Beltran vs Macaraig et al, G.R. No. 83979 case brief summary
November 14, 1988
Facts: Beltran is among the petitioners in this case. He together with others was charged for libel by the president. Cory herself filed a complaint- affidavit against him and others. In these consolidated cases, three principal issues were raised
(1) whether or not petitioners were denied due process when informations for libel were filed against them although the finding of the existence of a prima facie case was still under review by the Secretary of Justice and, subsequently, by the President;
(2) whether or not the constitutional rights of Beltran were violated when respondent RTC judge issued a warrant for his arrest without personally examining the complainant and the witnesses, if any, to determine probable cause;
(3) whether or not the President of the Philippines, under the Constitution, may initiate criminal proceedings against the petitioners through the filing of a complaint-affidavit.
(Issue 1) Subsequent events rendered first issue as moot. The Secretary of Justice denied the motion for reconsideration and on appeal to the President through Executive Secretary, the judgement of the Secretary of Justice was upheld.
(Issue 2) The Supreme Court ruled that there was no such grave abuse of discretion. In satisfying himself of the existence of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is not required to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. He just need to personally satisfy himself that there is probable cause.
(Issue 3) The Supreme Court ruled that the privilege of immunity from suit may be invoked only by the President not by any other person in the President’s behalf. Thus, an accused like Beltran et al, in a criminal case in which the President is complainant cannot raise the presidential privilege as a defense to prevent the case from proceeding against such accused. Moreover, the choice of whether to exercise the privilege or to waive it is solely the President’s prerogative.
As such, petition is dismissed.