the operation of Section 11, Article VI
of the Constitution. The members of Congress cannot compel absent members to attend
sessions if the reason for the absence is a legitimate one. The con nement of a
Congressman charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than six months
is not merely authorized by law, it has constitutional foundations.
6. ID.; ID.; HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; ALLOWING ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO
ATTEND CONGRESSIONAL SESSIONS AND COMMITTEE MEETINGS WOULD BE A
MOCKERY OF THE PURPOSES OF CORRECTION SYSTEM; EMERGENCY OR COMPELLING
TEMPORARY LEAVES FROM IMPRISONMENT ARE ALLOWED TO ALL PRISONERS AT
DISCRETION OF AUTHORITIES OR UPON COURT ORDERS. — Emergency or compelling
temporary leaves from imprisonment are allowed to all prisoners, at the discretion of the
authorities or upon court orders. What the accused-appellant seeks is not of an emergency
nature. Allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee
meetings for ve (5) days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the
privileges appurtenant to his position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates
accused-appellant's status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the
purposes of the correction system. Of particular relevance in this regard are the following
observations of the Court in Martinez v. Morfe: . . .
7. ID.; ID.; ID.; AS A DETAINEE, ACCUSED-APPELLANT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN
ALLOWED TO DISCHARGE HIS DUTY AS MEMBER THEREOF; CASE AT BAR. — No less than
accused-appellant himself admits that like any other member of the House of
Representatives "[h]e is provided with a congressional o ce situated at Room N-214,
North Wing Building, House of Representatives Complex, Batasan Hills, Quezon City,
manned by a full complement of staff paid for by Congress. Through [an] inter-department
coordination, he is also provided with an o ce at the Administration Building, New Bilibid
Prison, Muntinlupa City, where he attends to his constituents ." Accused-appellant further
admits that while under detention, he has led several bills and resolutions. It also appears
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that he has been receiving his salaries and other monetary bene ts. Succinctly stated,
accused-appellant has been discharging his mandate as a member of the House of
Representative consistent with the restraints upon one who is presently under detention.
Being a detainee, accused-appellant should not even have been allowed by the prison
authorities at the National Penitentiary to perform these acts. When the voters of his
district elected the accused-appellant to Congress, they did so with full awareness of the
limitations on his freedom of action. They did so with the knowledge that he could achieve
only such legislative results which he could accomplish within the confines of prison.
8. ID.; BILL OF RIGHTS; EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE; PERFORMANCE OF
LEGITIMATE DUTIES BY PUBLIC OFFICER IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO FREE A PERSON
VALIDLY IN PRISON. — The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public
o cers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by
the "mandate of the people" are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty
to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only
one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of
the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in
the physical absence of one or a few of its members.
9. ID.; ID.; ID.; ELECTION TO POSITION OF CONGRESSMAN IS NOT A REASONABLE
CLASSIFICATION IN CRIMINAL LAW ENFORCEMENT. — The Court cannot validate badges
of inequality. The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise of
government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that
their interests are disregarded. We, therefore, nd that election to the position of
Congressman is not a reasonable classi cation in criminal law enforcement. The functions
and duties of the o ce are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of
prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest
and con nement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging
to the same class.
10. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; AFTER CONVICTION IN REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, ACCUSED MAY BE DENIED BAIL AND THUS SUBJECTED TO
INCARCERATION IF THERE IS A RISK OF HIS ABSCONDING; RATIONALE BEHIND
CONFINEMENT; CASE AT BAR. — One rationale behind con nement, whether pending
appeal or after nal conviction, is public self-defense. Society must protect itself. It also
serves as an example and warning to others. A person charged with crime is taken into
custody for purposes of the administration of justice. As stated in United States v. Gustilo,
it is the injury to the public which State action in criminal law seeks to redress. It is not the
injury to the complainant. After conviction in the Regional Trial Court, the accused may be
denied bail and thus subjected to incarceration if there is risk of his absconding. The
accused-appellant states that the plea of the electorate which voted him into o ce cannot
be supplanted by unfounded fears that he might escape eventual punishment if permitted
to perform congressional duties outside his regular place of con nement. It will be
recalled that when a warrant for accused-appellant's arrest was issued, he ed and evaded
capture despite a call from his colleagues in the House of Representatives for him to
attend the sessions and to surrender voluntarily to the authorities. Ironically, it is now the
same body whose call he initially spurned which accused-appellant is invoking to justify his
present motion. This can not be countenanced because, to reiterate, aside from its being
contrary to well-de ned Constitutional restraints, it would be a mockery of the aims of the
State's penal system.
11. WORDS AND PHRASES; IMPRISONMENT, ELABORATED. — Imprisonment is the
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restraint of a man's personal liberty; coercion exercised upon a person to prevent the free
exercise of his power of locomotion. More explicitly, "imprisonment" in its general sense, is
the restraint of one's liberty. As a punishment, it is restraint by judgment of a court or
lawful tribunal, and is personal to the accused. The term refers to the restraint on the
personal liberty of another; any prevention of his movements from place to place, or of his
free action according to his own pleasure and will. Imprisonment is the detention of
another against his will depriving him of his power of locomotion and it "[is] something
more than mere loss of freedom. It includes the notion of restraint within limits de ned by
wall or any exterior barrier." It can be seen from the foregoing that incarceration, by its
nature, changes an individual's status in society. Prison o cials have the di cult and often
thankless job of preserving the security in a potentially explosive setting, as well as of
attempting to provide rehabilitation that prepares inmates for re-entry into the social
mainstream. Necessarily, both these demands require the curtailment and elimination of
certain rights.

GONZAGA-REYES, J . , concurring opinion:

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; BAIL; CONTINUED INCARCERATION OF


ACCUSED IS A VALID CURTAILMENT OF HIS RIGHTS TO PROVISIONAL LIBERTY PENDING
APPEAL OF HIS CONVICTION. — The Bill of Rights provides — All persons, except those
charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong,
shall, before conviction, be bailable by su cient sureties, or be released on recognizance
as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required. This
constitutional provision denying the right to bail for offenses punishable by reclusion
perpetua when the evidence of guilt is strong is reiterated in Rule 114 of the Rules of
Criminal Procedure. The trial court found which accused-appellant guilty of the crime of
statutory rape, which is punishable by reclusion perpetua. In People v. Divina we held that
the trial court's judgment of conviction imports that the evidence of guilt of the crime
charged is strong. Unquestionably, the continued incarceration of accused-appellant is a
valid and constitutionally mandated curtailment of his rights to provisional liberty pending
appeal of his conviction.
2. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; PARLIAMENTARY
IMMUNITY FROM ARREST; GRANT OF ACCUSED'S MOTION TO ALLOW HIM TO ATTEND
LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS CONSTITUTE AN UNJUSTIFIED BROADENING THEREOF. —
Neither may the constitutional provision granting immunity from arrest to legislators
provide legal justi cation for accused-appellant's motion. The Constitution states that — A
Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not
more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in
session. No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any
speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof. I agree with the ponencia
that to allow accused-appellant to attend legislative sessions would constitute an
unjusti ed broadening of the privilege from arrest bestowed by the Constitution upon
members of Congress. Neither the legislative history of this provision nor the general
principles of official immunity support an expanded interpretation of such privilege.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; CIRCUMSCRIBED BY NATURE OR GRAVITY OF OFFENSE CHARGED;
COULD ONLY BE INVOKED FOR RELATIVELY MINOR OFFENSES, PUNISHABLE AT MOST
BY CORRECTIONAL PENALTIES. — It was never the intention of the framers of the 1973
and 1987 Constitutions to shield a member of Congress from the consequences of his
wrongdoings. Thus, despite the widening of its scope to include criminal offenses, the
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privilege from arrest is still circumscribed by the nature or the gravity of the offense of
which the accused is charged. Hence, the commission of serious crimes, i.e., crimes
punishable by a ictive penalties or with capital punishment, does not fall within the scope
of the constitutional privilege. A member of Congress could only invoke the immunity from
arrests for relatively minor offenses, punishable at most by correctional penalties. As
enunciated in Martinez v. Morfe, "when it comes to freedom from arrest, it would amount
to the creation of a privileged class, without justi cation in reason, if notwithstanding their
liability for a criminal offense, they would be considered immune during their attendance in
Congress and in going to and returning from the same."
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ACCUSED IS NOT ENTITLED TO THE PRIVILEGE; REASON. — The
accused-appellant, having been convicted of statutory rape which is punishable by
reclusion perpetua, an a ictive penalty, is obviously not entitled to the privilege of
parliamentary immunity and, proceeding from the above stated rationale for legislative
immunity, a liberal construction of the constitutional privilege is not in order.
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; APPLICABILITY THEREOF TO ACCUSED IS ALREADY MOOT AND
ACADEMIC; REASON. — Under the factual circumstances of this case, the applicability of
this privilege from arrest to accused-appellant is already moot and academic. The
constitutional provision contemplates that stage of the criminal process at which personal
jurisdiction is sought to be acquired over the accused by means of his arrest. Accused-
appellant is no longer at the point of merely being arrested. As a matter of fact, he has
already been arrested, tried and convicted by the trial court.
6. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; PUBLIC OFFICIALS; DOCTRINE OF CONDONATION
CANNOT APPLY TO CRIMINAL ACTS WHICH RE-ELECTED OFFICIAL MAY HAVE
COMMITTED DURING HIS PREVIOUS TERM. — Accused-appellant's contention that his re-
election constitutes a renewal of his mandate and that such an expression of the popular
will should not be rendered inutile by even the police power of the State is hollow. In
Aguinaldo v. Comelec , Aguinaldo v. Santos and in Salalima v. Guingona we laid down the
doctrine that a public o cial cannot be removed for administrative misconduct
committed during a prior term, since his re-election to o ce operates as a condonation of
the o cer's previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove therefor.
This doctrine of forgiveness or condonation cannot apply to criminal acts which the re-
elected o cial may have committed during his previous term. The administrative liability
of a public officer is separate and distinct from his penal liability.

