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CASE DIGEST ON LIANG v. PEOPLE [323 SCRA 652 (2000)]

November 10, 2010


Nature: Petition for review on certiorari of a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Br. 160.

Facts: Petitioner is an economist for ADB who was charged by the Metropolitan TC of Mandaluyong City for allegedly uttering defamatory words against her fellow worker w/ 2 counts of grave oral defamation.  MeTC judge then received an office of protocol from the Department of Foreign Affairs, stating that petitioner is covered by immunity from legal process under section 45 of the agreement bet ADB & the gov’t. MeTC judge, w/o notice, dismissed the two criminal cases.  Prosecution filed writ of mandamus & certiorari and ordered the MeTC to enforce the warrant of arrest.

Issues: WON the petitioner is covered by immunity under the agreement and that no preliminary investigation was held before the criminal cases were filed in court.

Ratio: He is not covered by immunity because the commission of a crime is part of the performance of official duty. Courts cannot blindly adhere and take on its face the communication from the DFA that a certain person is covered by immunity. That a person is covered by immunity is preliminary. Due process is right of the accused as much as the prosecution.

Slandering a person is not covered by the agreement because our laws do not allow the commission of a crime such as defamation in the name of official duty. Under Vienna convention on Diplomatic Relations, commission of a crime is not part of official duty.

On the contention that there was no preliminary investigation conducted, suffice it to say that preliminary investigation isn’t a matter of right in cases cognizable by the MeTC such as the one at bar. Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only when specifically granted by law. The rule on criminal procedure is clear than no preliminary investigation is required in cases falling w/in the jurisdiction of the MeTC. Besides, the absence of preliminary investigation doesn’t affect the court’s jurisdiction nor does it impair the validity of the information or otherwise render it defective.

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