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G.R. No.

170338 December 23, 2008

VIRGILIO O. GARCILLANO, petitioner,


vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEES ON PUBLIC INFORMATION, PUBLIC
ORDER AND SAFETY, NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY, INFORMATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, and SUFFRAGE AND ELECTORAL
REFORMS, respondents.

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G.R. No. 179275 December 23, 2008

SANTIAGO JAVIER RANADA and OSWALDO D. AGCAOILI, petitioners,


vs.
THE SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY THE SENATE
PRESIDENT THE HONORABLE MANUEL VILLAR, respondents.

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MAJ. LINDSAY REX SAGGE, petitioner-in-intervention

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AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., BENIGNO NOYNOY C. AQUINO, RODOLFO G. BIAZON,


PANFILO M. LACSON, LOREN B. LEGARDA, M.A. JAMBY A.S. MADRIGAL, and ANTONIO F.
TRILLANES, respondents-intervenors

Doctrine: The phrase “duly published rules of procedure” requires the Senate of every Congress to
publish its rules of procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation because every Senate is
distinct from the one before it or after it.

Facts: During the hype of Arroyo administration, a new controversy arises. During the 2007
election the conversation of President Arroyo and the herein petitioner Virgilio Garciliano,
COMELEC regional director, regarding the desire of the president to have a favourable outcome
in terms of his senatoriables. Such conversation was recorded and was played during the
house of representative investigation. Because of such turn of events, a petition was filed
before the court praying that such playing of the illegally seized communication was in violation
of RA 4200 or the anti-wire tapping law. Also such petition for injunction prays that the Senate
committee be prevented from further conducting such investigation for the basic reason that
there was no proper publication of the senate rules, empowering them to make such
investigation of the unlawfully seized documents.

Issue: Whether or not there was proper publication of the rules as to empower the senate to
further proceed with their investigation?

Held: No, the Supreme Court mentioned the following:

The Senate cannot be allowed to continue with the conduct of the questioned legislative inquiry
without duly published rules of procedure, in clear derogation of the constitutional requirement.
Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides that "the Senate or the House
of Representatives, or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of
legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure." The requisite of publication
of the rules is intended to satisfy the basic requirements of due process. Publication is indeed
imperative, for it will be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the
transgression of a law or rule of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive
one. What constitutes publication is set forth in Article 2 of the Civil Code, which provides that
"laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of their publication either in the
Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines."

Respondents justify their non-observance of the constitutionally mandated publication by


arguing that the rules have never been amended since 1995 and, 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.

The Court does not agree. The absence of any amendment to the rules cannot justify the
Senate’s defiance of the clear and unambiguous language of Section 21, Article VI of the
Constitution. The organic law instructs, without more, that the Senate or its committees may
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation only in accordance with duly published rules of procedure,
and does not make any distinction whether or not these rules have undergone amendments or
revision. The constitutional mandate to publish the said rules prevails over any custom, practice
or tradition followed by the Senate.

The invocation by the respondents of the provisions of R.A. No. 8792,otherwise known as the
Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, to support their claim of valid publication through the internet
is all the more incorrect. R.A. 8792 considers an electronic data message or an electronic
document as the functional equivalent of a written document only for evidentiary purposes.In
other words, the law merely recognizes the admissibility in evidence (for their being the original)
of electronic data messages and/or electronic documents.It does not make the internet a
medium for publishing laws, rules and regulations.

Given this discussion, the respondent Senate Committees, therefore, could not, in violation of
the Constitution, use its unpublished rules in the legislative inquiry subject of these consolidated
cases. The conduct of inquiries in aid of legislation by the Senate has to be deferred until it shall
have caused the publication of the rules, because it can do so only "in accordance with its duly
published rules of procedure."

Indeed the inquiry to be conducted by the senate in aid of legislation cannot proceed for the
reason that the rules that they will observe was not properly published as provided by the
Fundamental Law of the land. Such inquiry if allowed without observance of the required
publication will put a person’s life, liberty and property at stake without due process of
law. Also, the further assertion of the senate that they already published such rules through
their web page, in observance of the RA 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act was only viewed
by the court as matter of evidence and still does not conform with what the constitution
propounded.
In this regard the high court granted the petition for injunction preventing the senate to conduct
such inquiry in aid of legislation.

WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 170338 is DISMISSED, and the petition in G.R. No. 179275
is GRANTED. Let a writ of prohibition be issued enjoining the Senate of the Republic of the
Philippines and/or any of its committees from conducting any inquiry in aid of legislation centered on
the "Hello Garci" tapes.