[G.R. No. 130240. February 5, 2002] DE VENECIA, JR., et al., vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (1st DIV.

) EN BANC Gentlemen: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 5 2002. G.R. No. 130240 (Jose de Venecia, Jr., in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives; Roberto P. Nazareno, in his capacity as Secretary-General of the House of Representatives; Jose Ma. Antonio B. Tuaño, Cashier, House of Representatives; Antonio M. Chan, Chief, Property Division, House of Representatives, petitioners, vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan (First Division), respondent.) The principal issue in this petitioner for certiorari[1] is whether of not the Sandiganbayan may cite in contempt of court the Speaker of the House of Representatives for refusing to implement the preventive suspension order it issued in a criminal case against a member of the House. Petitioners seek the annulment of: (1) the Order dated August 18, 1997 of the Sandiganbayan (First Division), [2] directing Speaker Jose de Venecia of the House of Representatives, to implement the preventive suspension of then Congressman Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr., in connection with Criminal Case No. 18857 entitled “People of the Philippines v. Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. and Gregorio S. Branzuela”; and (2) the Resolution dated August 29, 1997,[3] also of the Sandiganbayan, declaring Speaker de Venecia in contempt of court for refusing to implement the preventive suspension order. The facts are as follows: On March 12, 1993, an Information (docketed as Criminal Case No. 18857) was filed with the Sandiganbayan (First Division) against then Congressman Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr., of Agusan del Sur for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended). After the accused pleaded not guilty, the prosecution filed a “Motion To Suspend The Accused Pendente Lite.” In its Resolution dated June 6, 1997, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion and ordered the Speaker to suspend the accused. But the Speaker did not comply. Thus, on August 12, 1997, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution requiring him to appear before it, on August 18, 1997 at 8:00 o’clock in the morning, to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court. Unrelenting, the Speaker filed, through counsel, a motion for reconsideration, invoking the rule on separation of powers and claiming that he can only act as may be dictated by the House as a body pursuant to House Resolution No. 116 adopted on August 13, 1997. On August 29, 1997, the Sandiganbayan rendered the now assailed Resolution[4] declaring Speaker Jose C. de Venecia, Jr. in contempt of court and ordering him to pay a fine of P10,000.00 within 10 days from notice. Hence, the instant recourse. The issue before us had long been settled by this Court in Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan in G.R. No. 118354 (August 8, 1995). We ruled that the suspension provided for in the Anti-Graft law is mandatory and is of different nature and purpose. It is imposed by the court, not as a penalty, but as a precautionary measure resorted to upon the filing of a valid Information. Its purpose is to prevent the accused public officer from frustrating his prosecution by influencing witnesses or tampering with documentary evidence and from committing further acts of malfeasance while in office. It is thus an incident to the criminal proceedings before the court. On the other hand, the suspension or expulsion contemplated in the Constitution is a House-imposed sanction against its members. It is,

therefore, a penalty for disorderly behavior to enforce discipline, maintain order in its proceedings, or vindicate its honor and integrity. Just recently, in Miriam Defensor Santiago v. Sandiganbayan, et al., this Court en banc, through Justice Jose C. Vitug, held that the doctrine of separation of powers does not exclude the members of Congress from the mandate of R.A. 3019, thus: “The order of suspension prescribed by Republic Act No. 3019 is distinct from the power of Congress to discipline its own ranks under the Constitution. x x x. “The suspension contemplated in the above constitutional provision is a punitive measure that is imposed upon a determination by the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, upon an erring member. x x x. “The doctrine of separation of powers by itself may not be deemed to have effectively excluded members of Congress from Republic Act No. 3019 nor from its sanctions. The maxim simply recognizes that each of the three co-equal and independent, albeit coordinate, branches of the government – the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary – has exclusive prerogatives and cognizance within its own sphere of influence and effectively prevents one branch from unduly intruding into the internal affairs of either branch.” (Emphasis ours) We note that the term of then Congressman Ceferino Paredes, Jr. expired on June 30, 1988. This rendered moot and academic the instant case. WHEREFORE, for being moot, this case is deemed CLOSED and TERMINATED. (Quisumbing, J., no part. Quisumbing and Carpio, JJ., abroad on official business) Very truly yours, LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO Clerk of Court (Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA Asst. Clerk of Court

[1] [2]

Under rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. Penned by Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena, and concurred in by Justices Minita V. ChicoNazario and Sabino R. de Leon, Jr. (a special member, now a member of the Supreme Court). [3] Penned by Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena, and concurred in by Justices Minita V. ChicoNazario and Edilberto G. Sandoval. [4] Annex “B,” ibid., pp. 48-67.

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