“More than any one, the government should be fair.” – The Supreme Court concluded its opinion in the case of Disini vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 180564; 22 June 2010) with this statement.
Said case involved an immunity agreement between petitioner and the State whereby petitioner agreed to testify for, and provide information and documents to, the State in two cases involving the contract for the construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, believed to have been brokered by one of his second cousin’s companies and attended by anomalies. Under the same agreement, petitioner would not be compelled to testify in any other case which the state may bring against his said cousin. Eighteen years after the immunity agreement was forged, and after petitioner complied with his undertaking, the State, through the PCGG, revoked its guarantee not to compel petitioner to testify against his second cousin.
Upholding petitioner’s immunity from testifying against his second cousin in other cases, the Supreme Court, in part, held:
“x x Trusting in the Government’s honesty and fidelity, (petitioner) agreed and fulfilled his part of the bargain. Surely, the principle of fair play, which is the essence of due process, should hold the Republic on to its promise.”
“A contract is the law between the parties. It cannot be withdrawn except by their mutual consent. This applies with more reason in this case where (petitioner) had already complied with the terms and conditions of the Immunity Agreement. To allow the Republic to revoke the Agreement at this late stage will run afoul of the rule that a party to a compromise cannot ask for a rescission after it had enjoyed its benefits.”
To know more about the case and the Court’s ruling, click on Digested Cases under Tools and look for the digest of Disini vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 180564; 22 June 2010).