RESOLUTION

YNARES-SANTIAGO , J : p

The accused-appellant, Romeo G. Jalosjos is a full- edged member of Congress


who is now con ned at the national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape on
two counts and acts of lasciviousness on six counts 1 is pending appeal. The accused-
appellant led this motion asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a
Congressman, including attendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings
despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense. cdtai

The issue raised is one of first impression.


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Does membership in Congress exempt an accused from statutes and rules which
apply to validly incarcerated persons in general? In answering the query, we are called upon
to balance relevant and con icting factors in the judicial interpretation of legislative
privilege in the context of penal law.
The accused-appellant's "Motion To Be Allowed To Discharge Mandate As Member
of House of Representatives" was filed on the grounds that —
1. Accused-appellant's reelection being an expression of popular will cannot be
rendered inutile by any ruling, giving priority to any right or interest — not even the police
power of the State.
2. To deprive the electorate of their elected representative amounts to taxation
without representation.
3. To bar accused-appellant from performing his duties amounts to his
suspension/removal and mocks the renewed mandate entrusted to him by the people.
4. The electorate of the First District of Zamboanga del Norte wants their voice to be
heard.
5. A precedent-setting U.S. ruling allowed a detained lawmaker to attend sessions of
the U.S. Congress.
6. The House treats accused-appellant as a bona de member thereof and urges a
co-equal branch of government to respect its mandate.
7. The concept of temporary detention does not necessarily curtail the duty of
accused-appellant to discharge his mandate.
8. Accused-appellant has always complied with the conditions/restrictions when
allowed to leave jail.
The primary argument of the movant is the "mandate of sovereign will." He states
that the sovereign electorate of the First District of Zamboanga del Norte chose him as
their representative in Congress. Having been re-elected by his constituents, he has the
duty to perform the functions of a Congressman. He calls this a covenant with his
constituents made possible by the intervention of the State. He adds that it cannot be
defeated by insuperable procedural restraints arising from pending criminal cases.
True, election is the expression of the sovereign power of the people. In the exercise
of suffrage, a free people expects to achieve the continuity of government and the
perpetuation of its bene ts. However, in spite of its importance, the privileges and rights
arising from having been elected may be enlarged or restricted by law. Our rst task is to
ascertain the applicable law.
We start with the incontestable proposition that all top o cials of Government —
executive, legislative, and judicial are subject to the majesty of law. There is an unfortunate
misimpression in the public mind that election or appointment to high government o ce,
by itself, frees the o cial from the common restraints of general law. Privilege has to be
granted by law, not inferred from the duties of a position. In fact, the higher the rank, the
greater is the requirement of obedience rather than exemption. cdll

