SC clarifies ADB immunity scope

THE PHILIPPINE Supreme Court (SC) said immunity from suit, as afforded by the country to Asian Development Bank (ADB) officials, is only limited to their official acts.

In a decision penned by Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, the High Court partially granted a petition for caution from ADB officials who were sued by an applicant for defamatory and damaging statements.

The SC clarified that immunities granted to international personnel, such as ADB officials, only cover their official capacities, known as functional immunity.

It cited a 2022 resolution that held that before applying immunity, “courts must first conduct a factual inquiry to determine if the subject act was done in the performance of official duties.”

International organizations, such as the ADB, enjoy almost if not absolute, immunity to protect their “affairs from political pressure or control by the host country and prevent local courts from exercising jurisdiction over them.”

Personnel of international organizations are accorded with functional immunity to exercise their organization’s functions and fulfill its purposes.

“Immunity does not apply to their private acts, crimes, and those acts contrary to law,” the High Court said. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana