New Senate inquiry into Mamasapano courts contempt

/ 05:10 AM July 19, 2017

Sen. Richard Gordon has announced his intention to conduct another Senate investigation in aid of legislation on the Mamasapano massacre.

I agree with Sen. Franklin Drilon that Congress may no longer conduct such an investigation.


Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has already indicted those against whom probable cause had been found, including former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

It is my humble yet considered opinion that Congress cannot conduct another legislative investigation in aid of legislation on the Mamasapano massacre after the indictment against those found responsible has been lodged with the Sandiganbayan—because this will violate the sub judice rule. The rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings, particularly those criminal in nature. In his supplemental opinion in People vs. Webb, et al., G.R. No. 176864, Dec. 14, 2010 and Lejandro vs. People, G.R. No. 176389, Dec. 14, 2010, Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion (ret) said: “The significance of sub judice rule is highlighted in criminal cases, as the possibility of undue influence prejudices the accused’s right to a fair trial. The principal purpose of the sub judice rule is to preserve the impartiality of the judicial system by protecting it from undue influence. Public opinion has no place in a criminal trial.”


Violation of the sub judice rule is punishable by contempt of court under Section 3 (d) of the Rule 71, which reads:

“Sec. 3. xxx a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished by indirect contempt

x x x    x x x

(d) Any improper conduct tending directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice.”

Senator Gordon is himself a lawyer. I assume he knows this.

We may have another constitutional crisis if the Sandiganbayan would hold the Senate in contempt and the latter would refuse to recognize the Sandiganbayan’s authority.

Congress should avoid creating constitutional crises.


REX G. RICO, [email protected]

Subscribe to Inquirer Opinion Newsletter
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, conchita carpio-morales, Inquirer letters, Mamasapano massacre, Noynoy Aquino, Rex G. Rico, Richard Gordon
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.