The immunity from arrest or detention of Senators and members of the House of
Representatives, the latter customarily addressed as Congressmen, arises from a
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provision of the Constitution. The history of the provision shows that the privilege has
always been granted in a restrictive sense. The provision granting an exemption as a
special privilege cannot be extended beyond the ordinary meaning of its terms. It may not
be extended by intendment, implication or equitable considerations.
The 1935 Constitution provided in its Article VI on the Legislative Department:
Sec. 15. The Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall
in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace be privileged from
arrest during their attendance at the sessions of Congress, and in going to and
returning from the same; . . ..

Because of the broad coverage of felony and breach of the peace, the exemption
applied only to civil arrests. A congressman like the accused-appellant, convicted under
Title Eleven of the Revised Penal Code could not claim parliamentary immunity from arrest.
He was subject to the same general laws governing all persons still to be tried or whose
convictions were pending appeal.
The 1973 Constitution broadened the privilege of immunity as follows:
Article VIII, Sec. 9. A Member of the Batasang Pambansa shall, in all
offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from
arrest during his attendance at its sessions and in going to and returning from the
same.

For offenses punishable by more than six years imprisonment, there was no
immunity from arrest. The restrictive interpretation of immunity and the intent to con ne it
within carefully defined parameters is illustrated by the concluding portion of the provision,
to wit:
. . . but the Batasang Pambansa shall surrender the member involved to
the custody of the law within twenty four hours after its adjournment for a recess
or for its next session, otherwise such privilege shall cease upon its failure to do
so.

The present Constitution adheres to the same restrictive rule minus the obligation of
Congress to surrender the subject Congressman to the custody of the law. The
requirement that he should be attending sessions or committee meetings has also been
removed. For relatively minor offenses, it is enough that Congress is in session.
The accused-appellant argues that a member of Congress' function to attend
sessions is underscored by Section 16 (2), Article VI of the Constitution which states that

(2) A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but
a smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may compel the attendance
of absent Members in such manner, and under such penalties, as such House
may provide.

However, the accused-appellant has not given any reason why he should be
exempted from the operation of Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution. The members of
Congress cannot compel absent members to attend sessions if the reason for the
absence is a legitimate one. The con nement of a Congressman charged with a crime
punishable by imprisonment of more than six months is not merely authorized by law, it
has constitutional foundations.
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Accused-appellant's reliance on the ruling in Aguinaldo v. Santos, 2 which states,
inter alia, that —
The Court should never remove a public o cer for acts done prior to his
present term of o ce. To do otherwise would be to deprive the people of their
right to elect their o cers. When a people have elected a man to o ce, it must be
assumed that they did this with the knowledge of his life and character, and that
they disregarded or forgave his fault or misconduct, if he had been guilty of any. It
is not for the Court, by reason of such fault or misconduct, to practically overrule
the will of the people.

will not extricate him from his predicament. It can be readily seen in the above-quoted
ruling that the Aguinaldo case involves the administrative removal of a public o cer for
acts done prior to his present term of o ce. It does not apply to imprisonment arising
from the enforcement of criminal law. Moreover, in the same way that preventive
suspension is not removal, con nement pending appeal is not removal. He remains a
congressman unless expelled by Congress or, otherwise, disqualified. cdasia

One rationale behind con nement, whether pending appeal or after nal conviction,
is public self-defense. Society must protect itself. It also serves as an example and
warning to others.
A person charged with crime is taken into custody for purposes of the
administration of justice. As stated in United States v. Gustilo, 3 it is the injury to the public
which State action in criminal law seeks to redress. It is not the injury to the complainant.
After conviction in the Regional Trial Court, the accused may be denied bail and thus
subjected to incarceration if there is risk of his absconding. 4
The accused-appellant states that the plea of the electorate which voted him into
o ce cannot be supplanted by unfounded fears that he might escape eventual
punishment if permitted to perform congressional duties outside his regular place of
confinement.
It will be recalled that when a warrant for accused-appellant's arrest was issued, he
ed and evaded capture despite a call from his colleagues in the House of Representatives
for him to attend the sessions and to surrender voluntarily to the authorities. Ironically, it is
now the same body whose call he initially spurned which accused-appellant is invoking to
justify his present motion. This can not be countenanced because, to reiterate, aside from
its being contrary to well-de ned Constitutional restrains, it would be a mockery of the
aims of the State's penal system.
Accused-appellant argues that on several occasions, the Regional Trial Court of
Makati granted several motions to temporarily leave his cell at the Makati City Jail, for
official or medical reasons, to wit:
a) to attend hearings of the House Committee on Ethics held at the Batasan
Complex, Quezon City, on the issue of whether to expel/suspend him
from the House of Representatives;
b) to undergo dental examination and treatment at the clinic of his dentist in
Makati City;
c) to undergo a thorough medical check-up at the Makati Medical Center,
Makati City;
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d) to register as a voter at his hometown in Dapitan City. In this case,
accused-appellant commuted by chartered plane and private vehicle.
He also calls attention to various instances, after his transfer at the New Bilibid
Prison in Muntinlupa City, when he was likewise allowed/permitted to leave the prison
premises, to wit:
a) to join "living-out" prisoners on "work-volunteer program" for the purpose
of 1) establishing a mahogany seedling bank and 2) planting
mahogany trees, at the NBP reservation. For this purpose, he was
assigned one guard and allowed to use his own vehicle and driver in
going to and from the project area and his place of confinement.
b) to continue with his dental treatment at the clinic of his dentist in Makati
City.
c) to be con ned at the Makati Medical Center in Makati City for his heart
condition.
There is no showing that the above privileges are peculiar to him or to a member of
Congress. Emergency or compelling temporary leaves from imprisonment are allowed to
all prisoners, at the discretion of the authorities or upon court orders.
What the accused-appellant seeks is not of an emergency nature. Allowing accused-
appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for ve (5) days or
more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his
position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellant's status to that of
a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system. Of
particular relevance in this regard are the following observations of the Court in Martinez v.
Morfe: 5
The above conclusion reached by this Court is bolstered and forti ed by
policy considerations. There is, to be sure, a full recognition of the necessity to
have members of Congress, and likewise delegates to the Constitutional
Convention, entitled to the utmost freedom to enable them to discharge their vital
responsibilities, bowing to no other force except the dictates of their conscience.
Necessarily the utmost latitude in free speech should be accorded them. When it
comes to freedom from arrest, however, it would amount to the creation of a
privileged class, without justification in reason, if notwithstanding their liability for
a criminal offense, they would be considered immune during their attendance in
Congress and in going to and returning from the same. There is likely to be no
dissent from the proposition that a legislator or a delegate can perform his
functions e ciently and well, without the need for any transgression of the
criminal law. Should such an unfortunate event come to pass, he is to be treated
like any other citizen considering that there is a strong public interest in seeing to
it that crime should not go unpunished. To the fear that may be expressed that
the prosecuting arm of the government might unjustly go after legislators
belonging to the minority, it su ces to answer that precisely all the safeguards
thrown around an accused by the Constitution, solicitous of the rights of an
individual, would constitute an obstacle to such an attempt at abuse of power.
The presumption of course is that the judiciary would remain independent. It is
trite to say that in each and every manifestation of judicial endeavor, such a virtue
is of the essence.

