Republic vs. Sandiganbayan

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204 SCRA 212
November 21, 1991


The PCGG filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages against private respondents Bienvenido Tantoco and Dominador Santiago, et al. Private respondents jointly moved to strike out some portions of the complaint and for bill of particulars of other portions, which motion was opposed by the PCGG. The Sandiganbayan gave the PCGG 45 days to expand its complaint to make more specific certain allegations.

Private respondents then presented a Motion to leave to file interrogatories under Rule 25 of the Rules of Court. The Sandiganbayan denied private respondents‘ motions. Private respondents filed an Answer to with Compulsory Counterclaim. In response, the PCGG presented a Reply to Counterclaim with Motion to Dismiss compulsory counterclaim. Private respondents filed a pleading denominated Interrogatories to Plaintiff, and Amended Interrogatories to Plaintiff as well as a motion for production and inspection of documents.

The Sandiganbayan admitted the Amended Interrogatories and granted the motion for production and inspection of documents respectively.

The PCGG moved for reconsideration, arguing that the documents are privileged in character since they are intended to be used against the PCGG and/or its Commission in violation of Sec.4 of EO No. 1, V12:

  1. No civil action shall lie against the Commission or any member thereof for anything done or omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by this Order.
  2. No member or staff by the Commission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceedings concerning matter within its official cognizance.

The Sandiganbayan promulgated two Resolutions. The first, denying reconsideration of the Resolution allowing production of the documents, and the second, reiterating, by implication the permission to serve the amended interrogatories on the plaintiff.


Is the PCGG immune from suit?


NO. The state is of course immune from suit in the sense that it cannot, as a rule, be sued without its consent. However, it is axiomatic that in filing an action, it divests itself of its sovereign character and sheds its immunity from suit, descending to the level of an ordinary litigant.

The PCGG cannot claim a superior or preferred status to the State, even while assuming of an act for the State. The suggestion that the State makes no implied waiver of immunity by filing a suit except when in doing so it acts in, or in matters concerning, its proprietary or nongovernmental capacity, is unacceptable. It attempts a distinction without support in principle or precedent. On the contrary, ―the consent of the State to be sued may be given expressly or impliedly. Express consent may be manifested either through a general law or a special law. Implied consent is given when the State itself commences litigation or when it enters into a contract.

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