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EN BANC

[BAR MATTER No. 712. March 19, 1997]


RE: PETITION OF AL ARGOSINO TO TAKE THE LAWYER'S OATH

RESOLUTION
PADILLA, J.:

Petitioner Al Caparros Argosino passed the bar examinations held in 1993. The Court
however deferred his oath-taking due to his previous conviction for Reckless Imprudence
Resulting In Homicide.
The criminal case which resulted in petitioner' s conviction, arose from the death of a
neophyte during fraternity initiation rites sometime in September 1991. Petitioner and
seven (7) other accused initially entered pleas of not guilty to homicide charges. The eight
(8) accused later withdrew their initial pleas and upon re-arraignment all pleaded guilty to
reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
On the basis of such pleas, the trial court rendered judgment dated 11 February 1993
imposing on each of the accused a sentence of imprisonment of from two (2) years four (4)
months and one (1) day to four (4) years.
On 18 June 1993, the trial court granted herein petitioner's application for probation.
On 11 April 1994, the trial court issued an order approving a report dated 6 April 1994
submitted by the Probation Officer recommending petitioner's discharge from probation
On 14 April 1994, petitioner filed before this Court a petition to be allowed to take the
lawyer's oath based on the order of his discharge from probation.
On 13 July 1995, the Court through then Senior Associate Justice Florentino P. Feliciano
issued a resolution requiring petitioner Al C. Argosino to submit to the Court evidence that
he may now be regarded as complying with the requirement of good moral character
imposed upon those seeking admission to the bar.
In compliance with the above resolution, petitioner submitted no less than fifteen (15)
certifications/letters executed by among others two (2) senators, five (5) trial court judges,
and six (6) members of religious orders. Petitioner likewise submitted evidence that a
scholarship foundation had been established in honor of Raul Camaligan, the hazing victim,
through joint efforts of the latter's family and the eight (8) accused in the criminal case.
On 26 September 1995, the Court required Atty Gilbert Camaligan, father of Raul, to
comment on petitioner's prayer to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath.
In his comment dated 4 December 1995, Atty. Camaligan states that:
a. He still believes that the infliction of severe physical injuries which led to the death of his
son was deliberate rather than accidental. The offense therefore was not only homicide but
murder since the accused took advantage of the neophyte's helplessness implying abuse of
confidence, taking advantage of superior strength and treachery.
b. He consented to the accused's plea of guilt to the lesser offense of reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide only out of pity for the mothers of the accused and a pregnant wife of one
of the accused who went to their house on Christmas day 1991 and Maundy Thursday 1992,
literally on their knees, crying and begging for forgiveness and compassion. They also told him
that the father of one of the accused had died of a heart attack upon learning of his son's
involvement in the incident.
c. As a Christian, he has forgiven petitioner and his co-accused for the death of his son.
However, as a loving father who had lost a son whom he had hoped would succeed him in his
law practice, he still feels the pain of an untimely demise and the stigma of the gruesome manner
of his death.
d. He is not in a position to say whether petitioner is now morally fit for admission to the
bar. He therefore submits the matter to the sound discretion of the Court.
The practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the strict intellectual
and moral qualifications required of lawyers who are instruments in the effective and
efficient administration o f justice. It is the sworn duty of this Court not only to "weed out"
lawyers who have become a disgrace to the noble profession of the law but, also of equal
importance, to prevent "misfits" from taking the lawyer' s oath, thereby further tarnishing
the public image of lawyers which in recent years has undoubtedly become less than
irreproachable.
The resolution of the issue before us required a weighing and re-weighing of the reasons
for allowing or disallowing petitioner's admission to the practice of law. The senseless
beatings inf1icted upon Raul Camaligan constituted evident absence of that moral fitness
required for admission to the bar since they were totally irresponsible, irrelevant and
uncalled for.
In the 13 July 1995 resolution in this case we stated:

"x x x participation in the prolonged and mindless physical behavior, [which]


makes impossible a finding that the participant [herein petitioner] was then
possessed of good moral character." [1]

In the same resolution, however, we stated that the Court is prepared to consider de
novo the question of whether petitioner has purged himself of the obvious deficiency in
moral character referred to above.
Before anything else, the Court understands and shares the sentiment of Atty. Gilbert
Camaligan. The death of one's child is, for a parent, a most traumatic experience. The
suffering becomes even more pronounced and profound in cases where the death is due to
causes other than natural or accidental but due to the reckless imprudence of third parties.
The feeling then becomes a struggle between grief and anger directed at the cause of death.
Atty. Camaligan's statement before the Court manifesting his having forgiven the
accused is no less than praiseworthy and commendable. It is exceptional for a parent, given
the circumstances in this cases, to find room for forgiveness.
However, Atty. Camaligan admits that he is still not in a position to state if petitioner is
now morally fit to be a lawyer.
After a very careful evaluation of this case, we resolve to allow petitioner Al Caparros
Argosino to take the lawyer's oath, sign the Roll of Attorneys and practice the legal profession
with the following admonition:
In allowing Mr. Argosino to take the lawyer's oath, the Court recognizes that Mr.
Argosino is not inherently of bad moral fiber. On the contrary, the various certifications show
that he is a devout Catholic with a genuine concern for civic duties and public service.
The Court is persuaded that Mr. Argosino has exerted all efforts to atone for the death of
Raul Camaligan. We are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, taking judicial notice
of the general tendency of youth to be rash, temerarious and uncalculating.
We stress to Mr. Argosino that the lawyer's oath is NOT a mere ceremony or formality
for practicing law. Every lawyer should at ALL TIMES weigh his actions according to the
sworn promises he makes when taking the lawyer's oath. If all lawyers conducted
themselves strictly according to the lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional
Responsibility, the administration of justice will undoubtedly be faster, fairer and easier for
everyone concerned.
The Court sincerely hopes that Mr. Argosino will continue with the assistance he has
been giving to his community. As a lawyer he will now be in a better position to render legal
and other services to the more unfortunate members of society.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, petitioner Al Caparros Argosino is hereby ALLOWED to take
the lawyer's oath on a date to be set by the Court, to sign the Roll of Attorneys and, thereafter,
to practice the legal profession.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug,
Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban, and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.

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 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.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner,


vs.
ALBERTO MINA, HON. ELEUTERIO F. GUERRERO and HON. ZENAIDA LAGUILLES, Respondents.
DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, grounded on pure
questions of law, with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction assailing the Resolution dated May 3, 2002
promulgated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116, Pasay City, in Civil Case No. 02-0137,
which denied the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC), Branch 45, Pasay City, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705;1 and the RTCs Order dated June 5,
2002 denying the Motion for Reconsideration. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this
Court.

The antecedents:

On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before the MeTC a formal Entry of
Appearance, as private prosecutor, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 for Grave Threats, where his
father, Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.

The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his appearance as private
prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court
En Banc in Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr.2 that a non-lawyer may appear before the inferior courts
as an agent or friend of a party litigant. The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was
with the prior conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of Mariano Cruz
appointing him to be his agent in the prosecution of the said criminal case.

However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied permission for petitioner to appear
as private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in
conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should take
precedence over the ruling of the Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation
of trial.3

On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion for Reconsideration seeking to
reverse the February 1, 2002 Order alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, does
not have the effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule 138, for the authority to interpret the rule is
the source itself of the rule, which is the Supreme Court alone.

In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration.

On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus with
Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order against the private respondent
and the public respondent MeTC.

After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain public respondent MeTC Judge from
proceeding with Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the Certiorari proceedings, the RTC, in a
Resolution dated May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the issuance of an injunctive writ on the ground
that the crime of Grave Threats, the subject of Criminal Case No. 00-1705, is one that can be
prosecuted de oficio, there being no claim for civil indemnity, and that therefore, the intervention of
a private prosecutor is not legally tenable.
On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for Reconsideration. The petitioner
argues that nowhere does the law provide that the crime of Grave Threats has no civil aspect. And
last, petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which expressly provides for the
appearance of a non-lawyer before the inferior courts, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even
without the supervision of a member of the bar.

Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration before the RTC, the petitioner
filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration dated June 7, 2002 with the MeTC seeking the reversal of
the March 4, 2002 Denial Order of the said court, on the strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a
Motion to Hold In Abeyance the Trial dated June 10, 2002 of Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the
outcome of the certiorari proceedings before the RTC.

On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the petitioners Second Motion for
Reconsideration and his Motion to Hold in Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had
already denied the Entry of Appearance of petitioner before the MeTC.

On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant Petition and assigns the
following errors:

I.

the respondent regional trial court abused its discretion when it resolved to deny the prayer for the
writ of injunction of the herein petitioner despite petitioner having established the necessity of
granting the writ;

II.

THE RESPONDENT TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION, TANTAMOUNT TO IGNORANCE OF


THE LAW, WHEN IT RESOLVED TO DENY THE PRAYER FOR THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION AND THE SUBSEQUENT MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE HEREIN
PETITIONER ON THE BASIS THAT [GRAVE] THREATS HAS NO CIVIL ASPECT, FOR THE SAID BASIS
OF DENIAL IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW;

III.

THE RESPONDENT METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED
THE MOTION TO HOLD IN ABEYANCE TRIAL, WHEN WHAT WAS DENIED BY THE RESPONDENT
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS THE ISSUANCE OF THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and
WHEN THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS YET TO DECIDE ON THE MERITS OF THE
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI;

IV.

THE RESPONDENT COURT[s] ARE CLEARLY IGNORING THE LAW WHEN THEY PATENTLY
REFUSED TO HEED TO [sic] THE CLEAR MANDATE OF THE LAPUT, CANTIMBUHAN AND BULACAN
CASES, AS WELL AS BAR MATTER NO. 730, PROVIDING FOR THE APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS
BEFORE THE LOWER COURTS (MTCS).4
This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the nature of the
issues reviewed, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.5

Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification, and implementation of Section
34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Bar Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student
practice and Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of the Court in Cantimbuhan, the Court
takes cognizance of herein petition.

The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an inferior court as
an agent or friend of a party litigant.

The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the Rules
of Court, prohibits the petitioner, as a law student, from entering his appearance in behalf of his
father, the private complainant in the criminal case without the supervision of an attorney duly
accredited by the law school.

Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides:

RULE 138-A
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE

Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. A law student who has successfully completed his 3rd
year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's
clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or
officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.

Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, shall be under the
direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited
by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed,
must be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic.

However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730, the Court En Banc clarified:

The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court, where the issues
and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal
capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace, a party may
conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that
purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation
personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly
authorized member of the bar.

Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party without the
supervision of a member of the bar.7 (Emphasis supplied)

The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730 is subsequently changed to
"In the court of a municipality" as it now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus:8
SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. In the Court of a municipality a party may conduct his
litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the
aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
attorney and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
(Emphasis supplied)

which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry of Appearance with the MeTC
on September 25, 2000. No real distinction exists for under Section 6, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court,
the term "Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall include Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.

There is really no problem as to the application of Section 34 of Rule 138 and Rule 138-A. In the
former, the appearance of a non-lawyer, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, is expressly
allowed, while the latter rule provides for conditions when a law student, not as an agent or a friend
of a party litigant, may appear before the courts.

Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule 138. The court a quo must have
been confused by the fact that petitioner referred to himself as a law student in his entry of
appearance. Rule 138-A should not have been used by the courts a quo in denying permission to act
as private prosecutor against petitioner for the simple reason that Rule 138-A is not the basis for
the petitioners appearance.

Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts by a non-lawyer is allowed,
irrespective of whether or not he is a law student. As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by
virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a friend of a party litigant,
without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior courts.

Petitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its very nature, no civil liability
may flow from the crime of Grave Threats, and, for this reason, the intervention of a private
prosecutor is not possible.

It is clear from the RTC Decision that no such conclusion had been intended by the RTC. In denying
the issuance of the injunctive court, the RTC stated in its Decision that there was no claim for civil
liability by the private complainant for damages, and that the records of the case do not provide for
a claim for indemnity; and that therefore, petitioners appearance as private prosecutor appears to
be legally untenable.

Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally liable for a felony is also
civilly liable except in instances when no actual damage results from an offense, such as espionage,
violation of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against popular representation.9 The
basic rule applies in the instant case, such that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action
for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with
criminal action, unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.10

The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, nor prior institution of
the civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave
Threats is deemed instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private prosecutor may
rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 116, Pasay City are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch
45, Pasay City is DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 00-
1705 as a private prosecutor under the direct control and supervision of the public prosecutor.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

EN BANC

A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007

JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for Disbarment1 before the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose
Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated
violation of the lawyer's oath."

In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account:

He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene)
introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne (sometimes spelled
"Mary Ann") Tantoco with whom he had three children.

After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to March
2001, Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages some of which
read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall."

Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning
of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked about her
whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy
with her work.

In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two occasions. On
the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house.
On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's birthday celebration at which he saw her
and respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, anger and
humiliation, he left the venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went to the conjugal
house and hauled off all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household
appliances.

Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words "I Love
You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000,
the day of his wedding to Irene, reading:

My everdearest Irene,

By the time you open this, you'll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I will say a
prayer for you that you may find meaning in what you're about to do.

Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but
experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it
because there's a bigger plan for the two of us?

I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly
possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU!

I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the
time we spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more importantly, I
will love you until the life in me is gone and until we are together again.

Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last me a
lifetime. Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL
ALWAYS

. . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!

BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE!

I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY TWEETIE
YOU'LL BE!"2

Eternally yours,
NOLI
Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street,
New Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene was already residing. He
also learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January 18, 2002 together with
respondent during a concert, she was pregnant.

In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted
letter was handwritten.

On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading:


14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as
they attended social functions together. For instance, in or about the third week of
September 2001, the couple attended the launch of the "Wine All You Can" promotion of
French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their
attendance was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard issue of 24 September 2001,
on page 21. Respondent and Irene were photographed together; their picture was
captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as
Annex C.4 (Italics and emphasis in the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting
their adulterous relationship" supplied),

respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:

4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous relationship with


Irene as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being that their
relationship was low profile and known only to the immediate members of their
respective families, and that Respondent, as far as the general public was concerned, was
still known to be legally married to Mary Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading:

15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the complainant's wife and his
apparent abandoning or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross moral
depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his membership in the bar. He flaunted his
aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper." Morally reprehensible
was his writing the love letter to complainant's bride on the very day of her wedding,
vowing to continue his love for her "until we are together again," as now they
are.6 (Underscoring supplied),

respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:

5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the Complaint


regarding his adulterousrelationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral depravity
thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason being
that Respondent's relationship with Irene was not under scandalous circumstances and
that as far as his relationship with his own family:

5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his wife]
Mary Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary Anne is aware
of Respondent's special friendship with Irene.

xxxx

5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage
by calling the institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his reference [in his
above-quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage between Complainant and Irene
as a piece of paper was merely with respect to the formality of the marriage
contract.7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading:

18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the laws. The
Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is the foundation of the
family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9

And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:

19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the laws
he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the
complainant's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family,
broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery with his wife, and degrades the
legal profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),

respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:

7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the


reason being that under the circumstances the acts of Respondent with respect to his purely
personal and low profile special relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous
circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for
disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.11(Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and
Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father. Complainant attached to
the Reply, as Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth13 bearing Irene's signature and naming
respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was born on February
14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital.

Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated January 10, 2003
from respondent in which he denied having "personal knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth
attached to the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint due to the
pendency of a civil case filed by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to Irene, and a
criminal complaint for adultery against respondent and Irene which was pending before the
Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.

During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to
Answer were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.16 Respondent's counsel did not cross-
examine complainant.17

After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page


REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the charge against respondent
sufficiently proven.

The Commissioner thus recommended19 that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading:

Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or


deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied),
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading:

Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner
to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by Resolution
dated January 28, 2006 briefly reading:

RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06

CBD Case No. 02-936


Joselano C. Guevarra vs.
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala
a.k.a. Noli Eala

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the
above-entitled case for lack of merit.20 (Italics and emphasis in the original)

Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule
13922 of the Rules of Court.

The petition is impressed with merit.

Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor as its
above-quoted 33-word Resolution shows.

Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present petition of complainant, that there is no
evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed:

While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the news item
published in the Manila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do not sufficiently prove
that respondent is carrying on an adulterous relationship with complainant's wife, there are
other pieces of evidence on record which support the accusation of complainant against
respondent.

It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent through
counsel made the following statements to wit: "Respondent specifically denies having
[ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the
Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that] their relationship was low profile and known
only to immediate members of their respective families . . . , and Respondent specifically
denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that under the
circumstances the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely personal and low
profile relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount
to grossly immoral conduct . . ."
These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there is indeed a
"special" relationship between him and complainant's wife, Irene, [which] taken
together with the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex "H-
1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an illicit relationship between respondent
and Irene which resulted in the birth of the child "Samantha". In the Certificate of Live
Birth of Samantha it should be noted that complainant's wife Irene supplied the
information that respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact that the
respondent admitted his special relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that
Irene would lie or make any misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the child. It
should be underscored that respondent has not categorically denied that he is the
father of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous relationship with
Irene, "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that "committed by any
married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who
has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently
declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What respondent denies is havingflaunted such relationship, he
maintaining that it was "low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective
families."

In other words, respondent's denial is a negative pregnant,

a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to
which are not squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the averments it was
directed at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which
carries with it in affirmation or at least an implication of some kind favorable to the adverse
party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the substantial facts alleged in the
pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and the words of the
allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that
the qualifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is
admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having "personal knowledge" of Irene's daughter
Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene named respondent
a "lawyer," 38 years old as the child's father. And the phrase "NOT MARRIED" is entered on the
desired information on "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A comparison of the signature
attributed to Irene in the certificate28 with her signature on the Marriage Certificate29 shows that
they were affixed by one and the same person. Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating
Commissioner noted, respondent never denied being the father of the child.

Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's Medical Center, in his January 29, 2003
Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the information in the
Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala," who was 38 years
old and a lawyer.31

Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been sufficiently
proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence that evidence adduced by one party which is
more conclusive and credible than that of the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than
the other32 which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer.
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they
may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.

. . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt
is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or suspension, "clearly
preponderant evidence" is all that is required.33 (Emphasis supplied)

Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene was
not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading:

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A


member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the
Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly
immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for
a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to
do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or


other disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an
attorney is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes
any of the acts hereinabove enumerated.

The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima
facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied),

under scandalous circumstances.34

The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the
phrase "grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous circumstances." Sexual intercourse
under scandalous circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code reading:

ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling,
or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not
his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision
correccional in its minimum and medium periods.

x x x x,

an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with a woman
elsewhere.

"Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage
should be characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on the surrounding
circumstances."35 The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married
woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is
the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:36
On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair
with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt and false as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" in order
to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.

xxxx

While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between
two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit
behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all
forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the
sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by
our laws.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38

The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did contract a
bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this administrative case substantiate
the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e.,
that indeed respondent has been carrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a
grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental
ethics of his profession. This detestable behavior renders him regrettably unfit and
undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges which his license confers upon
him.39 (Underscoring supplied)

Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice law which
goes:

I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do
solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I
will support its Constitution andobey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly
constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit,
nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will
conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all
good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this
voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.
(Underscoring supplied)

Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading:

Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State.

