Case Digests Law School

Case Digest: People vs. Jeffrey Liang – G.R. No. 125865

Case Title: People vs. Jeffrey Liang

Case Number: G.R. No. 125865, January 28, 2000 and March 26, 2001

Doctrine/Relevant Topic: Characteristics of criminal law – General

Facts:

       Petitioner Jeffrey Liang, a Chinese National who was employed as an Economist by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was accused to have allegedly uttered defamatory words to Joyce V. Cabal, a member of the clerical staff of ADB on two separate occasions. The informations were filed at Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, but were dismissed based on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the petitioner enjoyed immunity from legal processes as an employee of ADB. The Pasig RTC Branch 160 annulled and set aside the Metropolitan Trial Court’s dismissal of the criminal cases.

       The Petitioner brought a petition for review before the Supreme Court that was denied. The Court ruled that the immunity granted to officers and staff of the ADB is not absolute; it is limited to acts performed in an official capacity, hence this Motion for Reconsideration. The Motion for Intervention of the Department of Foreign Affairs was also granted.

Issue:

       Whether or not the petitioner, as an official of an international organization, is covered with diplomatic immunity.

Held:

       The Supreme Court ruled that the arguments raised in the petitioner’s and intervenor’s Motions for reconsideration were devoid of cogent reason to disturb its prior Decision. As stated in that Decision, the slander of a person, by any stretch, cannot be considered as falling within the purview of the immunity granted to ADB officers and personnel, and that slander, in general, cannot be considered as an act performed in an official capacity. Thus, the Court denied the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration with Finality.

       Justice Puno penned his concurring opinion, which effectively states that the Petitioner stands charged with grave slander for allegedly uttering defamatory remarks against his secretary. Considering that the immunity accorded to the petitioner is limited only to acts performed in his official capacity, it becomes necessary to make a factual determination of whether or not the defamatory utterances were made pursuant and in relation to his official functions as a senior economist.

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