G.R. Nos. 184379-80. April 24, 2012
MAIN TOPIC – Rule 21
The Senate of the Philippines Blue Ribbon Committee conduct an investigation and issued a subpoena directing Lozada to appear and testify for the alleged anomalies in the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal. Lozada left the country for a purported official trip to London. In effect, Senate issued an Order (a) citing Lozada for contempt; (b) ordering his arrest and detention; and (c) directing the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to implement the Order and make a return thereon. When Lozada decided to go back to the Philippines however, he was allegedly held and restrained by several men from government. Violeta filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus and Arturo likewise filed a Petition for a Writ of Amparo and prayed for the issuance of (a) the writ of amparo; (b) a Temporary Protection Order (TPO); and (c) Inspection and Production Orders as regards documents related to the authority ordering custody over Lozada, as well as any other document that would show responsibility for his alleged abduction. After Lozada was made to sign a typewritten, antedated letter requesting police protection, he was drove back to his place.
The petitioners filed a Motion for Temporary Protection Order, Production of Documents, Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Presentation of Hostile Witnesses and Adverse Parties against Neri, Abalos, Velaroso and other respondents. The CA denied the Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena on the ground that the alleged acts and statements attributed to Sec. Neri and Benjamin Abalos (Abalos) were irrelevant to the Amparo case, and that to require them to testify would only result in a fishing expedition. The respondents also asserted that Lozada voluntarily entrusted himself to their company, and was never deprived of his liberty. The CA rendered its Decision denying petitioners the privilege of the Writ of Amparo and dismissing the Petition. The CA found that petitioners were unable to prove through substantial evidence that respondents violated, or threatened with violation, the right to life, liberty and security of Lozada.
Whether or not CA erred in denying the motion for subpoena ad testificandum for being irrelevant, given that the relevancy of evidence must be examined after it is offered, and not before.
No, in the present case, the CA correctly denied petitioners’ Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum on the ground that the testimonies of the witnesses sought to be presented during trial were prima facie irrelevant to the issues of the case. Well-settled is the rule that before a subpoena duces tecum may issue, the court must first be satisfied that the following requisites are present: (1) the books, documents or other things requested must appear prima facie relevant to the issue subject of the controversy (test of relevancy); and (2) such books must be reasonably described by the parties to be readily identified (test of definiteness).
Although the present action is rooted from the involvement of Lozada in the said government transaction, the testimonies of Sec. Neri or Abalos are nevertheless not prima facie relevant to the main issue of whether there was an unlawful act or omission on the part of respondents that violated the right to life, liberty and security of Lozada.
The writ of amparo is confined only to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, or to threats thereof.6 Considering that this remedy is aimed at addressing these serious violations of or threats to the right to life, liberty and security, it cannot be issued on amorphous and uncertain grounds, or in cases where the alleged threat has ceased and is no longer imminent or continuing.
- A subpoena is a process directed to a person requiring him to attend and to testify at the hearing or trial of an action or at any investigation conducted under the laws of the Philippines, or for the taking of his deposition.
- There are two (2) kinds of subpoena, to wit: subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum.