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VOL.

469, SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 439


VidallonMagtolis vs. Salud

*
G.R. No. 168056. September 1, 2005.

ABAKADA GURO PARTY LIST (Formerly AASJAS)


OFFICERS SAMSON S. ALCANTARA and ED VINCENT
S. ALBANO, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA
HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
FINANCE CESAR PURISIMA and HONORABLE
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE
GUILLERMO PARAYNO, JR., respondents.
*
G.R. No. 168207. September 1, 2005.

AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., LUISA P. EJERCITO


ESTRADA, JINGGOY E. ESTRADA, PANFILO M.
LACSON, ALFREDO S. LIM, JAMBY A.S. MADRIGAL,
AND SERGIO

_______________

* EN BANC.

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

R. OSMEA III, petitioners, vs. EXECUTIVE


SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, CESAR V.
PURISIMA, SECRETARY OF FINANCE, GUILLERMO L.
PARAYNO, JR., COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF
INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

G.R. No. 168461. September 1, 2005.*


ASSOCIATION OF PILIPINAS SHELL DEALERS, INC.
represented by its President, ROSARIO ANTONIO
PETRON DEALERS ASSOCIATION represented by its
President, RUTH E. BARBIBI ASSOCIATION OF
CALTEX DEALERS OF THE PHILIPPINES represented
by its President, MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA ROSARIO
ANTONIO doing business under the name and style of
ANB NORTH SHELL SERVICE STATION LOURDES
MARTINEZ doing business under the name and style of
SHELL GATEN. DOMINGO BETHZAIDA TAN doing
business under the name and style of ADVANCE SHELL
STATION REYNALDO P. MONTOYA doing business
under the name and style of NEW LAMUAN SHELL
SERVICE STATION EFREN SOTTO doing business
under the name and style of RED FIELD SHELL
SERVICE STATION DONICA CORPORATION
represented by its President, DESI TOMACRUZ RUTH E.
MARBIBI doing business under the name and style of
R&R PETRON STATION PETER M. UNGSON doing
business under the name and style of CLASSIC STAR
GASOLINE SERVICE STATION MARIAN SHEILA A.
LEE doing business under the name and style of NTE
GASOLINE & SERVICE STATION JULIAN CESAR P.
POSADAS doing business under the name and style of
STARCARGA ENTERPRISES ADORACION MAEBO
doing business under the name and style of CMA
MOTORISTS CENTER SUSAN M. ENTRATA doing
business under the name and style of LEONAS
GASOLINE STATION and SERVICE CENTER
CARMELITA BALDONADO doing business under the
name and style of FIRST CHOICE SERVICE CENTER
MERCEDITAS A. GARCIA

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

doing business under the name and style of LORPED


SERVICE CENTER RHEAMAR A. RAMOS doing
business under the name and style of RJRAM PTT GAS
STATION MA. ISABEL VIOLAGO doing business under
the name and style of VIOLAGOPTT SERVICE
CENTER MOTORISTS HEART CORPORATION
represented by its VicePresident for Operations,
JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA MOTORISTS HARVARD
CORPORATION represented by its VicePresident for
Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA MOTORISTS
HERITAGE CORPORATION represented by its Vice
President for Operations, JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA
PHILIPPINE STANDARD OIL CORPORATION
represented by its VicePresident for Operations,
JOSELITO F. FLORDELIZA ROMEO MANUEL doing
business under the name and style of ROMMAN
GASOLINE STATION ANTHONY ALBERT CRUZ III
doing business under the name and style of TRUE
SERVICE STATION, petitioners, vs. CESAR V.
PURISIMA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department
of Finance and GUILLERMO L. PARAYNO, JR., in his
capacity as Commissioner of Internal Revenue,
Respondents.

G.R. No. 168463. September 1, 2005.*

FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO, VINCENT


CRISOLOGO, EMMANUEL JOEL J. VILLANUEVA,
RODOLFO G. PLAZA, DARLENE ANTONINO
CUSTODIO, OSCAR G. MALAPITAN, BENJAMIN C.
AGARAO, JR. JUAN EDGARDO M. ANGARA, JUSTIN
MARC SB. CHIPECO, FLORENCIO G. NOEL, MUJIV S.
HATAMAN, RENATO B. MAGTUBO, JOSEPH A.
SANTIAGO, TEOFISTO DL. GUINGONA III, RUY ELIAS
C. LOPEZ, RODOLFO Q. AGBAYANI and TEODORO A.
CASIO, petitioners, vs. CESAR V. PURISIMA, in his
capacity as Secretary of Finance, GUILLERMO L.
PARAYNO, JR., in his capacity as Commissioner of
Internal Revenue, and EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his
capacity as Executive Secretary, respondents.

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

G.R. No. 168730. September 1, 2005. *

BATAAN GOVERNOR ENRIQUE T. GARCIA, JR.,


petitioner, vs. HON. EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his
capacity as the Executive Secretary HON. MARGARITO
TEVES, in his capacity as Secretary of Finance HON.
JOSE MARIO BUNAG, in his capacity as the OIC
Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and
HON. ALEXANDER AREVALO, in his capacity as the OIC
Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, respondents.

Courts Contempt Separation of Powers If it were true that


former Finance Secretary Purisima felt that the media
misconstrued his actions, then he should have immediately
rectified it and not waited until the Supreme Court required him
to explain before he denied having made such statements which
impressed upon the publics mind that the issuance of the TRO
was the product of the machinations on the Court by the executive
branch.At the time the reports came out, Purisima did not
controvert the truth or falsity of the statements attributed to him.
It was only after the Court issued the showcause order that
Purisima saw it fit to deny having uttered these statements. By
then, it was already impressed upon the publics mind that the
issuance of the TRO was the product of machinations on the
Court by the executive branch. If it were true that Purisima felt
that the media misconstrued his actions, then he should have
immediately rectified it. He should not have waited until the
Court required him to explain before he denied having made such
statements. And even then, his denials were made as a result of
the Courts showcause order and not by any voluntary act on his
part that will show utter regret for having been misquoted.
Purisima should know that these press releases placed the Court
into dishonor, disrespect, and public contempt, diminished public
confidence, promoted distrust in the Court, and assailed the
integrity of its Members. The Court already took a beating before
Purisima made any disclaimer. The damage has been done, so to
speak.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court.


Contempt.

The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

Carlos G. Baniqued and Laura Victoria YusonLayug for


petitioners in G.R. No. 168461.
Eugenio H. Villareal, Dionisio B. Marasigan, Ma.
Rosalie Taguian, Agustin C. Bacungan III and Roland
Allan C. Abarquez for petitioners in G.R. No. 168463.
Samson S. Alcantara, Ed Vincent S. Albano and Rene B.
Gorospe for petitioners in G.R. No. 168056.
Luis Ma. Gil L. Gana for petitioners in G.R. No.
168207.
The Solicitor General for public respondents.

RESOLUTION

AUSTRIAMARTINEZ, J.:

In view of the Courts Resolution dated July 12, 2005,


which required Former Finance Secretary Cesar V.
Purisima to show cause why he should not be held in
contempt of court for conduct which puts the Court and its
Members into dishonor, disrepute and discredit, and
degrades the administration of justice, Purisima filed his
Compliance thereto, stating that:

It is not true that I claimed or even insinuated that this


Honorable Court was pressured or influenced by President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo or Malacaang Palace to issue a Temporary
Restraining Order (TRO) in the instant cases. What I stated was
simply that President Arroyo had on several occasions discussed
with the economic team the possibility of postponing the
implementation of Republic Act No. 9337. While I believe that
President Arroyo wanted to postpone the implementation of the
said law, I never claimed or insinuated that this Honorable Court
was influenced or pressured to issue the TRO against its
implementation.
...
I do not deny that I was extremely disappointed when this
Honorable Court issued the TRO, which was a serious setback to
our fiscal consolidation program. And my disappointment grew
when I felt that the Government specifically the Executive
branch, was not doing enough to have the TRO lifted. At the
height of my disap

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

pointment, and after hearing of rumors that Executive officials


may have been instrumental in procuring the TRO, I did enquire
from the other cabinet officials whether Malacaang had a hand
in the issuance of the order. I felt that it was my right and duty as
Finance Secretary to make such an inquiry, given that before the
issuance of the TRO, the President had inquired about the
possibility of deferring the implementation of Republic Act No.
9337. But surely, my inquiries whether Malacaang did so, did
not amount to, as it was not intended to have the effect of,
claiming outright or necessarily insinuating that Malacaang did 1
so, or to hold, in any manner, this Honorable Court in contempt.

Purisima cites the July 11, 2005 edition of the Philippine


Star and the July 10, 2005 edition of the Philippine Daily
Inquirer, which reported that Purisima did not directly
accuse the President of influencing the Court in issuing the
TRO, and that he would neither confirm nor deny the
reports that the President had a hand in its issuance.
The Court finds Purisimas explanation unsatisfactory.
The Court reproduces excerpts from some of the reports
contained in the newspapers with regard to Purisimas
statements, to wit:

(1) July 10, 2005, The Philippine Star, Opinion Section (Its the
Economy, Stupid!)

The present political crisis will inevitably boil down to the economy as
the real issue that will ultimately bring down the Arroyo Administration.
What we are hearing from people close to the Palace is that the TRO
issued by the Supreme Court on the EVAT is the real reason why 10
Cabinet members, specially Cesar Purisima and Johnny Santos,
resigned. Cesar Purisima further pointed out that her decisionmaking
process has adversely affected the economy. The frustrated economic
team felt that GMA had actually influenced the Supreme Court to issue
the TRO to postpone the bad effects of the EVAT on prices purely for her
political survival. If indeed that is true, then it just confirms that our
present political system

_______________

1 Compliance, pp. 23.

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

has really gone from bad to worse. What I found disgusting is that the
plotters, especially Cesar Purisima, sounded like Judas Iscariot. They
could just have simply resigned without making a spectacle out of it.

(2) July 10, 2005, The Daily Tribune (SC Denies Palace Pressed
Issuance of EVAT TRO)

Reports had claimed that the former economic team of Mrs. Arroyo
decided to resign over the weekend due in part to the administrations
lobbying the SC to issue a restraining order on the eVAT, apparently to
prevent the public from further seething against the government over the
continuous spiraling of the prices of basic goods and services.
...
Finance officials led by Purisima previously expressed dismay over the
suspension of the eVAT as they claimed that the TRO would cost the
government at least P140 million a day in unrealized revenues.
Purisima hinted that Mrs. Arroyo had a hand in the SCs TRO to save
her presidency.

(3) July 11, 2005, Manila Standard Today (Palace Debunks


Purisima Claim on EVAT)

Malacaang yesterday branded as ridiculous the insinuations that


President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had a hand in the Supreme Courts
July 1 order suspending the implementation of the Expanded Value
Added Tax Law.
At the same time, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez slammed resigned
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and exTrade Secretary Juan Santos
for claiming that the President had wanted the implementation of the
law delayed so she would not get too much political flak for the tax
measure.

(4) July 11, 2005, The Philippine Star, Business Section (The
Last Straw that Broke a Cabinet)

For exFinance Secretary Cesar Purisima, the implementation of the


EVAT law was a major pillar to strengthen the countrys finances, to get
our fiscal house in order. As far as he and the rest of the economic
management team he heads are concerned, they are operating under the
fiscal equivalent of a red alert. They have scored some early victories, like
the in

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

crease in revenue collections in recent months, but they know that they
are still far from being in the clear.
That was why Purisima felt truly betrayed when he reportedly got a
phone call from an official telling him yung hinihingi nyo sa Supreme
Court binigay na. He didnt have any pending requests from the Court
so he wondered, refusing to accept the reality of his worst fear: The
EVAT had been sacrificed by the Palace.

(5) July 12, 2005, The Philippine Daily Inquirer (No GMA
Influence on eVAT freezeSC)

Bunye made the reaffirmation after Purisima and former Trade


Secretary Juan Santos insinuated that the President might have
influenced the Supreme Court to grant the TRO.

At the time the reports came out, Purisima did not contro
vert the truth or falsity of the statements attributed to
him. It was only after the Court issued the showcause
order that Purisima saw it fit to deny having uttered these
statements. By then, it was already impressed upon the
publics mind that the issuance of the TRO was the product
of machinations on the Court by the executive branch.
If it were true that Purisima felt that the media
misconstrued his actions, then he should have immediately
rectified it. He should not have waited until the Court
required him to explain before he denied having made such
statements. And even then, his denials were made as a
result of the Courts showcause order and not by any
voluntary act on his part that will show utter regret for
having been misquoted. Purisima should know that these
press releases placed the Court into dishonor, disrespect,
and public contempt, diminished public confidence,
promoted distrust in the Court, and assailed the integrity
of its Members. The Court already took a beating before
Purisima made any disclaimer. The damage has been done,
so to speak.
WHEREFORE, Cesar V. Purisima is found GUILTY of
indirect contempt of court and FINED in the amount of
Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) to be paid within ten
(10) days from finality of herein Resolution.

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Abakada Guro Party List vs. Ermita

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr. (C.J.), Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing,


SandovalGutierrez, Carpio, Corona, CarpioMorales,
Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, ChicoNazario and Garcia, JJ.,
concur.
YnaresSantiago, J., On Leave.

Cesar V. Purisima meted with P20,000.00 fine for


indirect contempt.

Notes.A publication which tends to impede, obstruct,


embarrass or influence the courts in administering justice
in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes criminal
contempt which is summarily punishable by courts. A
publication which tends to degrade the courts and to
destroy public confidence in them or that which tends to
bring them in any way into disrepute, constitutes likewise
criminal contempt, and is equally punishable by courts.
(Social Weather Stations, Inc. vs. Asuncion, 228 SCRA xi
[1993])

Clearly, the public interest involved in freedom of speech


and the individual interest of judges (and for that matter,
all other public officials) in the maintenance of private
honor and reputation need to be accommodated one to the
other. And the point of adjustment or accommodation
between these two legitimate interests is precisely found in
the norm which requires those who, invoking freedom of
speech, publish statements which are clearly defamatory to
identifiable judges or other public officials to exercise bona
fide care in ascertaining the truth of the statements they
publish. The norm does not require that a journalist
guarantee the truth of what he says or publishes. But the
norm does prohibit the reckless disregard of private
reputation by publishing or circulating defamatory
statements without any bona fide effort to ascertain the
truth thereof. (In Re: Emil P. Jurado, 243 SCRA 299
[1995])

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