The accused-appellant avers that his constituents in the First District of Zamboanga
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del Norte want their voices to be heard and that since he is treated as bona de member
of the House of Representatives, the latter urges a co-equal branch of government to
respect his mandate. He also claims that the concept of temporary detention does not
necessarily curtail his duty to discharge his mandate and that he has always complied with
the conditions/restrictions when he is allowed to leave jail.
dctai

We remain unpersuaded.
No less than accused-appellant himself admits that like any other member of the
House of Representatives "[h]e is provided with a congressional o ce situated at Room N-
214, North Wing Building, House of Representatives Complex, Batasan Hills, Quezon City,
manned by a full complement of staff paid for by Congress. Through [an] inter-department
coordination, he is also provided with an o ce at the Administration Building, New Bilibid
Prison, Muntinlupa City, where he attends to his constituents ." Accused-appellant further
admits that while under detention, he has led several bills and resolutions. It also appears
that he has been receiving his salaries and other monetary bene ts. Succinctly stated,
accused-appellant has been discharging his mandate as a member of the House of
Representative consistent with the restraints upon one who is presently under detention.
Being a detainee, accused-appellant should not even have been allowed by the prison
authorities at the National Penitentiary to perform these acts.
When the voters of his district elected the accused-appellant to Congress, they did
so with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action. They did so with the
knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results which he could accomplish
within the con nes of prison. To give a more drastic illustration, if voters elect a person
with full knowledge that he is suffering from a terminal illness, they do so knowing that at
any time, he may no longer serve his full term in office.
In the ultimate analysis, the issue before us boils down to a question of
constitutional equal protection.
The Constitution guarantees: ". . . nor shall any person be denied the equal protection
of laws." 6 This simply means that all persons similarly situated shall be treated alike both
in rights enjoyed and responsibilities imposed. 7 The organs of government may not show
any undue favoritism or hostility to any person. Neither partiality nor prejudice shall be
displayed.
Does being an elective o cial result in a substantial distinction that allows different
treatment? Is being a Congressman a substantial differentiation which removes the
accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly con ned under
law?
The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public o cers has never
been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by the "mandate of
the people" are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks
highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members
of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate, charged
with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical absence
of one or a few of its members. Depending on the exigency of Government that has to be
addressed, the President or the Supreme Court can also be deemed the highest for that
particular duty. The importance of a function depends on the need for its exercise. The
duty of a mother to nurse her infant is most compelling under the law of nature. A doctor
with unique skills has the duty to save the lives of those with a particular a iction. An
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elective governor has to serve provincial constituents. A police o cer must maintain
peace and order. Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different
classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.
A strict scrutiny of classi cations is essential lest wittingly or otherwise, insidious
discriminations are made in favor of or against groups or types of individuals. 8
The Court cannot validate badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public
welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain
groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded. 9
We, therefore, nd that election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable
classi cation in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the o ce are not
substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their
freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and con nement are
germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class. 10
Imprisonment is the restraint of a man's personal liberty; coercion exercised upon a
person to prevent the free exercise of his power of locomotion. 11
More explicitly, "imprisonment" in its general sense, is the restraint of one's liberty.
As a punishment, it is restraint by judgment of a court or lawful tribunal, and is personal to
the accused. 12 The term refers to the restraint on the personal liberty of another; any
prevention of his movements from place to place, or of his free action according to his
own pleasure and will. 13 Imprisonment is the detention of another against his will
depriving him of his power of locomotion 1 4 and it "[is] something more than mere loss of
freedom. It includes the notion of restraint within limits de ned by wall or any exterior
barrier." 15
It can be seen from the foregoing that incarceration, by its nature, changes an
individual's status in society. 1 6 Prison o cials have the di cult and often thankless job of
preserving the security in a potentially explosive setting, as well as of attempting to
provide rehabilitation that prepares inmates for re-entry into the social mainstream.
Necessarily, both these demands require the curtailment and elimination of certain rights.
17

Premises considered, we are constrained to rule against the accused-appellant's


claim that re-election to public o ce gives priority to any other right or interest, including
the police power of the State. cdtai

WHEREFORE, the instant motion is hereby DENIED.


SO ORDERED.
Kapunan, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ.,
concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, JJ., concur in the main and
separate opinion.
Gonzaga-Reyes, J., see separate concurring opinion.

Separate Opinions
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GONZAGA-REYES , J ., concurring opinion:

For resolution in this case is a motion led by accused-appellant Romeo G. Jalosjos,


who has been convicted by the trial court of two counts of statutory rape and six counts of
acts of lasciviousness, which judgment is currently pending appeal before this Court. As a
member of the House of Representatives, accused-appellant claims that his constituents
are deprived of representation by reason of his incarceration pending appeal of the
judgment of conviction and that he should therefore be allowed to discharge his legislative
functions, including attendance of legislative sessions and committee meetings.
I concur in the ponencia of my colleague Madame Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago
in holding that accused-appellant's motion is bereft of any legal merit. Cdpr

The Bill of Rights provides —


All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion
perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by
su cient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law.
The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required. 1 (emphasis
supplied)

This constitutional provision denying the right to bail for offenses punishable by
reclusion perpetua when the evidence of guilt is strong is reiterated in Rule 114 of the
Rules of Criminal Procedure, viz —
SEC. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or
life imprisonment, not bailable. — No person charged with a capital offense, or an
offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, when evidence of
guilt is strong, shall be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the criminal
prosecution.

The trial court found accused-appellant guilty of the crime of statutory rape, which is
punishable by reclusion perpetua. In People v. Divina 2 we held that the trial court's
judgment of conviction imports that the evidence of guilt of the crime charged is strong.
Unquestionably, the continued incarceration of accused-appellant is a valid and
constitutionally mandated curtailment of his rights to provisional liberty pending appeal of
his conviction.
Neither may the constitutional provision granting immunity from arrest to legislators
provide legal justification for accused-appellant's motion. The Constitution states that —
A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses
punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest
while the Congress is in session. No Member shall be questioned nor be held
liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any
committee thereof. 3

I agree with the ponencia that to allow accused-appellant to attend legislative


sessions would constitute an unjusti ed broadening of the privilege from arrest bestowed
by the Constitution upon members of Congress. Neither the legislative history of this
provision nor the general principles of o cial immunity support an expanded
interpretation of such privilege.
Unlike the present Constitution, the 1935 Constitution 4 limited the privilege from
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arrests to "all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace." This provision was
taken from the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916, which was in turn based upon the
American Constitution. In accordance with American precedents, the words "treason,
felony and breach of the peace" have been construed to include all indictable offenses. 5
Thus, under the 1935 Constitution the freedom from arrest only encompassed civil
arrests.
Under the 1973 6 and 1987 Constitutions, the privilege was broadened to include
arrests for crimes punishable by imprisonment of six years or less. Despite the expansion
of the privilege, the rationale for granting members of Congress immunity from arrest
remained the same — to ensure that they are not prevented from performing their
legislative duties. 7 In fact, the 1986 Constitutional Commission rejected the proposal of
one of its members to expand the scope of the parliamentary immunity to include
searches because, unlike arrests, it was not demonstrated that the conduct of searches
would prevent members of Congress from discharging their legislative functions. 8
It is a well-established principle that o cial immunity is a necessary adjunct to the
vigorous and effective performance of o cial functions. Members of Congress, in
particular, who are called upon to exercise their discretion and judgment in enacting laws
responsive to the needs of the people, would certainly be impeded in the exercise of their
legislative functions if every dissatis ed person could compel them to vindicate the
wisdom of their enactments in an action for damages or question their o cial acts before
the courts. 9
It was never the intention of the framers of the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions to
shield a member of Congress from the consequences of his wrongdoings. Thus, despite
the widening of its scope to include criminal offenses, the privilege from arrest is still
circumscribed by the nature or the gravity of the offense of which the accused is charged.
Hence, the commission of serious crimes, i.e., crimes punishable by a ictive penalties or
with capital punishment, does not fall within the scope of the constitutional privilege. A
member of Congress could only invoke the immunity from arrests for relatively minor
offenses, punishable at most by correctional penalties. As enunciated in Martinez v. Morfe,
10 "when it comes to freedom from arrest, it would amount to the creation of a privileged
class, without justi cation in reason, if notwithstanding their liability for a criminal offense,
they would be considered immune during their attendance in Congress and in going to and
returning from the same." dctai

The accused-appellant, having been convicted of statutory rape which is punishable


b y reclusion perpetua, an a ictive penalty, is obviously not entitled to the privilege of
parliamentary immunity and, proceeding from the above-stated rationale for legislative
immunity, a liberal construction of the constitutional privilege is not in order.
It should also be mentioned that, under the factual circumstances of this case, the
applicability of this privilege from arrest to accused-appellant is already moot and
academic. The constitutional provision contemplates that stage of the criminal process at
which personal jurisdiction is sought to be acquired over the accused by means of his
arrest. Accused-appellant is no longer at the point of merely being arrested. As a matter of
fact, he has already been arrested, tried and convicted by the trial court.
Accused-appellant's contention that his re-election constitutes a renewal of his
mandate and that such an expression of the popular will should not be rendered inutile by
even the police power of the State is hollow. In Aguinaldo v. Comelec, 1 1 Aguinaldo v.
Santos 1 2 and in Salalima v. Guingona 1 3 we laid down the doctrine that a public o cial
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cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term, since his
re-election to o ce operates as a condonation of the o cer's previous misconduct to the
extent of cutting off the right to remove therefor. This doctrine of forgiveness or
condonation cannot apply to criminal acts which the re-elected o cial may have
committed during his previous term. 1 4 The administrative liability of a public o cer is
separate and distinct from his penal liability.
Penal laws are obligatory upon all who live or sojourn in Philippine territory. Since the
Constitution itself provides for the immunities from the general application of our criminal
laws which a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may enjoy, it follows
that any expansion of such immunities must similarly be based upon an express
constitutional grant. cdphil

I vote to deny the motion.


Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1. RTC Decision, pp. 54-55.

2. 212 SCRA 768, at 773 [1992].


3. 19 Phil. 208, 212.

4. Cubillo v. City Warden, 97 SCRA 771 [1980].


5. 44 SCRA 37 [1972].

6. Art. III, Sec. 1.

7. Ichong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155.


8. Skinuer v. Oklahoma, 315 US 535.

9. See Fernando, Constitution of the Philippines, 2nd Edition, p. 548.


10. See Felwa v. Salas, 18 SCRA 606 [1966]; Ichong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155; Dumlao v.
Commission on Elections, 95 SCRA 392 [1980]; Ceniza v. Commission on Elections, 96
SCRA 763 [1980]; People v. Cayat, 68 Phil. 12.

11. Black's Law Dictionary, Special Deluxe 5th Ed., p. 681.


12. 20 Words And Phrases, Permanent Ed., p. 466, citing US v. Safeway Stores [Tex.] C.C.C.A.
Kan., 140 F 2d 834, 839 and US v. Mitchell, 163 F. 1014, 1016 at p. 470.
13. Ibid., p. 470, citing Pine v. Okzewski, 170 A. 825, 827, 112 N.J.L. 429.
14. Id., p. 472, citing US v. Benner, 24 Fed. Cas. 1084, 1087.

15. Id., citing Bird v. Jones, 4 N.Y. Leg. Obs. 158, 159.

16. Sheldon, Krantz, 1988 Supplement. The Law of Correction and Prisoners' Rights, 3rd ed., p.
121.

17. Ibid.

GONZAGA-REYES, J., concurring:


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1. 1987 Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 13.
2. 221 SCRA 209 (1993).

3. Art. VI, Sec. 11.

4. Art. VI, Sec. 15. — The Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall in all
cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during
their attendance at the sessions of the Congress, and in going to and returning from the
same; and for any speech and debate therein, they shall not be questioned in any other
place.

5. Martinez v. Morfe, 44 SCRA 22 (1972), citing Williamson v. United States, 207 U.S. 425.
6. Art. VIII, Sec. 9 — A member of the Batasang Pambansa shall, in all offenses punishable by
not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest during his attendance at
its sessions, and in going to and returning from the same; but the Batasang Pambansa
shall surrender the member involved to the custody of the law within twenty-four hours
after its adjournment for a recess or for its next session, otherwise such privilege shall
cease upon its failure to do so. A member shall not be questioned nor held liable in any
other place for any speech or debate in the Batasan or in any committee thereof.

7. 1987 Constitution, II RECORD 90.

8. Ibid., 178-185.
9. Mechem, F.R., A Treatise on the Law of Public Offices and Officers (1890), 431.

10. Supra.
11. Res., G.R. Nos. 105128-30, May 14, 1992.

12. 212 SCRA 768 (1992).

13. 257 SCRA 55 (1996).


14. Salalima v. Guingona, id.

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