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Hilado, et al. vs. Reyes, et al., G.R. No.

163155, July 21, 2006

Administrative Complaints; Judges; Judgments; Res Judicata; The doctrine of res judicata
applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, and not to the exercise of administrative
powers; Resort to and exhaustion of judicial remedies are prerequisites for the taking of, among
other measures, an administrative complaint against the person of the judge concerned.—It is
well settled that the doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings,
and not to the exercise of administrative powers. The non-existence of forum shopping
notwithstanding, this Court proscribes the filing of an administrative complaint before the
exhaustion of judicial remedies against questioned errors of a judge in the exercise of its
jurisdiction. Resort to and exhaustion of judicial remedies are prerequisites for the taking of,
among other measures, an administrative complaint against the person of the judge concerned.

Right to Information; The right to information on “matters of public concern or of public interest”
is both the purpose and the limit of the constitutional right of access to public documents.—On
the merits of the petition for mandamus, Section 7 of Article III of the Constitution provides:
SECTION 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be
recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts,
transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy
development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by
law. (Emphasis and italics supplied) The above-quoted constitutional provision guarantees a
general right—the right to information on matters of “public concern” and, as an accessory thereto,
the right of access to “official records” and the like. The right to information on “matters of public
concern or of public interest” is both the purpose and the limit of the constitutional right of access
to public documents.
Judicial or Court Records; Words and Phrases; The term “judicial record” or “court record”
does not only refer to the orders, judgment or verdict of the courts—it comprises the official
collection of all papers, exhibits and pleadings filed by the parties, all processes issued and returns
made thereon, appearances, and word-for-word testimony which took place during the trial and
which are in the possession, custody, or control of the judiciary or of the courts for purposes of
rendering court decisions.—Insofar as the right to information relates to judicial records, an
understanding of the term “judicial record” or “court record” is in order. The term “judicial record”
or “court record” does not only refer to the orders, judgment or verdict of the courts. It comprises
the official collection of all papers, exhibits and pleadings filed by the parties, all processes issued
and returns made thereon, appearances, and word-for-word testimony which took place during the
trial and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the judiciary or of the courts for
purposes of rendering court decisions. It has also been described to include any paper, letter, map,
book, other document, tape, photograph, film, audio or video recording, court reporter’s notes,
transcript, data compilation, or other materials, whether in physical or electronic form, made or
received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of any official business by the court,
and includes all evidence it has received in a case.

Courts; It bears emphasis that the interest of the public hinges on its right to transparency in the
administration of justice, to the end that it will serve to enhance the basic fairness of the judicial
proceedings, safeguard the integrity of the fact-finding process, and foster an informed public
discussion of public affairs.—In determining whether a particular information is of public concern,
there is no right test. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine on a case to case basis
whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance as it relates to or affect the public. It bears
emphasis that the interest of the public hinges on its right to transparency in the administration of
justice, to the end that it will serve to enhance the basic fairness of the judicial proceedings,
safeguard the integrity of the fact-finding process, and foster an informed public discussion of
governmental affairs. Thus in Barretto v. Philippine Publishing Co., 30 Phil. 88 (1915), this Court
held: x x x The foundation of the right of the public to know what is going on in the courts is not
the fact that the public, or a portion of it, is curious, or that what is going on in the court is news,
or would be interesting, or would furnish topics of conversation; but is simply that it has a right to
know whether a public officer is properly performing his duty. In other words, the right of the
public to be informed of the proceedings in court is not founded in the desire or necessity of people
to know about the doing of others, but in the necessity of knowing whether its servant, thejudge, is
properly performing his duty. x x x
Right to Information; Justice requires that all should have free access to the opinions of judges
and justices, and it would be against sound public policy to prevent, suppress or keep the earliest
knowledge of these from the public.—Decisions and opinions of a court are of course matters of
public concern or interest for these are the authorized expositions and interpretations of the laws,
binding upon all citizens, of which every citizen is charged with knowledge. Justice thus requires
that all should have free access to the opinions of judges and justices, and it would be against sound
public policy to prevent, suppress or keep the earliest knowledge of these from the public. Thus,
in Lantaco Sr. et al. v. Judge Llamas, 108 SCRA 502 (1981), this Court found a judge to have
committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing to furnish Lantaco et al. a copy of his decision in
a criminal case of which they were even the therein private complainants, the decision being
“already part of the public record which the citizen has a right to scrutinize.”

Same; Unlike court orders and decisions, pleadings and other documents filed by parties to a
case need not be matters of public concern or interest.—Unlike court orders and decisions,
however, pleadings and other documents filed by parties to a case need not be matters of public
concern or interest. For they are filed for the purpose of establishing the basis upon which the
court may issue an order or a judgment affecting their rights and interests. In thus determining
which part or all of the records of a case may be accessed to, the purpose for which the parties
filed them is to be considered.
Same; Information regarding the financial standing of a person at the time of his death and the
manner by which his private estate may ultimately be settled is not a matter of general, public
concern or one in which a citizen or the public has an interest by which its legal rights or
liabilities may be affected; If the information sought is not a matter of public concern or interest,
denial of access thereto does not violate the citizen’s constitutional right to information.—In
intestate proceedings, the heirs file pleadings and documents for the purpose of establishing their
right to a share of the estate. As for the creditors, their purpose is to establish their claim to the
estate and be paid therefor before the disposition of the estate. Information regarding the
financial standing of a person at the time of his death and the manner by which his private estate
may ultimately be settled is not a matter of general, public concern or one in which a citizen or
the public has an interest by which its legal rights or liabilities may be affected. Granting
unrestricted public access and publicity to personal financial information may constitute an
unwarranted invasion of privacy to which an individual may have an interest in limiting its
disclosure or dissemination. If the information sought then is not a matter of public concern or
interest, denial of access thereto does not violate a citizen’s constitutional right to information.
Same; Once a particular information has been determined to be of public concern, the accessory
right of access to official records, including judicial records, are open to the public.—Once a
particular information has been determined to be of public concern, the accessory right of access
to official records, including judicial records, are open to the public. The accessory right to access
public records may, however, be restricted on a showing of good cause. How “good cause” can be
determined, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Republican Company v. Appeals
Court, 442 Mass, 218, 812 N.E.2d 887, teaches: The public’s right of access to judicial records,
including transcripts, evidence, memoranda, and court orders, maybe restricted, but only on a
showing of “good cause.” “To determine whether good cause is shown, a judge must balance the
rights of the parties based on the particular facts of each case.” In so doing, the judge “must take
into account all relevant factors, ‘including, but not limited to, the nature of the parties and the
controversy, the type of information and the privacy interests involved, the extent of community
interest, and the reason for the request.’ ” (Emphasis and italics supplied; citations omitted) And
even then, the right is subject to inherent supervisory and protective powers of every court over its
own records and files.
Same; Access to court records may be permitted at the discretion and subject to the supervisory
and protective powers of the court, after considering the actual use or purpose for which the
request for access is based and the obvious prejudice to any of the parties.—In fine, access to
court records may be permitted at the discretion and subject to the supervisory and protective
powers of the court,after considering the actual use or purpose for which the request for access is
based and the obvious prejudice to any of the parties. In the exercise of such discretion, the
following issues may be relevant: “whether parties have interest in privacy, whether information
is being sought for legitimate purpose or for improper purpose, whether there is threat of
particularly serious embarrassment to party, whether information is important to public health and
safety, whether sharing of information among litigants would promote fairness and efficiency,
whether party benefiting from confidentiality order is public entity or official, and whether case
involves issues important to the public.”
Same; As long then as any party, counsel or person has a legitimate reason to have a copy of court
records and pays court fees, a court may not deny access to such records.—As long then as any
party, counsel or person has a legitimate reason to have a copy of court records and pays court
fees, a court may not deny access to such records. Of course as this Court held in Beegan v. Borja,
261 SCRA 474 (1996), precautionary measures to prevent tampering or alteration must be
observed: We are not unaware of the common practice in the courts with respect to the
photocopying or xeroxing of portions of case records as long as the same are not confidential or
disallowed by the rules to be reproduced. The judge need not be bothered as long as the permission
of the Clerk of Court has been sought and as long as a duly authorized representative of the court
takes charge of the reproduction within the court premises if warranted or if not, the said court
representative must bring along the case records where reproduction takes place and return the
same intact to the Clerk of Court. In fine, this Court finds the petition for mandamus meritorious,
petitioners being “interested persons” who have a legitimate reason or purpose for accessing the
records of the case.
Judges; Disqualification and Inhibition of Judges; Parties; Persons who are not parties to a case
may not seek the inhibition of the presiding judge.—Since petitioners are not parties to the case,
they may not seek public respondent’s inhibition, whether under the first paragraph of above-
quoted Section 1 which constitutes grounds for mandatory disqualification, or under the second
paragraph of the same section on voluntarydisqualification.

Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, July 9, 2002

Neri vs. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, et al., G.R.
No. 180643, September 4, 2008

Presidency; Executive Privilege; Separation of Powers; Legislative Inquiries in Aid of Legislation;


There is a recognized presumptive presidential communications privilege; The presidential
communications privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted
in the separation of powers under the Constitution.—Respondent Committees argue as if this were
the first time the presumption in favor of the presidential communications privilege is
mentioned and adopted in our legal system. That is far from the truth. The Court, in the earlier case
of Almonte v. Vasquez, 244 SCRA 286 (1995), affirmed that the presidential communications
privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation
of powers under the Constitution. Even Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006),the case relied upon
by respondent Committees, reiterated this concept. There, the Court enumerated the cases in which
the claim of executive privilege was recognized, among them Almonte v. Chavez, Chavez v.
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), 299 SCRA 744 (1998) and Chavez v.
PEA, 384 SCRA 152 (2002). The Court articulated in these cases that “there are certain types of
information which the government may withhold from the public,” that there is a “governmental
privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and
other national security matters;” and that “the right to information does not extend to matters
recognized as ‘privileged information’ under the separation of powers, by which the Court
meant Presidential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet
meetings.”
Same; Same; Same; Same; When an executive official, who is one of those mentioned in the said
Sec. 2(b) of E.O. No. 464, claims to be exempt from disclosure, there can be no presumption of
authorization to invoke executive privilege given by the President to said executive official, such
that the presumption in this situation inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of
disclosure.—Respondent Committees’ observation that this Court’s Decision reversed the
“presumption that inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor of disclosure” arises
from a piecemeal interpretation of the said Decision. The Court has repeatedly held that in order
to arrive at the true intent and meaning of a decision, no specific portion thereof should be isolated
and resorted to, but the decision must be considered in its entirety. Note that the aforesaid
presumption is made in the context of the circumstances obtaining in Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA
1 (2006), which declared void Sections 2(b) and 3 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 464, Series of
2005. The pertinent portion of the decision in the said case reads: From the above discussion on
the meaning and scope of executive privilege, both in the United States and in this jurisprudence,
a clear principle emerges. Executive privilege, whether asserted against Congress, the courts, or
the public, is recognized only in relation to certain types of information of a sensitive character.
While executive privilege is a constitutional concept, a claim thereof may be valid or not
depending on the ground invoked to justify it and the context in which it is made. Noticeably
absent is any recognition that executive officials are exempt from the duty to disclose
information by the mere fact of being executive officials. Indeed, the extraordinary character of
the exemptions indicates that the presumption inclines heavily against executive secrecy and
in favor of disclosure. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Obviously, the last sentence of the
above-quoted paragraph in Senate v. Ermita refers to the “exemption” being claimed by the
executive officials mentioned in Section 2(b) of E.O. No. 464, solely by virtue of their positions
in the Executive Branch. This means that when an executive official, who is one of those
mentioned in the said Sec. 2(b) of E.O. No. 464, claims to be exempt from disclosure, there can
be no presumption of authorization to invoke executive privilege given by the President to
said executive official, such that the presumption in this situation inclines heavily against executive
secrecy and in favor of disclosure.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; “Quintessential” and “Non-Delegable,” Defined;
The fact that a power is subject to the concurrence of another entity does not make such power
less executive; “Quintessential” is defined as the most perfect embodiment of something, the
concentrated essence of substance; “Non-delegable” means that a power or duty cannot be
delegated to another or, even if delegated, the responsibility remains with the obligor; The fact
that the President has to secure the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, which shall submit
to Congress a complete report of its decision before contracting or guaranteeing foreign loans,
does not diminish the executive nature of the power.—The fact that a power is subject to the
concurrence of another entity does not make such power less executive. “Quintessential” is defined
as the most perfect embodiment of something, the concentrated essence of substance. On the other
hand, “non-delegable” means that a power or duty cannot be delegated to another or, even if
delegated, the responsibility remains with the obligor. The power to enter into an executive
agreement is in essence an executive power. This authority of the President to enter into executive
agreements without the concurrence of the Legislature has traditionally been recognized in
Philippine jurisprudence. Now, the fact that the President has to secure the prior concurrence of
the Monetary Board, which shall submit to Congress a complete report of its decision before
contracting or guaranteeing foreign loans, does not diminish the executive nature of the power.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Doctrine of “Operational Proximity”; The doctrine of
“operational proximity” was laid down precisely to limit the scope of the presidential
communications privilege.—It must be stressed that the doctrine of “operational proximity” was
laid down in In re: Sealed Case, No. 96-3124, June 17, 1997, 121 F.3d 729, 326 U.S. App. D.C.
276, precisely to limit the scope of the presidential communications privilege. The U.S. court was
aware of the dangers that a limitless extension of the privilege risks and, therefore, carefully
cabined its reach by explicitly confining it to White House staff, and not to staffs of the agencies,
and then only to White House staff that has “operational proximity” to direct presidential decision-
making.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; “Organizational Test”; In determining which test to
use—whether the Operational Proximity Test or the Organizational Test—the main consideration
is to limit the availability of executive privilege only to officials who stand proximate to the
President, not only by reason of their function, but also by reason of their positions in the
Executive’s organizational structure.—In the case at bar, the danger of expanding the privilege
“to a large swath of the executive branch” (a fear apparently entertained by respondents) is absent
because the official involved here is a member of the Cabinet, thus, properly within the term
“advisor” of the President; in fact, her alter ego and a member of her official family. Nevertheless,
in circumstances in which the official involved is far too remote, this Court also mentioned in the
Decision the organizational test laid down in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Department of Justice, 365
F 3d. 1108, 361 U.S. App. D.C. 183, 64 Fed. R. Evid. Serv.141. This goes to show that the
operational proximity test used in the Decision is not considered conclusive in every case. In
determining which test to use, the main consideration is to limit the availability of executive
privilege only to officials who stand proximate to the President, not only by reason of their
function, but also by reason of their positions in the Executive’s organizational structure. Thus,
respondent Committees’ fear that the scope of the privilege would be unnecessarily expanded with
the use of the operational proximity test is unfounded.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Congress must not require the Executive to state the reasons for the
claim with such particularity as to compel disclosure of the information which the privilege is
meant to protect.—It must be stressed that the President’s claim of executive privilege is not
merely founded on her generalized interest in confidentiality. The Letter dated November 15, 2007
of Executive Secretary Ermita specified presidential communications privilege in relation
to diplomatic and economic relations with another sovereign nation as the bases for the claim.
Thus, the Letter stated: The context in which executive privilege is being invoked is that the
information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well as economic relations
with the People’s Republic of China. Given the confidential nature in which this information
were conveyed to the President, he cannot provide the Committee any further details of these
conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege is designed to protect. (emphasis
supplied) Even in Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006), it was held that Congress must not require
the Executive to state the reasons for the claim with such particularity as to compel disclosure of
the information which the privilege is meant to protect. This is a matter of respect for a coordinate
and co-equal department.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Considering that the information sought through the three (3) questions
subject of this Petition involves the President’s dealings with a foreign nation, with more reason,
the Court is wary of approving the view that Congress may peremptorily inquire into not only
official, documented acts of the President but even her confidential and informal discussions with
her close advisors on the pretext that said questions serve some vague legislative need.—
Considering that the information sought through the three (3) questions subject of this Petition
involves the President’s dealings with a foreign nation, with more reason, this Court is wary of
approving the view that Congress may peremptorily inquire into not only official, documented acts
of the President but even her confidential and informal discussions with her close advisors on the
pretext that said questions serve some vague legislative need. Regardless of who is in office, this
Court can easily foresee unwanted consequences of subjecting a Chief Executive to unrestricted
congressional inquiries done with increased frequency and great publicity. No Executive can
effectively discharge constitutional functions in the face of intense and unchecked legislative
incursion into the core of the President’s decision-making process, which inevitably would involve
her conversations with a member of her Cabinet.
Same; Same; Same; Public Officers; Right to Information; Accountability and Transparency; The
constitutional right of the people to information and the constitutional policies on public
accountability and transparency are the twin postulates vital to the effective functioning of a
democratic government.—There is no debate as to the importance of the constitutional right of the
people to information and the constitutional policies on public accountability and transparency.
These are the twin postulates vital to the effective functioning of a democratic government. The
citizenry can become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power has been
delegated if they are denied access to information. And the policies on public accountability and
democratic government would certainly be mere empty words if access to such information of
public concern is denied. In the case at bar, this Court, in upholding executive privilege with
respect to three (3) specific questions, did not in any way curb the public’s right to information or
diminish the importance of public accountability and transparency.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The right to information is not an absolute right—that
there is a recognized public interest in the confidentiality of such information covered by executive
privilege is a recognized principle in other democratic States.—This Court did not rule that the
Senate has no power to investigate the NBN Project in aid of legislation. There is nothing in the
assailed Decision that prohibits respondent Committees from inquiring into the NBN Project. They
could continue the investigation and even call petitioner Neri to testify again. He himself has
repeatedly expressed his willingness to do so. Our Decision merely excludes from the scope of
respondents’ investigation the three (3) questions that elicit answers covered by executive privilege
and rules that petitioner cannot be compelled to appear before respondents to answer the said
questions. We have discussed the reasons why these answers are covered by executive privilege.
That there is a recognized public interest in the confidentiality of such information is a recognized
principle in other democratic States. To put it simply, the right to information is not an absolute
right. Indeed, the constitutional provisions cited by respondent Committees do not espouse an
absolute right to information. By their wording, the intention of the Framers to subject such right
to the regulation of the law is unmistakable.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The demand of a citizen for the production of documents
pursuant to his right to information does not have the same obligatory force as a subpoena duces
tecum issued by Congress and neither does the right to information grant a citizen the power to
exact testimony from government officials.—The right primarily involved here is the right of
respondent Committees to obtain information allegedly in aid of legislation, not the people’s right
to public information. This is the reason why we stressed in the assailed Decision the distinction
between these two rights. As laid down in Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006), “the demand of
a citizen for the production of documents pursuant to his right to information does not have the
same obligatory force as a subpoena duces tecum issued by Congress” and “neither does the right
to information grant a citizen the power to exact testimony from government officials.” As pointed
out, these rights belong to Congress, not to the individual citizen. It is worth mentioning at this
juncture that the parties here are respondent Committees and petitioner Neri and that there was no
prior request for information on the part of any individual citizen. This Court will not be swayed
by attempts to blur the distinctions between the Legislature’s right to information in a legitimate
legislative inquiry and the public’s right to information.
Same; Same; Same; Same; The Court cannot uphold the view that when a constitutionally
guaranteed privilege or right is validly invoked by a witness in the course of a legislative
investigation, the legislative purpose of the Committees’ questions can be sufficiently supported
by the expedient of mentioning statutes and/or pending bills to which their inquiry as a whole may
have relevance—the presumption of privilege can only be overturned by a showing of compelling
need for disclosure of the information covered by executive privilege.—It must be clarified that
the Decision did not pass upon the nature of respondent Committees’ inquiry into the NBN Project.
To reiterate, this Court recognizes respondent Committees’ power to investigate the NBN Project
in aid of legislation. However, this Court cannot uphold the view that when a constitutionally
guaranteed privilege or right is validly invoked by a witness in the course of a legislative
investigation, the legislative purpose of respondent Committees’ questions can be sufficiently
supported by the expedient of mentioning statutes and/or pending bills to which their inquiry as a
whole may have relevance. The jurisprudential test laid down by this Court in past decisions on
executive privilege is that the presumption of privilege can only be overturned by a showing of
compelling need for disclosure of the information covered by executive privilege.
Same; Same; Same; Same; The need for hard facts in crafting legislation cannot be equated with
the compelling or demonstratively critical and specific need for facts which is so essential to the
judicial power to adjudicate actual controversies.—The need for hard facts in crafting legislation
cannot be equated with the compelling or demonstratively critical and specific need for facts which
is so essential to the judicial power to adjudicate actual controversies. Also, the bare standard of
“pertinency” set in Arnault cannot be lightly applied to the instant case, which
unlike Arnaultinvolves a conflict between two (2) separate, co-equal and coordinate Branches of
the Government.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Whatever test we may apply, the starting point in resolving the
conflicting claims between the Executive and the Legislative Branches is the recognized existence
of the presumptive presidential communications privilege.—Whatever test we may apply, the
starting point in resolving the conflicting claims between the Executive and the Legislative
Branches is the recognized existence of the presumptive presidential communications privilege.
This is conceded even in the Dissenting Opinion of the Honorable Chief Justice Puno, which states:
A hard look at Senate v. Ermita ought to yield the conclusion that it bestowed a qualified
presumption in favor of the Presidential communications privilege. As shown in the previous
discussion, U.S. v. Nixon, as well as the other related Nixon cases Sirica and Senate Select
Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, et al. v. Nixon in the D.C. Court of Appeals, as
well as subsequent cases all recognize that there is a presumptive privilege in favor of
Presidential communications. The Almonte case quoted U.S. v. Nixon and recognized a
presumption in favor of confidentiality of Presidential communications.
Same; Same; Same; Same; The presumption in favor of Presidential communications puts the
burden on the respondent Senate Committees to overturn the presumption by demonstrating their
specific need for the information to be elicited by the answers to the three (3) questions subject of
this case, to enable them to craft legislation—for sure, a factual basis for situations covered by
bills is not critically needed before legislative bodies can come up with relevant legislation unlike
in the adjudication of cases by courts of law.—The presumption in favor of Presidential
communications puts the burden on the respondent Senate Committees to overturn the
presumption by demonstrating their specific need for the information to be elicited by the answers
to the three (3) questions subject of this case, to enable them to craft legislation. Here, there is
simply a generalized assertion that the information is pertinent to the exercise of the power to
