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IN RE JOAQUIN BORROMEO

"It is said that a little learning is a dangerous thing;


and that he who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client."
FACTS: Respondent Joaquin T. Borromeo -- non-lawyer that he is -- has, in the span of 16-year period
(from 1978 to sometime in 1994~5) for some reason ventured to represent himself -- whether
warranted or otherwise -- in numerous original and review proceedings (civil, criminal, and
administrative) with disastrous results. This led him to compose and circulate many scurrilous and
outlandish statements against courts, judges and their employees, as well as his adversaries -- one to his
mind among a substantial number being Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, for whom he dedicated a circular
calling for his (Narvasa's) impeachment for being a "tyrant" -- for which he is now being called to
account.
The Cebu City Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) addressed a letter to the Supreme
Court quoting Borromeo's defamatory remarks against the SC and the judiciary, and strongly urging the
SC to impose the attendant sanctions.
The matter was then docketed as a proceeding for contempt. Borromeo contends, inter alia, that it was
necessary that the Chief Justice and other members of the SC should inhibit "since they cannot be the
accused and judge at the same time."
ISSUE: Should Borromeo be held in contempt of court?
RULING: YES.
Upon the indubitable facts on record, there can scarcely be any doubt of Borromeo's guilt of contempt,
for abuse of and interference with judicial rules and processes, gross disrespect to courts and judges and
improper conduct directly impeding, obstructing and degrading the administration of justice.
Superficial was his other contention that in making the allegations claimed to be contumacious, he "was
exercising his rights of freedom of speech, of expression, and to petition the government for redress of
grievances as guaranteed by the Constitution (Section 4, Article III) and in accordance with the
[Constitutions provisions on the] accountability of public officials." The constitutional rights invoked by
him afford no justification for repetitious litigation of the same causes and issues, for insulting lawyers,
judges, court employees; and other persons, for abusing the processes and rules of the courts, wasting
their time, and bringing them into disrepute and disrespect.
The Supreme Court found it fitting to reiterate certain matters as to the judiciary hence:
1. The judicial system in this jurisdiction allows for several levels of litigation, i.e., the presentation
of evidence by the parties a trial or hearing in the first instance as well as a review of the
judgments of lower courts by higher tribunals, generally by consideration anew and ventilation
of the factual and legal issues through briefs or memoranda. The procedure for review is fixed
by law, and is in the very nature of things, exclusive to the courts.
2. After the procedures and processes for lawsuits have been undergone, and the modes of review
set by law have been exhausted, or terminated, no further ventilation of the same subject

3.

4.

5.

6.

matter is allowed. To be sure, there may be, on the part of the losing parties, continuing
disagreement with the verdict [...] but, it is not their will, but the Court's, which must prevail;
and, to repeat, public policy demands that at some definite time, the issues must be laid to rest
and the court's dispositions thereon accorded absolute finality.
Once the Supreme Court has spoken, there the matter must rest. Its decision should not and
cannot be appealed to or reviewed by any other entity, much less reversed or modified on the
ground that it is tainted by error in its findings of fact or conclusions of law, flawed in its logic or
language, or otherwise erroneous in some other respect.
[S]hould judgments of lower courts which may normally be subject to review by higher
tribunals become final and executory before, or without, exhaustion of all recourse of appeal,
they, too, become inviolable, impervious to modification. They may, then, no longer be
reviewed, or in [any way] modified directly or indirectly, by a higher court, not even by the
Supreme Court, much less by any other official, branch or department of Government.
[N]o other entity or official of the Government, not the prosecution or investigation service or
any other branch; nor any functionary thereof, has competence to review a judicial order or
decision whether final and executory or not and pronounce it erroneous so as to lay the
basis for a criminal or administrative complaint for rendering an unjust judgment or order. That
prerogative belongs to the courts alone.
Judges must be free to judge, without pressure or influence from external forces or factors.
They should not be subject to intimidation, the fear of civil, criminal or administrative sanctions
for acts they may do and dispositions they may make in the performance of their duties and
functions. Hence it is [a] sound rule, which must be recognized independently of statute, that
judges are not generally liable for acts done within the scope of their jurisdiction and in good
faith.