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006. Liang v. People.doc

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  006. Liang v. People G.R. No. 125865/26 March 2001/First Division/Motion for Reconsideration on SC Decision Jeffrey Liang (Huefeng) – petitioner People of the Philippines – respondent  Decision by J. Ynares-Santiago, Digest by Pip (Gagamitin mo na nga na sample yung digest at format ko Chua, kay Anne Curtis mo pa icre-credit? For shame!) Short Version:  Liang was charged with grave oral defamation. He argued that he was covered by theabsolute immunity of the ADB, where he worked. The Court ruled that his immunity did not cover thealleged acts of oral defamation, since such could not be considered to be acts performed in his officialcapacity. Facts:  Jeffrey Liang (Hue Feng)Chinese national employed as an economist by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Two informations for grave oral defamation were filed against him alleging that on separateoccasions (the 28 th  and 31 st  of January of 1994) he uttered defamatory words to Joyce v. Cabal, amember of the clerical staff of ADB, for the imputation of theft.MeTC MandaluyongIssued warrant, but Liang was released to the custody of the ADB Security Officer  Acting pursuant to advice from the DFA that Liang enjoyed immunity from legal processes, by  virtue of an Agreement between the ADB and the Philippine Government, dismissed theinformations against him. People of the PhilippinesOn petition for certiorari and mandamus  RTC Pasig  Annulled and set aside the MeTC’s order. Liang Petition for review, Supreme Court. SCJanuary 2000, denied the petition for review. a) Courts cannot blindly adhere and take on its face the communication from the DFA that petitioner is covered by any immunity. i) DFAs determination that a certain person is covered by immunity is only preliminary which has no binding effect in courts.ii) MeTC erred in receiving ex-parte  the DFAs advice and in motu proprio  dismissing the two criminal cases without notice to the prosecution, a) the latters right to due process was violated. iii) mere invocation of the immunity clause does not ipso facto  result in thedropping of the charges b) Under Section 45 of the Agreement- the immunity mentioned therein is not absolute, but subject to the exception that the act was done in official capacity. i) It is therefore necessary to determine if petitioners case falls within the ambitof Section 45(a). Thus, the prosecution should have been given the chance torebut the DFA protocol and it must be accorded the opportunity to present itscontroverting evidence, should it so desire.  c) Slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement becauseour laws do not allow the commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty i) The imputation of theft is ultra vires  and cannot be part of official functions. ii) Well-settled principle of law that a public official may be liable in his personalprivate capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done withmalice or in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdictiond) Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent, assumingthat Liang indeed is such, enjoys immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the receivingstate except in the case of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving state outside his official functions.i) As already mentioned above, the commission of a crime is not part of officialduty.e) That there was no preliminary investigation conducted, suffice it to say thatpreliminary investigation is not a matter of right in cases cognizable by the MeTC i) Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only  when specifically granted by law ii) Rule on criminal procedure is clear that no preliminary investigation isrequired in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the MeTC.iii) The absence of preliminary investigation does not affect the courts jurisdiction nor does it impair the validity of the information or otherwise renderit defective. Motion for Reconsideration: LiangMR, argued That the DFA’s determination of immunity is a political question to be made by theexecutive branch of the government and is conclusive upon the courts. Furthermore, the immunity of international organizations is absolute and extends to allits staff. Issue:  Were the statements allegedly made by Liang uttered while in the performance of his official functions?NO.SC: 1) First, the Court emphasized that its earlier decision did not deny diplomatic immunity at all. Rather,the Court merely ruled as to whether Liang’s alleged words fell squarely under the provisions of Section45(a) of the Agreement between the ADB and the Philippines, where officers and staff for the bank (including experts and consultants performing missions for the bank) enjoy immunity from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity.  Again, the Court ruled that the slander of a person, by any stretch, cannot beconsidered as falling within the purview of the immunity granted to ADB officersand personnel. Slander, in general, cannot be considered as an act performed in an officialcapacity.  The issue of whether Liang’s utterances in fact constituted oral defamation is still for the trial court todetermine.  Voting:   C.J. Davide, Jr., concurring in  J. Puno’s concurring opinion.  Kapunan and  Pardo, JJ., concur.  J. Puno’s concurring opinion:  He basically argued that international officials are entitled toimmunity only with respect to acts performed in their official capacity, unlike international organizations which enjoy absolute immunity. (This in apparent response to Liang’s insistence that ADB’s absoluteimmunity extended to him.)

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Oct 7, 2019
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