Sabio vs Gordon
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Legislative Investigation Sabio Vs. Gordon
FACTS: On February February 20, 2006, 2006, Sen. M. Defensor Defensor-Sant -Santiago iago introduc introduced ed Philippi Philippine ne Senate Senate Resolution No. 455 "directing an inquiry in aid of legislation on the anomalous losses losses incurr incurred ed by the Phi Philip lippin pines es Overs Overseas eas Teleco Telecomm mmuni unicat cation ions s Corpor Corporati ation on (POTC) (POTC),, Phi Philip lippi pine ne Commu Communic nicati ations ons Satell Satellite ite Corpor Corporati ation on (PHILC (PHILCOMS OMSAT) AT),, and PHILCOMSAT Holdings Corporation (PHC) due to the alleged improprieties in their operations by their respective Board of Directors." Said Resolution was referred to the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations and Committee on Public Services. It was then transferred to the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises upon motion of Sen. F.Pangilinan. On May 8, 2006, Chief of Staff Rio C. Inocencio, under the authority of Senator R. Gordon, wrote Chairman Camilo L. Sabio of the PCGG, inviting him to be one of the resour resource ce perso persons ns in the public public meetin meeting g joint jointly ly condu conducte cted d by the the Commi Committe ttee e on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and Committee on Public Services for the deliberation of the Senate Resolution. On May 9, 2006, Sabio declined the invitation because of prior commitment. At the same time, he invoked Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 that “ No member or staff of the Commis Commissi sion on shall shall be requir required ed to testif testify y or produc produce e eviden evidence ce in any judici judicial, al, legis legislat lative ive or admin administ istrat rative ive proce proceedi eding ng concer concernin ning g matte matters rs withi within n its offic official ial cognizance." Sen. Sen. Gord Gordon on issu issued ed a Subpoena Subpoena Ad Testifica Testificandum ndum requir requirin ing g Sabio Sabio and PCGG PCGG Commissi Commissioners oners Ricardo Ricardo Abcede, Abcede, Nicasio Nicasio Conti, Conti, Tereso Tereso Javier Javier and Narciso Nario to appear in the public hearing and testify on what they know relative to the matters specified in Senate Resolution. Similar Similar subpoenae subpoenae were issued issued against against the directors directors and officers officers of Philcom Philcomsat sat Holdings. Again, Chairman Sabio refused to appear. He sent a letter to Sen. Gordon invoking Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1. On the other hand, the directors of Philcomstat Holdings raised the issues on the proper legislative inquiry. Another notice was sent to Sabio requiring him to appear and testify on the same subject matter but the same did not comply. Sabio again sent a letter reiterating his position. This prompted prompted Senator Senator Gordon Gordon to issue issue an Order requiring requiring Chairman Chairman Sabio Sabio and Commissioners Abcede, Conti, Javier and Nario to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt of the Senate.
Unconvinced with the Compliance and Explanation, the Committee on Government Corporations Corporations and Public Enterprises and the Committee on Public Services issued an Order directing Major General Jose Balajadia (Ret.), Senate Sergeant-At-Arms, to place place Chairman Chairman Sabio and his Commissioner Commissioners s under under arrest arrest for contempt of the Senate. Sabio was arrested. Hence, he filed with the Supreme Court a petition for habeas corpus against the Sena Senate te Comm Commit itte tee e on Gove Govern rnme ment nt Corp Corpor orat atio ions ns and and Pu Publ blic ic Ente Enterp rpri rise ses s and and Committee on Public Services, their Chairmen, Senators Richard Gordon and Joker P. Arroyo and Members. He together with Commissioners Abcede, Conti, Nario, and Javier, and the PCGG's nominees to Philcomsat Holdings Corporation, Manuel Andal and Julio Jalandoni filed a petition petition for certiorari certiorari and prohibiti prohibition on against against the same same responden respondents, ts, and also against Senate President Manuel Villar, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the Sergeant-atArms, and the entire Senate. Meanwhile, Philcomsat Holdings Corporation and its officers and directors, filed a peti petiti tion on for for cert certio iora rari ri and and proh prohib ibit itio ion n agai agains nstt the the Senat enate e Com Committ mittee ees s on Gove Govern rnme ment nt Corp Corpor orat atio ions ns and and Pu Publ blic ic Ente Enterp rpri rise ses s and and Pu Publ blic ic Serv Servic ices es,, thei theirr Chairmen, Senators Gordon and Arroyo, and Members. Sabio and the PCGG Commissioners alleged that: 1.
Respon Responde dent nt Senat Senate e Commit Committee tees s dis disreg regar arded ded Sectio Section n 4(b) 4(b) of E.O. E.O. No. No. 1 without any justifiable reason;
2. The inquiries conducted by respondent Senate Committees are not in aid of legislation; 3. The inquiries were conducted in the absence of duly published Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation; and 4. Respondent Senate Committees are not vested with the power of contempt.
