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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. L-363
July 31, 1962
IN RE: DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ATTY. DIOSDADO
Q. GUTIERREZ, respondent.
Victoriano A. Savellano for complaint.
Nestor M. Andrada for respondent.
MAKALINTAL, J.:
Respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine Bar,
admitted to it on October 5, 1945. In criminal case No. R-793 of the Court of
First Instance of Oriental Mindoro he was convicted of the murder of
Filemon Samaco, former municipal mayor of Calapan, and together with his
co-conspirators was sentenced to the penalty of death. Upon review by this
Court the judgment of conviction was affirmed on June 30, 1956 (G.R. No.
L-17101), but the penalty was changed to reclusion perpetua. After serving a
portion of the sentence respondent was granted a conditional pardon by the
President on August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of the prison term was
remitted "on condition that he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of
the Philippines."
On October 9, 1958 the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco, victim in
the murder case, filed a verified complaint before this Court praying that
respondent be removed from the roll of lawyers pursuant to Rule 127, section
5. Respondent presented his answer in due time, admitting the facts alleged
by complainant regarding pardon in defense, on the authority of the decision
of this Court in the case of In re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.
Under section 5 of Rule 127, a member of the bar may be removed
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court by reason of his
conviction of a crime insolving moral turpitude. Murder is, without doubt,
such a crime. The term "moral turpitude" includes everything which is done
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals. In re Carlos S. Basa, 41
Phil. 275. As used in disbarment statutes, it means an act of baseness,
vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to
his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted rule of right
and duty between man and man. State ex rel. Conklin v. Buckingham, 84 P.
2nd 49; 5 Am. Jur. Sec. 279. pp. 428-429.
The only question to be resolved is whether or not the conditional pardon
extended to respondent places him beyond the scope of the rule on
disbarment aforecited. Reliance is placed by him squarely on the Lontok
case. The respondent therein was convicted of bigamy and thereafter

pardoned by the Governor-General. In a subsequent viction, this Court


decided in his favor and held: "When proceedings to strike an attorney's
name from the rolls the fact of a conviction for a felony ground for
disbarment, it has been held that a pardon operates to wipe out the conviction
and is a bar to any proceeding for the disbarment of the attorney after the
pardon has been granted."
It is our view that the ruling does not govern the question now before us. In
making it the Court proceeded on the assumption that the pardon granted to
respondent Lontok was absolute. This is implicit in the ratio
decidendi(rationale decision) of the case, particularly in the citations to
support it, namely. In Re Emmons, 29 Cal. App. 121; Scott vs. State, 6 Tex.
Civ. App. 343; and Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 380. Thus in Scott vs. State the
court said:
We are of opinion that after received an unconditional pardon the record of
the felony conviction could no longer be used as a basis for the proceeding
provided for in article 226. The record, when offered in evidence, was met
with an unconditional pardon, and could not, therefore, properly be said to
afford "proof of a conviction of any felony." Having been thus cancelled, all
its force as a felony conviction was taken away. A pardon falling short of this
would not be a pardon, according to the judicial construction which that act
of executive grace was received. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 344; Knote v.
U.S., 95 U.S. 149, and cases there cited; Young v. Young, 61 Tex. 191.
And the portion of the decision in Ex parte Garland quoted with approval in
the Lontok case is as follows:
A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt
of the offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment and
blots out the existence of guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as
innocent as if he had never committed the offense. It granted before
conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, consequent upon
conviction, from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the
penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights it makes him,
as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.
The pardon granted to respondent here is not absolute but conditional, and
merely remitted the unexecuted portion of his term. It does not reach the
offense itself, unlike that in Ex parte Garland, which was "a full pardon and
amnesty for all offense by him committed in connection with rebellion (civil
war) against government of the United States."
The foregoing considerations rendered In re Lontok are inapplicable here.
Respondent Gutierrez must be judged upon the fact of his conviction for
murder without regard to the pardon he invokes in defense. The crime was
qualified by treachery and aggravated by its having been committed in hand,
by taking advantage of his official position (respondent being municipal

mayor at the time) and with the use of motor vehicle. People vs. Diosdado
Gutierrez, supra. The degree of moral turpitude involved is such as to justify
his being purged from the profession.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to
certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a
candidate to the bar the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic
preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character.
These standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the
lawyer must continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or
removal. As stated in Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552, 556: "Of
all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the
laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to
repudiate and override the laws, to trample them under foot and to ignore the
very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a
pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body
politic.
WHEREFORE, pursuant to Rule 127, Section 5, and considering the nature
of the crime for which respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez has been convicted,
he is ordered disbarred and his name stricken from the roll of lawyers.
Bengzon, C.J., Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and Regala,
JJ., concur.
Padilla, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M.
GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman
under the 1987 Constitution, respondents.
G.R. No. 80578 October 7, 1988
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
vs.
HON. RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as TanodbayanOmbudsman ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondent.
PER CURIAM:
The following are the subjects of this Resolution:
1) a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner
Enrique A. Zaldivar against public respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly
Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707
and G.R. No. 80578. and 2) a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988
requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to show cause why he should not
be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for
making certain public statements.
I
The pertinent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal Cases Nos.
12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act) pending before the Sandiganbayan. The Office of the
Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary investigation and filed the criminal
informations in those cases (originally TBP Case No. 86-00778).
On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for
Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus (G.R. Nos. 79690-707) naming as
respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez. Among
other things, petitioner assailed: (1) the 5 February 1987 Resolution 1 of the
"Tanodbayan" recommending the filing of criminal informations against
petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in TBP Case No. 86-00778; and (2)
the 1 September 1987 Resolution 2 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases
Nos. 12159-12161 and 1216312177 denying his Motion to Quash the
criminal informations filed in those cases by the "Tanodbayan." In this
respect, petitioner alleged that respondent Gonzalez, as Tanodbayan and

under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with
power and authority independently to investigate and to institute criminal
cases for graft and corruption against public officials and employees, and
hence that the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and
12163-12177 were all null and void.
On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which read:
G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. The Honorable
Sandiganbayan and Honorable Raul M. Gonzalez, Claiming To Be and
Acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution ).Acting
on the special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with urgent motion for preliminary
elimination injunction, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the
petition, to require the respondents to COMMENT thereon, within ten (10)
days from notice.
The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
ORDER, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this
Court, ordering respondent Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST from
hearing and trying Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 to 12177
insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is concerned and from hearing and
resolving the Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend dated September 3,
1987.
The parties later filed their respective pleadings.
Petitioner Zaldivar filed with this Court a second Petition for certiorari and
Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19 November 1987, initially naming only
Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as respondent. That Petition assailed the 24
September 1987 Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 8701304 recommending that additional criminal charges for graft and
corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other individuals.
Once again, petitioner raised the argument of the Tanodbayan's lack of
authority under the 1987 Constitution to file such criminal cases and to
investigate the same. Petitioner also moved for the consolidation of that
petition with G.R. No. 79690-707.
In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving due
course to the second petition: (1) required respondent Gonzalez to submit a
comment thereon: and (2) issued a temporary restraining order "ordering
respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further
acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 ... and particularly, from filing the criminal
information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary
investigation therein." In a separate resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos.
79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578 were ordered consolidated by the Court.
In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days prior to
issuance by this Court of a temporary restraining order in G.R. No. 80578,

the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal Case No. 12570 6 with the
Sandiganbayan which issued on 23 November 1987 an Order of Arrest 7 for
petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in Criminal Case No. 12570. Upon
Motion 8 of petitioner Zaldivar, this Court issued the following Resolution
on 8 December 1987:
G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and
Sandiganbayan). The motion filed by the Solicitor General for respondents
for an extension of thirty (30) days from the expiration of the original period
within which to file comment on the petition for certiorari and prohibition
with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or restraining order is
GRANTED.
Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat the Sandiganbayan as partyrespondent, the Court Resolved to (a) Consider IMPLEADED the
Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In pursuance of and
supplementing the Temporary Restraining Order of November 24, 1987
"ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from
further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01304 entitled, "Commission on Audit vs.
Gov. Enrique Zaldivar, et al." and particularly, from filing the criminal
information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary
investigation therein" ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court,
ordering respondents Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to CEASE
and DESIST from further acting in Criminal Case No. 12570, entitled,
"People of the Philippines vs. Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al." and from enforcing
the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan in said case.
The Solicitor General filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No. 80578,
and we required the petitioner to submit a Reply 10 thereto.
On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion to Cite
in Contempt 11 directed at respondent Gonzalez. The Motion cited as bases
the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the
information against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the
Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous statements to
the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the
latter, petitioner annexed to his Motion a photocopy of a news article,
reproduced here in toto, which appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of
the "Philippine Daily Globe:"
Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case
TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said yesterday the Supreme Court
order stopping him from investigating graft cases involving Antique Gov.
Enrique Zaldivar can aggravate the thought that affluent persons "an prevent
the progress of a trial."

What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the order) is that it appears that
while rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the Supreme
Court, it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due
course. Gonzalez told the Daily Globe in an exclusive interview.
Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order '"eightens the people's apprehension
over the justice system in this country, especially because the people have
been thinking that only the small fly can get it while big fishes go scot-free."
Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the tribunal last week after
Zaldivar petitioned the court to stop the Tanodbayan from investigating graft
cases filed against him.
Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased in his investigations because
the latter wanted to help promote the political fortunes of a friend from
Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan.
Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court stopped Gonzalez from
investigating a graft charge against the governor, and from instituting any
complaint with the Sandiganbayan.
While President Aquino had been prodding me to prosecute graft cases even
if they involve the high and mighty, the Supreme Court had been restraining
me. Gonzalez said.
In accordance with the President's order, Gonzalez said he had filed graft
cases against two "very powerful" officials of the Aquino governmentCommissioner Quintin Doromal of the Presidential Commission on Good
Government and Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dianlan of the Office of Muslim
Affairs and Cultural Communities.
While I don't wish to discuss the merits of the Zaldivar petition before the
Supreme Court, I am a little bit disturbed that (the order) can aggravate the
thinking of some people that affluent persons can prevent the progress of a
trial, he said.
He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief Executive over the weekend
and that while she symphatizes with local officials who are charged in court
during election time, 'She said that it might be a disservice to the people and
the voters who are entitled to know their candidates.
Gonzalez said that while some cases filed against local officials during
election time could be mere harassment suits, the Constitution makes it a
right of every citizen to be informed of the character of tile candidate, who
should be subject to scrutiny. (Emphasis supplied)
Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16 February
1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to COMMENT on aforesaid Motion
within ten (10) days from notice." 12 On 27 April 1988, the Court rendered
its Decision 13 (per curiam) in the Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive
portion thereof read:
WHEREFORE, We hereby:

(1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby
NULLIFY the criminal informations filed against him in the Sandiganbayan;
and
(2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting
investigations and filing criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise
exercising the powers and functions of the Ombudsman.
SO ORDERED.
A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez the next
day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent Gonzalez, after having argued
the legal merits of his position, made the following statements totally
unrelated to any legal issue raised either in the Court's Decision or in his own
Motion:
1. That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a leading member of the court ...
and he was asked to 'go slow on Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him;' "
2. That he "was approached and asked to refrain from investigating the COA
report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme Court because 'it will
embarass the Court;" and
3. That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned respondent was called over
the phone by a leading member of the Court and was asked to dismiss the
cases against (two Members of the Court)."
Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten notes 15 which he
claimed were sent by "some members of this Honorable Court, interceeding
for cases pending before this office (i.e., the Tanodbayan)." He either
released his Motion for Reconsideration with facsimiles of said notes to the
press or repeated to the press the above extraneous statements: the
metropolitan papers for the next several days carried long reports on those
statements and variations and embellishments thereof On 2 May 1988, the
Court issued the following Resolution in the Consolidated Petitions:
G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al.
G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez, etc).
1. Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Gonzalez
under date of April 28, 1988, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE the petitioner
to COMMENT thereon within ten (10) days from notice hereof.
2. It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez has made public statements
to the media which not only deal with matters subjudice but also appear
offensive to and disrespectful of the Court and its individual members and
calculated, directly or indirectly, to bring the Court into disrepute, discredit
and ridicule and to denigrate and degrade the administration of justice, the
Court Resolved to require respondent Gonzalez to explain in writing within
ten (10) days from notice hereof, why he should not be punished for
contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making
such public statements reported in the media, among others, in the issues of

the "Daily Inquirer," the "Journal," the "Manila Times," the "Philippine Star,"
the "Manila Chronicle" the "Daily Globe" and the "Manila Standard" of April
29 and 30, and May 1, 1988, to wit:
(a) That the Court resolution in question is merely "an offshoot of the
position he had taken that the SC Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or
investigation by government prosecutors or motivated by a desire to stop him
'from investigating cases against some of their proteges or friends;"
(b) That no less than six of the members of the Court "interceded for and on
behalf of persons with pending cases before the Tanodbayan," or sought "to
pressure him to render decisions favorable to their colleagues and friends;"
(c) That attempts were made to influence him to go slow on Zaldivar and not
to be too hard on him and to refrain from investigating the Commission on
Audit report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme Court because it will
embarass the Court;
(d) That there were also attempts to cause the dismissal of cases against two
Associate Justices; and
(e) That the Court had dismissed judges' without rhyme or reason' and
disbarred lawyers 'without due process.
3. It further appearing that three (3) affidavits relative to the purpose of and
circumstances attendant upon the notes written to said public respondent by
three (3) members of the Court have since been submitted to the Court and
now form part of its official records, the Court further Resolved to require
the Clerk of Court to ATTACH to this Resolution copies of said sworn
statements and the annexes thereto appended, and to DIRECT respondent
Gonzalez also to comment thereon within the same period of ten (10) days.
4. It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution of February 16, 1988
addressed to respondent Gonzalez was misdelivered and therefore not served
on him, the Court Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to CAUSE
SERVICE of said Resolution on the respondent and to REQUIRE the latter to
comply therewith.
Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May 1988 an
Omnibus Motion for Extension and Inhibition 16 alleging, among other
things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of the Court "appears to
have overturned that presumption [of innocence] against him:" and that "he
gravely doubts whether that 'cold neutrality [of an impartial judge] is still
available to him" there being allegedly "at least 4 members of this Tribunal
who will not be able to sit in judgment with substantial sobriety and
neutrality." Respondent Gonzalez closed out his pleading with a prayer that
the four (4) Members of the Court Identified and referred to there by him
inhibit themselves in the deliberation and resolution of the Motion to Cite in
Contempt.

On 19 May 1988 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion for


Reconsideration. 18 this Court in an extended per
curiam Resolution 19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for
Reconsideration. That denial was made "final and immediately executory.
Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of record:
1. Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to Inhibition 20 dated 23 May
1988;
2. Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedures to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines21 dated 20 May 1988
3. Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File Explanation Ex
Abundante Cautelam, 22 dated 26 May 1988;
4. Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion
(a) For Extension of Time
(b) For Inhibition and
(c) For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to the IBP, Under Rule 139B 23 dated 4 June 1988 (with Annex "A;" 24 an anonymous letter dated 27
May 1988 from the alleged Concerned Employees of the Supreme Court and
addressed to respondent):
5. Ex-Parte Manifestation 25 dated 7 June 1988;
6. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration 26 1988; and
7. Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with Motion 27 member 1988.
In compliance with the 2 May 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted earlier,
respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17 June 1988 an Answer with Explanation
and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal arguments and defenses against
the contempt and disciplinary charges presently pending before this Court.
Attached to that pleading as Annex "A" thereof was respondent's own
personal Explanation/Compliance 29second explanation called
"Compliance," 30 with annexes, was also submitted by respondent on 22 July
1988.
II
We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline
officers of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme Court, as
regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary disciplinary
authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the
Court's constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law,
which includes as well authority to regulate the practice itself of
law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the disciplinary
authority of the Supreme Court over members of the Bar is an inherent power
incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly
discharge of judicial functions. 32 Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent
power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of justice the
conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other

persons connected in any manner with a case before the Court. 33 The power
to punish for contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an
improper interference with the due administration of justice," "(it) is not
dependent upon the complaint of any of the parties litigant. 34
There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play in
cases like that before us here; the Court's inherent power to discipline
attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court
over members of the Bar is broader than the power to punish for contempt.
Contempt of court may be committee both by lawyers and non-lawyers, both
in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the
contumacious conduct also constitutes professional misconduct which calls
into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. 35 Where the
respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary authority
over lawyers may come into play whether or not the misconduct with which
the respondent is charged also constitutes contempt of court. The power to
punish for contempt of court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary
authority of the Court over lawyers. 36 The disciplinary authority of the
Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive
power of admission to the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also
an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and
responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act
on his part which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade
the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling
for the exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct
warranting application of the contempt power.
It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish for
contempt or of the disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the
Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor and arbiter at one and
the same time. Thus, in the present case, respondent Gonzalez first sought to
get some members of the Court to inhibit themselves in the resolution of this
case for alleged bias and prejudice against him. A little later, he in effect
asked the whole Court to inhibit itself from passing upon the issues involved
in this proceeding and to pass on responsibility for this matter to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground that respondent cannot
expect due process from this Court, that the Court has become incapable of
judging him impartially and fairly. Respondent Gonzalez misconceives the
nature of the proceeding at bar as well as the function of the members of the
Court in such proceeding.
Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re
Almacen, 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred Fruiz Castro had
occasion to deal with this contention in the following lucid manner:
xxx xxx xxx

It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in


the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have it appear, the members of the
Court are the 'complainants, prosecutors and judges' all rolled up into one in
this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not
only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but also of our role therein.
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the
present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this
proceeding is notand does not involvea trial of an action or a suit, but is
rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being
intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution.
Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be
initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective,
and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a
fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to
account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of
preserving the purity of the legal profession and the property and honest
administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their
misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with
the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such
posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a
prosecutor.
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved
parties. Any tirade against the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably
as much so against the individual members thereof But in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the
individual personalities of its members. Consistently with the intrinsic nature
of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but
only as a duly constituted court. The distinct individualities are lost in the
majesty of their office. So that, in a very real sense, if there be any
complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the
individual members thereofas well as the people themselveswhose rights,
fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at grave hazard
should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar
of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership in the
legal fraternity.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a
necessary incident of the power to admit persons to said practice. By
constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This
duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce
jurisdiction legally invested upon it. So that even if it be conceded that the
members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does

not and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of the power because public
policy demands that they, acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases
which call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the
imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of the personalities of
complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely inexistent.
xxx xxx xxx. 38
It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to
disclaim any bias or prejudice against the respondent that would prevent
them from acting in accordance with the exacting requirements of their oaths
of office. It also appears to the Court that for all the members to inhibit
themselves from sitting on this case is to abdicate the responsibility with
which the Constitution has burdened them. Reference of complaints against
attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor
General is not mandatory upon the Supreme Court; such reference to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not
an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules
of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the
Supreme Court. There is no need for further investigation of facts in the
present case for it is not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that
he uttered or wrote certain statements attributed to him. In any case,
respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his defense; his
defense is not that he did not make the statements ascribed to him but that
those statements give rise to no liability on his part, having been made in the
exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved
here are issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other
agency, is compelled to resolve such issues.
III
It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Gonzalez was
saying in his statements set out above. Respondent has not denied making the
above statements; indeed, he acknowledges that the newspaper reports of the
statements attributed to him are substantially correct. 39
Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme Court
deliberately rendered an erroneous or wrong decision when it rendered its per
curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578.
That decision according to respondent Gonzalez, was issued as an act of
retaliation by the Court against him for the position he had taken "that the
(Supreme Court) Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation
by government prosecutors," and in order to stop respondent from
investigating against "some of (the) proteges or friends (of some Supreme
Court Justices)." The Court cannot, of course, and will not debate the
correctness of its Decision of 27 April 1988 and of its Resolution dated 19
May 1988 (denying respondent Gonzalez Motion for Reconsideration) in the

