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JEFFREY LIANG (HUEFENG), petitioner,

vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
G.R. No. 125865 January 18, 2000

Facts:

 JEFFREY LIANG (petitioner) is an economist working with ASIA DEVELOPMENT


BANK (ADB).

 Sometime in 1994, he allegedly uttered defamatory words against fellow employee


JOYCE CABAL, imputing theft against her.

 Cabal charged Liang with TWO COUNTS of GRAVE ORAL DEFAMATION before the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Mandaluyong City.

 Liang was ARRESTED, BUT LATER RELEASED on BAIL (P2,400 per crim. charge)
and placed under the custody of the Security Officer of ADB.

 The next day, the MeTC judge received an “OFFICE PROTOCOL” from the DFA stating
that Liang enjoyed IMMUNITY FROM LEGAL PROCESS by virtue of Sec. 45 of the
Headquarters Agreement between ADB and the PH Gov’t.

 The MeTC judge DISMISSED the two crim. cases against Liang (WITHOUT NOTICE
to the prosecution).

 Cabal then filed a petition for CERTORIARI and MANDAMUS with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Pasig City - which REINSTATED the warrant of arrest.

 Liang then sought redress from the Supreme Court claiming that he ENJOYED
IMMUNITY as stated in the HQ Agreement (and that NO PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION was held before the criminal case).
Issues:

1. Whether or not the petitioner’s case is covered with immunity from legal process with
regard to Sec. 45 of the Agreement between ADB and the PH gov’t.

2. (Whether or not the conduct of preliminary investigation was imperative/necessary.)

Ruling:

1. NO. The Court stated that Sec. 45 of the HQ Agreement provides that officers and staff of
the Bank shall enjoy immunity from legal process ONLY with respect to acts performed in
their OFFICIAL CAPACITY. The immunity mentioned in the HQ Agreement was NOT
ABSOLUTE.
2. (NO. Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only when
specifically granted by law. The rule on criminal procedure is clear that no preliminary
investigation is required in cases falling w/in the jurisdiction of the MeTC.)

Hence, petition DENIED.

Ratio:

Citing M.H. Wylie v. Rarang, the Court decreed that “slandering a person could not
possibly be covered by the immunity agreement because our laws [did] not allow the
commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty. Furthermore, it is
stated that the imputation of theft could not be considered as part of one’s official functions.

In addition, the Court pointed out the well-settled principle that “a public official may be
liable in his personal private capacity for whatever he may have caused by his act done with
malice or in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority.”

Finally, the SC ratiocinated that, pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic


Relations, a diplomatic agent “assuming petitioner is such,” enjoys immunity from criminal
jurisdiction except in case of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity
exercised by the agent outside his official functions. The Court then peremptorily reiterated
that the commission of a crime was not part of one’s official duty.