IN RE: TULFO [A.M. NO.

90-4-1545-0; 17 APR 1990]
Sunday, February 08, 2009 Posted by Coffeeholic Writes Labels: Case Digests, Political Law

Facts: In Oct. 13, 1989, Tulfo wrote an article in his column in PDI 'On Target' stating that the Supreme Court rendered an idiotic decision in legalizing checkpoints, and again on Oct. 16, 1989, where he called the Supreme Court stupid and "sangkatutak na mga bobo justices of the Philippine Supreme Court". Tulfo was required to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. Tulfo said that he was just reacting emotionally because he had been a victim of harassment in the checkpoints, and "idiotic" meant illogical and unwise, and "bobo" was just quoted from other attorneys, and since the case had been decided and terminated, there was not contempts. Lastly, the article does not pose any clear and present danger to the Supreme court. Issue: Whether or not Tulfo is in contempt. Held: Yes. At the time Tulfo wrote the article, the checkpoints case had not yet been decided upon, and the Supreme Court was still acting on an MR filed from the CA. The power to punish is inherent as it is essential for self-preservation. Contempt of court is defiance of the authority, justice and dignity of the courts. It brings disrepute to the court. There are two kinds of publications which can be punished for contempt: a. those whose object is to affect the decision in a pending case. b. those whose object is to bring courts to discredit. Tulfo's article constituted both. It should have been okay to criticize if respectful language was used, but if its object is only to degrade and ridicule, then it is clearly an obstruction of justice. Nothing constructive can be gained from them. Being emotional is no excuse for being insulting. Quoting is not an excuse also, because at the end of his article, Tulfo said, "So you bobo justices, watch out!" Also, he said he was not sorry for having written the articles. Tulfo is found in contempt of court and is gravely censured.

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