Ceferino Paredes, Jr. vs Sandiganbayan
252 SCRA 641 – Political Law – The Legislative Department – Suspension of a Member of Congress – RA 3019
In January 1990, Teofilo Gelacio, the then vice mayor of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur filed a case against Ceferino Paredes, Jr. (who was then the governor of the same province), Atty. Generoso Sansaet (counsel of Paredes), and Mansueto Honrada (a clerk of court). The three allegedly conspired to falsify a copy of a Notice of Arraignment and of the Transcript of Stenographic Notes. Gelacio claimed that, in fact, no arraignment notice had ever been issued against him in a criminal proceeding against him. Gelacio was able to produce a certification from the judge handling the case himself that the criminal case against him never reached the arraignment stage because the prosecution was dismissed. Atty. Sansaet on his part maintained that there was indeed a Notice of Arraignment but he later retracted his testimonies. Paredes claimed that Sansaet only changed his side because of political realignment. Subsequently, the Office of the Ombudsman recommended that Paredes et al be charged with Falsification of Public Documents. Paredes appealed but was eventually denied by the Sandiganbayan.
ISSUE: Whether or not Paredes, now a member of Congress, may be suspended by order of the Sandiganbayan.
HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court affirmed the order of suspension of Congressman Paredes by the Sandiganbayan, despite his protestations on the encroachment by the court on the prerogatives of congress. The SC ruled:
“x x x. Petitioner’s invocation of Section 16 (3), Article VI of the Constitution – which deals with the power of each House of Congress inter alia to ‘punish its Members for disorderly behavior,’ and ‘suspend or expel a Member’ by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members subject to the qualification that the penalty of suspension, when imposed, should not exceed sixty days – is unavailing, as it appears to be quite distinct from the suspension spoken of in Section 13 of RA 3019, which is not a penalty but a preliminary, preventive measure, prescinding from the fact that the latter is not being imposed on petitioner for misbehavior as a Member of the House of Representatives.”
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