Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jimenez vs. Cabangbang

Facts: Cabangbang was a congressman when he wrote an open letter to the president and caused the same to be published in several newspapers of general circulation. The letter allegedly maligned several officials of the AFP, including Col. Jimenez, associating them in purported operational plans for a coup d’etat. Petitioners instituted this present action for recovery of damages for libel against Cabangbang. In his defense, Cabangbang invoked parliamentary immunity averring the letter is a privileged communication under Art VI, Sec 15 of the Constitution. 

Issue: Whether or not the letter in question a privileged communication protected by Art VI, Sec 15 of the Constitution

Held: The court ruled in the negative. “Speech or debate therein” used in Art VI Sec 15 of the Constitution, refers to utterances made by Congressman in the performance of their official functions while Congress is in session. Cabangbang made the open letter to the president when Congress was not in session. And in causing the communication to be so published, Cabangbang was not performing his official duty as a Member of Congress. Hence, the communication is not absolutely privileged.

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