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Monday, April 27, 2015

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE OF SPEECH AND DEBATE

It is made to appear in nearly all of the minds of people that the privilege of speech and debate in the Legislative Branch of government is absolute. But it really is not. There are limitations. In fact two requirements must be met before the privilege more commonly known as parliamentary immunity can be invoked.

The first requirement is that remarks or speech by a member of either House must be made when it is in session. Not when it is not functioning or in recess as it is now. Otherwise,   remarks like those of Sen. Anthony Trillanes IV who said two associate justices of the of the Court of Appeals   received P25 million in bribes from lawyer Pancho Villaraza are considered as those of a private citizen and therefore not covered by  parliamentary immunity.

The second condition that must be met is the speech or remarks are made as a matter of performing a duty.

I cannot find anything related to duty in the public statement of Trillanes that   two members of the appellate court got bribes. The crime of bribery is committed by two people. The one who offered the bribe and the person who accepted it.

It is clearly on this basis that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines decided to conduct an investigation of the charges of Trillanes. A member of the IBP like Villaraza has been maligned. Trillanes must reveal the source of his information. That duty
has a heavier weight than making what is variously described and believed as unadulterated lies dished out by Senator Trillanes.

A reputable lawyer told this space “The Rules of the Senate itself contains a provision on unparliamentary acts and language that enjoins a senator from using, under any circumstance, offensive or improper language against another senator or against any public institution...”

The two associate justices Trillanes claimed to have received bribes belong to public institutions. It may be presumed the Court of Appeals was attacked by Trillanes when he charged that two of its members accepted bribes.

It is precisely to avoid such excesses both Houses of the Legislature are allowed to adopt rules of proceedings. My lawyer friend told me there is a provision in law that states each House may determine the rules of proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its members, suspend or expel a member. A penalty of suspension, when imposed shall not exceed sixty days.

Who defines “disorderly behavior” and how? Its interpretation is a prerogative of Congress which my lawyer-friend told me cannot be judicially reviewed. I take this to mean the courts cannot interfere in making the interpretation.

Considering  all these it now appears Senator Trillanes put himself in a bind. The Senate leadership should take disciplinary action against him  for “disorderly behaviour.” Accusing two magistrates of the Court of Appeals of bribery is disorderly
behavior probably worse than a senator engaging a peer in a fist fight.

My lawyer friend told me “the delivery of a derogatory speech which the member was unable to substantiate constitute(d) disorderly behavior and justified the adoption of disciplinary measures.”

We said earlier the Supreme Court dismissed    two associate justices of the Court of Appeals for ignorance of the law. This sits well with a provision of law that states either or both Houses of the Legislature can punish its members for disorderly behavior.

It appears that Trillanes did not check out the character and reputation of the victims of his vicious attack particularly Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr. A member of the Court swears by the truth of the note he sent me: To the colleagues and members of the judiciary as a whole, Justice Reyes Jr. is a Man of Honor who bears the virtues of honesty, competence, efficiency humility and Godliness. He is fondly called The Bishop.

“The President who twice interviewed him before for a post in the Supreme Court noted his lack of any derogatory record as a person and as a magistrate. On one occasion when members of the judiciary gathered, Justice Reyes was introduced as the mortal who bears the initials JC of Jesus Christ.”‘

Is this the jurist with a peer who would take a P25 million bribe from lawyer Pancho Villaraza in exchange for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction that practically but temporarily left useless the suspension of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay ordered by the Ombudsman.?

Is Villaraza counsel of Junjun Binay and his father who is running for President in 2016? No he is not! Therefore he does not have any interest in the affairs or politics of the Binays.

I guess some people who hate the guts of Trillanes fed him with the lie that he provided the bribe money precisely to put the lawmaker or Villaraza in trouble. The senator will have to account for the lie.

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email: amadomacasaet@yahoo.com
- See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/parliamentary-privilege-speech-and-debate#sthash.AKtUE5SH.dpuf

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