Pimentel v Executive Secretary

GR No 158088 ; July 6, 2005


The petitioners filed a petition for mandamus to compel the Office of the Executive Secretary and theDepartment of Foreign Affairs to transmit the signed copy of the Rome Statute of the InternationalCriminal Court to the Senate of the Philippines for its concurrence pursuant to Sec. 21, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution. 

The Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court which will have jurisdiction over the most seriouscrimes as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression as defined by theStatute. The Philippines through the Chargie du Affairs in UN. The provisions of the Statute however require that it be subject to ratification, acceptance or approval of the signatory state.

Petitioners contend that ratification of a treaty, under both domestic and international law, is a function of the Senate, hence it is the duty of the Executive Department to transmit the signed copy to the senate to allow it to exercise its discretion.

ISSUE: Can the Exec. Secretary and the DFA have the ministerial duty to transmit to the Senate the copy of the Rome Statute signed by a member of the Philippine mission to the U.N. even without the signature of the President?

RULING: NO. The President as the head of state is the sole organ and authorized in the external relations and he is also the country's sole representative with foreign nations, He is the mouthpiece with respect to the country's foreign affairs. In treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other states and enter into treaties but this power is limited by the Constitution with the 2/3 required vote of all the members of the Senate for the treaty to be valid. (Sec. 21, Art VII). The legislative branch part is essential to provide a check on the executive in the field of foreign relations, to ensure the nation's pursuit of political maturity and growth.

WHO v Aquino

GR No L-35131; Apr 9, 2021


This case is an action for certiorari and prohibition to set aside respondent judge’s refusal to quash a search warrant which he issued against the petitioner. Petitioner Dr. Leonce Verstuyf is an official of the WHO (World Health Organization) assigned to the Regional Office in Manila as acting Assistant Director of Health Services.

The case stems when petitioner Verstuyft’s personal effects contained in 12 crates entered the Philippines as unaccompanied baggage, the baggages were allowed entry free from duties and taxes, the respondent judge upon the insistence of respondent COSAC (Constabulary Offshore Action Center) officers issued a search warrant for the items and baggages for violating RA 4712 of the Tariff Customs Code.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo advised Judge Aquino that Dr. Verstuyft is cloaked in diplomatic immunity, with him being a member of diplomatic missions pursuant to the Host Agreement; with this being said he prayed for the dismissal of the search warrants. The Solicitor General also joined the petitioner for the quashal of the search warrant.

ISSUE: Is the petitioner exempted from search and seizure under diplomatic immunity?

RULING: YES. It is a recognized principle of international law under our system of separation of powers that diplomatic immunity is essentially a political question and courts should refuse to look beyond a determination by the executive branch of government, and where the plea of diplomatic immunity is recognized and affirmed by the executive department it is the duty of the courts to accept the claim of immunity. 


GR No. 113191 ; Sept 18, 1996


On 27 January 1993, private respondent Magnayi filed an illegal dismissal case against Asian Development Bank. Two summonses were served, one sent directly to the ADB and the other through the Department of Foreign Affairs. ADB and the DFA notified respondent Labor Arbiter that the ADB, as well as its President and Officers, were covered by an immunity from legal process except for borrowings, guaranties or the sale of securities pursuant to Article 50(1) and Article 55 of the Agreement Establishing the Asian Development Bank (the "Charter") in relation to Section 5 and Section 44 of the Agreement Between The Bank and The Government Of The Philippines Regarding The Bank's Headquarters (the "Headquarters Agreement").

The Labor Arbiter took cognizance of the complaint on the impression that the ADB had waived its diplomatic immunity from suit and, in time, rendered a decision in favor of Magnayi. The ADB did not appeal the decision. Instead, on November 3, 1993, the DFA referred the matter to the NLRC and in its referral, the DFA sought a "formal vacation of the void judgment." When DFA failed to obtain a favorable decision from the NLRC, it filed a petition for certiorari.


1. Is ADB immune from suit?

2. Has ADB descended to the level of an ordinary party to a commercial transaction?


1. YES. Under the Charter and Headquarters Agreement, the ADB enjoys immunity from legal process of every form, except in the specified cases of borrowing and guarantee operations, as well as the purchase, sale and underwriting of securities. The Bank’s officers, on their part, enjoy immunity in respect of all acts performed by them in their official capacity. The Charter and the Headquarters Agreement granting these immunities and privileges are treaty covenants and commitments voluntarily assumed by the Philippine government which must be respected.

Being an international organization that has been extended a diplomatic status, the ADB is independent of the municipal law. "One of the basic immunities of an international organization is immunity from local jurisdiction, i.e., that it is immune from the legal writs and processes issued by the tribunals of the country where it is found.  The obvious reason for this is that the subjection of such an organization to the authority of the local courts would afford a convenient medium thru which the host government may interfere in their operations or even influence or control its policies and decisions of the organization; besides, such subjection to local jurisdiction would impair the capacity of such body to discharge its responsibilities impartially on behalf of its member-states."

2. NO, ADB did not descend to the level of an ordinary party to a commercial transaction. Otherwise, it should have constituted a waiver of its immunity from suit through entering into service contracts with different private companies. “There are two conflicting concepts of sovereign immunity, each widely held and firmly established. According to classical or absolute theory, a sovereign cannot, without its consent, be made a respondent in the Courts of another sovereign. According to the newer or restrictive theory, the immunity of the sovereign is recognized only with regard to public acts or acts jure imperii of a state, but not with regard to private acts or acts jure gestionis.

Certainly, the mere entering into a contract by a foreign state with a private party cannot be the ultimate test. Such an act can only be the start of the inquiry. The logical question is whether the foreign state is engaged in the activity in the regular course of business. If the foreign state is not engaged regularly in a business or trade, the particular act or transaction must then be tested by its nature. If the act is in pursuit of a sovereign activity, or an incident thereof, then it is an act jure imperii, especially when it is not undertaken for gain or profit.

In this case, the service contracts referred to by private respondent have not been intended by the ADB for profit or gain but are official acts over which a waiver of immunity would not attach. Therefore, the act of ADB does not constitute a waiver of its immunity from suit.

Reyes v Bagatsing

GR No L-65366; Nov. 9, 1983


Petitioner, retired Justice JB L. Reyes, on behalf of the Anti-Bases Coalition sought a permit from the City of Manila to hold a peaceful march and rally on October 26, 1983 from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, starting from the Luneta, a public park, to the gates of the United States Embassy, hardly two blocks away. Once there, and in an open space of public property, a short program would be held.  During the course of the oral argument, it was stated that after the delivery of two brief speeches, a petition based on the resolution adopted on the last day by the International Conference for General Disbarmament, World Peace and the Removal of All Foreign Military Bases held in Manila, would be presented to a representative of the Embassy or any of its personnel who may be there so that it may be delivered to the United States Ambassador. The march would be attended by the local and foreign participants of such conference. There was likewise an assurance in the petition that in the exercise of the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, all the necessary steps would be taken by it "to ensure a peaceful march and rally."

 It turned out that on October 19, such permit was denied. Petitioner was unaware of such a fact as the denial was sent by ordinary mail. The reason for refusing a permit was due to police intelligence reports which strongly militate against the advisability of issuing such permit at this time and at the place applied for." To be more specific, reference was made to persistent intelligence reports affirm[ing] the plans of subversive/criminal elements to infiltrate and/or disrupt any assembly or congregations where a large number of people is expected to attend."  Respondent Mayor suggested, however, in accordance with the recommendation of the police authorities, that "a permit may be issued for the rally if it is to be held at the Rizal Coliseum or any other enclosed area where the safety of the participants themselves and the general public may be ensured." 

There is a novel aspect to this case, If the rally were confined to Luneta, no question, as noted, would have arisen. So, too, if the march would end at another park. As previously mentioned though, there would be a short program upon reaching the public space between the two gates of the United States Embassy at Roxas Boulevard. That would be followed by the handing over of a petition based on the resolution adopted at the closing session of the Anti-Bases Coalition. The Philippines is a signatory of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations adopted in 1961. It was concurred in by the then Philippine Senate on May 3, 1965 and the instrument of ratification was signed by the President on October 11, 1965, and was thereafter deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations on November 15. As of that date then, it was binding on the Philippines. The second paragraph of the Article 22 reads: "2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. "  The Constitution "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. ..."  To the extent that the Vienna Convention is a restatement of the generally accepted principles of international law, it should be a part of the law of the land. That being the case, if there were a clear and present danger of any intrusion or damage, or disturbance of the peace of the mission, or impairment of its dignity, there would be a justification for the denial of the permit insofar as the terminal point would be the Embassy.

ISSUE: Did Mayor Bagatsing violate petitioners constitutional rights?

RULING: Yes. The Constitution is quite explicit: "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."  Free speech, like free press, may be Identified with the liberty to discuss publicly and truthfully any matter of public concern without censorship or punishment.  There is to be then no previous restraint on the communication of views or subsequent liability whether in libel suits, prosecution for sedition,  or action for damages,  or contempt proceedings  unless there be a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that [the State] has a right to prevent."  Freedom of assembly connotes the right people to meet peaceably for consultation and discussion of matters Of public concern. It is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference and respect. It is hot to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing, as 's the case with freedom of expression, of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the state has a right to prevent.

As noted, on the afternoon of the hearing, October 25, 1983, this Court issued the minute resolution granting the mandatory injunction allowing the proposed march and rally scheduled for the next day. That conclusion was inevitable ill the absence of a clear and present danger of a substantive, evil to a legitimate public interest. There was no justification then to deny the exercise of the constitutional rights of tree speech and peaceable assembly. These rights are assured by our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Respondent Mayor posed the issue of the applicability of Ordinance No. 7295 of the City of Manila prohibiting the holding or staging of rallies or demonstrations within a radius of five hundred (500) feet from any foreign mission or chancery and for other purposes. It is to be admitted that it finds support In the previously quoted Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. There was no showing, however, that the distance between the chancery and the embassy gate is less than 500 feet. Even if it could be shown that such a condition is satisfied. it does not follow that respondent Mayor could legally act the way he did. The validity of his denial of the permit sought could still be challenged. It could be argued that a case of unconstitutional application of such ordinance to the exercise of the right of peaceable assembly presents itself. As in this case there was no proof that the distance is less than 500 feet, the need to pass on that issue was obviated, Should it come, then the qualification and observation of Justices Makasiar and Plana certainly cannot be summarily brushed aside. The high estate accorded the rights to free speech and peaceable assembly demands nothing less.

Bayan v Zamora

G.R. No. 138570, Oct 10, 2000


In view of the impending expiration of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1991, the Philippines and the United States negotiated for a possible extension of the military bases agreement. On Sept 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the proposed RP-US Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security. On July 18, 1997, the United States panel met with the Philippine panel to exchange notes on the complementary strategic interests of the United States and the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific region.” Both sides discussed, among other things, the possible elements of the Visiting Forces Agreement. On Oct 5, 1998, the VFA was ratified. 

ISSUE: Can the President be faulted for grave abuse of discretion in ratifying the VFA and referring the same to the Senate?

RULING: No. As regards the power to enter into treaties or international agreements, the Constitution vests the same in the President, subject only to the concurrence of at least two-thirds vote of all the members of the Senate. In this light, the negotiation of the VFA and the subsequent ratification of the agreement are exclusive acts which pertain solely to the President, in the lawful exercise of his vast executive and diplomatic powers granted him no less than by the fundamental law itself. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it.53 Consequently, the acts or judgment calls of the President involving the VFA-specifically the acts of ratification and entering into a treaty and those necessary or incidental to the exercise of such principal acts - squarely fall within the sphere of his constitutional powers and thus, may not be validly struck down, much less calibrated by this Court, in the absence of clear showing of grave abuse of power or discretion.

It is the Court’s considered view that the President, in ratifying the VFA and in submitting the same to the Senate for concurrence, acted within the confines and limits of the powers vested in him by the Constitution. It is of no moment that the President, in the exercise of his wide latitude of discretion and in the honest belief that the VFA falls within the ambit of Section 21, Article VII of the Constitution, referred the VFA to the Senate for concurrence under the provision. Certainly, no abuse of discretion, much less a grave, patent and whimsical abuse of judgment, may be imputed to the President in his act of ratifying the VFA and referring the same to the Senate for the purpose of complying with the concurrence requirement embodied in the fundamental law. In doing so, the President merely performed a constitutional task and exercised a prerogative that chiefly pertains to the functions of his office. Even if he erred in submitting the VFA to the Senate for concurrence under the provisions of Section 21 of Article VII, instead of Section 25 of Article XVIII of the Constitution, still, the President may not be faulted or scarred, much less be adjudged guilty of committing an abuse of discretion in some patent, gross, and capricious manner.

Lasco v UN Revolving Fund

GR Nos 109095-109107; Feb 23, 1995


Lasco, et al, were dismissed by the UN Revolving Fund for Natural Resources Exploration (UNRFNRE), which is a special fund and subsidiary organ of the UN. the UNRFNRE is involved in a joint project of the Philippine Government and the UN for exploration work in Dinagat Island. UNRFNRE argues that the Labor Arbiter has no jurisdiction and invokes its diplomatic immunity from suit

ISSUE: Does the UNRFNRE enjoy diplomatic immunity?

RULING: Yes. The diplomatic immunity of UNRFNRE was sufficiently established by the letter of the Department of Foreign Affairs, recognizing and confirming the immunity of UNRFNRE in accordance with the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations where the Philippine Government was a party. Private respondent is not engaged in a commercial venture in the Philippines. Its presence here is by virtue of a joint project entered into by the Philippine Government and the United Nations for mineral exploration in Dinagat Island. Its mission is not to exploit our natural resources and gain pecuniarily thereby but to help improve the quality of life of the people, including that of petitioners.

China Machinery v Santa Maria

GR No. 185572 ; Feb 7, 2012


The Export Import Bank of China (EXIM Bank) and the DOF entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU, hereinafter), wherein China agreed to extend Preferential Buyer’s Credit to the Philippine Government to finance the Northrail Project. The Chinese government designated EXIM bank as the lender, while the PH government named the DOF as the borrower. Under the MOU Thereafter, the Chinese Ambassador to the PH, Wang Chungui,  wrote a letter to DOF Sec. Camacho informing him of China National Machinery & Equipment Corp. (Group), CNMEG hereinafter, designation as the Prime Contractor for the Northrail Project.Northrail and CNMEG executed a CONTRACT AGREEMENT for the construction of Sec 1 Phase 1 of the North Luzon Railway System from Caloocan to Malolos on a turnkey basis. The contract price for the Northrail project was USD 421, 050,000. Thereafter, the PH Government and EXIM Bank entered into a counterpart financial agreement. In the Loan Agreement, EXIM Bank agreed to extend Preferential Buyer’s Credit in the amount of USD 400,000,000 in favor of the PH Government in order to finance the construction of Phase 1 of the Northrail Project.

Respondents filed a Complaint for Annulment of Contract alleging that the Contract Agreement and the Loan Agreement were void for being contraty to (a) the Constitution, (b) RA No 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurmenr Reform Act; (c) PD No. 1445, otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code; and (d) EO 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code. 

ISSUE: Is the Contract Agreement an executive agreement?

RULING: NO. To be considered an executive agreement, the following three requisites provided under the Vienna Convention must nevertheless concur: (a) the agreement must be between states; (b) it must be written; and (c) it must be governed by international law. 

In this case, the first and third requisite are not present. The Contract Agreement was not concluded between the Philippines and China, but between Northrail and CNMEG. By the terms of the Contract Agreement, Northrail is a government-owned or -controlled corporation, while CNMEG is a corporation duly organized and created under the laws of the People’s Republic of China. Thus, both Northrail and CNMEG entered into the Contract Agreement as entities with personalities distinct and separate from the Philippine and Chinese governments, respectively. Also, Article 2 of the Conditions of Contract, states: “The contract shall in all respects be read and construed in accordance with the laws of the Philippines.” Since the Contract Agreement explicitly provides that Philippine law shall be applicable, the parties have effectively conceded that their rights and obligations thereunder are not governed by international law.


GR No 152318; Apr 16, 2009


In 1971, the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of the Philippines ratified an Agreement concerning Technical Co-operation in Bonn, capital of then West Germany. The Agreement affirmed the countries’ “common interest in promoting the technical and economic development of their States from closer technical co-operation” and allowed for the conclusion of “arrangements concerning individual projects of technical co-operation.” Thereafter, in 1999, the Philippine government, through then Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon, and the German government, agreed to an Arrangement in furtherance of the 1971 Agreement. The Arrangement affirmed the common commitment of both governments to promote jointly a project called, Social Health Insurance - Networking and Empowerment (SHINE), which was designed to “enable Philippine families - especially poor ones - to maintain their health and secure health care of sustainable quality.” It appears that SHINE had already been in existence prior to the effectivity of the Arrangement though the record does not indicate when exactly SHINE was constituted. Nonetheless, the Arrangement stated the various obligations of the Filipino and German governments. 

Private respondents were engaged as contract employees hired by GTZ to work for SHINE. On the other hand, Anne Nicolay, a Belgian national, assumed the post of SHINE project manager. Disagreements eventually arose between Nicolay and private respondents in various matters. The dispute culminated in a letter, signed by the private respondents, addressed to Nicolay, and copies furnished to officials of the DOH, PhilHealth, and the director of the Manila office of GTZ. The letter raised several issues which private respondents claim had been brought up several times in the past, but have not been given appropriate response. Negotiations ensued between private respondents and Nicolay, but for naught. Each of the private respondents received a letter from Nicolay informing them of the pre-termination of their contracts of employment on the grounds of “serious and gross insubordination, among others, resulting in loss of confidence and trust.” Thus, the private respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the NLRC, naming as respondents GTZ, the director of its Manila office Hans Peter Paulenz, its Assistant Project Manager Christian Jahn, and Nicolay. 

GTZ, through counsel, filed a Motion to Dismiss, on the ground that the Labor Arbiter had no jurisdiction over the case, as its acts were undertaken in the discharge of the governmental functions and sovereign acts of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

ISSUE: Does GTZ enjoy immunity from suit?

RULING: NO. The principle of state immunity from suit, whether a local state or foreign state, is reflected in Section 9, Article XVI of the Constitution, which states that “the State may not be sued without its consent.” Certainly, the mere entering into a contract by a foreign state with a private party cannot be the ultimate test. Such an act can only be the start of the inquiry. The logical question is whether the foreign state is engaged in the activity in the regular course of business. If the foreign state is not engaged regularly in a business or trade, the particular act or transaction must then be tested by its nature. If the act is in pursuit of a sovereign activity, or an incident thereof, then it is an act jure imperii, especially when it is not undertaken for gain or profit. If the instant suit had been brought directly against the Federal Republic of Germany, there would be no doubt that it is a suit brought against a State, and the only necessary inquiry is whether said State had consented to be sued. However, the present suit was brought against GTZ. It is necessary for us to understand what precisely are the parameters of the legal personality of GTZ. 

If the agency is incorporated, the test of its suability is found in its charter. The simple rule is that it is suable if its charter says so, and this is true regardless of the functions it is performing. Municipal corporations, for example, like provinces and cities, are agencies of the State when they are engaged in governmental functions and therefore should enjoy sovereign immunity from suit. Nevertheless, they are subject to suit even in the performance of such functions because their charter provides that they can sue and be sued. 

In the present case, GTZ itself provides a more helpful clue, inadvertently, through its own official internet website in the “Corporate Profile” section. This self-description of GTZ in its own official website gives further cause for pause in adopting petitioners’ argument that GTZ is entitled to immunity from suit because it is “an implementing agency.” The statement does not dispute the characterization of GTZ as an “implementing agency of the Federal Republic of Germany,” yet it bolsters the nation that as a company organized under private law, it has a legal personality independent of that of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is entirely possible that under German law, an entity such as GTZ or particularly GTZ itself has not been vested or has been specifically deprived of the power and capacity to sue and/or be sued. Yet in the proceedings below and before this Court, GTZ has failed to establish that under German law,  it has not consented to be sued despite it being owned by the Federal Republic of Germany. We adhere to the rule that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, foreign laws on a particular subject are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines, and following the most intelligent assumption we can gather, GTZ is akin to a governmental owned or controlled corporation without original charter which, by virtue of the Corporation Code, has expressly consented to be sued. 

Hence, the Court holds and so rules that GTZ consistently has been unable to establish with satisfaction that it enjoys the immunity from suit generally enjoyed by its parent country, the Federal Republic. Consequently, both the Labor Arbiter and the Court of Appeals acted within proper bounds when they refused to acknowledge that GTZ is so immune by dismissing the complaint against it. 

JUSMAG-Philippines v NLRC

GR No. 108813 ; Dec 15, 1994


Florencio Sacramento was one of the seventy-four (74) security assistance support personnel (SASP) working at the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines (JUSMAG-Philippines). His services were later on terminated allegedly due to the abolition of his position. Afterwards, he filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the ground that he was illegally suspended and dismissed from service by JUSMAG. Meanwhile, JUSMAG moved to dismiss the complaint; arguing that it was immune from suit as an agency of the U.S.. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint for want of jurisdiction. Sacramento appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which reversed the ruling of the Labor Arbiter. The NLRC relied on the case of Lyons vs. U.S., where the U.S. Government was considered to have waived its immunity from suit by entering into a contract of stevedoring services, and thus, it submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the local courts.

ISSUE: Is JUSMAG immune from suit?

RULING: YES. The existence of a contract does not, per se, mean that sovereign states may, at all times, be sued in local courts, as what was ruled in Lyons vs. U.S.. In U.S. vs. Ruiz, it was held that if the contract was entered into in the discharge of its governmental functions, the sovereign state cannot be deemed to have waived its immunity from suit. In this case, it is apparent that when JUSMAG took the services of Sacramento, it was performing a governmental function on behalf of the U.S. pursuant to the Military Assistance Agreement. The Military Assistance Agreement was an agreement between the Philippine Government and the U.S. Government; which created JUSMAG whose primary task was to advise and assist the Philippines on air force, army and naval matters. Hence, JUSMAG is correct that the suit is, in effect, one against the U.S. Government, albeit it was not impleaded in the complaint. Considering that the U.S. has not waived or consented to the suit, the complaint against JUSMAG cannot prosper. 

ICMC v Calleja

GR No: 85750; Sept 28, 1990


As an aftermath of the Vietnam War, the plight of Vietnamese refugees fleeing from South Vietnam's communist rule confronted the international community. In response to this crisis, an Agreement was forged between the Philippine Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees whereby an operating center for processing Indo-Chinese refugees for eventual resettlement to other countries was to be established in Bataan.

ICMC was one of those accredited by the Philippine Government to operate the refugee processing center in Morong, Bataan. It was incorporated in New York, USA, at the request of the Holy See, as a non-profit agency involved in international humanitarian and voluntary work. It is duly registered with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and enjoys Consultative Status, Category II. As an international organization rendering voluntary and humanitarian services in the Philippines.

Trade Unions of the Philippines and Allied Services (TUPAS) filed with the then Ministry of Labor and Employment a Petition for Certification Election among the rank and file members employed by ICMC. The latter opposed the petition on the ground that it is an international organization registered with the United Nations and, hence, enjoys diplomatic immunity.

Director Pura Calleja of the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), reversed the Med-Arbiter's Decision and ordered the immediate conduct of a certification election. At that time, ICMC's request for recognition as a specialized agency was still pending with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DEFORAF).

Subsequently, DEFORAF, granted ICMC the status of a specialized agency with corresponding diplomatic privileges and immunities, as evidenced by a Memorandum of Agreement between the Government and ICMC. ICMC then sought the immediate dismissal of the TUPAS Petition for Certification Election sustaining the affirmative of the proposition citing:

(1) its Memorandum of Agreement with the Philippine Government giving it the status of a specialized agency, (infra);

(2) the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of Specialized Agencies, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 November 1947 and concurred in by the Philippine Senate through Resolution No. 91 on 17 May 1949 (the Philippine Instrument of Ratification was signed by the President on 30 August 1949 and deposited with the UN on 20 March 1950) infra; and

(3) Article II, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, which declares that the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.

ISSUE: Does the grant of diplomatic privileges and immunities to ICMC extend to immunity from the application of Philippine labor laws?

RULING: YES. It is a recognized principle of international law and under our system of separation of powers that diplomatic immunity is essentially a political question and courts should refuse to look beyond a determination by the executive branch of the government, and where the plea of diplomatic immunity is recognized and affirmed by the executive branch of the government as in the case at bar, it is then the duty of the courts to accept the claim of immunity upon appropriate suggestion by the principal law officer of the government or other officer acting under his direction. 

Hence, in adherence to the settled principle that courts may not so exercise their jurisdiction as to embarrass the executive arm of the government in conducting foreign relations, it is accepted doctrine that in such cases the judicial department of the government follows the action of the political branch and will not embarrass the latter by assuming an antagonistic jurisdiction.

The grant of immunity from local jurisdiction to ICMC is clearly necessitated by its international character and respective purposes. 

The exercise of jurisdiction by the Department of Labor in these instances would defeat the very purpose of immunity, which is to shield the affairs of international organizations, in accordance with international practice, from political pressure or control by the host country to the prejudice of member States of the organization, and to ensure the unhampered performance of their functions.

ICMC's immunity from local jurisdiction by no means deprives labor of its basic rights, which are guaranteed by Article II, Section 18, Article III, Section 8, and Article XIII, Section 3 (supra), of the 1987 Constitution.

For, ICMC employees are not without recourse whenever there are disputes to be settled. Section 31 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations 17 provides that "each specialized agency shall make provision for appropriate modes of settlement of: (a) disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of private character to which the specialized agency is a party." Moreover, pursuant to Article IV of the Memorandum of Agreement between ICMC the the Philippine Government, whenever there is any abuse of privilege by ICMC, the Government is free to withdraw the privileges and immunities accorded.

Neither are the employees of IRRI without remedy in case of dispute with management as, in fact, there had been organized a forum for better management-employee relationship as evidenced by the formation of the Council of IRRI Employees and Management (CIEM) wherein “both management and employees were and still are represented for purposes of maintaining mutual and beneficial cooperation between IRRI and its employees.”

Liang v People

G.R. No. 125865; Mar 26, 2001


Two criminal Informations for grave oral defamation were filed against petitioner Jeffrey Liang, a Chinese national who was employed as an Economist by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The information alleged that on separate occasions, petitioner allegedly uttered defamatory words to Joyce V. Cabal, a member of the clerical staff of ADB. 

Having been advised by DFA that the petitioner enjoyed immunity from legal processes, MTC dismissed the criminal informations against him. The MTC Decision, however, was annulled and set aside by RTC. 

The Supreme Court likewise ruled in its January 28, 2000 Decision that the immunity granted to officers and staff of the ADB is not absolute; it is limited to acts performed in an official capacity. It further held that the immunity cannot cover the commission of a crime such as slander or oral defamation in the name of official duty.

ISSUE: Were the statements allegedly made by petitioner uttered while in the performance of his official functions to fall under the diplomatic immunity of ADB?

Ruling: NO. There is no cogent reason to disturb the Decision of January 28, 2000. The slander of a person, by any stretch, cannot be considered as falling within the purview of the immunity granted to ADB officers and personnel. This decision, however, does not have the effect of prejudging the criminal case for oral defamation against him. What is meant here is that slander, in general, cannot be considered as an act performed in an official capacity. The issue of whether or not petitioner's utterances constituted oral defamation is still for the trial court to determine.

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