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001 Republic v Sandiganbayan

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001 Republic v Sandiganbayan
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  212PHILIPPINE REPORTS ANNOTATED Republic vs. Sandiganbayan G.R. No. 90478. November 21,1991. * REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (PRESIDENTIALCOMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT), petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBA YAN, BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, JR.and DOMINADOR R. SANTIAGO, respondents. Civil Procedure; Modes of discovery.—  The various modes orinstruments of discovery are meant to serve (1) as a device, alongwith the pre-trial hearing under Rule 20, to narrow and clarify thebasic issues between the parties, and (2) as a device for ascertainingthe facts relative to those issues. The evident purpose is, to repeat,to enable the parties, consistent with recognized privileges, to obtainthe fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before civiltrials and thus prevent that said trials are carried on in the dark. Tothis end, the field of inquiry that may be covered by depositions orinterrogatories is as broad as when the interrogated party is calledas a witness to testify orally at trial. The inquiry extends to all factswhich are relevant, whether they be ultimate or evidentiary,excepting only those matters which are privileged. The objective isas much to give every party the fullest possible information of allthe relevant facts before the trial as  to obtain evidence for use uponsaid trial.  ________________  *  EN BANC. 213  VOL. 204, NOVEMBER 21, 1991213 Republic vs. Sandiganbayan  Same; Same; Leave of court not necessary.  —In line with thisprinciple of according liberal treatment to the deposition-discoverymechanism, such modes of discovery as (a) depositions (whether byoral examination or written interrogatories) under Rule 24, (b)interrogatories to parties under Rule 25, and (c) requests foradmissions under Rule 26, may be availed of without leave of court,and generally, without court intervention.  The Rules of Courtexplicitly provide that leave of court is not necessary to avail of saidmodes of discovery after an answer to the complaint has been served. It is only when an answer has not yet been filed (but after jurisdiction has been obtained over the defendant or propertysubject of the action) that prior leave of court is needed to avail of these modes of discovery, the reason being that at that time theissues are not yet joined and the disputed facts are not clear. Same; Same; Leave of court, when required.  —On the otherhand, leave of court is required as regards discovery by (a)production or inspection of documents or things in accordance withRule 27, or (b) physical and mental examination of persons underRule ,28, which may be granted upon due application and ashowing of due, cause. Constitutional Law; State immunity from suit; Waiver.  —TheState is, of course, immune from suit in the sense that it cannot, asa rule, be sued without its consent. But it is axiomatic that in filingan action, it divests itself of its sovereign character and sheds itsimmunity 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 to represent or act for the State. Thesuggestion that the State makes no implied waiver of immunity byfiling suit except when in so doing it acts in, or in mattersconcerning, its proprietary or non-governmental capacity, isunacceptable; it attempts a distinction without support in principleor precedent. On the contrary-— The consent of the State to be suedmay be given expressly or impliedly. Express consent may bemanifested either through a general law or a special law. Impliedconsent is given when the State itself commences litigation  or whenit enters into a contract.” PETITION for certiorari to review the order of theSandiganbayan.The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.   Dominador R. Santiago  for and in his own behalf andas counsel for respondent Tantoco, Jr.  214 214SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Republic vs. Sandiganbayan NARVASA, J.: Private respondents Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr. andDominador R. Santiago—together with Ferdinand E.Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr.,Gliceria R. Tantoco, and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda— are defendants in Civil Case No. 0008 of theSandiganbayan. The case was commenced on July 21, 1987by the Presidential Commission on Good Government(PCGG) in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. Thecomplaint which initiated the action was denominated one“for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution anddamages,” and was avowedly filed pursuant to ExecutiveOrder No. 14 of President Corazon C. Aquino. After having been served with summons, Tantoco, Jr.and Santiago, instead of filing their answer, jointly filed a“MOTION TO STRIKE OUT SOME PORTIONS OF THECOMPLAINT AND FOR BILL OF PARTICULARS OFOTHER PORTIONS dated Nov. 3, 1987. 1  The PCGG filedan opposition thereto, 2  and the movants, a reply to theopposition. 3  By order dated January 29, 1988, theSandiganbayan, in order to expedite proceedings andaccommodate the defendants, gave the PCGG forty-five (45)days to expand its complaint to make more specific certainallegations. 4 Tantoco and Santiago then presented a “motion for leaveto file interrogatories under Rule 25 of the Rules of Court”dated February 1, 1988, and “Interrogatories under Rule25. 5  Basically, they sought an answer to the question: “Whowere the Commissioners of the PCGG (aside from itsChairman, Hon. Ramon Diaz, who verified the complaint)who approved or authorized the inclusion of Messrs. Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr. and Dominador R. Santiago asdefendants in the x x case?   6  The PCGG responded by filinga motion dated February 9,1988 to strike out said motionand interrogatories as being impertinent,  ________________  1  Petition, Annex D.  2   Id.,  Annex E. 3  Id., Annex F. 4  Rollo, p. 7. 5  Id., pp. 7, 145. 6  Id., p. 7. 215  VOL. 204, NOVEMBER 21, 1991215 Republic vs. Sandiganbayan “queer,” “weird,” or “procedurally bizarre as the purposethereof lacks merit as it is improper, impertinent andirrelevant under any guise. 7 On March 18,1988, in compliance with the Order of January 29,1988, the PCGG filed an Expanded Complaint. 8  As regards this expanded complaint, Tantoco and Santiagoreiterated their motion for bill of particulars, through aManifestation dated April 11, 1988.9 Afterwards, by Resolution dated July 4,1988, 10  theSandiganbayan denied the motion to strike out, for bill of particulars, and for leave to file interrogatories, holdingthem to be without legal and factual basis. Also denied wasthe PCGG’s motion to strike out impertinent pleading datedFebruary 9,1988. The Sandiganbayan declared inter alia the complaint to be “sufficiently definite and clear enough,”there are adequate allegations x x which clearly portray thesupposed involvement and/or alleged participation of defendants-movants in the transactions described in detailin said Complaint,” and “the other matters sought forparticularization are evidentiary in nature which should beventilated in the pre-trial or trial proper x x.” It also opinedthat (s)ervice of interrogatories before joinder of issue andwithout leave of court is premature x x (absent) any specialor extraordinary circumstances x x which would justify x x(the same). Tantoco and Santiago then filed an Answer withCompulsory Counterclaim under date of July 18, 1988. 11  Inresponse, the PCGG presented a “Reply to Answer withMotion to Dismiss Compulsory Counterclaim. 12  The casewas set for pre-trial on July 31, 1989. 13  On July 25, 1989, thePCGG submitted its PRE-TRIAL BRIEF. 14  The pre-  ________________ 
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