Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Case Digest: G.R. No. 152259. July 29, 2004

Alfredo T. Romualdez, petitioner, vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) and the People of the Philippines, respondents.

Facts: People of the Philippines, through PCGG, filed a petition charging the accused with violation of Section 5, RA. 3019 as amended. Said petitioner, brother-in-law of former President Marcos and therefore, related by affinity within the third civil degree, did then and there willfully and unlawfully, and with evident bad faith, for the purpose of promoting his self-interested sic and/or that of others, intervene directly or indirectly, in a contract between the National Shipyard and Steel Corporation (NASSCO), a government-owned and controlled corporation and the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Company (BASECO), a private corporation, the majority stocks of which is owned by former President Marcos, whereby the NASSCO sold, transferred and conveyed to the BASECO its ownership and all its titles and interests over all equipment and facilities including structures, buildings, shops, quarters, houses, plants and expendable and semi-expendable assets, located at the Engineer Island known as the Engineer Island Shops including some of its equipment and machineries from Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte needed by BASECO in its shipbuilding and ship repair program for the amount of P5,000,000.00.

Issue: whether or not petitioner enjoys derivative immunity from suit.

Ruling: In Estrada vs. Desierto, the SC exhaustively traced the origin of executive immunity in order to determine the extent of its applicability. Executive immunity applied only during the incumbency of a President.  It could not be used to shield a non-sitting President from prosecution for alleged criminal acts done while sitting in office.  The reasoning of petitioner must therefore fail, since he derives his immunity from one who is no longer sitting as President.  Verily, the felonious acts of public officials and their close relatives are not acts of the State, and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands on the same footing as any other trespasser.

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