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Enrique Zaldivar vs Raul Gonzalez

On June 25, 2012 166 SCRA 316 Legal Ethics Contemptuous Language ut! o" a La#!e$ Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gon ales was the then !anodbayan who was investigating the case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supre"e Court a petition for Certiorari# Prohibition and $anda"us assailing the authority of the !anodbayan to investigate graft cases under the %&'( Constitution. !he Supre"e Court# acting on the petition issued a Cease and )esist *rder against Gon ale directing hi" to te"porarily restrain fro" investigating and filing infor"ations against Zaldivar. Gon ales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed cri"inal infor"ations against Zaldivar. Gon ale even had a newspaper interview where he proudly clai"s that he scored one on the Supre"e Court+ that the Supre"e Court,s issuance of the !-* is a "anifestation theta the .$ich an% in"luential pe$sons get "a&o$a'le actions "$om the Sup$eme Cou$t, (#hile) it is %i""icult "o$ an o$%ina$! litigant to get his petition to 'e gi&en %ue cou$se*+ Zaldivar then filed a $otion for Conte"pt against Gon ale . !he Supre"e Court then ordered Gon ale to e/plain his side. Gon ale stated that the state"ents in the newspapers were true+ that he was only e/ercising his freedo" of speech+ that he is entitled to critici e the rulings of the Court# to point out where he feels the Court "ay have lapsed into error. He also said# even attaching notes# that not less than si/ 0ustices of the Supre"e Court have approached hi" to as1 hi" to .go slow2 on Zaldivar and to not e"barrass the Supre"e Court. ISSUE: 3hether or not Gon ale is guilty of conte"pt. HELD: 4es. !he state"ents "ade by respondent Gon ale clearly constitute conte"pt and call for the e/ercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supre"e Court. His state"ents necessarily i"ply that the 0ustices of the Supre"e Court betrayed their oath of office. Such state"ents constitute the grossest 1ind of disrespect for the Supre"e Court. Such state"ents very clearly debase and degrade the Supre"e Court and# through the Court# the entire syste" of ad"inistration of 0ustice in the country. Gon ale is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. 3hat Gon ale see"s unaware of is that freedo" of speech and of e/pression# li1e all constitutional freedo"s# is not absolute and that freedo" of e/pression needs on occasion to be ad0usted to and acco""odated with the require"ents of equally i"portant public interests. *ne of these funda"ental public interests is the "aintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the ad"inistration of 0ustice. !here is no antino"y between free e/pression and the integrity of the syste" of ad"inistering 0ustice. Gon ale # apart fro" being a lawyer and an officer of the court# is also a Special Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the -epublic and to the Supre"e Court as the e"bodi"ent and the repository of the 0udicial power in the govern"ent of the -epublic. !he responsibility of Gon ale to uphold the dignity and authority of the Supre"e Court and not to pro"ote distrust in the ad"inistration of 0ustice is heavier than

that of a private practicing lawyer. Gon ale is also entitled to critici e the rulings of the court but his criticis"s "ust be bona fide. 5n the case at bar# his state"ents# particularly the one where he alleged that "e"bers of the Supre"e Court approached hi"# are of no relation to the Zaldivar case. !he Supre"e Court suspended Gon ale indefinitely fro" the practice of law.