consolidated Zaldivar cases. Respondent Gonzalez, and anyone else for that
matter, is free intellectually to accept or not to accept the reasoning of the
Court set out in its per curiam Decision and Resolution in the consolidated
Zaldivar cases. This should not, however, obscure the seriousness of the
assault thus undertaken by respondent against the Court and the appalling
implications of such assault for the integrity of the system of administration
of justice in our country. Respondent has said that the Court rendered its
Decision and Resolution without regard to the legal merits of the Zaldivar
cases and had used the judicial process to impose private punishment upon
respondent for positions he had taken (unrelated to the Zaldivar cases) in
carrying out his duties. It is very difficult to imagine a more serious affront
to, or a greater outrage upon, the honour and dignity of this Court than this.
Respondent's statement is also totally baseless. Respondent's statements were
made in complete disregard of the fact that his continuing authority to act
as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution,
had been questioned before this Court as early as 10 September 1987 in the
Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus filed against him in these
consolidated Petitions 40 that is, more than seven (7) months before the
Court rendered its Decision. Respondent also ignores the fact that one day
later, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately
ordering the Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the criminal
cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez. Respondent
also disregards the fact that on 24 November 1987, upon the filing of a
second Petition for certiorari for Prohibition by Mr. Zaldivar, the Court
issued a Temporary Restraining Order this time requiring the respondent to
cease and desist from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-0934. Thus, the
decision finally reached by this Court in April 1988 on the constitutional law
issue pending before the Court for the preceding eight (8) months, could
scarcely have been invented as a reprisal simply against respondent.
A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members of the
Supreme Court is that they have improperly Id pressured" him to render
decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends," including dismissal of
"cases" against two (2) members of the Court. This particularly deplorable
charge too is entirely baseless, as even a cursory examination of the contents
of the handwritten notes of three (3) members of this Court addressed to
respondent (which respondent attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of
the Decision of this Court of 27 April 1988 in the consolidated Petitions) win
show. It is clear, and respondent Gonzalez does not pretend otherwise, that
the subject matters of the said notes had no relation at all to the issues in G.R.
Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. This charge appears to have been made in order
to try to impart some substance (at least in the mind of respondent) to the
first accusation made by respondent that the Court had deliberately rendered

a wrong decision to get even with respondent who had, with great fortitude,
resisted "pressure" from some members of the Court. Once again, in total
effect, the statements made by respondent appear designed to cast the Court
into gross disrepute, and to cause among the general public scorn for and
distrust in the Supreme Court and, more generally, the judicial institutions of
the Republic.
Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing him
from prosecuting "rich and powerful persons," that the Court was in effect
discrimination between the rich and powerful on the one hand and the poor
and defenseless upon the other, and allowing "rich and powerful" accused
persons to go "scot-free" while presumably allowing or affirming the
conviction of poor and small offenders. This accusation can only be regarded
as calculated to present the Court in an extremely bad light. It may be seen as
intended to foment hatred against the Supreme Court; it is also suggestive of
the divisive tactics of revolutionary class war.
Respondent, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly "dismissed
judges 'without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due
process.'" The Court notes that this last attack is not without relation to the
other statements made by respondent against the Court. The total picture that
respondent clearly was trying to paint of the Court is that of an "unjudicial"
institution able and willing to render "clearly erroneous" decisions by way of
reprisal against its critics, as a body that acts arbitrarily and capriciously
denying judges and lawyers due process of law. Once again, the purport of
respondent's attack against the Court as an institution unworthy of the
people's faith and trust, is unmistakable. Had respondent undertaken to
examine the records 'of the two (2) judges and the attorney he later Identified
in one of his Explanations, he would have discovered that the respondents in
those administrative cases had ample opportunity to explain their side and
submit evidence in support thereof. 41 He would have also found that there
were both strong reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary
measures there administered by the Court in the continuing effort to
strengthen the judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is
appropriate to recall in this connection that due process as a constitutional
precept does not, always and in all situations, require the trial-type
proceeding, 42 that the essence of due process is to be found in the
reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence one may have
in support of one's defense. 43 "To be heard" does not only mean verbal
arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where
opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is
accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. 44
As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to explain
why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to

administrative discipline for making the statements adverted to above. In his


subsequent pleadings where he asked the full Court to inhibit itself and to
transfer the administrative proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, respondent made, among others, the following allegations:
(a) That the Members of the Court "should inhibit [themselves] in the
contempt and administrative charges against the respondent, in the light of
the manifest prejudice and anger they hold against respondent as shown in
the language of the resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration;"
(b) That "the entire membership of the court has already lost that 'cold
neutrality of an impartial judge' [to] be able to allow fairness and due process
in the contempt citation as well as in the possible administrative charge;
(c) That "respondent honestly feels that this court as angry and prejudiced as
it is, respondent has no china man's chance to get fair hearing in the contempt
and possible administrative charges;"
(d) That one must consider "the milieu before this Tribunal with, perhaps
passion and obfuscation running riot;"
(e) That respondent, "after having been castigated with such venom by the
entire Court in its decision denying the Motion for Reconsideration, does not
have confidence in the impartiality of the entire Court" and that he "funds it
extremely difficult to believe that the members of this Tribunal can still act
with unbiased demeanor towards him;" and
(f) That "the Tribunal is determined to disbar [respondent] without due
process" and that a specified Member of the Court "has been tasked to be
the ponente, or at least prepare the decision." (Underscoring in the original)
Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements earlier
made, respondent sought to heap still more opprobrium upon the Court,
accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and statements justly and
according to law. Once again, he paints this Court as a body not only capable
of acting without regard to due process but indeed determined so to act. A
grand design to hold up this Court to public scorn and disrespect as an
unworthy tribunal, one obfuscated by passion and anger at respondent,
emerges once more. It is very difficult for members of this Court to
understand how respondent Gonzalez could suppose that judges on the
highest tribunal of the land would be ready and willing to violate their most
solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined private feelings aroused
by respondent. The universe of the Court revolves around the daily demands
of law and justice and duty, not around respondent nor any other person or
group of persons.
Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may reasonably
be regarded by this Court as contumacious or as warranting exercise of the
disciplinary authority of this Court over members of the Bar, may best be
assayed by examining samples of the kinds of statements which have been

held in our jurisdiction as constituting contempt or otherwise warranting the


exercise of the Court's authority.
1. In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirico del Mar as counsel for Montecillo,
who was accused in a slander case, moved to reconsider a decision of the
Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a veiled threat that he
should interpose his next appeal to the President of the Philippines. In his
Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to the provisions of the Revised
Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an unjust judgment," and "judgment
rendered through negligence" and implied that the Court of Appeals had
allowed itself to be deceived. Atty. del Mar was held guilty of contempt of
court by the Court of Appeals. He then sued the three (3) justices of the Court
of Appeals for damages before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, seeking to
hold them liable for their decision in the appealed slander case. This suit was
terminated, however, by compromise agreement after Atty. del Mar
apologized to the Court of Appeals and the justices concerned and agreed to
pay moral damages to the justices. Atty. del Mar some time later filed with
this Court a Petition for Review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of
Appeals in a slander case. This Court denied the Petition for Review. Atty.
del Mar then filed a Motion for Reconsideration and addressed a letter to the
Clerk of the Supreme Court asking for the names of the justices of this Court
who had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion for
Reconsideration. After his Motion for Reconsideration was denied for lack of
merit, Atty. del Mar filed a Manifestation in this Court saying:
I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished me
with certified true copies of the last two Resolutions of the Supreme Court
confirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case entitled Francisco
M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the Justices
supporting the same, civil and criminal suits as I did to the Justices of the
Court of Appeals who, rewarding the abhorent falsification committed by Mr.
Gica,reversed for him the decisions of the City Court and the Court of First
Instance of Cebu,not with a view to obtaining a favorable judgment therein
but for the purpose of exposing to the people the corroding evils extant in our
Government, so that they may well know them and work for their
extermination. (60 SCRA at 240;emphasis supplied)
Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively dealt
with for making the above statements. In his additional explanation, Atty. del
Mar made the following statements:
... Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in and outside of the
Government. It is this state of things that convinced me that all human efforts
to correct and/or reform the said evils will be fruitless and, as stated in my
manifestation to you, I have already decided to retire from a life of militancy

to a life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling up deficiencies. (60 SCRA at


242)
The Court suspended Atty. del Mar, "until further orders," from the practice
of law saying:
... Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, corruption
and injustice allegedly rampant in and outside of the government as
justification for his contemptuous statements. In other words, he already
assumed by his own contemptuous utterances that because there is an alleged
existence of rampant corruption, graft and injustice in and out of the
government, We, by Our act in G.R. No. L-36800, are among the corrupt, the
grafters and those allegedly committing injustice. We are at a complete loss
to follow respondent del Mar's logic ...
xxx xxx xxx
To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that second
only to the duty of maintaining allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines
and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines, is the
duty of all attorneys to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of
justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule 138, Rules of Court). But We
do remind them of said duty to emphasize to their younger brethren its
paramount importance. A lawyer must always remember that he is an officer
of the court exercising a high privilege and serving in the noble mission of
administering justice.
xxx xxx xxx.
As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A G.R. No.
46504-R was based on its evaluation of the evidence on only one specific
issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L-36800 the petition for review on
certiorari of the decision because We found no reason for disturbing the
appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both instances, both the Court of
Appeals and this Court exercised judicial discretion in a case under their
respective jurisdiction. The intemperate and imprudent act of respondent del
Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both Courts reconsider their
respective stand in the decision and the resolution that spelled disaster for his
client cannot be anything but pure contumely for aid tribunals.
It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant respect for the two highest
Court of the land when on the flimsy ground of alleged error in deciding a
case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts by claiming that
they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that they
acted with intent and malice, if not with gross ignorance of the law, in
disposing of the case of his client.
xxx xxx xxx
... To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the future will
choose to enter this profession, We wish to point to this case as a reminder

for them to imprint in their hearts and minds that an attorney owes it to
himself to respect the courts of justice and its officers as a fealty for the
stability of our democratic institutions. (60 SCRA at 242-247: emphasis
supplied)
2. In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4) members of
the bar, acting as counsel for MacArthur International Minerals Company
were required by this Court to explain certain statements made in
MacArthur's third Motion for Reconsideration:
d. ...; and I the Supreme Court I has overlooked the applicable law due to the
mis-representation and obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last sentence,
par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968).
e. ... Never has any civilized democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick
(referring to the "right to reject any and all bids") can be used by vulturous
executives to cover up and excuse losses to the public, a government agency
or just plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light of our upbringing and
schooling, even under many of the incumbent justices, that the Honorable
Supreme Court intends to create a decision that in effect does precisely that
in a most absolute manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for
Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). (31 SCRA at 6)
They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion to
Inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking
Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to
inhibit themselves from considering, judging and resolving the case or any
issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion charges
"It that the brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vicepresident of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the false,
erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the exparte preliminary injunction rendered in the above-entitled case, the latter in
effect prejudging and predetermining this case even before the joining of an
issue. As to the Chief Justice, the motion states [t]hat the son of the
Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion was given a significant
appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a short time
before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered in this case. The
appointment referred to was as secretary of the newly-created Board of
Investments. The motion presents a lengthy discourse on judicial ethics, and
makes a number of side comments projecting what is claimed to be the patent
wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It enumerates "incidents" which,
according to the motion, brought about respondent MacArthur's belief that
unjudicial prejudice had been caused it and that there was 'unjudicial
favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners, their appointing authority and a favored
party directly benefited by the said decision
(31 SCRA at 6-7)

Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for MacArthur and
filed a fourth Motion for Reconsideration without leave of court, which
Motion contained the following paragraphs:
4. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable Chief
Justice Roberto Concepcion when in fact he was outside the borders of the
Republic of the Philippines at the time of the Oral Argument of the aboveentitled casewhich condition is prohibited by the New Rules of Court
Section 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; who may take part... . Only
those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will
take part in its consideration and adjudication ... ." This requirement is
especially significant in the present instance because the member who
penned the decision was the very member who was absent for approximately
four months or more. This provision also applies to the Honorable Justices
Claudio Teehankee and Antonio Barredo.
xxx xxx xxx
6. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company
abandons its quest for justice in the Judiciary of the Philippine Government,
it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of Philippine
Government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required by the Nickel
Law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel deposits, to the World
Court on grounds of deprivation of justice and confiscation of property
and/or to the United States Government, either its executive or judicial
branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation of respondent's proprietary
vested rights by the Philippine Government without either compensation or
due process of law and invoking the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the
cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the
sugar price premium, amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually,
until restitution or compensation is made.
(31 SCRA at 10-11)
Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking through Mr.
Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys guilty of contempt:
1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for
reconsideration, we, indeed, find language that is not to be expected of an
officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as 'vulturous executives.' He
speaks of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,' but by innuendo
would suggest that it is not.
In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July
31, 1968 as 'false, erroneous and illegal' in a presumptuous manner. He then
charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this case
prejudiced and predetermined the case even before the joining of an issue. He
accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for being interested in
the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his

brother is the vice president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary
of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, whose son was
appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, 'a significant
appointment in the Philippine Government by the President, a short time
before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered.' In this backdrop, he
proceeds to state that 'it would seem that the principles thus established [the
moral and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial authority by the
Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to itself.' He puts forth the claim
that lesser and further removed conditions have been known to create
favoritism, only to conclude that there is no reason for a belief that the
conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and Justice Castro would
be less likely to engender favoritism and prejudice for or against a particular
cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice and Justice
Castro are insensible to delicadeza, which could make their actuation
suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice and Justice
Castro not only were not free from the appearance of impropriety but did
arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their judgment. He points
out that courts must be above suspicion at all times like Ceasar's wife, warns
that loss of confidence for the Tribunal or a member thereof should not be
allowed to happen in our country, 'although the process has already begun.
xxx xxx xxx
What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in
fact and in law.The slur made is not limited to the Chief Justice and Mr.
Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For,
inhibition is also asked if, we repeated any other justices who have received
favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or any
members of any board-petitioner or their agents or principals, including the
president.'The absurdity of this posture is at once apparent. For one thing, the
justices of this Court are appointed by the President and in that sense may be
considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should these
justices inhibit themselves every time a case involving the Administration
crops up? Such a thought may not certainly be entertained. The consequence
thereof would be to paralyze the machinery of this Court. We would in fact,
be wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government operating in this
country. Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the unfounded
charge? There is the not too-well concealed effort on the part of a losing
litigant's attorney to downgrade this Court.
The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to
discern. Such disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a court of justice.
Decidedly not an expression of faith, counsel's words are intended to create
an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief.
xxx xxx xxx

The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to
lawyers. and yet, this Court finds in the language of Atty. Santiago a style
that undermines and degrades the administration of justice. The stricture in
Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules against improper conduct tending to
degrade the administration of justice is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is
guilty of contempt of court.
xxx xxx xxx
Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World
Court and/or the United States government. It must be remembered that
respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision of
this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were in
ejected. More specifically, the motion announced that McArthur 'will
inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of the Philippine government
officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court' and would
invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and
benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium,
amount to more than fifty million dollars annually ...
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the blind of this Court to decide
the case' in its favor. A notice of appeal to the World Court has even been
embodied in Meads return. There is a gross inconsistency between the appeal
and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a decision
presupposes that a party has already abandoned any move to reconsider that
decision. And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is being
dangled as a threat to effect a change of the decision of this Court. Such act
has no aboveboard explanation.
xxx xxx xxx
The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where
infraction of ethics meets with complacency rather than punishment. The
people should not be given cause to break faith with the belief that a judge is
the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court of justice
should not yield to the assaults of disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to
think, is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a cause
before a court of justice. (31 SCRA at 13-23; emphasis supplied)
3. In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in protest against
what he asserted was "a great injustice committed against his client by the
Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title.
He alleged that his client was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust
judgment," and had become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of
hypocrisy," saying that "justice as administered by the present members of
the Supreme Court [was) not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." Atty.
Almacen vowed to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum" so
that "the people may know of this silent injustice committed by this Court'

and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed
[may] never be repeated." Atty. Almacen released to the press the contents of
his Petition and on 26 September 1967, the "Manila Times" published
statements attributed to him as follows:
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did not expose
the tribunal's'unconstitutional and obnoxious' practice of arbitrarily denying
petitions or appeals without any reason.
Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' Almacen deplored, his client was
condemned to pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case.
xxx xxx xxx
There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this
petition, 'where our Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to
our pleas of justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable
decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.'
xxx xxx xxx
He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns
his living, the present members of the Supreme Court 'will become
responsible to all cases brought to its attention without discrimination, and
will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit' or
"denied resolutions. (31 SCRA at 565566; emphasis supplied)
Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why disciplinary
action should not be taken against him. His explanation, which in part read:
xxx xxx xxx
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in paintings that can be found in all
courts and government offices. We have added only two more symbols,
that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court
has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding,
sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspire of our beggings,
supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeals has been
DENIED, not one word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect
or ailment in the above statement. We only described the impersonal state of
Things and nothing more.
xxx xxx xxx
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of
this Court and for which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's
certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be
regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice,
then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self- sacrifice. If we
have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the
members of the Court but disregard our Constitution and to uphold the
Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there is no
choice, we must uphold the latter. (31 SCRA at 572; emphasis supplied)

was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected. The
Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from the practice of law holding,
through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had exceeded the
boundaries of "fair criticism."
4. In Paragas V. Cruz, 47 Counsel, whose Petition for Ceriorari ran was
dismissed by this Court, made the following statements in his Motion for
Reconsideration:
The petitioner respectfully prays for a reconsideration of the resolution of
this Honorable Court dated April 20,1966 on the ground that it constitutes a
violation of Section 14 of Rule 11 2 of the Rules of Court promulgated by
this very Hon. Supreme Court, and on the further ground that it is likewise a
violation of the most important right in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution
of the Philippines, a culpable violation which is a ground for impeachment.
... The rule of law in a democracy should always be upheld and protected by
all means, because the rule of law creates and preserves peace and order and
gives satisfaction and contentment to all concerned. But when the laws and
the rules are violated, the victims resort, sometimes, to armed force and to
the ways of the cavemen We do not want Verzosa and Reyes repeated again
and again, killed in the premises of the Supreme Court and in those of the
City Hall of Manila. Educated people should keep their temper under control
at all times! But justice should be done to all concerned to perpetuate the
very life of Democracy on the face of the earth. (14 SCRA at 810; emphasis
supplied)
The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the dignity of the
Court and required counsel to show cause why administrative action should
not be taken against him. Counsel later explained that he had merely related
factual events (i.e., the killing of Verzosa and Reyes) and to express his
desire to avoid repetition of such acts. The Court, through Mr. Justice J.B.L.
Reyes, found these explanations unsatisfactory and the above statements
contumacious.
... The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration ... are plainly
contemptuous and disrespectful, and reference to the recent killing of two
employees is but a covert threat upon the members of the Court. ... That such
threats and disrespectful language contained in a pleading filed in courts are
constitutive of direct contempt has been repeatedly decided(Salcedo vs.
Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724; People vs. Venturanza, 52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina
vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151; De Joya vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal, 1, 9785,
September 19,1956; Sison vs. Sandejas L- 9270, April 29,1959; Lualhati vs.
Albert, 57 Phil. 86). What makes the present case more deplorable is that the
guilty party is a member of the bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77
Phil. 580-

Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with
that courtesy all have a right to expect. As an officer of the court, it is his
sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high
esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration
of justice.
It in light and plausible that an attorney in defending the cause and rights of
his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable,
but it is not, and never will be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting
to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the
dignity of the courts require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re Francisco], 61
Phil. 729)' (1 4 SCRA at 811-812; emphasis supplied)
5. In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo, invoking the
Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the source of the news item which
carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing. Atty. Vicente Sotto, a
senator and author of said law, caused the publication of the following item
in a number of daily newspapers in Manila:
As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53), interpreted by
the Supreme Court in the case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who
now has to suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the source
of a news published in his paper, I regret to say that our High Tribunal has
not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once more putting in
evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its
members. In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately
committed during these last years, I believe that the only remedy to put an
end to so much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court. To this
effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the
coming congressional sessions, will have as its object the complete
reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted, the Supreme
Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty and democracy. It need
be said loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme
Court of today is a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those
memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and
other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine
Judiciary. (82 Phil. at 597-598; emphasis supplied)
In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his
invocation of the constitutional guarantee of free speech and in requiring him
to show cause why he should not be disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice
Feria, saidTo hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing
deliberately so many blunders and injustices that is to say, that it has been
deciding in favor of one party knowing that the law and justice is on the part
of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was

rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily
to undermine the coincidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the
members of this Court, and consequently to lower and degrade the
administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines
is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may
repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights when
these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the
honesty and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they
cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into
their hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member
of the bar and an officer of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in
duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he
owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to
promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts
guarantees the stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty
would be resting on a very shaky foundation. (82 Phil. at 601-602; emphasis
supplied)
6. In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a Motion before
the Supreme Court which contained the following paragraph (in translation):
We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the
resolution of this court, denying our motion for reconsideration, is absolutely
erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe
Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the
municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means within
our power in order that this error may be corrected by the very court which
has committed it, because we should not want that some citizen, particularly
some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press
publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, thejudicial outrage of which the
herein petitioner has been the victim, and because it is our utmost desire to
safeguard the prestige of this honorable court and of each and every member
thereof in the eyes of the public. But, at the same time we wish to state
sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his
thousands of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes
of sakdalism and make the public lose confidence in the administration of
justice. (61 Phil. at 726; emphasis supplied)
When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be declared in
contempt, Atty. Francisco responded by saying that it was not contempt to
tell the truth. Examining the statements made above, the Court held:
... [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect of
the authority of the court and an intentional contempt of its dignity, because
the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter
disregard of the laws, the rights of the parties, and of the untoward

consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted the
rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client, because the acts of outraging
and mocking from which the words 'outrage' and mockery' used therein are
derived, means exactly the same as all these, according to the Dictionary of
the Spanish Language published by the Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the
Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 132-513).
The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco, for many years a member of the Philippine bar, was neither
justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the attention of the
court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and
to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion
were sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In order to
appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper and amiss to make trouble
and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because both
means are annoying and good practice can ever sanction them by reason of
their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and
impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of
questions submitted for resolution.
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's
motion contains a more or less veiled threat to the court because it is
insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the voters of
Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort to
the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial
outrage of which his client has been the victim; and because he states in a
threatening manner with the intention of predisposing the mind of the reader
against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in order
to make it odious in the public eye, that decisions of the nature of that
referred to in his motion to promote distrust in the administration of justice
and increase the proselytes of sakdalism a movement with seditious and
revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of public knowledge,
occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean otherwise than
contempt of the dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority thereof on
the part of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court
is so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it
would maintain its error notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with
good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.
As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco, as any attorney, is in duty bound to uphold its dignity and
authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it had conferred upon
him the high privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of
being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St., Rep.,
492, 669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor promotes

distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents anybody from harboring


and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder,
thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called
judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and
relief (61 Phil. at 727-728; emphasis supplied)
It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed exhaust our
case law on this matter. In the following cases, among others, the Supreme
Court punished for contempt or administratively disciplined lawyers who had
made statements not very different from those made in the cases discussed
above:
1) In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382 (1987);
2) Borromeo v. Court of appeals, 87 SCRA 67 (1978);
3) Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA 441 (1967);
4) Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961);
5) De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, 99
Phil. 907 (1956);
6) People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211 (1956);
7) In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per curiam Resolution (unreported),
Promulgated 29 April 1955;
8) Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950);
9) People v. Carillon, 77 Phil. 572 (1946);
10) Intestate Estate of Rosario 0lba; Contempt Proceedings against Antonio
Franco, 67 Phil. 312 (1939); and
11) Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932).
Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above which the
Court has in the past penalized as contemptuous or as warranting application
of disciplinary sanctions, this Court is compelled to hold that the statements
here made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for
the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Respondent's
statements, especially the charge that the Court deliberately rendered an
erroneous and unjust decision in the Consolidated Petitions, necessarily
implying that the justices of this Court betrayed their oath of office, merely
to wreak vengeance upon the respondent here, constitute the grossest kind of
disrespect for the Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the
Supreme Court and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of
justice in the country. That respondent's baseless charges have had some
impact outside the internal world of subjective intent, is clearly demonstrated
by the filing of a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the then
fourteen (14) incumbent members of this Court, a complaint the centerpiece
of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of respondent that this Court
deliberately rendered a wrong decision as an act of reprisal against the
respondent.

IV
The principal defense of respondent Gonzalez is that he was merely
exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He also invokes the related
doctrines of qualified privileged communications and fair criticism in the
public interest.
Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free
speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all this Court. What
respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression,
like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of
expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the
requirements of equally important public interests. One of these fundamental
public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of
the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression
and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection
and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured only within
the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within
the context, in other words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of
justice which are accepted by the general community. As Mr. Justice
Frankfurter put it:
... A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor an
independent judiciary to a free press. Neither has primacy over the other;
both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom of the press in itself
presupposes an independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if
necessary be vindicated. And one of the potent means for assuring judges
their independence is a free press. 50
Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the
following terms:
The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of speech and press. This
constitutional right must be protected in its fullest extent. The Court has
heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard for charges under the Libel
Law which come dangerously close to its violation. We shall continue in this
chosen path. The liberty of the citizens must be preserved in all of its
completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizens
should not be confused with liberty ill its true sense. As important as is the
maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the rights of the
citizens is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. Respect for
the Judiciary cannot be had if persons are privileged to scorn a resolution of
the court adopted for good purposes, and if such persons are to be permitted
by subterranean means to diffuse inaccurate accounts of confidential
proceedings to the embarassment of the parties and the courts. 51 (Emphasis
supplied)

Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the capacity of
the Court effectively to prevent and control professional misconduct on the
part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable participants in the
task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts have held, persuasively it
appears to us, that a lawyer's right of free expression may have to be more
limited than that of a layman. 52
It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and
an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes duties of
fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court as the embodiment and
the repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The
responsibility of the respondent "to uphold the dignity and authority of this
Court' and "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice 53 is
heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer.
Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to criticize
the rulings of this Court, to point out where he feels the Court may have
lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of criticism is not unlimited.
Its limits were marked out by Mr. Justice Castro in In re Almacen which are
worth noting
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bonafide
and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm
exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and slander of
courts and the judges thereof, on the other.Intemperate and unfair criticism is
a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that
subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential
to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their
clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined
to rein up their tempers.
xxx xxx xxx 54
(Emphasis supplied)
The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent has
criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to the nature of that criticism or
comment and the manner in which it was carried out.
Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court.
The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far as characterization
of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not, however, be allowed
to disclaim the natural and plain import of his words and acts. 55 It is upon
the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that respondent offered no apology
in his two (2) explanations and exhibited no repentance. 56
Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury to the
judiciary has been shown, and points to the fact that this Court denied his
Motion for Reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of 27 April 1988 and

reiterated and amplified that Decision in its Resolution of 19 May 1988. In


the first place, proof of actual damage sustained by a court or the judiciary in
general is not essential for a finding of contempt or for the application of the
disciplinary authority of the Court. Insofar as the Consolidated Petitions are
concerned, this Court after careful review of the bases of its 27 April 1988
Decision, denied respondent's Motion for Reconsideration thereof and
rejected the public pressures brought to bear upon this Court by the
respondent through his much publicized acts and statements for which he is
here being required to account. Obstructing the free and undisturbed
resolution of a particular case is not the only species of injury that the Court
has a right and a duty to prevent and redress. What is at stake in cases of this
kind is the integrity of the judicial institutions of the country in general and
of the Supreme Court in particular. Damage to such institutions might not be
quantifiable at a given moment in time but damage there will surely be if acts
like those of respondent Gonzalez are not effectively stopped and countered.
The level of trust and confidence of the general public in the courts,
including the court of last resort, is not easily measured; but few will dispute
that a high level of such trust and confidence is critical for the stability of
democratic government.
Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggests that punishment for contempt is not the
proper remedy in this case and suggests that the members of this Court have
recourse to libel suits against him. While the remedy of libel suits by
individual members of this Court may well be available against respondent
Gonzalez, such is by no means an exclusive remedy. Moreover, where, as in
the instant case, it is not only the individual members of the Court but the
Court itself as an institution that has been falsely attacked, libel suits cannot
be an adequate remedy. 57
The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of
court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court and
member of the Bar.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez
from the practice of law indefinitely and until further orders from this Court,
the suspension to take effect immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Sandiganbayan, the
Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the Court of
Appeals for their information and guidance.
Fernan C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras,
Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino,
Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 4680. August 29, 2000]
AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., complainant, vs. ATTYS. ANTONIO M.
LLORENTE and LIGAYA P. SALAYON, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment against respondents Antonio M. Llorente
and Ligaya P. Salayon for gross misconduct, serious breach of trust, and
violation of the lawyers oath in connection with the discharge of their duties
as members of the Pasig City Board of Canvassers in the May 8, 1995
elections. Salayon, then election officer of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC), was designated chairman of said Board, while Llorente, who
was then City Prosecutor of Pasig City, served as its ex oficio vice-chairman
as provided by law.[1] Complainant, now a senator, was also a candidate for
the Senate in that election.
Complainant alleges that, in violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b),[2]respondents
tampered with the votes received by him, with the result that, as shown in the
Statements of Votes (SoVs) and Certificate of Canvass (CoC) pertaining to
1,263 precincts of Pasig City, (1) senatorial candidates Juan Ponce Enrile,
Anna Dominique Coseteng, Gregorio Honasan, Marcelo Fernan, Ramon
Mitra, and Rodolfo Biazon were credited with votes which were above the
number of votes they actually received while, on the other hand, petitioners
votes were reduced; (2) in 101 precincts, Enriles votes were in excess of the
total number of voters who actually voted therein; and (3) the votes from 22
precincts were twice recorded in 18 SoVs. Complainant maintains that, by
signing the SoVs and CoC despite respondents knowledge that some of the
entries therein were false, the latter committed a serious breach of public
trust and of their lawyers oath.
Respondents denied the allegations against them. They alleged that the
preparation of the SoVs was made by the 12 canvassing committees which
the Board had constituted to assist in the canvassing. They claimed that the
errors pointed out by complainant could be attributed to honest mistake,
oversight, and/or fatigue.
In his Consolidated Reply, complainant counters that respondents should be
held responsible for the illegal padding of the votes considering the nature
and extent of the irregularities and the fact that the canvassing of the election
returns was done under their control and supervision.
On December 4, 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to which this
matter had been referred pursuant to Rule 139-B, 13, in relation to 20 of the
Rules of Court, recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of

merit.[3] Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on March 11, 1999, but
his motion was denied in a resolution of the IBP Board of Governors dated
April 22, 1999. On June 4, 1999, he filed this petition pursuant to Rule 139B, 12(c).
It appears that complainant likewise filed criminal charges against
respondents before the COMELEC (E.O. Case No. 96-1132) for violation of
R.A. No. 6646, 27(b). In its resolution dated January 8, 1998, the COMELEC
dismissed complainants charges for insufficiency of evidence. However, on a
petition for certiorari filed by complainant,[4] this Court set aside the
resolution and directed the COMELEC to file appropriate criminal charges
against respondents. Reconsideration was denied on August 15, 2000.
Considering the foregoing facts, we hold that respondents are guilty of
misconduct.
First. Respondent Llorente seeks the dismissal of the present petition on the
ground that it was filed late. He contends that a motion for reconsideration is
a prohibited pleading under Rule 139-B, 12(c)[5] and, therefore, the filing of
such motion before the IBP Board of Governors did not toll the running of
the period of appeal. Respondent further contends that, assuming such
motion can be filed, petitioner nevertheless failed to indicate the date of his
receipt of the April 22, 1999 resolution of the IBP denying his motion for
reconsideration so that it cannot be ascertained whether his petition was filed
within the 15-day period under Rule 139-B, 12(c).
The contention has no merit. The question of whether a motion for
reconsideration is a prohibited pleading or not under Rule 139-B, 12(c) has
been settled in Halimao v. Villanueva,[6] in which this Court held:
Although Rule 139-B, 12(c) makes no mention of a motion for
reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its history suggests that such motion
is prohibited. It may therefore be filed within 15 days from notice to a
party. Indeed, the filing of such motion should be encouraged before resort is
made to this Court as a matter of exhaustion of administrative remedies, to
afford the agency rendering the judgment an opportunity to correct any error
it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts or
misappreciation of the evidence.[7]
On the question whether petitioners present petition was filed within the 15day period provided under Rule 139-B, 12(c), although the records show that
it was filed on June 4, 1999, respondent has not shown when petitioner
received a copy of the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors denying his
motion for reconsideration. It would appear, however, that the petition was
filed on time because a copy of the resolution personally served on the Office
of the Bar Confidant of this Court was received by it on May 18, 1999. Since
copies of IBP resolutions are sent to the parties by mail, it is possible that the
copy sent to petitioner was received by him later than May 18, 1999. Hence,

it may be assumed that his present petition was filed within 15 days from his
receipt of the IBP resolution. In any event, the burden was on respondent, as
the moving party, to show that the petition in this case was filed beyond the
15-day period for filing it.
Even assuming that petitioner received the IBP resolution in question on May
18, 1999, i.e., on the same date a copy of the same was received by the
Office of the Bar Confidant, the delay would only be two days.[8] The delay
may be overlooked, considering the merit of this case. Disbarment
proceedings are undertaken solely for public welfare. The sole question for
determination is whether a member of the bar is fit to be allowed the
privileges as such or not. The complainant or the person who called the
attention of the Court to the attorneys alleged misconduct is in no sense a
party, and generally has no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens
may have in the proper administration of justice.[9] For this reason, laws
dealing with double jeopardy[10] or prescription[11] or with procedure like
verification of pleadings[12] and prejudicial questions[13] have no
application to disbarment proceedings.
Even in ordinary civil actions, the period for perfecting appeals is relaxed in
the interest of justice and equity where the appealed case is clearly
meritorious. Thus, we have given due course to appeals even though filed
six,[14] four,[15] and three[16] days late. In this case, the petition is clearly
meritorious.
Second. The IBP recommends the dismissal of petitioners complaint on the
basis of the following: (1) respondents had no involvement in the tabulation
of the election returns, because when the Statements of Votes (SoVs) were
given to them, such had already been accomplished and only needed their
respective signatures; (2) the canvassing was done in the presence of
watchers, representatives of the political parties, the media, and the general
public so that respondents would not have risked the commission of any
irregularity; and (3) the acts dealt with in R.A. No. 6646, 27(b) are mala in
se and not mala prohibita, and petitioner failed to establish criminal intent on
the part of respondents.[17]
The recommendation is unacceptable. In disciplinary proceedings against
members of the bar, only clear preponderance of evidence is required to
establish liability.[18] As long as the evidence presented by complainant or
that taken judicial notice of by the Court[19] is more convincing and worthy
of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto,[20] the imposition
of disciplinary sanction is justified.
In this case, respondents do not dispute the fact that massive irregularities
attended the canvassing of the Pasig City election returns. The only
explanation they could offer for such irregularities is that the same could be

due to honest mistake, human error, and/or fatigue on the part of the
members of the canvassing committees who prepared the SoVs.
This is the same allegation made in Pimentel v. Commission on Elections.
[21] In rejecting this allegation and ordering respondents prosecuted for
violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b), this Court said:
There is a limit, We believe, to what can be construed as an honest mistake or
oversight due to fatigue, in the performance of official duty. The sheer
magnitude of the error, not only in the total number of votes garnered by the
aforementioned candidates as reflected in the CoC and the SoVs, which did
not tally with that reflected in the election returns, but also in the total
number of votes credited for senatorial candidate Enrile which exceeded the
total number of voters who actually voted in those precincts during the May
8, 1995 elections, renders the defense of honest mistake or oversight due to
fatigue, as incredible and simply unacceptable.[22]
Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of mathematical error in the
tabulation of votes per precinct as reflected in the election returns and the
subsequent entry of the erroneous figures in one or two SoVs[23] but a
systematic scheme to pad the votes of certain senatorial candidates at the
expense of petitioner in complete disregard of the tabulation in the election
returns. A cursory look at the evidence submitted by petitioner reveals that,
in at least 24 SoVs involving 101 precincts, the votes for candidate Enrile
exceeded the number of voters who actually voted in the said precincts and,
in 18 SoVs, returns from 22 precincts were tabulated twice. In addition, as
the Court noted in Pimentel, the total number of votes credited to each of the
seven senatorial candidates in question, as reflected in the CoC, markedly
differ from those indicated in the SoVs.[24]Despite the fact that these
discrepancies, especially the double recording of the returns from 22
precincts and the variation in the tabulation of votes as reflected in the SoVs
and CoC, were apparent on the face of these documents and that the variation
involves substantial number of votes, respondents nevertheless certified the
SoVs as true and correct. Their acts constitute misconduct.
Respondent Llorentes contention that he merely certified the genuineness and
due execution of the SoVs but not their correctness is belied by the
certification which reads:
WE HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing Statement of Votes by . . .
[p]recinct is true and correct. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we sign these
presents at the City/Municipality of ___________ Province of
____________ this _______ day of May, 1995. (Emphasis added)
Nor does the fact that the canvassing was open to the public and observed by
numerous individuals preclude the commission of acts for which respondents
are liable. The fact is that only they had access to the SoVs and CoC and thus
had the opportunity to compare them and detect the discrepancies therein.

Now, a lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a


member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a
government official.[25] However, if the misconduct also constitutes a
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is
of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral
delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of
the bar for such misconduct.[26]
Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents
committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which stipulates that a lawyer
shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. By
express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to lawyers in the
government service. In addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as
lawyers to do no falsehood.
Nowhere is the need for lawyers to observe honesty both in their private and
in their public dealings better expressed in Sabayle v. Tandayag[27] in which
this Court said:
There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers . . . to behave
at all times in a manner consistent with truth and honor. It is important that
the common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel compelled to
speak the truth and to act honestly, should not become a common reality. . . .
[28]
It may be added that, as lawyers in the government service, respondents were
under greater obligation to observe this basic tenet of the profession because
a public office is a public trust.
Third. Respondents participation in the irregularities herein reflects on the
legal profession, in general, and on lawyers in government, in
particular. Such conduct in the performance of their official duties, involving
no less than the ascertainment of the popular will as expressed through the
ballot, would have merited for them suspension were it not for the fact that
this is their first administrative transgression and, in the case of Salayon,
after a long public service.[29] Under the circumstances, a penalty of fine in
the amount of P10,000.00 for each of the respondents should be sufficient.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya
P. Salayon GUILTY of misconduct and imposes on each of them a FINE in
the amount of P10,000.00 with a WARNING that commission of similar acts
will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

EN BANC
KELD STEMMERIK, A.C. No. 8010
represented by ATTYS.
HERMINIO A. LIWANAG and
WINSTON P.L. ESGUERRA,
Complainant, Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
- v e r s u s - CARPIO MORALES,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
ATTY. LEONUEL N. MAS,
Respondent. Promulgated:
June 16, 2009
RESOLUTION
Per Curiam:
Complainant Keld Stemmerik is a citizen and resident of Denmark. In one of
his trips to the Philippines, he was introduced to respondent Atty. Leonuel N.
Mas. That was his misfortune.
In one visit to the Philippines, complainant marveled at the beauty of the
country and expressed his interest in acquiring real property in the
Philippines. He consulted respondent who advised him that he could legally
acquire and own real property in the Philippines. Respondent even suggested
an 86,998 sq.m. property in Quarry, Agusuin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales with
the assurance that the property was alienable.
Trusting respondent, complainant agreed to purchase the property through
respondent as his representative or attorney-in-fact. Complainant also
engaged the services of respondent for the preparation of the necessary

documents. For this purpose, respondent demanded and received a P400,000


fee.
Confident that respondent would faithfully carry out his task, complainant
returned to Denmark, entrusting the processing of the necessary paperwork to
respondent.
Thereafter, respondent prepared a contract to sell the property between
complainant, represented by respondent, and a certain Bonifacio de Mesa, the
purported owner of the property.[1] Subsequently, respondent prepared and
notarized a deed of sale in which de Mesa sold and conveyed the property to
a certain Ailyn Gonzales for P3.8 million.[2]Respondent also drafted and
notarized an agreement between complainant and Gonzales stating that it was
complainant who provided the funds for the purchase of the property.
[3] Complainant then gave respondent the full amount of the purchase price
(P3.8 million) for which respondent issued an acknowledgment receipt.[4]
After the various contracts and agreements were executed, complainant tried
to get in touch with respondent to inquire about when the property could be
registered in his name. However, respondent suddenly became scarce and
refused to answer complainants calls and e-mail messages.
When complainant visited the Philippines again in January 2005, he engaged
the services of the Jimenez Gonzales Liwanag Bello Valdez Caluya &
Fernandez Law Office to ascertain the status of the property he supposedly
bought. He was devastated to learn that aliens could not own land under
Philippine laws. Moreover, verification at the Community Environment &
Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources in Olongapo City revealed that the property was
inalienable as it was situated within the former US Military Reservation.
[5] The CENRO also stated that the property was not subject to disposition or
acquisition under Republic Act No. 141.[6]
Thereafter, complainant, through his attorneys-in-fact,[7] exerted diligent
efforts to locate respondent for purposes of holding him accountable for his
fraudulent acts. Inquiry with the Olongapo Chapter of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) disclosed that respondent was in arrears in his annual
dues and that he had already abandoned his law office in Olongapo City.
[8] Search of court records of cases handled by respondent only yielded his
abandoned office address in Olongapo City.

Complainant filed a complaint for disbarment against respondent in the


Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the IBP.[9] He deplored
respondents acts of serious misconduct. In particular, he sought the expulsion
of respondent from the legal profession for gravely misrepresenting that a
foreigner could legally acquire land in the Philippines and for maliciously
absconding with complainants P3.8 million.[10]
Respondent failed to file his answer and position paper despite service of
notice at his last known address. Neither did he appear in the scheduled
mandatory conference. In this connection, the CBD found that respondent
abandoned his law practice in Olongapo City after his transaction with
complainant and that he did not see it fit to contest the charges against him.
[11]
The CBD ruled that respondent used his position as a lawyer to mislead
complainant on the matter of land ownership by a foreigner.[12] He even
went through the motion of preparing falsified and fictitious contracts, deeds
and agreements. And for all these shameless acts, he collected P400,000 from
complainant. Worse, he pocketed the P3.8 million and absconded with it.[13]
The CBD found respondent to be nothing more than an embezzler who
misused his professional status as an attorney as a tool for deceiving
complainant and absconding with complainants money.[14] Respondent was
dishonest and deceitful. He abused the trust and confidence reposed by
complainant in him. The CBD recommended the disbarment of respondent.
[15]
The Board of Governors of the IBP adopted the findings and
recommendation of the CBD with the modification that respondent was
further required to return the amount of P4.2 million to respondent.[16]
We agree with the IBP.
SUFFICIENCY OF NOTICE OF
THE DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS
We shall first address a threshold issue: was respondent properly given notice
of the disbarment proceedings against him? Yes.
The respondent did not file any answer or position paper, nor did he appear
during the scheduled mandatory conference. Respondent in fact abandoned

his last known address, his law office in Olongapo City, after he committed
the embezzlement.
Respondent should not be allowed to benefit from his disappearing act. He
can neither defeat this Courts jurisdiction over him as a member of the bar
nor evade administrative liability by the mere ruse of concealing his
whereabouts. Thus, service of the complaint and other orders and processes
on respondents office was sufficient notice to him.
Indeed, since he himself rendered the service of notice on him impossible,
the notice requirement cannot apply to him and he is thus considered to have
waived it. The law does not require that the impossible be done. Nemo
tenetur ad impossibile.[17] The law obliges no one to perform an
impossibility. Laws and rules must be interpreted in a way that they are in
accordance with logic, common sense, reason and practicality.[18]
In this connection, lawyers must update their records with the IBP by
informing the IBP National Office or their respective chapters[19] of any
change in office or residential address and other contact details.[20] In case
such change is not duly updated, service of notice on the office or residential
address appearing in the records of the IBP National Office shall constitute
sufficient notice to a lawyer for purposes of administrative proceedings
against him.
RESPONDENTS ADMINISTRATIVE INFRACTIONS
AND HIS LIABILITY THEREFOR
Lawyers, as members of a noble profession, have the duty to promote respect
for the law and uphold the integrity of the bar. As men and women entrusted
with the law, they must ensure that the law functions to protect liberty and
not as an instrument of oppression or deception.
Respondent has been weighed by the exacting standards of the legal
profession and has been found wanting.
Respondent committed a serious breach of his oath as a lawyer. He is also
guilty of culpable violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the
code of ethics of the legal profession.
All lawyers take an oath to support the Constitution, to obey the laws and to
do no falsehood.[21] That oath is neither mere formal ceremony nor hollow

words. It is a sacred trust that should be upheld and kept inviolable at all
times.[22]

the property, respondent committed a fraudulent act that was criminal in


nature.

Lawyers are servants of the law[23] and the law is their master. They should
not simply obey the laws, they should also inspire respect for and obedience
thereto by serving as exemplars worthy of emulation. Indeed, that is the first
precept of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

Respondent spun an intricate web of lies. In the process, he committed


unethical act after unethical act, wantonly violating laws and professional
standards.

CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY


THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND
LEGAL PROCESSES.

For all this, respondent violated not only the lawyers oath and Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. He also transgressed the following
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.

Section 7, Article XII of the Constitution provides:


SEC. 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be
transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations
qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.
This Court has interpreted this provision, as early as the 1947 case Krivenko
v. Register of Deeds,[24] to mean that under the Constitution, aliens may not
acquire private or agricultural lands, including residential lands. The
provision is a declaration of imperative constitutional policy.[25]
Respondent, in giving advice that directly contradicted a fundamental
constitutional policy, showed disrespect for the Constitution and gross
ignorance of basic law. Worse, he prepared spurious documents that he knew
were void and illegal.
By making it appear that de Mesa undertook to sell the property to
complainant and that de Mesa thereafter sold the property to Gonzales who
made the purchase for and in behalf of complainant, he falsified public
documents and knowingly violated the Anti-Dummy Law.[26]
Respondents misconduct did not end there. By advising complainant that a
foreigner could legally and validly acquire real estate in the Philippines and
by assuring complainant that the property was alienable, respondent
deliberately foisted a falsehood on his client. He did not give due regard to
the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant. Instead, he deceived
complainant and misled him into parting with P400,000 for services that
were both illegal and unprofessional. Moreover, by pocketing and
misappropriating the P3.8 million given by complainant for the purchase of

Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of
the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.
CANON 7 A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND
SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
CANON 15 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND
LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS
CLIENT.
CANON 16 A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND
PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS
POSSESSION.
CANON 17 A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS
CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. (emphasis supplied)
A lawyer who resorts to nefarious schemes to circumvent the law and uses
his legal knowledge to further his selfish ends to the great prejudice of
others, poses a clear and present danger to the rule of law and to the legal
system. He does not only tarnish the image of the bar and degrade the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession, he also betrays everything that
the legal profession stands for.

It is respondent and his kind that give lawyering a bad name and make
laymen support Dick the Butchers call, Kill all lawyers![27] A disgrace to
their professional brethren, they must be purged from the bar.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Leonuel N. Mas is hereby DISBARRED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to immediately strike out the name of
respondent from the Roll of Attorneys.
Respondent is hereby ORDERED to return to complainant Keld Stemmerik
the total amount of P4.2 million with interest at 12% per annum from the
date of promulgation of this resolution until full payment. Respondent is
further DIRECTED to submit to the Court proof of payment of the amount
within ten days from payment.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is ORDERED to locate Atty.
Mas and file the appropriate criminal charges against him. The NBI is
further DIRECTED to regularly report the progress of its action in this case
to this Court through the Bar Confidant.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant who shall
forthwith record it in the personal file of respondent, the Court Administrator
who shall inform all courts of the Philippines, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines which shall disseminate copies to all its chapters and members
and all administrative and quasi-judicial agencies of the Republic of the
Philippines.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 159486-88. November 25, 2003]
PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. THE
HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN [SPECIAL DIVISION], HON.
MINITA CHICO-NAZARIO, HON. EDILBERTO SANDOVAL, HON.
TERESITA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
On 23 September 2003, this Court issued its resolution in the abovenumbered case; it read:
The case for consideration has been brought to this Court via a Petition
for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by Joseph Ejercito
Estrada, acting through his counsel Attorney Alan F. Paguia, against the
Sandiganbayan, et al. The Petition prays
1. That Chief Justice Davide and the rest of the members of the Honorable
Court disqualify themselves from hearing and deciding this petition;
2. That the assailed resolutions of the Sandiganbayan be vacated and set
aside; and
3. That Criminal Cases No. 26558, No. 26565 and No. 26905 pending before
the Sandiganbayan be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Attorney Alan F. Paguia, speaking for petitioner, asserts that the inhibition of
the members of the Supreme Court from hearing the petition is called for
under Rule 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting justices or
judges from participating in any
partisan(an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, esp
eciallya person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.) political
activity which proscription(to put outside the protection of the law),
according to him, the justices have violated by attending the EDSA 2 Rally
and by authorizing the assumption of Vice-President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo to the Presidency in violation of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner
contends that the justices have thereby prejudged a case that would assail the
legality of the act taken by President Arroyo. The subsequent decision of the
Court in Estrada v. Arroyo (353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA 108) is, petitioner
states, a patent mockery of justice and due process.
Attorney Paguia first made his appearance for petitioner when he filed an
Omnibus Motion ( a legal motion in which multiple requests are made)on 19
May 2003, before the Sandiganbayan, asking that the appointment of
counsels de officio (sic) be declared functus officio(Latin: an officer or

agency whose mandate has expired either because of the arrival of an expiry
date or because an agency has accomplished the purpose for which it was
created) and that, being the now counsel de parte, he be notified of all
subsequent proceedings in Criminal Cases No. 26558, No. 26565 and No.
26905 pending therein. Finally, Attorney Paguia asked that all the foregoing
criminal cases against his client be dismissed.
During the hearing of the Omnibus Motion on 30 May 2003, petitioner
presented to the court several portions of the book, entitled Reforming the
Judiciary, written by Justice Artemio Panganiban, to be part of the evidence
for the defense. On 9 June 2003, petitioner filed a motion pleading, among
other things, that
a) x x x President Estrada be granted the opportunity to prove the truth of the
statements contained in Justice Artemio Panganibans book, REFORMING
THE JUDICIARY, in relation to the prejudgment committed by the Supreme
Court justices against President Estrada in the subject case/s of Estrada v.
Arroyo, 353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA 108; and,
b) A subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum be issued to Justice
Artemio Panganiban, Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Renato Corona,
Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Department of National Defense, Vice
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., and
Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. for them to testify and bring whatever
supporting documents they may have in relation to their direct and indirect
participation in the proclamation of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
on January 20, 2001, as cited in the book of Justice Panganiban, including
the material events that led to that proclamation and the ruling/s in
the Estrada vs. Arroyo, supra. (Rollo, pp. 6-7.)
The truth referred to in paragraph a) of the relief sought in the motion of
petitioner pertains to what he claims should have been included in the
resolution of the Sandiganbayan; viz:
The request of the movant is simply for the Court to include in its Joint
Resolution the TRUTH of the acts of Chief Justice Davide, et al., last
January 20, 2001 in:
a) going to EDSA 2;
b) authorizing the proclamation of Vice-President Arroyo as President on the
ground of permanent disability even without proof of compliance with the
corresponding constitutional conditions, e.g., written declaration by either the
President or majority of his cabinet; and
c) actually proclaiming Vice-President Arroyo on that same ground of
permanent disability.
It is patently unreasonable for the Court to refuse to include these material
facts which are obviously undeniable. Besides, it is the only defense of
President Estrada. (Petition, Rollo, pp. 13-14.)

On 2 July 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued an order denying the foregoing


motion, as well as the motion to dismiss, filed by petitioner. Forthwith,
petitioner filed a Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon of the foregoing order.
According to Attorney Paguia, during the hearing of his Mosyong
Pangrekonsiderasyon on 11 June 2003, the three justices of the Special
Division of the Sandiganbayan made manifest their bias and partiality against
his client. Thus, he averred, Presiding Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario
supposedly employed foul and disrespectful language when she blurted
out, Magmumukha naman kaming gago, (Rollo, p. 13.) and Justice Teresita
Leonardo-De Castro characterized the motion as insignificant even before the
prosecution could file its comments or opposition thereto, (Rollo, p. 12.)
remarking in open court that to grant Estradas motion would result in chaos
and disorder. (Ibid.) Prompted by the alleged bias and partial attitude of the
Sandiganbayan justices, Attorney Paguia filed, on 14 July 2003, a motion for
their disqualification. On 31 July 2003, petitioner received the two assailed
resolutions, i.e., the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July 2003.) of 28 July
2003, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of 6 July 2003; viz:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused-movant Joseph Ejercito
Estradas Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon (Na tumutukoy sa Joint Resolution
ng Hulyo 2, 2003) dated July 6, 2003 is DENIED for lack of merit. (Rollo, p.
37.)
and the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July 2003.) of 25 July 2003, denying
petitioners motion for disqualification of 14 July 2003; viz:
WHEREFORE, prescinding from all the foregoing, the Court, for want of
merit, hereby DENIES the Motion for Disqualification. (Rollo, p. 48.)
The instant petition assailing the foregoing orders must be DISMISSED for
gross insufficiency in substance and for utter lack of merit. The
Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion, an indispensable
requirement to warrant a recourse to the extraordinary relief of petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. On the
one hand, petitioner would disclaim the authority and jurisdiction of the
members of this tribunal and, on the other hand, he would elevate the petition
now before it to challenge the two resolutions of the Sandiganbayan. He
denounces the decision as being a patent mockery of justice and due process.
Attorney Pagula went on to state thatThe act of the public officer, if LAWFUL, is the act of the public office. But
the act of the public officer, if UNLAWFUL, is not the act of the public
office. Consequently, the act of the justices, if LAWFUL, is the act of the
Supreme Court. But the act of the justices, if UNLAWFUL, is not the act of
the Supreme Court. It is submitted that the Decision in ESTRADA vs.
ARROYO being patently unlawful in view of Rule 5.10 of the CODE OF
JUDICIAL CONDUCT, is not the act of the Supreme Court but is merely the

wrong or trespass of those individual Justices who falsely spoke and acted in
the name of the Supreme Court. (Urbano vs. Chavez, 183 SCRA [347]).
Furthermore, it would seem absurd to allow the Justices to use the name of
the Supreme Court as a shield for their UNLAWFUL act. (Petition, Rollo, p.
11.)
Criticism or comment made in good faith on the correctness or wrongness,
soundness or unsoundness, of a decision of the Court would be welcome for,
if well-founded, such reaction can enlighten the court and contribute to the
correction of an error if committed. (In Re Sotto, 82 Phil 595.)
The ruling in Estrada v. Arroyo, being a final judgment, has long put to end
any question pertaining to the legality of the ascension of Arroyo into the
presidency. By reviving the issue on the validity of the assumption of Mme.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the presidency, Attorney Paguia is vainly
seeking to breathe life into the carcass of a long dead issue.
Attorney Paguia has not limited his discussions to the merits of his clients
case within the judicial forum; indeed, he has repeated his assault on the
Court in both broadcast and print media. Rule 13.02 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility prohibits a member of the bar from making such
public statements on any pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or
against a party. By his acts, Attorney Paguia may have stoked the fires of
public dissension and posed a potentially dangerous threat to the
administration of justice.
It is not the first time that Attorney Paguia has exhibited similar conduct
towards the Supreme Court. In a letter, dated 30 June 2003, addressed to
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and Associate Justice Artemio V.
Panganiban, he has demanded, in a clearly disguised form of forum
shopping, for several advisory opinions on matters pending before the
Sandiganbayan. In a resolution, dated 08 July 2003, this Court has strongly
warned Attorney Alan Paguia, on pain of disciplinary sanction, to desist from
further making, directly or indirectly, similar submissions to this Court or to
its Members. But, unmindful of the well-meant admonition to him by the
Court, Attorney Paguia appears to persist on end.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED, and the
Court hereby orders Attorney Alan Paguia, counsel for petitioner Joseph
Ejercito Estrada, to SHOW CAUSE, within ten days from notice hereof, why
he should not be sanctioned for conduct unbecoming a lawyer and an officer
of the Court.
On 10 October 2003, Atty. Paguia submitted his compliance with the showcause order. In a three-page pleading, Atty. Paguia, in an obstinate display of
defiance, repeated his earlier claim of political partisanship against the
members of the Court.

Canon 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which Atty. Paguia has
tirelessly quoted to give some semblance of validity for his groundless attack
on the Court and its members, provides Rule 5.10. A judge is entitled to entertain personal views on political
questions. But to avoid suspicion of political partisanship, a judge shall not
make political speeches, contribute to party funds, publicly endorse
candidates for political office or participate in other partisan political
activities.
Section 79(b) of the Omnibus Election Code defines the term partisan
political activities; the law states:
The term election campaign or partisan political activity refers to an act
designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or
candidates to a public office which shall include:
(1) Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of
persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign
for or against a candidate;
(2) Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or
other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or
undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate.
(3) Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews
for or against the election of any candidate for public office;
(4) Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to
support or oppose the election of any candidate; or
(5) Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a
candidate.
It should be clear that the phrase partisan political activities, in its statutory
context, relates to acts designed to cause the success or the defeat of a
particular candidate or candidates who have filed certificates of candidacy to
a public office in an election. The taking of an oath of office by any incoming
President of the Republic before the Chief Justice of the Philippines is a
traditional official function of the Highest Magistrate. The assailed presence
of other justices of the Court at such an event could be no different from their
appearance in such other official functions as attending the Annual State of
the Nation Address by the President of the Philippines before the Legislative
Department.
The Supreme Court does not claim infallibility; it will not denounce criticism
made by anyone against the Court for, if well-founded, can truly have
constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not countenance any
wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our peoples faith in the judicial system,
let alone, by those who have been privileged by it to practice law in the
Philippines.

Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that the


lawyer should observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and judicial
officers and, indeed, should insist on similar conduct by others. In liberally
imputing sinister and devious motives and questioning the impartiality,
integrity, and authority of the members of the Court, Atty. Paguia has only
succeeded in seeking to impede, obstruct and pervert the dispensation of
justice.
The attention of Atty. Paguia has also been called to the mandate of Rule
13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibiting a member of the
bar from making such public statements on a case that may tend to arouse
public opinion for or against a party. Regrettably, Atty. Paguia has persisted
in ignoring the Courts well-meant admonition.
On the 7th September 2003 issue of the Daily Tribune, Atty. Paguia wrote to
say What is the legal effect of that violation of President Estradas right to due
process of law? It renders the decision in Estrada vs. Arroyo unconstitutional
and void. The rudiments of fair play were not observed. There was no fair
play since it appears that when President Estrada filed his petition, Chief
Justice Davide and his fellow justices had already committed to the other
party - GMA - with a judgment already made and waiting to be formalized
after the litigants shall have undergone the charade of a formal hearing. After
the justices had authorized the proclamation of GMA as president, can they
be expected to voluntarily admit the unconstitutionality of their own act?
Unrelentingly, Atty. Paguia has continued to make public statements of like
nature.
The Court has already warned Atty. Paguia, on pain of disciplinary sanction,
to become mindful of his grave responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer
of the Court. Apparently, he has chosen not to at all take heed.
WHEREFORE, Attorney Alan Paguia is hereby indefinitely suspended from
the practice of law, effective upon his receipt hereof, for conduct
unbecoming a lawyer and an officer of the Court.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts of the land through the Office
of the Court Administrator.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr.,
Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., no part.