G.R. No. L-17144 – 109 Phil. 863 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Legislative Department – Parliamentary Immunity
In June 1960, Congressman Sergio Osmeña, Jr. delivered a speech entitled “A Message to Garcia”. In the said speech, he disparaged then President Carlos Garcia and his administration. Subsequently, House Resolution No. 59 was passed by the lower house in order to investigate the charges made by Osmeña during his speech and that if his allegations were found to be baseless and malicious, he may be subjected to disciplinary actions by the lower house.
Osmeña then questioned the validity of the said resolution before the Supreme Court. Osmeña avers that the resolution violates his parliamentary immunity for speeches delivered in Congress. Congressman Salipada Pendatun filed an answer where he averred that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the matter and Congress has the power to discipline its members.
ISSUE: Whether or not Osmeña’s immunity has been violated?
HELD: No. Section 15, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity upon members of the legislature which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every parliament in a democratic world. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the courts or any other forum outside the Hall of Congress. However, it does not protect him from responsibility before the legislative body whenever his words and conduct are considered disorderly or unbecoming of a member therein. Therefore, Osmeña’s petition is dismissed.