In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this constitutional
provision, obligates the husband and the wife "to live together, observe mutual love, respect and
fidelity, and render mutual help and support."40
Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct,"
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any
"conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law."

Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case before the IBP
Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainant's
petition for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had been granted by Branch 106 of the
Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for adultery complainant filed
against respondent and Irene "based on the same set of facts alleged in the instant case," which was
pending review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on
motion of complainant, withdrawn.

The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainant's Motion to
Withdraw Petition for Review reads:

Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the petition for
review, we are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of Department Circular No.
70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that "notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal,
the petitioner may withdraw the same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which
case the appealed resolution shall stand as though no appeal has been
taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by complainant)

That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is
immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and void.43 As
a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband
and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of
marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her
marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he
showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a
lawyer.

As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly
omitted to state that before complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his
Petition for Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution
on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of
complainant's complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's Resolution, DOJ Secretary
Simeon Datumanong held:

Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair


estimation of the Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense of
adultery on the part of both respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje conceded to
complainant that she was going out on dates with respondent Eala, and this she did when
complainant confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls and text messages to her.
Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a rendezvous on two
occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be married to
complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married to another woman. Moreover, Moje's
eventual abandonment of their conjugal home, after complainant had once more confronted
her about Eala, only served to confirm the illicit relationship involving both respondents.
This becomes all the more apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11thStreet,
New Manila, Quezon City, which was a few blocks away from the church where she had
exchange marital vows with complainant.

It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since Eala's vehicle
and that of Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits that she came to live in the
said address whereas Eala asserts that that was where he held office. The happenstance that
it was in that said address that Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that
both had formed smacks too much of a coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be
a residential house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout after her separation from
complainant. It was both respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair that was
carried out there bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby
hospital of St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates against the respondents is
the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information
that Eala was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the unlawful and damning
nature of the adulterous acts of the respondents. Complainant's supposed illegal
procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly beside the point for both respondents
Eala and Moje have not denied, in any categorical manner, that Eala is the father of
the child Samantha Irene Louise Moje.45(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus
leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to withdraw his petition for review. But
even if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the Information for
adultery were filed in court, the same would not have been a bar to the present administrative
complaint.

Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:

x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these
[administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by conduct
which merely enables one to escape the penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover, this Court,
in disbarment proceedings is acting in an entirely different capacity from that which courts
assume in trying criminal case47 (Italics in the original),

this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held:

Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from
and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006
by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.

Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of
his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records of
respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let copies of
the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.
This Decision takes effect immediately.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, Chief Justice, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez,


Corona, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Garcia, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, JJ., concur.

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 Tanodbayan-Ombudsman
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.

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. 87- 01304 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 party-


respondent, 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 government-
Commissioner 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 Philippines 21 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 139-
B 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 29 second 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. 35Where 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 not
and 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 themselves whose 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 vice-
president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the false,
erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the ex-
parte 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 above-
entitled 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, said-

To 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, the judicial 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.

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 above-numbered 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 political activity which
proscription, 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 on 19
May 2003, before the Sandiganbayan, asking that the appointment of counsels de officio (sic) be
declared functus officio 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 that-

The act of the public officer, if LAWFUL, is the act of the public office. But the act of the public
1awp++i1

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 show-cause 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. 1wphi1

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.

