C. Legislative privileges, inhibitions, and qualifications

Frequency: ★★★★☆

1. Legislative Privilege

a. Immunity from arrest

A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six (6) years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. (Section 11, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

RESTRICTIVE SENSE: The immunity from arrest or detention of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, the latter customarily addressed as Congressmen, arises from a provision of the Constitution. The history of the provision shows that privilege has always been granted in a restrictive sense. (People v. Jalosjos, G.R. No. 132875-76, 03 February 2000)

WHEN ARREST IS ALLOWED: For offenses punishable by more than six (6) years imprisonment, there is no immunity from arrest. (Ibid.)

The provision granting an exemption as a special privilege cannot be extended beyond the ordinary meaning of its terms. It may not be extended by intendment, implication or equitable considerations. (Ibid.)

SAME; CONFINEMENT: The confinement of a Congressman charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than six months is not merely authorized by law, it has constitutional foundations. (Ibid.)

b. Parliamentary immunity for speech

No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof. (Section 11, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. Its purpose “is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust with firmness and success” for “it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however powerful, to whom exercise of that liberty may occasion offense.” (Osmeña v. Pendatun, En Banc, G.R. No. L-17144, 28 October 1960)

EXTENDS TO LAWYERS-LEGISLATORS: For the above reasons, the plea of Senator Santiago for the dismissal of the complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action is well taken. Indeed, her privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary proceeding under the Rules of Court. (Pobre v. Sen. Defensor-Santiago, A.C. No. 7399, 25 August 2009)

2. Inhibition

a) Full disclosure

All Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall, upon assumption of office, make a full disclosure of their financial and business interests. (Section 12, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

b) Conflict of interest; Inhibition

They shall notify the House concerned of a potential conflict of interest that may arise from the filing of a proposed legislation of which they are authors. (Section 12, Article VI, Ibid.)

3. DISQUALIFICATIONS AND PROHIBITIONS

a. No holding of any other office or employment in the Government

No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may hold any other office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during his term without forfeiting his seat. (Section 13, Article VI, Ibid.)

AUTOMATIC FORFEITURE: Forfeiture is automatic and permanently effective upon the filing of the certificate of candidacy for another office. Only the moment and act of filing are considered. Once the certificate is filed, the seat is forever forfeited and nothing save a new election or appointment can restore the ousted official. (Quinto v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 189698, 01 December 2009)

b. No appointment to any office created or emoluments increased during term

Neither shall he be appointed to any office which may have been created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for which he was elected. (Section 13, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

c. No appearance as counsel

No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies. (Section 14, Article VI, Ibid.)

This includes any form of intervention, whether direct or indirect. (Puyat v. De Guzman, En Banc, G.R. No. L-51122, 25 March 1982)

d. No financial interests nor special privilege

Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. (Section 14, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

e. No intervention in any matter

He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office. (Ibid.)

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