Political Law

Manuel Martinez vs Jesus Morfe

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G.R. No. L-34022 – 44 SCRA 22 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department – Immunity from Arrest under the 1935 Constitution

Manuel Martinez and Fernando Bautista, Sr. were delegates to the 1972 Constitutional Convention. Both were facing criminal prosecutions. Martinez was charged for falsification of a public document before the sala of Judge Jesus Morfe. While Bautista was charged for violation of the Revised Election Code. The two were later arrested, this is while the Constitutional Convention was still in session. They now assail the validity of their arrest. They contend that under the 1935 Constitution, they are immune from arrest because the charges upon which they were arrested are within the immunity.

ISSUE: Whether or not Martinez and Bautista are immune from arrest.

HELD: No. There is, to be sure, a full recognition of the necessity to have members of Congress, and likewise delegates to the Constitutional Convention. They are accorded the constitutional immunity of senators and representatives from arrest during their attendance at the sessions of Congress and in going to and returning from the same except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace. In the case at bar, the crimes for which Martinez and Bautista were arrested fall under the category of “breach of peace”. Breach of the peace covers any offense whether defined by the Revised Penal Code or any special statute. Therefore, Martinez and Bautista cannot invoke the privilege from arrest provision of the Constitution.

NOTE: Under the 1987 Constitution:

A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in Congress or in any committee thereof.

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