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G.R. No.

180643 March 25, 2008

ROMULO L. NERI, petitioner,
"EENSE AN" SECURITY, respondents.
FACTS: On April 21, 2007, the Department of Transportation and Communiation !DOTC" entered into a
ontrat #ith $hon% &in% Teleommuniations '(uipment !$T'" for the suppl) of e(uipment and servies
for the *ational +road,and *et#or- !*+*" .ro/et in the amount of 0.S. 1 223,451,230
!appro6imatel) .17 +illion .esos". The .ro/et #as to ,e finaned ,) the .eople8s 9epu,li of China.
The Senate passed various resolutions relative to the *+* deal. :n the Septem,er 15, 2007 hearin% ;ose
de <eneia ::: testified that several hi%h e6eutive offiials and po#er ,ro-ers #ere usin% their influene
to push the approval of the *+* .ro/et ,) the *'DA.
*eri, the head of *'DA, #as then invited to testif) ,efore the Senate +lue 9i,,on. =e appeared in one
hearin% #herein he #as interro%ated for 11 hrs and durin% #hih he admitted that A,alos of CO>'?'C
tried to ,ri,e him #ith .200> in e6han%e for his approval of the *+* pro/et. =e further narrated that he
informed .resident Arro)o a,out the ,ri,er) attempt and that she instruted him not to aept the ,ri,e.
=o#ever, #hen pro,ed further on #hat the) disussed a,out the *+* .ro/et, petitioner refused to
ans#er, invo-in% @e6eutive privile%eA. :n partiular, he refused to ans#er the (uestions on:
!a" #hether or not .resident Arro)o follo#ed up the *+* .ro/et,
!," #hether or not she direted him to prioritiBe it, and
!" #hether or not she direted him to approve.
=e later refused to attend the other hearin%s and 'rmita sent a letter to the senate averrin% that the
ommuniations ,et#een C>A and *eri are privile%ed and that the /urisprudene laid do#n in Senate vs
'rmita ,e applied. =e #as c$%&' $( co(%&)*% of respondent ommittees and an order for his arrest and
detention until suh time that he #ould appear and %ive his testimon).
Are the ommuniations eliited ,) the su,/et three !2" (uestions overed ,) e6eutive privile%eD
The ommuniations are overed ,) e6eutive privile%e
The revoation of 'O 474 !advised executive officials and employees to follow and abide by the
Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence, including, among others, the case of Senate v. Ermita

they are invited to legislative inquiries in aid of legislation.", does not in an) #a) diminish the onept of
e6eutive privile%e. This is ,eause this onept has Constitutional underpinnin%s.
The laim of e6eutive privile%e is hi%hl) reo%niBed in ases #here the su,/et of in(uir) relates to a
po#er te6tuall) ommitted ,) the Constitution to the .resident, suh as the area of militar) and forei%n
relations. 0nder our Constitution, the .resident is the repositor) of the ommanderEinE
hief, appointin%, pardonin%, and diplomati po#ers. Consistent #ith the dotrine of separation of po#ers,
the information relatin% to these po#ers ma) en/o) %reater onfidentialit) than others.
Several /urisprudene ited provide the elements of presidential ommuniations privile%e:
1" The proteted ommuniation must relate to a F(uintessential and nonEdele%a,le presidential
2" The ommuniation must ,e authored or Fsoliited and reeivedF ,) a lose advisor of the
.resident or the .resident himself. The /udiial test is that an advisor must ,e in Foperational
pro6imit)F #ith the .resident.
2" The *r&+$'&(%$a, co))-($ca%$o(+ *r$.$,&/& remains a (ualified privile%e that ma) ,e
overome ,) a sho#in% of ade(uate need, suh that the information sou%ht Fli-el) ontains
important evideneF and ,) the unavaila,ilit) of the information else#here ,) an appropriate
investi%atin% authorit).
:n the ase at ,ar, '6eutive Seretar) 'rmita premised his laim of e6eutive privile%e on the %round that
the ommuniations eliited ,) the three !2" (uestions Ffall under onversation and orrespondene
,et#een the .resident and pu,li offiialsF neessar) in Fher e6eutive and poli) deisionEma-in%
proessF and, that Fthe information sou%ht to ,e dislosed mi%ht impair our diplomati as #ell as eonomi
relations #ith the .eople8s 9epu,li of China.F Simpl) put, the ,ases are *r&+$'&(%$a, co))-($ca%$o(+
*r$.$,&/& and e6eutive privile%e on matters relatin% to '$*,o)ac0 or 1or&$/( r&,a%$o(+.
0sin% the a,ove elements, #e are onvined that, indeed, the ommuniations eliited ,) the three !2"
(uestions are overed ,) the *r&+$'&(%$a, co))-($ca%$o(+ *r$.$,&/&. First, the ommuniations relate
to a F(uintessential and nonEdele%a,le po#erF of the .resident, i.e. the po#er to enter into an e6eutive
a%reement #ith other ountries. This authorit) of the .resident to enter into executive agreements #ithout
the onurrene of the ?e%islature has traditionall) ,een reo%niBed in .hilippine /urisprudene. Second,
the ommuniations are FreeivedF ,) a lose advisor of the .resident. 0nder the Foperational pro6imit)F
test, petitioner an ,e onsidered a lose advisor, ,ein% a mem,er of .resident Arro)o8s a,inet.
And third, there is no ade(uate sho#in% of a ompellin% need that #ould /ustif) the limitation of the
privile%e and of the -(a.a$,a2$,$%0 of the information else#here ,) an appropriate investi%atin% authorit).
9espondent Committees further ontend that the %rant of petitioner8s laim of e6eutive privile%e violates
the onstitutional provisions on the ri%ht of the people to information on matters of pu,li onern.
mi%ht have a%reed #ith suh ontention if petitioner did not appear ,efore them at all. +ut petitioner made
himself availa,le to them durin% the Septem,er 27 hearin%, #here he #as (uestioned for eleven !11"
hours. *ot onl) that, he e6pressl) manifested his #illin%ness to ans#er more (uestions from the Senators,
#ith the e6eption onl) of those overed ,) his laim of e6eutive privile%e.
The ri%ht to pu,li information, li-e an) other ri%ht, is su,/et to limitation. Setion 7 of Artile ::: provides:
The ri%ht of the people to information on matters of pu,li onern shall ,e reo%niBed. Aess to
offiial reords, and to douments, and papers pertainin% to offiial ats, transations, or deisions,
as #ell as to %overnment researh data used as ,asis for poli) development, shall ,e afforded the
itiBen, +-23&c% %o +-ch ,$)$%a%$o(+ a+ )a0 2& *ro.$'&' 20 ,a4.