It's worth emphasizing that EXECUTIVE PRIVLEGE covers information and not persons.
The Supreme Court has temporarily restrained the arrest for contempt of Romulo Neri, who is wanted in a Senate investigation in aid of legislation regarding the ZTE Scandal. I have a really bad feeling about this because I've been re-reading Senate versus Ermita, the unanimous Supreme Court decision on President Arroyo's Executive Order No. 464 (2006) . There is Bad News for those in Civil Society and Mass Media that mystifyingly thought that Decision inimical to the interests of the Palace. At the time it was promulgated, I was very alarmed at how the ponente, then newly-appointed Justice Conchita Carpio Morales seemed to be TEACHING the Palace how to craft, invoke and deploy valid claims of Executive Privilege that the Supreme Court would accept and side with. Her eloquent prose and liberal quotations threw a lot of people off. (All in the name of construing all government actions as Constitutional to the extent possible with an India Rubber Man).
My review of the ponencia only reinforces that earlier impression that Senate v. Ermita was really a giant ADVISORY OPINION to her benefactress of how to establish a Rule of Omerta on the entire Executive Department, with the Judiciary's coaching.
The cunning nature of Senate v. Ermita as a piece of jurisprudence should now become obvious as it will have a decisive bearing on the Case of Romulo Neri, Jun Lozada and the entire ZTE Scandal. I believe that President Gloria Arroyo will CORRECTLY invoke the grounds established for her by the Honorable Court upon which to assert the rights of Executive Privilege over the INFORMATION that Romulo Neri and Jun Lozada may have.
By moving to order the arrest for contempt of Romulo Neri and Jun Lozada (suspiciously done by JPE) the Senate has now created a justiciable case that I believe will result in the effective elevation and consecration of the Arroyo Doctrine on Executive Privilege. I quote from EO 464:
Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers covered by this executive order, including:
I think it is quite clear that the Senate will more plainly lose the Argument this time around. In chess, Bobby Fischer called this blunder SWALLOWING THE POISON PAWN.1. Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public official covered by this executive order (Almonte vs. Vasquez G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002);
2. Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not be divulged (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998).
3. Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
4. Discussion in close-door Cabinet meetings (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
5. Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002).
The Senate has swallowed TWO poisoned pawns in Romulo Neri and Jun Lozada.
The sad reality is this. It always depended on Romulo Neri willing to be a Whistleblower. Some say he has been bribed into silence (doubtful) or BLACKMAILED and THREATENED (likely).
Without his possibly self-sacrificial heroism (sometimes called martyrdom) there is only a valid claim of executive privilege to be asserted over the information possessed by Neri and Lozada, and the Senate can twiddle its thumbs till 2010.