legislate and a broad and non-specific reference to pending Senate bills. It is not clear what matters
relating to these bills could not be determined without the said information sought by the three (3)
questions. As correctly pointed out by the Honorable Justice Dante O. Tinga in his Separate
Concurring Opinion: …If respondents are operating under the premise that the president
and/or her executive officials have committed wrongdoings that need to be corrected or
prevented from recurring by remedial legislation, the answer to those three questions will
not necessarily bolster or inhibit respondents from proceeding with such legislation. They
could easily presume the worst of the president in enacting such legislation. For sure, a factual
basis for situations covered by bills is not critically needed before legislatives bodies can come up
with relevant legislation unlike in the adjudication of cases by courts of law.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Oversight Function; Anent the function to curb graft and corruption,
it must be stressed that respondent Committees’ need for information in the exercise of this
function is not as compelling as in instances when the purpose of the inquiry is legislative in
nature—curbing graft and corruption is merely an oversight function of Congress.—Anent the
function to curb graft and corruption, it must be stressed that respondent Committees’ need for
information in the exercise of this function is not as compelling as in instances when the purpose
of the inquiry is legislative in nature. This is because curbing graft and corruption is merely an
oversight function of Congress. And if this is the primary objective of respondent Committees in
asking the three (3) questions covered by privilege, it may even contradict their claim that their
purpose is legislative in nature and not oversight. In any event, whether or not investigating graft
and corruption is a legislative or oversight function of Congress, respondent Committees’
investigation cannot transgress bounds set by the Constitution.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; While it may be a worthy endeavor to investigate the potential
culpability of high government officials, including the President, in a given government
transaction, it is simply not a task for the Senate to perform—the role of the Legislature is to make
laws, not to determine anyone’s guilt of a crime or wrongdoing.—The general thrust and the tenor
of the three (3) questions is to trace the alleged bribery to the Office of the President. While it may
be a worthy endeavor to investigate the potential culpability of high government officials,
including the President, in a given government transaction, it is simply not a task for the Senate to
perform. The role of the Legislature is to make laws, not to determine anyone’s guilt of a crime or
wrongdoing. Our Constitution has not bestowed upon the Legislature the latter role. Just as the
Judiciary cannot legislate, neither can the Legislature adjudicate or prosecute.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Congress; There is no Congressional power to expose for the
sake of exposure.—No matter how noble the intentions of respondent Committees are, they cannot
assume the power reposed upon our prosecutorial bodies and courts. The determination of who
is/are liable for a crime or illegal activity, the investigation of the role played by each official, the
determination of who should be haled to court for prosecution and the task of coming up with
conclusions and finding of facts regarding anomalies, especially the determination of criminal
guilt, are not functions of the Senate. Congress is neither a law enforcement nor a trial agency.
Moreover, it bears stressing that no inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in
furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress, i.e. legislation. Investigations conducted solely
to gather incriminatory evidence and “punish” those investigated are indefensible. There is no
Congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Ombudsman; Courts; The Office of the Ombudsman is the body
properly equipped by the Constitution and our laws to preliminarily determine whether or not the
allegations of anomaly are true and who are liable therefor, and the same holds true for our courts
upon which the Constitution reposes the duty to determine criminal guilt with finality.—It is
important to stress that complaints relating to the NBN Project have already been filed against
President Arroyo and other personalities before the Office of the Ombudsman. Under our
Constitution, it is the Ombudsman who has the duty “to investigate any act or omission of any
public official, employee, office or agency when such act or omission appears to be illegal,
unjust, improper, or inefficient.” The Office of the Ombudsman is the body properly equipped
by the Constitution and our laws to preliminarily determine whether or not the allegations of
anomaly are true and who are liable therefor. The same holds true for our courts upon which the
Constitution reposes the duty to determine criminal guilt with finality. Indeed, the rules of
procedure in the Office of the Ombudsman and the courts are well-defined and ensure that the
constitutionally guaranteed rights of all persons, parties and witnesses alike, are protected
and safeguarded.
Same; Same; Congress; The Legislature’s need for information in an investigation of graft and
corruption cannot be deemed compelling enough to pierce the confidentiality of information
validly covered by executive privilege.—Should respondent Committees uncover information
related to a possible crime in the course of their investigation, they have the constitutional duty to
refer the matter to the appropriate agency or branch of government. Thus, the Legislature’s need
for information in an investigation of graft and corruption cannot be deemed compelling enough
to pierce the confidentiality of information validly covered by executive privilege. As discussed
above, the Legislature can still legislate on graft and corruption even without the information
covered by the three (3) questions subject of the petition.
Same; Same; Same; Legislative inquiries, unlike court proceedings, are not subject to the exacting
standards of evidence essential to arrive at accurate factual findings to which to apply the law;
Every person, from the highest public official to the most ordinary citizen, has the right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty in proper proceedings by a competent court or body.—
Legislative inquiries, unlike court proceedings, are not subject to the exacting standards of
evidence essential to arrive at accurate factual findings to which to apply the law. Hence, Section
10 of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation provides that
“technical rules of evidence applicable to judicial proceedings which do not affect substantive
rights need not be observed by the Committee.” Court rules which prohibit leading, hypothetical,
or repetitive questions or questions calling for a hearsay answer, to name a few, do not apply to a
legislative inquiry. Every person, from the highest public official to the most ordinary citizen, has
the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in proper proceedings by a competent court
or body.
Same; Congress; An unconstrained congressional investigative power, like an unchecked
Executive, generates its own abuses.—Respondent Committees’ second argument rests on the
view that the ruling in Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006), requiring invitations or subpoenas
to contain the “possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry” along with the
“usual indication of the subject of inquiry and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof”
is not provided for by the Constitution and is merely an obiter dictum. On the contrary, the Court
sees the rationale and necessity of compliance with these requirements. An unconstrained
congressional investigative power, like an unchecked Executive, generates its own abuses.
Consequently, claims that the investigative power of Congress has been abused (or has the
potential for abuse) have been raised many times. Constant exposure to congressional subpoena
takes its toll on the ability of the Executive to function effectively. The requirements set forth
in Senate v. Ermita are modest mechanisms that would not unduly limit Congress’ power. The
legislative inquiry must be confined to permissible areas and thus, prevent the “roving
commissions” referred to in the U.S. case, Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168 (1880). Likewise,
witnesses have their constitutional right to due process. They should be adequately informed what
matters are to be covered by the inquiry. It will also allow them to prepare the pertinent information
and documents. To our mind, these requirements concede too little political costs or burdens on
the part of Congress when viewed vis-à-vis the immensity of its power of inquiry.
Same; Courts; Judicial Review; While it is true that the Court must refrain from reviewing the
internal processes of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, however, when a
constitutional requirement exists, the Court has the duty to look into Congress’ compliance
therewith.—Anent the third argument, respondent Committees contend that their Rules of
Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation (the “Rules”) are beyond the reach of this
Court. While it is true that this Court must refrain from reviewing the internal processes of
Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, however, when a constitutional requirement exists,
the Court has the duty to look into Congress’ compliance therewith. We cannot turn a blind eye to
possible violations of the Constitution simply out of courtesy.
Same; Same; Contempt; The Court does not believe that respondent Committees have the
discretion to set aside their rules anytime they wish, and this is especially true where what is
involved is the contempt power; It must be stressed that the Rules are not promulgated to benefit
legislative committees—more than anybody else, it is the witness who has the highest stake in the
proper observance of the Rules.—Obviously the deliberation of the respondent Committees that
led to the issuance of the contempt order is flawed. Instead of being submitted to a full debate by
all the members of the respondent Committees, the contempt order was prepared and thereafter
presented to the other members for signing. As a result, the contempt order which was issued on
January 30, 2008 was not a faithful representation of the proceedings that took place on said date.
Records clearly show that not all of those who signed the contempt order were present during the
January 30, 2008 deliberation when the matter was taken up. Section 21, Article VI of the
Constitution states 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 rights of person appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be
respected. (Emphasis supplied) All the limitations embodied in the foregoing provision form part
of the witness’ settled expectation. If the limitations are not observed, the witness’ settled
expectation is shattered. Here, how could there be a majority vote when the members in attendance
are not enough to arrive at such majority? Petitioner has the right to expect that he can be cited in
contempt only through a majority vote in a proceeding in which the matter has been fully
deliberated upon. There is a greater measure of protection for the witness when the concerns and
objections of the members are fully articulated in such proceeding. We do not believe that
respondent Committees have the discretion to set aside their rules anytime they wish. This is
especially true here where what is involved is the contempt power. It must be stressed that
the Rules are not promulgated for their benefit. More than anybody else, it is the witness who has
the highest stake in the proper observance of the Rules.
Senate; Certainly, there is no debate that the Senate as an institution is “continuing,” as it is not
dissolved as an entity with each national election or change in the composition of its members, but
in the conduct of its day-to-day business the Senate of each Congress acts separately and
independently of the Senate of the Congress before it.—On the nature of the Senate as a
“continuing body,” this Court sees fit to issue a clarification. Certainly, there is no debate that the
Senate as an institution is “continuing,” as it is not dissolved as an entity with each national
election or change in the composition of its members. However, in the conduct of its day-to-day
business the Senate of each Congress acts separately and independently of the Senate of the
Congress before it. The Rules of the Senate itself confirms this when it states: RULE
XLIV UNFINISHED BUSINESS SEC. 123. Unfinished business at the end of the session shall
be taken up at the next session in the same status. All pending matters and proceedings shall
terminate upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be taken by the succeeding
Congress as if present for the first time. (emphasis supplied) Undeniably from the foregoing, all
pending matters and proceedings, i.e. unpassed bills and even legislative investigations, of the
Senate of a particular Congress are considered terminated upon the expiration of that Congress
and it is merely optional on the Senate of the succeeding Congress to take up such unfinished
matters, not in the same status, but as if presented for the first time. The logic and practicality
of such a rule is readily apparent considering that the Senate of the succeeding Congress (which
will typically have a different composition as that of the previous Congress) should not be bound
by the acts and deliberations of the Senate of which they had no part. If the Senate is a continuing
body even with respect to the conduct of its business, then pending matters will not be deemed
terminated with the expiration of one Congress but will, as a matter of course, continue into the
next Congress with the same status.
Same; Rules on Legislative Inquiries; It is incumbent upon the Senate to publish the rules for its
legislative inquiries in each Congress or otherwise make the published rules clearly state that the
same shall be effective in subsequent Congresses or until they are amended or repealed to
sufficiently put public on notice.—Section 136 of the Senate Rules quoted above takes into account
the new composition of the Senate after an election and the possibility of the amendment or
revision of the Rules at the start of each session in which the newly elected Senators shall begin
their term. However, it is evident that the Senate has determined that its main rules are intended to
be valid from the date of their adoption until they are amended or repealed. Such language is
conspicuously absent from the Rules. The Rules simply state “(t)hese Rules shall take effect seven
(7) days after publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.” The latter does not
explicitly provide for the continued effectivity of such rules until they are amended or repealed. In
view of the difference in the language of the two sets of Senate rules, it cannot be presumed that
the Rules (on legislative inquiries) would continue into the next Congress. The Senate of the next
Congress may easily adopt different rules for its legislative inquiries which come within the rule
on unfinished business. The language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution requiring that
the inquiry be conducted in accordance with the duly published rules of procedure is categorical.
It is incumbent upon the Senate to publish the rules for its legislative inquiries in each Congress
or otherwise make the published rules clearly state that the same shall be effective in subsequent
Congresses or until they are amended or repealed to sufficiently put public on notice. If it was the
intention of the Senate for its present rules on legislative inquiries to be effective even in the next
Congress, it could have easily adopted the same language it had used in its main rules regarding
effectivity.
Same; Same; Not all orders issued or proceedings conducted pursuant to the subject Rules are
null and void—only those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should be considered
null and void, considering that the rationale for the publication is to protect the rights of witnesses
as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution.—Lest the Court be misconstrued, it
should likewise be stressed that not all orders issued or proceedings conducted pursuant to the
subject Rules are null and void. Only those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should
be considered null and void, considering that the rationale for the publication is to protect the rights
of witnesses as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. Sans such violation, orders
and proceedings are considered valid and effective.
Separation of Powers; Checks and Balances; In a free and democratic society, the interests of
these Executive and Legislative branches inevitably clash, but each must treat the other with
official courtesy and respect.—On a concluding note, we are not unmindful of the fact that the
Executive and the Legislature are political branches of government. In a free and democratic
society, the interests of these branches inevitably clash, but each must treat the other with official
courtesy and respect. This Court wholeheartedly concurs with the proposition that it is imperative
for the continued health of our democratic institutions that we preserve the constitutionally
mandated checks and balances among the different branches of government.
Same; Same; Accountability and Transparency; There is no question that any story of government
malfeasance deserves an inquiry into its veracity, but the best venue for this noble undertaking is
not in the political branches of government—the customary partisanship and the absence of
generally accepted rules on evidence are too great an obstacle in arriving at the truth or achieving
justice that meets the test of the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.—While this Court
finds laudable the respondent Committees’ well-intentioned efforts to ferret out corruption, even
in the highest echelons of government, such lofty intentions do not validate or accord to Congress
powers denied to it by the Constitution and granted instead to the other branches of government.
There is no question that any story of government malfeasance deserves an inquiry into its veracity.
As respondent Committees contend, this is founded on the constitutional command of transparency
and public accountability. The recent clamor for a “search for truth” by the general public, the
religious community and the academe is an indication of a concerned citizenry, a nation that
demands an accounting of an entrusted power. However, the best venue for this noble undertaking
is not in the political branches of government. The customary partisanship and the absence of
generally accepted rules on evidence are too great an obstacle in arriving at the truth or achieving
justice that meets the test of the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. We believe the
people deserve a more exacting “search for truth” than the process here in question, if that is its
objective.

Sta. Clara Homeowners' Association vs. Spouses Gaston, G.R. No. 141961, January 23, 2002

Administrative Law; Subdivisions; Home Insurance and Guaranty Corporation


(HIGC); Jurisdiction; Originally, administrative supervision over homeowners’ associations
was vested by law in the Securities and Exchange Commission, but, pursuant to Executive Order
No. 535, the Home Insurance and Guaranty Corporation assumed the regulatory and
adjudicative functions of the SEC over homeowners’ associations.—HIGC was created pursuant
to Republic Act 580. Originally, administrative supervision over homeowners’ associations was
vested by law in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Pursuant to Executive Order
(EO) No. 535, however, the HIGC assumed the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the SEC
over homeowners’ associations.
Same; Same; Same; Same; By virtue of paragraph 2 of EO 535, the HIGC also assumed the SEC’s
original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving controversies arising from
intra-corporate or partnership relations with respect to homeowners associations.—Explicitly
vesting such powers in the HIGC is paragraph 2 of EO 535, which we quote hereunder: “2. In
addition to the powers and functions vested under the Home Financing Act, the Corporation, shall
have among others, the following additional powers: (a) x x x; and exercise all the powers,
authorities and responsibilities that are vested in the Securities and Exchange Commission with
respect to home owners associations, the provision of Act 1459, as amended by P.D. 902-A, to the
contrary notwithstanding; (b) To regulate and supervise the activities and operations of all
houseowners associations registered in accordance therewith.” Moreover, by virtue of the
aforequoted provision, the HIGC also assumed the SEC’s original and exclusive jurisdiction to
hear and decide cases involving controversies arising from intra-corporate or partnership relations.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); The powers and
responsibilities, which had been vested in the HIGC with respect to homeowners’ associations
were later transferred to the HLURB pursuant to R.A. 8763.—The aforesaid powers and
responsibilities, which had been vested in the HIGC with respect to homeowners’ associations,
were later transferred to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) pursuant to
Republic Act 8763.
Freedom of Association; The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association includes the
freedom not to associate.—To support their contention that private respondents are members of
the association, petitioners cite the SCHA’s Articles of Incorporation and By-laws which provide
that all landowners of the Sta. Clara Subdivision are automatically members of the SCHA. We are
not persuaded. The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association includes the freedom not to
associate. The right to choose with whom one will associate oneself is the very foundation and
essence of that partnership. It should be noted that the provision guarantees the right to form an
association. It does not include the right to compel others to form or join one.
Same; Homeowners cannot be compelled to become members of a homeowners’ association by
the simple expedient of including them in its Articles of Incorporation and By-laws without their
express or implied consent; Memberships in homeowners’ associations may be acquired in various
ways—often through deeds of sale, Torrens certificates or other forms of evidence of property
ownership.—More to the point, private respondents cannot be compelled to become members of
the SCHA by the simple expedient of including them in its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws
without their express or implied consent. True, it may be to the mutual advantage of lot owners in
a subdivision to band themselves together to promote their common welfare. But that is possible
only if the owners voluntarily agree, directly or indirectly, to become members of the association.
True also, memberships in homeowners’ associations may be acquired in various ways—often
through deeds of sale, Torrens certificates or other forms of evidence of property ownership. In
the present case, however, other than the said Articles of Incorporation and By-laws, there is no
showing that private respondents have agreed to be SCHA members.
Contracts; A contract is upheld as long as there is proof of consent, subject matter and cause.—
Clearly then, no privity of contract exists between petitioners and private respondents. As a general
rule, a contract is a meeting of minds between two persons. The Civil Code upholds the spirit over
the form; thus, it deems an agreement to exist, provided the essential requisites are present. A
contract is upheld as long as there is proof of consent, subject matter and cause. Moreover, it is
generally obligatory whatever form it may have been entered into. From the moment there is a
meeting of minds between the parties, it is perfected.
Administrative Law; Home Insurance and Guarantee Corporation;Jurisdiction; Where the
complaint does not allege that the respondents are members of the homeowners’ association, the
HIGC has no jurisdiction over the dispute.—It is a settled rule that jurisdiction over the subject
matter is determined by the allegations in the complaint. Jurisdiction is not affected by the pleas
or the theories set up by the defendant in an answer or a motion to dismiss. Otherwise, jurisdiction
would become dependent almost entirely upon the whims of the defendant. The Complaint does
not allege that private respondents are members of the SCHA. In point of fact, they deny such
membership. Thus, the HIGC has no jurisdiction over the dispute.
Same; Same; Same; The HIGC exercises limited jurisdiction over homeowners’ disputes.—To
reiterate, the HIGC exercises limited jurisdiction over homeowners’ disputes. The law confines its
authority to controversies that arise from any of the following intra-corporate relations: (1)
between and among members of the association; (2) between any and/or all of them and the
association of which they are members; and (3) between the association and the state insofar as
the controversy concerns its right to exist as a corporate entity.
Pleadings and Practice; The test of the sufficiency of the allegations constituting the cause of
action is whether, admitting the facts alleged, the court can render a valid judgment on the
prayers.—A defendant moving to dismiss a complaint on the ground of lack of cause of action is
regarded as having hypothetically admitted all the factual averments in the complaint. The test of
the sufficiency of the allegations constituting the cause of action is whether, admitting the facts
alleged, the court can render a valid judgment on the prayers. This test implies that the issue must
be passed upon on the basis of the bare allegations in the complaint. The court does not inquire
into the truth of such allegations and declare them to be false. To do so would constitute a
procedural error and a denial of the plaintiff’s right to due process.
Same; Causes of Action; Elements.—A complaint states a cause of action when it contains these
three essential elements: (1) the legal right of the plaintiff, (2) the correlative obligation of the
defendant, and (3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of the said legal right.

PADCOM Condominium Corporation vs. Ortigas Center Association, Inc., G.R. No. 146807,
May 9, 2002

1. Civil Law; Land Registration; Liens; Under the Torrens system of registration, claims and
liens of whatever character except those mentioned by law existing against the land binds the
holder of the title and the whole world.-
Under the Torrens system of registration, claims and liens of whatever character, except those
mentioned by law, existing against the land binds the holder of the title and the whole world.
2. Civil Law; Land Registration; Liens; Any lien annotated on previous certificates of title
should be incorporated in or carried over to the new transfer certificates of title; Such lien is
inseparable from the property as it is a right in rem, a burden on the property whoever its owner
may be.-
This is so because any lien annotated on previous certificates of title should be incorporated in
or carried over to the new transfer certificates of title. Such lien is insepara- ble from the
property as it is a right in rem, a burden on the property whoever its owner may be. It subsists
notwithstanding a change in ownership; in short, the personality of the owner is disregarded.

Go, et al. v. The People of the Philippines and Highdone Company, Ltd., et al., G.R. No. 185527,
July 18, 2012.

1. Evidence; Testimonial Evidence; Depositions; The examination of witnesses must be done


orally before a judge in open court; It is not without exceptions, however, as the Rules of Court
recognizes the conditional examination of witnesses and the use of their depositions as
testimonial evidence in lieu of direct court testimony.-
—The examination of witnesses must be done orally before a judge in open court. This is true
especially in criminal cases where the Constitution secures to the accused his right to a public
trial and to meet the witnesses against him face to face. The requirement is the “safest and most
satisfactory method of investigating facts” as it enables the judge to test the witness’ credibility
through his manner and deportment while testifying. It is not without exceptions, however, as the
Rules of Court recognizes the conditional examination of witnesses and the use of their
depositions as testimonial evidence in lieu of direct court testimony.
2. Criminal Procedure; Right of Confrontation; The right of confrontation is held to apply
specifically to criminal proceedings and to have a two-fold purpose: (1) to afford the accused an
opportunity to test the testimony of witnesses by cross-examination, and (2) to allow the judge to
observe the deportment of witnesses.-
—The right of confrontation, on the other hand, is held to apply specifically to criminal
proceedings and to have a twofold purpose: (1) to afford the accused an opportunity to test the
testimony of witnesses by cross-examination, and (2) to allow the judge to observe the
deportment of witnesses. The Court explained in People v. Seneris, 99 SCRA 92 (1980), that the
constitutional requirement “insures that the witness will give his testimony under oath, thus
deterring lying by the threat of perjury charge; it forces the witness to submit to cross-
examination, a valuable instrument in exposing falsehood and bringing out the truth; and it
enables the court to observe the demeanor of the witness and assess his credibility.”
3. Same; Same; Same; Same; To take the deposition of the prosecution witness elsewhere and
not before the very same court where the case is pending would not only deprive a detained
accused of his right to attend the proceedings but also deprive the trial judge of the opportunity
to observe the prosecution witness’ deportment and properly assess his credibility.-
—Certainly, to take the deposition of the prosecution witness elsewhere and not before the very
same court where the case is pending would not only deprive a detained accused of his right to
attend the proceedings but also deprive the trial judge of the opportunity to observe the
prosecution witness’ deportment and properly assess his credibility, which is especially
intolerable when the witness’ testimony is crucial to the prosecution’s case against the accused.
4. Same; Same; Same; Criminal Procedure; For purposes of taking the deposition in criminal
cases, more particularly of a prosecution witness who would forseeably be unavailable for trial,
the testimonial examination should be made before the court, or at least before the judge, where
the case is pending.-
—For purposes of taking the deposition in criminal cases, more particularly of a prosecution
witness who would forseeably be unavailable for trial, the testimonial examination should be
made before the court, or at least before the judge, where the case is pending as required by the
clear mandate of Section 15, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The pertinent
provision reads thus: SEC. 15. Examination of witness for the prosecution.—When it
satisfactorily appears that a witness for the prosecution is too sick or infirm to appear at the trial
as directed by the court, or has to leave the Philippines with no definite date of returning, he may
forthwith be conditionally examined before the court where the case is pending. Such
examination, in the presence of the accused, or in his absence after reasonable notice to attend
the examination has been served on him shall be conducted in the same manner as an
examination at the trial. Failure or refusal of the accused to attend the examination after notice
shall be considered a waiver. The statement taken may be admitted in behalf of or against the
accused.