SECOND DIVISION

A.C. No. 5704 May 8, 2009

WILLEM KUPERS, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOHNSON B. HONTANOSAS, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

TINGA, J.:

This administrative case against respondent Atty. Johnson B. Hontanosas was triggered by a letter-
complaint1dated April 15, 2002 of complainant Willem Kupers to the Court through the Court
Administrator. The Court Administrator referred the letter to the Bar Confidant on April 25,
2002.2 On May 7, 2002, the Acting Bar Confidant wrote complainant that for the court to take
cognizance of an administrative case against a lawyer, a verified complaint must be filed in nineteen
(19) copies together with supporting documents.3 Thus, complainant was told to submit an
additional thirteen (13) copies of his complaint. On May 25, 2002, complainant complied and
submitted an additional thirteen (13) copies of his complaint.

Complainant alleged that respondent4 had: (1) prepared and notarized contracts that are both
invalid and illegal as these contracts violated the limitations on aliens leasing private lands; (2)
served conflicting interests since he performed legal services for adverse parties; (3) refused to
furnish copies of the contracts he notarized to the parties thereof; (4) notarized documents without
keeping copies thereof and (5) failed to properly discharge his duty to his client Karl Novak,
particularly when respondent allegedly refused to accept his dismissal as counsel for Novak, failed
to turn over Novaks documents thereafter, handled legal matters without adequate preparation,
betrayed Novaks trust and refused to see Novak with a translator of Novaks choice.

Complainant claimed that as counsel for Hans and Vivian Busse, respondent had prepared a
memorandum of agreement and a contract of lease between the spouses Busse and Hochstrasser, a
Swiss national. Under said agreement, Hochstrasser would lease Vivian Busses property in Alcoy,
Cebu for fifty (50) years, renewable for another fifty (50) years.5 Complainant added that
respondent had acted despite conflict of interest on his part since the Spouses Busse and
Hochstrasser were both his clients. Respondent prepared a similar agreement and lease contract
between the spouses Busse and Karl Emberger, a Swiss national, over another parcel of land in
Alcoy, Cebu. This time the lease contract was for a period of forty nine (49) years renewable for
another forty nine (49) years.6 All four (4) documents were notarized by respondent. It was also
averred that respondent drafted two deeds of sale over the leased properties of Spouses Busse to
Naomie Melchior, a Filipina, and Karl Novak, a German National.

The Court required respondent to comment on the charges.7 He answered that if anyone should be
penalized, it should be respondent for meddling in the affairs of his clients and otherwise making a
mockery of the Philippine legal system by deceitfully passing as material facts opinionated, baseless
and false allegations as well as a falsified document.8 Respondent also moved that complainant be
made to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt.

Complainant filed a reply on November 6, 2002, in which he stated among other things that
respondent is like Pontius Pilatus [sic].9

On February 10, 2003, the Court resolved to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.10

In lieu of hearings, Commissioner Doroteo Aguila required the parties to file their respective
memoranda due to the limited time period given by the Court. The parties did. The Commissioner
found that respondent had prepared and notarized contracts that violated Presidential Decree No.
471 (P.D. No. 471) since leases of private lands by aliens cannot exceed twenty five (25) years,
renewable for another twenty five (25) years.11 Nonetheless, complainant failed to prove the other
charges he had hurled against respondent as the former was not privy to the agreements between
respondent and the latters clients. Moreover, complainant failed to present any concrete proof of
the other charges. The commissioner recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for two (2) months.

Upon review, the IBP Board of Governors disregarded the recommendation of the commissioner
and dismissed the complaint on February 27, 2004.12 The Board of Governors ratiocinated that
suspension was not warranted since respondent did not really perform an illegal act. The act was
not illegal per se since the lease agreement was likely made to reflect the agreement among the
parties without considering the legality of the situation. While admittedly respondent may be guilty
of ignorance of the law or plain negligence, the Board dismissed the complaint out of compassion.

We reject the Boards recommendation. We stress that much is demanded from those who engage
in the practice of law because they have a duty not only to their clients, but also to the court, to the
bar, and to the public.13 The lawyers diligence and dedication to his work and profession ideally
should not only promote the interests of his clients. A lawyer has the duty to attain the ends of
justice by maintaining respect for the legal profession.14

The investigating commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors both found that the majority of the
charges against the respondent lack proof. Our own review of the records confirms that most of the
charges are unsupported by evidence. Such charges are simply the unsubstantiated accusations in
the complaint with nary a whit of concrete proof such as affidavits of the clients whose trust
respondents had allegedly breached.

However, administrative cases against lawyers are sui generes and as such the complainant in the
case need not be the aggrieved party. Thus even if complainant is not a party to the contracts, the
charge of drafting and notarizing contracts in contravention of law holds weight. A plain reading of
these contracts clearly shows that they violate the law limiting lease of private lands to aliens for a
period of twenty five (25) years renewable for another twenty five (25) years.

In his defense, respondent avers that the assailed contracts are valid under Republic Act No. 7652
(R.A. No. 7652), entitled "An Act Allowing The Long-Term Lease of Private Lands by Foreign
Investors." They add that these contracts should not be viewed purely as lease contracts since they
allow the leasor to nominate a Filipino citizen or corporation to purchase the subject property
within the lease period. Respondents defenses are frivolous. Assuming that it can be duly
established that his foreign clients are indeed "foreign investors" as contemplated under R.A. No.
7652,15 said law allows the lease for the original period of fifty (50) years, renewable for another
period of twenty five (25) years, well below the periods of fifty (50) years renewable for another
fifty (50) years, and forty-nine (49) years renewable for another forty-nine (49) years respectively,
stipulated in the two lease agreements. 1avvphi1

Respondent, by drafting the questioned lease agreements, caused his clients to violate Section 7 of
R.A. No. 7652 which states:

Sec. 7. Penal Provision. Any contract or agreement made or executed in violation of any of the
following prohibited acts shall be null and void ab initio and both contracting parties shall be
punished by a fine of not less than One Hundred thousand pesos (100,000) nor more than One
million pesos (1,000,000), or imprisonment of six (6) months to (6) years, or both, at the
discretion of the court:

(1) Any provision in the lease agreement stipulating a lease period in excess of that
provided in paragraph (1) of Section 4;

(2) Use of the leased premises for the purpose contrary to existing laws of the land, public
order, public policy, morals, or good customs;

(3) Any agreement or agreements resulting is the lease of land in excess of the area
approved by the DTI: Provided, That, where the excess of the totality of the area leased is
due to the acts of the lessee, the lessee shall be held solely liable therefor: Provided, further,
That, in the case of corporations, associations, or partnerships, the president, manager,
director, trustee, or officers responsible for the violation hereof shall bear the criminal
liability. (Emphasis ours)

In preparing and notarizing the illegal lease contracts, respondent violated the Attorneys Oath and
several canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. One of the foremost sworn duties of an
attorney-at-law is to "obey the laws of the Philippines." This duty is enshrined in the Attorneys
Oath16 and in Canon 1, which provides that "(a) lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws
of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes." Rule 1.02 under Canon 1 states: "A
lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at decreasing confidence
in the legal systems."

The other canons of professional responsibility which respondent transgressed are the following:

CANON 15 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS
AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.

xxx

Rule 15.07- A lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of
hairness.

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.
Aside from constituting violation of the lawyers oath, the acts of respondents also amount to gross
misconduct under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of
the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason
of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience appearing as an attorney
for a party to a case without authority so to do. x x x

The supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously
affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court. While we will not hesitate
to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls
for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.

We cannot accept, however, the plea of leniency expressed by the IBP Board of Governors in behalf
of respondent. We also find that the suspension for two (2) months recommended by the IBP
Investigating Commissioner too light. We find six (6) months suspension to be a sufficient sanction
against respondent.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Johnson B. Hontanosas, is found GUILTY of violating the lawyers
oath and gross misconduct. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months with
a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.
Respondents suspension is effective upon notice hereof. Let notice of this Resolution be spread in
respondents record as an attorney in this Court, and notice of the same served on the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts
concerned.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice