ISSUE: Whether the doctrine of separation of powers exclude the members of Congress from the mandate of R.A. 3019.
FACTS: On 12 March 1993, an Information (docketed as Criminal Case 18857) was filed with the Sandiganbayan (First Division) against then Congressman Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr., of Agusan del Sur for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended). After the accused pleaded not guilty, the prosecution filed a “Motion To Suspend The Accused Pendente Lite.” In its Resolution dated 6 June 1997, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion and ordered the Speaker to suspend the accused. But the Speaker did not comply. Thus, on 12 August 1997, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution requiring him to appear before it, on 18 August 1997 at 8:00 a.m., to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court. Unrelenting, the Speaker filed, through counsel, a motion for reconsideration, invoking the rule on separation of powers and claiming that he can only act as may be dictated by the House as a body pursuant to House Resolution 116 adopted on 13 August 1997. On 29 August 1997, the Sandiganbayan rendered a Resolution declaring Speaker Jose C. de Venecia, Jr. in contempt of court and ordering him to pay a fine of P10,000.00 within 10 days from notice.Jose de Venecia, Jr., in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives; Roberto P. Nazareno, in his capacity as Secretary-General of the House of Representatives; Jose Ma. Antonio B. Tuaño, Cashier, House of Representatives; Antonio M. Chan, Chief, Property Division, House of Representatives, filed the petition for certiorari.
RATIO DECIDENDI: As held in Miriam Defensor Santiago v. Sandiganbayan, et al., the doctrine of separation of powers does not exclude the members of Congress from the mandate of RA 3019. The order of suspension prescribed by Republic Act 3019 is distinct from the power of Congress to discipline its own ranks under the Constitution. The suspension contemplated in the above constitutional provision is a punitive measure that is imposed upon a determination by the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, upon an erring member.Its purpose is to prevent the accused public officer from frustrating his prosecution by influencing witnesses or tampering with documentary evidence and from committing further acts of malfeasance while in office. It is thus an incident to the criminal proceedings before the court. On the other hand, the suspension or expulsion contemplated in the Constitution is a House-imposed sanction against its members. It is, therefore, a penalty for disorderly behavior to enforce discipline, maintain order in its proceedings, or vindicate its honor and integrity.