Secretary Leila M. De Lima, et al. vs. Magtanggol B. Gatdula, G.R. No. 204528, February 19,
2013

1. Constitutional Law; Writ of Amparo; The remedy of the Writ of Amparo is an equitable and
extraordinary remedy to safeguard the right of the people to life, liberty and security as
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.-
—The remedy of the Writ of Amparo is an equitable and extraordinary remedy to safeguard the
right of the people to life, liberty and security as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. The Rule on
the Writ of Amparo was issued as an exercise of the Supreme Court’s power to promulgate rules
concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. It aims to address concerns
such as, among others, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
2. Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Rules of Court; The Rules of Court can be suspended
on the following grounds: (1) matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (2) the existence of
special or compelling circumstances, (3) the merits of the case, (4) a cause not entirely
attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules, (5) a
lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (6) the other
party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.-
—In many instances, the Court adopted a policy of liberally construing its rules in order to
promote a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. The rules can
be suspended on the following grounds: (1) matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (2) the
existence of special or compelling circumstances, (3) the merits of the case, (4) a cause not
entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules,
(5) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (6) the
other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.
3. Same; Same; The privilege of the Writ of Amparo should be distinguished from the actual
order called the Writ of Amparo. The privilege includes availment of the entire procedure
outlined in A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.+
4. Same; Same; A memorandum is a prohibited pleading under the Rule on the Writ of
Amparo.+
5. Same; Same; Words and Phrases; A writ of Amparo is a special proceeding. It is a remedy by
which a party seeks to establish a status, a right or particular fact. It is not a civil nor a criminal
action, hence, the application of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure is seriously
misplaced.+
6. Same; Same; After the measures have served their purpose, the judgment will be satisfied. In
Amparo cases, this is when the threats to the petitioner’s life, liberty and security cease to exist
as evaluated by the court that renders the judgment.+
7. Same; Same; After evaluation, the judge has the option to issue the Writ of Amparo or
immediately dismiss the case. Dismissal is proper if the petition and the supporting affidavits do
not show that the petitioner’s right to life, liberty or security is under threat or the acts
complained of are not unlawful. On the other hand, the issuance of the writ itself sets in motion
presumptive judicial protection for the petitioner.+

Quarto vs. Marcelo, G.R. No. 169042, October 5, 2011

1. Special Civil Actions; Appeals; Mandamus; Certiorari; As extraordinary writs, both Sections
1 (certiorari) and 3 (mandamus), Rule 65 of the Rules of Court require, as a pre-condition for
these remedies, that there be no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of law.-
—As extraordinary writs, both Sections 1 (certiorari) and 3 (mandamus), Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court require, as a pre-condition for these remedies, that there be no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
2. Immunity from Suit; Ombudsman; The Court reiterates its policy of non-interference with
the Ombudsman’s exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers and respects the
initiative and independence inherent in the Ombudsman who, “beholden to no one, acts as the
champion of the people and the preserver of the integrity of the public service.”-
—Consistent with this purpose and subject to the command of paragraph 2, Section 1, Article
VIII of the 1987 Constitution, the Court reiterates its policy of non-interference with the
Ombudsman’s exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers (among them, the power to
grant immunity to witnesses), and respects the initiative and independence inherent in the
Ombudsman who, “beholden to no one, acts as the champion of the people and the preserver of
the integrity of the public service.”
3. Administrative Proceedings; An administrative case is altogether different from a criminal
case, such that the disposition in the former does not necessarily result in the same disposition
for the latter, although both may arise from the same set of facts.-
—The fact that the respondents had previously been found administratively liable, based on the
same set of facts, does not necessarily make them the “most guilty.” An administrative case is
altogether different from a criminal case, such that the disposition in the former does not
necessarily result in the same disposition for the latter, although both may arise from the same
set of facts. The most that we can read from the finding of liability is that the respondents have
been found to be administratively guilty by substantial evidence—the quantum of proof required
in an administrative proceeding.
4. Same; Ombudsman; An immunity statute does not, and cannot, rule out a review by this
Court of the Ombudsman’s exercise of discretion.-
—An immunity statute does not, and cannot, rule out a review by this Court of the Ombudsman’s
exercise of discretion. Like all other officials under our constitutional scheme of government, all
their acts must adhere to the Constitution.
5. Same; The authority to choose the individual to whom immunity would be granted is a
constituent part of the process and is essentially an executive function.-
—While the legislature is the source of the power to grant immunity, the authority to implement
is lodged elsewhere. The authority to choose the individual to whom immunity would be granted
is a constituent part of the process and is essentially an executive function.
6. Immunity from Suit; The power to grant immunity from prosecution is essentially a
legislative prerogative.-
—The power to grant immunity from prosecution is essentially a legislative prerogative. The
exclusive power of Congress to define crimes and their nature and to provide for their
punishment concomitantly carries the power to immunize certain persons from prosecution to
facilitate the attainment of state interests, among them, the solution and prosecution of crimes
with high political, social and economic impact.
7. Same; Same; Same; Ombudsman; If, on the basis of the same evidence, the Ombudsman
arbitrarily excludes from an indictment some individuals while impleading all others, the remedy
of mandamus lies since he is duty-bound, as a rule, to include in the information all persons who
appear responsible for the offense involved.-
—If, on the basis of the same evidence, the Ombudsman arbitrarily excludes from an indictment
some individuals while impleading all others, the remedy of mandamus lies since he is duty-
bound, as a rule, to include in the information all persons who appear responsible for the offense
involved.
8. Same; Same; Same; In matters involving the exercise of judgment and discretion,
mandamus may only be resorted to, to compel the respondent to take action; it cannot be used
to direct the manner or the particular way discretion is to be exercised.-
—Mandamus is the proper remedy to compel the performance of a ministerial duty imposed by
law upon the respondent. In matters involving the exercise of judgment and discretion,
mandamus may only be resorted to, to compel the respondent to take action; it cannot be used to
direct the manner or the particular way discretion is to be exercised.

Hur Tin Yang vs. People, G.R. No. 195117, August 14, 2013

1. Civil Law; Contracts; In determining the nature of a contract, courts are not bound by the
title or name given by the parties.-
—In determining the nature of a contract, courts are not bound by the title or name given by the
parties. The decisive factor in evaluating such agreement is the intention of the parties, as shown
not necessarily by the terminology used in the contract but by their conduct, words, actions and
deeds prior to, during and immediately after executing the agreement. As such, therefore,
documentary and parol evidence may be submitted and admitted to prove such intention.
2. Same; Same; Same; The fact that the entruster bank, Metrobank in this case, knew even
before the execution of the alleged trust receipt agreements that the covered construction
materials were never intended by the entrustee (petitioner) for resale or for the manufacture of
items to be sold would take the transaction between petitioner and Metrobank outside the ambit
of the Trust Receipts Law.-
—Since the factual milieu of Ng and Land Bank of the Philippines are in all four corners similar
to the instant case, it behooves this Court, following the principle of stare decisis, to rule that the
transactions in the instant case are not trust receipts transactions but contracts of simple loan.
The fact that the entruster bank, Metrobank in this case, knew even before the execution of the
alleged trust receipt agreements that the covered construction materials were never intended by
the entrustee (petitioner) for resale or for the manufacture of items to be sold would take the
transaction between petitioner and Metrobank outside the ambit of the Trust Receipts Law.
3. Same; Same; Loans; When both parties enter into an agreement knowing fully well that the
return of the goods subject of the trust receipt is not possible even without any fault on the part
of the trustee, it is not a trust receipt transaction penalized under Sec. 13 of PD 115 in relation
to Art. 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as the only obligation actually agreed
upon by the parties would be the return of the proceeds of the sale transaction. This transaction
becomes a mere loan, where the borrower is obligated to pay the bank the amount spent for the
purchase of the goods.-
—When both parties enter into an agreement knowing fully well that the return of the goods
subject of the trust receipt is not possible even without any fault on the part of the trustee, it is
not a trust receipt transaction penalized under Sec. 13 of PD 115 in relation to Art. 315, par.
1(b) of the RPC, as the only obligation actually agreed upon by the parties would be the return
of the proceeds of the sale transaction. This transaction becomes a mere loan, where the
borrower is obligated to pay the bank the amount spent for the purchase of the goods.
4. Mercantile Law; Trust Receipts; Words and Phrases; A trust receipt transaction is one
where the entrustee has the obligation to deliver to the entruster the price of the sale, or if the
merchandise is not sold, to return the merchandise to the entruster.-
—Simply stated, a trust receipt transaction is one where the entrustee has the obligation to
deliver to the entruster the price of the sale, or if the merchandise is not sold, to return the
merchandise to the entruster. There are, therefore, two obligations in a trust receipt transaction:
the first refers to money received under the obligation involving the duty to turn it over
(entregarla) to the owner of the merchandise sold, while the second refers to the merchandise
received under the obligation to “return” it (devolvera) to the owner. A violation of any of these
undertakings constitutes Estafa defined under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC, as provided in Sec.
13 of PD 115.

Almario vs. CA, G.R. No. 127772, March 22, 2001

1. Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; When Jeopardy Attaches.-


Clearly, jeopardy attaches only (1) upon a valid indictment, (2) before a competent court, (3)
after arraignment, (4) when a valid plea has been entered, and (5) when the defendant was
convicted or acquitted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express
consent of the accused.
2. Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; Right to Speedy Trial; The dismissal of a criminal
case resulting in acquittal made with the express consent of the accused or upon his own motion
will not place the accused in double jeopardy, unless the same is due to insufficiency of evidence
or would result in denial of the right to speedy trial.-
In the cases at bar, the order of dismissal based on a violation of the right to speedy trial was
made upon motiòn by counsel for petitioner before the trial court. It was made at the instance of
the accused before the trial court, and with his express consent. Generally, the dismissal of a
criminal case resulting in acquittal made with the express consent of the accused or upon his
own motion will not place the accused in double jeopardy. However, this rule admits of two
exceptions, namely: insufficiency of evidence and denial of the right to speedy trial. Double
jeopardy may attach when the proceedings have been prolonged unreasonably, in violation of
the accused’s right to speedy trial.
3. Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; Right to Speedy Trial; It must be recalled that in the
application of the constitutional guaranty of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular
regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.-
Here we must inquire whether there was unreasonable delay in the conduct of the trial so that
violation of the right to speedy trial of the accused, herein petitioner, resulted. For it must be
recalled that in the application of the constitutional guaranty of the right to speedy disposition of
cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.
Both the trial court and the appellate court noted that after pre-trial of petitioner’s case was
terminated on October 21, 1994, continuous trial was set in the months of December 1994, and
January and February of 1995. The scheduled hearings, however, were cancelled when the
presiding judge was promoted to the Court of Appeals, and his successor as trial judge was not
immediately appointed, nor another judge detailed to his sala.
4. Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; Right to Speedy Trial; There is no violation of an
accused’s right to speedy trial where there were no unjustified postponements which had
prolonged the trial for unreasonable lengths of time.-
That there was no unreasonable delay of the proceedings is apparent from the chronology of the
hearings with the reasons for their postponements or transfers. Petitioner could not refute the
appellate court’s findings that petitioner’s right to speedy trial had not been violated. As both the
trial and appellate courts have taken pains to demonstrate, there was no unreasonable, vexatious
and oppressive delay in the trial. Hence, there was no violation of petitioner’s right to speedy
trial as there were no unjustified postponements which had prolonged the trial for unreasonable
lengths of time. There being no oppressive delay in the proceedings, and no postponements
unjustifiably sought, we concur with the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that
petitioner’s right to speedy trial had not been infringed. Where the right of the accused to speedy
trial had not been violated, there was no reason to support the initial order of dismissal.
5. Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; Right to Speedy Trial; Where there is transgression
of the right of the accused to speedy trial, the reconsideration of the trial court’s initial order of
dismissal upon the express consent of the accused did not result in double jeopardy.-
It follows that petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional right against double jeopardy when
that order was reconsidered seasonably. For as petitioner’s right to speedy trial was not
transgressed, this exception to the fifth element of double jeopardy—that the defendant was
acquitted or convicted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express
consent of the accused—was not met. The trial court’s initial order of dismissal was upon motion
of petitioner’s counsel, hence made with the express consent of petitioner. That being the case,
despite the reconsideration of said order, double jeopardy did not attach. As this Court had
occasion to rule in People vs. Tampal, (244 SCRA 202) reiterated in People vs. Leviste, where
we overturned an order of dismissal by the trial court predicated on the right to speedy trial—It
is true that in an unbroken line of cases, we have held that the dismissal of cases on the ground
of failure to prosecute is equivalent to an acquittal that would bar further prosecution of the
accused for the same offense. It must be stressed, however, that these dismissals were predicated
on the clear right of the accused to speedy trial. These cases are not applicable to the petition at
bench considering that the right of the private respondents to speedy trial has not been violated
by the State. For this reason, private respondents cannot invoke their right against double
jeopardy.

Cerezo vs. People, G.R. No. 185230, June 1, 2011

1. Remedial Law; Criminal Procedure; Once a case is filed with the court, any disposition of it
rests on the sound discretion of the court; In resolving a motion to dismiss a case or to
withdraw an Information, the trial court should not rely solely and merely on the findings of the
public prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice.-
—Well-entrenched is the rule that once a case is filed with the court, any disposition of it rests
on the sound discretion of the court. In thus resolving a motion to dismiss a case or to withdraw
an Information, the trial court should not rely solely and merely on the findings of the public
prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice. It is the court’s bounden duty to assess independently the
merits of the motion, and this assessment must be embodied in a written order disposing of the
motion. While the recommendation of the prosecutor or the ruling of the Secretary of Justice is
persuasive, it is not binding on courts.
2. Same; Same; Double Jeopardy; Requisites for Double Jeopardy to Exist.-
—Double jeopardy exists when the following requisites are present: (1) a first jeopardy attached
prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy
is for the same offense as in the first. A first jeopardy attaches only (a) after a valid indictment;
(b) before a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been entered; and
(e) when the accused has been acquitted or convicted, or the case dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent.
3. Same; Same; By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor and the
resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary, the trial court abdicated its judicial
power and refused to perform a positive duty enjoined by law.-
—By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor and the resolution of the DOJ
Secretary, the trial court abdicated its judicial power and refused to perform a positive duty
enjoined by law. The said Orders were thus stained with grave abuse of discretion and violated
the complainant’s right to due process. They were void, had no legal standing, and produced no
effect whatsoever.
4. Same; Same; In this case, it is obvious that in dismissing the criminal case, the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) judge failed to make his own determination of whether or not there was a prima
facie case to hold respondents for trial.-
—In this case, it is obvious from the March 17, 2004 Order of the RTC, dismissing the criminal
case, that the RTC judge failed to make his own determination of whether or not there was a
prima facie case to hold respondents for trial. He failed to make an independent evaluation or
assessment of the merits of the case. The RTC judge blindly relied on the manifestation and
recommendation of the prosecutor when he should have been more circumspect and judicious in
resolving the Motion to Dismiss and Withdraw Information especially so when the prosecution
appeared to be uncertain, undecided, and irresolute on whether to indict respondents.