Philcomsat Holdings Corporation Corporation and its directors and officers alleged:
1. Responde Respondent nt Senate Committ Committees ees have no jurisdict jurisdiction ion over the subject subject matter matter stated in Senate Res. No. 455; 2. The same same inquiry inquiry is not in accordanc accordance e with the Senate's Senate's Rules Rules of Procedure Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation;
3. The subpoen subpoenae ae against against the individ individual ual petitio petitioner ners s are void for having having been issued without authority; 4. The conduct conduct of legislative legislative inquiry inquiry pursuant pursuant to Senate Senate Res. No. No. 455 constitutes constitutes undue undue encroa encroachm chment ent by respon responden dents ts into into jus justic ticiab iable le contr controve overs rsies ies over over which several courts and tribunals have already acquired jurisdiction; and 5. The The subp subpoe oena nae e viol violat ated ed peti petiti tion oner ers' s' righ rights ts to priv privac acy y and and agai agains nstt self self-incrimination. In their Comment, the respondents countered countered the petitioners’ arguments: arguments: the issues raised in the petitions involve political questions over which SC has no jurisdiction 2. Section Section 4(b) 4(b) has been been repealed repealed by the the Constitut Constitution; ion; 3. Respondent Senate Committees are vested with contempt power; 4. Senate Senate's 's Rules Rules of Proced Procedure ure Governin Governing g Inquir Inquiries ies in Aid of Legisl Legislati ation on have have been duly published; 5. Respondents have not violated any civil right of the individual petitioners, such as their (a) right to privacy; and (b) right against self-incrimination; and 6. The The inqu inquir iry y does does not not cons consti titu tute te undu undue e encr encroa oach chme ment nt into into just justic icia iabl ble e controversies. 1.
ISSUES: WON Section 4(b) of E.O. No. 1 constitutes a limitation on the power of legislative inquiry, and a recognition by the State of the need to provide protection to the PCGG PCGG in order order to ensur ensure e the unhamper unhampered ed perfor performa mance nce of its duties duties under under its charter. HELD: Petition for Habeas Corpus has became moot because Sabio was allowed to go home. Perched on one arm of the scale of justice is Article VI, Section 21 of the 1987 Consti Constitut tution ion granti granting ng respon responden dentt Senate Senate Commit Committee tees s the power power of legis legislat lative ive inquiry. It reads: The The Sena Senate te or the the Hous House e of Repr Repres esen enta tati tive ves s or any any of its its resp respec ecti tive ve committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly duly publis published hed rules rules of proced procedure ure.. The rights rights of perso persons ns appear appearing ing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. On the other arm of the scale is Section 4(b) of E.O. No.1 limiting such power of legislative inquiry by exempting all PCGG members or staff from testifying in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding, thus:
No member or staff of the Commission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance. Arnault vs. Nazareno : “The “The power power of inqui inquiry ry – with with proce process ss to enfor enforce ce it – is an essentia essentiall and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislation body does not itself possess the requisite information – which is not infrequently true – recourse must be had to others who possess it." The Court's high regard to such power is rendered more evident in Senate v. Ermita, where where it categori categorically cally ruled that " the power of inquiry is broad enough to cover officials of the executive branch." Verily, the Court reinforced the doctrine in Arnault that "the operatio operation n of government, government, being a legitima legitimate te subject subject for legislat legislation, ion, is a proper subject for investigation" and that "the power of inquiry is co-extensive with the power to legislate."
Considering these jurisprudential instructions, The Court find Section 4(b) directly directly repugnant repugnant with Article Article VI, Section Section 21. Section Section 4(b) exempts exempts the PCGG members and staff from the Congress' power of inquiry. This cannot be countenanced. Nowhere in the Constitution is any provision granting such exemption tion.. The The Con Congres ress' pow power of inqu inquir iry y, being ing broa road, encompasses encompasses everything that concerns the administration of existing laws as well well as propos proposed ed or poss possibl ibly y neede needed d statut statutes. es. It even extends extends "to government agencies created by Congress and officers whose positions are within within the power power of Congre Congress ss to regula regulate te or even even abolis abolish." h." PCGG PCGG belongs to this class. Certainly, a mere provision of law cannot pose a limitation to the broad power of Congress, in the absence of any constitutional basis. Furthe Furtherm rmore ore,, Sectio Section n 4(b) 4(b) is also also incons inconsist istent ent with with Articl Article e XI, Sectio Section n 1 of the Cons Consti titu tuti tion on stat statin ing g that that:: "Publ "Public ic offi office ce is a publ public ic trus trust. t. Pu Publ blic ic offi office cers rs and and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."