De La Paz vs The Senate Committee

July 16, 2011

Inquiry in Aid of Legislation – Jurisdiction and Publication

In October 2008, Gen. De La Paz, a senior officer of the PNP, headed a delegation of 8 to attend an Interpol GA. De La Paz brought with him his wife and 3 days after the scheduled GA, de la Paz is also scheduled to retire. After the GA, De La Paz was apprehended in the departure area for he was carrying with him €105,000.00 (P6,930,000.00). He was also carrying with him €45,000.00 (P2,970,000.00). He failed to declare in writing that he is carrying such an amount and this is in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. De La Paz and his group was later released but the €s were confiscated by the Russians. Upon arrival to the Philippines, De La Paz was issued a subpoena by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for the investigation it was to conduct involving the Moscow incident. De La Paz averred that the said committee does not have jurisdiction of the case. De La Paz argued that the Committee is devoid of any jurisdiction to investigate the Moscow incident as the matter does not involve state to state relations as provided in paragraph 12, Section 13, Rule 10 of the Senate Rules of Procedure (Senate Rules). They further claim that respondent Committee violated the same Senate Rules when it issued the warrant of arrest without the required signatures of the majority of the members of respondent Committee. They likewise assail the very same Senate Rules because the same were not published as required by the Constitution, and thus, cannot be used as the basis of any investigation involving them relative to the Moscow incident.

ISSUE: Whether or not the said Committee has jurisdiction over the matter.

HELD: The SC ruled against De La Paz. Section 16(3), Article VI of the Philippine Constitution states:”Each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings.” This provision has been traditionally construed as a grant of full discretionary authority to the Houses of Congress in the formulation, adoption and promulgation of its own rules. The challenge to the jurisdiction of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised by petitioner in the case at bench, in effect, asks this Court to inquire into a matter that is within the full discretion of the Senate. The issue partakes of the nature of a political question. Also, the signatures were properly obtained as evidenced by the approval of the Senate president and it is shown that the gathering of the signatures is in accordance with the Rules. It is also shown that the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation were also published in two newspapers of general circulation.


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