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PALE CASES – I.

PRACTICE OF LAW membership in the Integrated Bar, and default in such payment
for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of the
A. CONCEPT delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys. 4

Republic of the Philippines The submission of respondent Edillion as summarized in the


SUPREME COURT aforesaid resolution "is that the above provisions constitute an
Manila invasion of his constitutional rights in the sense that he is being
compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a
EN BANC lawyer in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay
the corresponding dues, and that as a consequence of this
compelled financial support of the said organization to which he
A.C. 1928 December 19, 1980 is admittedly personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the
rights to liberty and property guaranteed to him by the
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Constitution. Hence, the respondent concludes, the above
Atty. MARCIAL A. EDILLION (IBP Administrative Case provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP By-Laws are void
No. MDD-1), petitioner, and of no legal force and effect. 5 It was pointed out in the
resolution that such issues was raised on a previous case before
the Court, entitled 'Administrative Case No. 526, In the Matter
of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines,
Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners.' The Court exhaustively
FERNANDO, C.J.: considered all these matters in that case in its Resolution
ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines,
The full and plenary discretion in the exercise of its competence promulgated on January 9, 1973. 6The unanimous conclusion
to reinstate a disbarred member of the bar admits of no doubt. reached by the Court was that the integration of the Philippine
All the relevant factors bearing on the specific case, public Bar raises no constitutional question and is therefore legally
interest, the integrity of the profession and the welfare of the unobjectionable, "and, within the context of contemporary
recreant who had purged himself of his guilt are given their due conditions in the Philippine, has become an imperative means to
weight. Respondent Marcial A. Edillon was disbarred on August raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the
3, 1978, 1 the vote being unanimous with the late. administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its
public responsibility fully and effectively." 7
Chief Justice Castro ponente. From June 5, 1979, he had
repeatedly pleaded that he be reinstated. The minute resolution As mentioned at the outset, the vote was unanimous. From the
dated October 23, 1980, granted such prayer. It was there made time the decision was rendered, there were various pleadings
clear that it "is without prejudice to issuing an extended filed by respondent for reinstatement starting with a motion for
opinion." 2 reconsideration dated August 19, 1978. Characterized as it was
by persistence in his adamantine refusal to admit the full
competence of the Court on the matter, it was not unexpected
Before doing so, a recital of the background facts that led to the
that it would be denied. So it turned out. 8 It was the consensus
disbarment of respondent may not be amiss. As set forth in the
that he continued to be oblivious to certain balic juridical
resolution penned by the late Chief Justice Castro: "On
concepts, the appreciation of which does not even require great
November 29. 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP
depth of intellect. Since respondent could not be said to be that
for short) Board of Governors, unanimously adopted Resolution
deficient in legal knowledge and since his pleadings in other
No. 75-65 in Administrative case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of
cases coming before this Tribunal were quite literate, even if
the Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A. Edillon)
rather generously sprinkled with invective for which he had
recommending to the Court the removal of the name of the
been duly taken to task, there was the impression that his
respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for 'stubborn refusal to
recalcitrance arose from and sheer obstinacy. Necessary, the
pay his membership dues' to the IBP since the latter's
extreme penalty of disbarment visited on him was more than
constitution notwithstanding due notice. On January 21, 1976,
justified.
the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri, submitted
the said resolution to the Court for consideration and approval,.
Pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws Since then, however, there were other communications to this
of the IBP, which. reads: ... Should the delinquency further Court where a different attitude on his part was
continue until the following June 29, the Board shall promptly discernible. 9 The tone of defiance was gone and circumstances
inquire into the cause or causes of the continued delinquency of a mitigating character invoked — the state of his health and
and take whatever action it shall deem appropriate, including a his advanced age. He likewise spoke of the welfare of former
recommendation to the Supreme Court for the removal of the clients who still rely on him for counsel, their confidence
delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys. Notice of apparently undiminished. For he had in his career been a valiant,
the action taken should be submit by registered mail to the if at times unreasonable, defender of the causes entrusted to him.
member and to the Secretary of the Chapter concerned.' On
January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment This Court, in the light of the above, felt that reinstatement
on the resolution and letter adverted to above he submitted his could be ordered and so it did in the resolution of October 23,
comment on February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the 1980. It made certain that there was full acceptance on his part
membership fees due from him. On March 2, 1976, the Court of the competence of this Tribunal in the exercise of its plenary
required the IBP President and the IBP Board of Governors to power to regulate the legal profession and can integrate the bar
reply to Edillon's comment: On March 24, 1976, they submitted and that the dues were duly paid. Moreover, the fact that more
a joint reply. Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, than two years had elapsed during which he war. barred from
1976. After the hearing, the parties were required to submit exercising his profession was likewise taken into account. It may
memoranda in amplification of their oral arguments. The matter likewise be said that as in the case of the inherent power to
was thenceforth submitted for resolution." 3 punish for contempt and paraphrasing the dictum of Justice
Malcolm in Villavicencio v. Lukban, 10 the power to discipline,
Reference was then made to the authority of the IBP Board of especially if amounting to disbarment, should be exercised on
Governors to recommend to the Supreme Court the removal of a the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. 11
delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys as found
in Rules of Court: 'Effect of non-payment of dues. — Subject to One last word. It has been pertinently observed that there is no
the provisions of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the payment irretrievable finality as far as admission to the bar is concerned.
of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of

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So it is likewise as to loss of membership. What must ever be L-41361. March 8, 1976, 70 SCRA 37;
borne in mind is that membership in the bar, to follow Cardozo, Royeca v., Animas, L-39584, May 3, 1976,
is a privilege burdened with conditions. Failure to abide by any 71 SCRA 1; Blancaflor v. Laya, L-31399,
of them entails the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof March 17, 1978, 82 SCRA 148; Calo v.
warrant such drastic move. Thereafter a sufficient time having Tapucar, L-47244, January 16, 1979, 88
elapsed and after actuations evidencing that there was due SCRA 78.
contrition on the part of the transgressor, he may once again be
considered for the restoration of such a privilege. Hence, our
resolution of October 23, 1980. Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
The Court restores to membership to the bar Marcial A. Edillon.
EN BANC
Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez,
Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ.,
concur. A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC March 8, 2011

Aquino, J., concurs in the result. RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED
"RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE
FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE
PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE
ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND
Footnotes MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT"

1 In re Atty, Marcial A. Edillon, AC-1928, DECISION


August 3, 1978, 84 SCRA 554.
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
2 The minute resolution reads in full:-
"Acting on the petition of Mr. Marcial For disposition of the Court are the various submissions of the
Edillon for reinstatement to the Roll of 37 respondent law professors1 in response to the Resolution
Attorneys and it appearing that he had fully dated October 19, 2010 (the Show Cause Resolution), directing
paid his delinquant membership fees due the them to show cause why they should not be disciplined as
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and members of the Bar for violation of specific provisions of the
submitted to the IBP Board of Governors a Code of Professional Responsibility enumerated therein.
verified application for reinstatement
together with an undertaking to abide by all
By-laws and resolutions by said Board in the At the outset, it must be stressed that the Show Cause Resolution
event of reinstatement, the Court Resolved clearly dockets this as an administrative matter, not a special
to GRANT the petition of Mr. Marcial A. civil action for indirect contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules of
Edillon for as member of the Philippine Bar. Court, contrary to the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice
He is hereby allowed to take anew the Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno (Justice Sereno) to the said October
lawyer's oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution. Neither is this a disciplinary
after payment of the required fees. This proceeding grounded on an allegedly irregularly concluded
resolution is without prejudice to is an finding of indirect contempt as intimated by Associate Justice
extended opinion. Conchita Carpio Morales (Justice Morales) in her dissenting
opinions to both the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution
and the present decision.
3 84 SCRA 559.
With the nature of this case as purely a bar disciplinary
4 Section 10, Rule of Court 139-A. proceeding firmly in mind, the Court finds that with the
exception of one respondent whose compliance was adequate
5 84 SCRA 561. and another who manifested he was not a member of the
Philippine Bar, the submitted explanations, being mere denials
6 Ibid, 561. The reference is to and/or tangential to the issues at hand, are decidedly
Administrative Case No. 526. In ,he Matter unsatisfactory. The proffered defenses even more urgently
of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar behoove this Court to call the attention of respondent law
of the Philippines, January 9, 1973, 49 professors, who are members of the Bar, to the relationship of
SCRA 22. their duties as such under the Code of Professional
Responsibility to their civil rights as citizens and academics in
our free and democratic republic.
7 In re Integration of the Bar of the
Philippines, January 9, 1973, 49 SCRA 22,
33. The provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility
involved in this case are as follows:

8 The resolution denying the motion was


issued on November 13, 1978. CANON 1 — A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the
laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal
processes.
9 Letters dated June 5, 1979, August 7,
1979, November 13, 1979, April 12, 1980.
RULE 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or
abet activities aimed at defiance of the law
10 39 Phil. 778 (1919). or at lessening confidence in the legal
system.
11 People v. Estenzo. L-24522, May 29,
1975, 64 SCRA 211; Fontelera v. Amores,

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CANON 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to On April 28, 2010, the ponencia of Associate Justice Mariano
the court. del Castillo (Justice Del Castillo) in Vinuya, et al. v. Executive
Secretary (G.R. No. 162230) was promulgated. On May 31,
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any 2010, the counsel3 for Vinuya, et al. (the "Malaya Lolas"), filed
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in a Motion for Reconsideration of the Vinuya decision, raising
court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the solely the following grounds:
Court to be misled by any artifice.
I. Our own constitutional and jurisprudential histories
Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly reject this Honorable Courts’ (sic) assertion that the
misquote or misrepresent the contents of Executive’s foreign policy prerogatives are virtually
paper, the language or the argument of unlimited; precisely, under the relevant jurisprudence
opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or and constitutional provisions, such prerogatives are
authority, or knowingly cite as law a proscribed by international human rights and
provision already rendered inoperative by humanitarian standards, including those provided for
repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that in the relevant international conventions of which the
which has not been proved. Philippines is a party.4

Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the II. This Honorable Court has confused diplomatic
rules of procedure and shall not misuse them protection with the broader, if fundamental,
to defeat the ends of justice. responsibility of states to protect the human rights of
its citizens – especially where the rights asserted are
subject of erga omnes obligations and pertain to jus
CANON 11 — A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect cogens norms.5
due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on
similar conduct by others.
On July 19, 2010,6 counsel for the Malaya Lolas, Attys. H.
Harry L. Roque, Jr. (Atty. Roque) and Romel Regalado Bagares
RULE 11.05 A lawyer shall submit (Atty. Bagares), filed a Supplemental Motion for
grievances against a Judge to the proper Reconsideration in G.R. No. 162230, where they posited for the
authorities only. first time their charge of plagiarism as one of the grounds for
reconsideration of the Vinuya decision. Among other arguments,
CANON 13 — A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause Attys. Roque and Bagares asserted that:
and refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence, or
gives the appearance of influencing the court. I.

Established jurisprudence will undeniably support our view that IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT IS HIGHLY IMPROPER FOR
when lawyers speak their minds, they must ever be mindful of THIS HONORABLE COURT’S JUDGMENT OF APRIL 28,
their sworn oath to observe ethical standards of their profession, 2010 TO PLAGIARIZE AT LEAST THREE SOURCES – AN
and in particular, avoid foul and abusive language to condemn ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2009 IN THE YALE LAW
the Supreme Court, or any court for that matter, for a decision it JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, A BOOK
has rendered, especially during the pendency of a motion for PUBLISHED BY THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
such decision’s reconsideration. The accusation of plagiarism IN 2005 AND AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2006 IN THE
against a member of this Court is not the real issue here but CASE WESTERN RESERVE JOURNAL OF
rather this plagiarism issue has been used to deflect everyone’s INTERNATIONAL LAW – AND MAKE IT APPEAR THAT
attention from the actual concern of this Court to determine by THESE SOURCES SUPPORT THE JUDGMENT’S
respondents’ explanations whether or not respondent members ARGUMENTS FOR DISMISSING THE INSTANT PETITION
of the Bar have crossed the line of decency and acceptable WHEN IN TRUTH, THE PLAGIARIZED SOURCES EVEN
professional conduct and speech and violated the Rules of Court MAKE A STRONG CASE FOR THE PETITION’S CLAIMS.7
through improper intervention or interference as third parties to
a pending case. Preliminarily, it should be stressed that it was
respondents themselves who called upon the Supreme Court to They also claimed that "[i]n this controversy, the evidence bears
act on their Statement,2 which they formally submitted, through out the fact not only of extensive plagiarism but of (sic) also of
Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen (Dean Leonen), for the Court’s twisting the true intents of the plagiarized sources by the
proper disposition. Considering the defenses of freedom of ponencia to suit the arguments of the assailed Judgment for
speech and academic freedom invoked by the respondents, it is denying the Petition."8
worth discussing here that the legal reasoning used in the past by
this Court to rule that freedom of expression is not a defense in According to Attys. Roque and Bagares, the works allegedly
administrative cases against lawyers for using intemperate plagiarized in the Vinuya decision were namely: (1) Evan J.
speech in open court or in court submissions can similarly be Criddle and Evan Fox-Decent’s article "A Fiduciary Theory of
applied to respondents’ invocation of academic freedom. Indeed, Jus Cogens;"9 (2) Christian J. Tams’ book Enforcing Erga
it is precisely because respondents are not merely lawyers but Omnes Obligations in International Law;10 and (3) Mark Ellis’
lawyers who teach law and mould the minds of young aspiring article "Breaking the Silence: On Rape as an International
attorneys that respondents’ own non-observance of the Code of Crime."11
Professional Responsibility, even if purportedly motivated by
the purest of intentions, cannot be ignored nor glossed over by On the same day as the filing of the Supplemental Motion for
this Court. Reconsideration on July 19, 2010, journalists Aries C. Rufo and
Purple S. Romero posted an article, entitled "SC justice
To fully appreciate the grave repercussions of respondents’ plagiarized parts of ruling on comfort women," on the
actuations, it is apropos to revisit the factual antecedents of this Newsbreak website.12 The same article appeared on the GMA
case. News TV website also on July 19, 2010.13

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE On July 22, 2010, Atty. Roque’s column, entitled "Plagiarized
and Twisted," appeared in the Manila Standard Today.14 In the
Antecedent Facts and Proceedings said column, Atty. Roque claimed that Prof. Evan Criddle, one
of the authors purportedly not properly acknowledged in the

3
Vinuya decision, confirmed that his work, co-authored with I would appreciate receiving a response from your esteemed
Prof. Evan Fox-Decent, had been plagiarized. Atty. Roque Court as to the issues raised by this letter.
quoted Prof. Criddle’s response to the post by Julian Ku
regarding the news report15 on the alleged plagiarism in the With respect,
international law blog, Opinio Juris. Prof. Criddle responded to
Ku’s blog entry in this wise:
(Sgd.)
Dr. Mark Ellis20
The newspaper’s16 [plagiarism] claims are based on a motion for
reconsideration filed yesterday with the Philippine Supreme
Court yesterday. The motion is available here: In Memorandum Order No. 35-2010 issued on July 27, 2010,
the Court formed the Committee on Ethics and Ethical
Standards (the Ethics Committee) pursuant to Section 13, Rule 2
http://harryroque.com/2010/07/18/supplemental-motion- of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court. In an En Banc
alleging-plagiarism-in-the-supreme-court/ Resolution also dated July 27, 2010, the Court referred the July
22, 2010 letter of Justice Del Castillo to the Ethics Committee.
The motion suggests that the Court’s decision contains thirty- The matter was subsequently docketed as A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.
four sentences and citations that are identical to sentences and
citations in my 2009 YJIL article (co-authored with Evan Fox- On August 2, 2010, the Ethics Committee required Attys. Roque
Decent). Professor Fox-Decent and I were unaware of the and Bagares to comment on the letter of Justice Del Castillo.21
petitioners’ [plagiarism] allegations until after the motion was
filed today.
On August 9, 2010, a statement dated July 27, 2010, entitled
"Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the
Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect of the court’s jus University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations
cogens discussion is that it implies that the prohibitions against of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court" (the
crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and torture are not jus Statement), was posted in Newsbreak’s website22 and on Atty.
cogens norms. Our article emphatically asserts the opposite. The Roque’s blog.23 A report regarding the statement also appeared
Supreme Court’s decision is available on various on-line news sites, such as the GMA News TV24 and
here: http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2010/april2010/16 the Sun Star25 sites, on the same date. The statement was
2230.htm17 likewise posted at the University of the Philippines College of
Law’s bulletin board allegedly on August 10, 2010 26 and at said
On even date, July 22, 2010, Justice Del Castillo wrote to his college’s website.27
colleagues on the Court in reply to the charge of plagiarism
contained in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. 18 On August 11, 2010, Dean Leonen submitted a copy of the
Statement of the University of the Philippines College of Law
In a letter dated July 23, 2010, another purportedly plagiarized Faculty (UP Law faculty) to the Court, through Chief Justice
author in the Vinuya decision, Dr. Mark Ellis, wrote the Court, Renato C. Corona (Chief Justice Corona). The cover letter dated
to wit: August 10, 2010 of Dean Leonen read:

Your Honours: The Honorable


Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines
I write concerning a most delicate issue that has come to my
attention in the last few days.
Through: Hon. Renato C. Corona
Chief Justice
Much as I regret to raise this matter before your esteemed Court,
I am compelled, as a question of the integrity of my work as an Subject: Statement of faculty
academic and as an advocate of human rights and humanitarian from the UP College of Law
law, to take exception to the possible unauthorized use of my on the Plagiarism in the case of
law review article on rape as an international crime in your Vinuya v Executive Secretary
esteemed Court’s Judgment in the case of Vinuya et al. v.
Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230, Judgment of 28
April 2010). Your Honors:

My attention was called to the Judgment and the issue of We attach for your information and proper disposition a
possible plagiarism by the Philippine chapter of the Southeast statement signed by thirty[-]eight (38)28members of the faculty
Asia Media Legal Defence Initiative (SEAMLDI),19 an affiliate of the UP College of Law. We hope that its points could be
of the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), considered by the Supreme Court en banc.
where I sit as trustee.
Respectfully,
In particular, I am concerned about a large part of the extensive
discussion in footnote 65, pp. 27-28, of the said Judgment of (Sgd.)
your esteemed Court. I am also concerned that your esteemed Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Court may have misread the arguments I made in the article and Dean and Professor of Law
employed them for cross purposes. This would be ironic since
the article was written precisely to argue for the appropriate
legal remedy for victims of war crimes, genocide, and crimes (Emphases supplied.)
against humanity.
The copy of the Statement attached to the above-quoted letter
I believe a full copy of my article as published in the Case did not contain the actual signatures of the alleged signatories
Western Reserve Journal of International Law in 2006 has been but only stated the names of 37 UP Law professors with the
made available to your esteemed Court. I trust that your notation (SGD.) appearing beside each name. For convenient
esteemed Court will take the time to carefully study the reference, the text of the UP Law faculty Statement is
arguments I made in the article. reproduced here:

4
RESTORING INTEGRITY citation of the material relied upon. It is a matter of diligence
and competence expected of all Magistrates of the Highest Court
A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF of the Land.
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF
LAW But a far more serious matter is the objection of the original
ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND writers, Professors Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent, that the
MISREPRESENTATION High Court actually misrepresents the conclusions of their
IN THE SUPREME COURT work entitled "A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens," the main
source of the plagiarized text. In this article they argue that the
An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed classification of the crimes of rape, torture, and sexual slavery as
against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time crimes against humanity have attained the status of jus cogens,
of war. After they courageously came out with their very making it obligatory upon the State to seek remedies on behalf
personal stories of abuse and suffering as "comfort women", of its aggrieved citizens. Yet, the Vinuya decision uses parts of
waited for almost two decades for any meaningful relief from the same article to arrive at the contrary conclusion. This
their own government as well as from the government of Japan, exacerbates the intellectual dishonesty of copying works without
got their hopes up for a semblance of judicial recourse in the attribution by transforming it into an act of intellectual fraud by
case of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 162230 (28 copying works in order to mislead and deceive.
April 2010), they only had these hopes crushed by a singularly
reprehensible act of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the The case is a potential landmark decision in International Law,
Highest Court of the land. because it deals with State liability and responsibility for
personal injury and damage suffered in a time of war, and the
It is within this frame that the Faculty of the University of the role of the injured parties’ home States in the pursuit of
Philippines College of Law views the charge that an Associate remedies against such injury or damage. National courts rarely
Justice of the Supreme Court committed plagiarism and have such opportunities to make an international impact. That
misrepresentation in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary. The the petitioners were Filipino "comfort women" who suffered
plagiarism and misrepresentation are not only affronts to the from horrific abuse during the Second World War made it
individual scholars whose work have been appropriated without incumbent on the Court of last resort to afford them every
correct attribution, but also a serious threat to the integrity and solicitude. But instead of acting with urgency on this case, the
credibility of the Philippine Judicial System. Court delayed its resolution for almost seven years, oblivious to
the deaths of many of the petitioners seeking justice from the
Court. When it dismissed the Vinuya petition based on
In common parlance, ‘plagiarism’ is the appropriation and misrepresented and plagiarized materials, the Court decided this
misrepresentation of another person’s work as one’s own. In the case based on polluted sources. By so doing, the Supreme Court
field of writing, it is cheating at best, and stealing at worst. It added insult to injury by failing to actually exercise its "power to
constitutes a taking of someone else’s ideas and expressions, urge and exhort the Executive Department to take up the claims
including all the effort and creativity that went into committing of the Vinuya petitioners. Its callous disposition, coupled with
such ideas and expressions into writing, and then making it false sympathy and nonchalance, belies a more alarming lack of
appear that such ideas and expressions were originally created concern for even the most basic values of decency and
by the taker. It is dishonesty, pure and simple. A judicial system respect. The reputation of the Philippine Supreme Court and the
that allows plagiarism in any form is one that allows dishonesty. standing of the Philippine legal profession before other
Since all judicial decisions form part of the law of the land, to Judiciaries and legal systems are truly at stake.
allow plagiarism in the Supreme Court is to allow the production
of laws by dishonest means. Evidently, this is a complete
perversion and falsification of the ends of justice. The High Court cannot accommodate less than absolute honesty
in its decisions and cannot accept excuses for failure to attain the
highest standards of conduct imposed upon all members of the
A comparison of the Vinuya decision and the original source Bench and Bar because these undermine the very foundation of
material shows that the ponente merely copied select portions of its authority and power in a democratic society. Given the
other legal writers’ works and interspersed them into the Court’s recent history and the controversy that surrounded it, it
decision as if they were his own, original work. Under the cannot allow the charges of such clear and obvious plagiarism to
circumstances, however, because the Decision has been pass without sanction as this would only further erode faith and
promulgated by the Court, the Decision now becomes the confidence in the judicial system. And in light of the
Court’s and no longer just the ponente’s. Thus the Court also significance of this decision to the quest for justice not only of
bears the responsibility for the Decision. In the absence of any Filipino women, but of women elsewhere in the world who have
mention of the original writers’ names and the publications from suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and exploitation in times of
which they came, the thing speaks for itself. war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief and justice to the
petitioners on the basis of pilfered and misinterpreted texts.
So far there have been unsatisfactory responses from the
ponente of this case and the spokesman of the Court. The Court cannot regain its credibility and maintain its moral
authority without ensuring that its own conduct, whether
It is argued, for example, that the inclusion of the footnotes from collectively or through its Members, is beyond reproach. This
the original articles is a reference to the ‘primary’ sources relied necessarily includes ensuring that not only the content, but also
upon. This cursory explanation is not acceptable, because the the processes of preparing and writing its own decisions, are
original authors’ writings and the effort they put into finding and credible and beyond question. The Vinuya Decision must be
summarizing those primary sources are precisely the subject of conscientiously reviewed and not casually cast aside, if not for
plagiarism. The inclusion of the footnotes together with portions the purpose of sanction, then at least for the purpose of
of their writings in fact aggravates, instead of mitigates, the reflection and guidance. It is an absolutely essential step toward
plagiarism since it provides additional evidence of a deliberate the establishment of a higher standard of professional care and
intention to appropriate the original authors’ work of organizing practical scholarship in the Bench and Bar, which are critical to
and analyzing those primary sources. improving the system of administration of justice in the
Philippines. It is also a very crucial step in ensuring the position
It is also argued that the Members of the Court cannot be of the Supreme Court as the Final Arbiter of all controversies: a
expected to be familiar with all legal and scholarly journals. position that requires competence and integrity completely
This is also not acceptable, because personal unfamiliarity with above any and all reproach, in accordance with the exacting
sources all the more demands correct and careful attribution and demands of judicial and professional ethics.

5
With these considerations, and bearing in mind the solemn
duties and trust reposed upon them as teachers in the profession (SGD.) PATRICIA R.P.
(SGD.) EVELYN (LEO)
of Law, it is the opinion of the Faculty of the University of the SALVADOR DAWAY
D. BATTAD
Philippine College of Law that: Associate Dean and
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
(1) The plagiarism committed in the case
of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary is (SGD.) DANTE B. (SGD.) GWEN G. DE
unacceptable, unethical and in breach of the GATMAYTAN VERA
high standards of moral conduct and judicial Associate Professor Assistant Professor
and professional competence expected of the
Supreme Court;
(SGD.) THEODORE O. (SGD.) SOLOMON F.
TE LUMBA
(2) Such a fundamental breach endangers Assistant Professor Assistant Professor
the integrity and credibility of the entire
Supreme Court and undermines the
foundations of the Philippine judicial system (SGD.) FLORIN T. (SGD.) ROMMEL J.
by allowing implicitly the decision of cases HILBAY CASIS
and the establishment of legal precedents Assistant Professor Assistant Professor
through dubious means;

(3) The same breach and consequent LECTURERS


disposition of the Vinuya case does violence
to the primordial function of the Supreme (SGD.) JOSE GERARDO A.
Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to (SGD.) JOSE C. LAURETA
ALAMPAY
all those who have been left without legal or
equitable recourse, such as the petitioners (SGD.) DINA D.
(SGD.) ARTHUR P. AUTEA
therein; LUCENARIO
(SGD.) ROSA MARIA J.
(SGD.) OWEN J. LYNCH
(4) In light of the extremely serious and far- BAUTISTA
reaching nature of the dishonesty and to (SGD.) ANTONIO M.
(SGD.) MARK R. BOCOBO
save the honor and dignity of the Supreme SANTOS
Court as an institution, it is necessary for (SGD.) VICENTE V.
the ponente of Vinuya v. Executive (SGD.) DAN P. CALICA
MENDOZA
Secretary to resign his position, without (SGD.) TRISTAN A. (SGD.) RODOLFO NOEL S.
prejudice to any other sanctions that the CATINDIG QUIMBO
Court may consider appropriate;
(SGD.) SANDRA MARIE O. (SGD.) GMELEEN FAYE B.
CORONEL TOMBOC
(5) The Supreme Court must take this
opportunity to review the manner by which (SGD.) ROSARIO O. (SGD.) NICHOLAS FELIX
it conducts research, prepares drafts, reaches GALLO L. TY
and finalizes decisions in order to prevent a (SGD.) CONCEPCION L.
(SGD.) EVALYN G. URSUA
recurrence of similar acts, and to provide JARDELEZA
clear and concise guidance to the Bench and (SGD.) ANTONIO G.M. LA
Bar to ensure only the highest quality of (SGD.) RAUL T. VASQUEZ
VIÑA
legal research and writing in pleadings,
(SGD.) SUSAN D.
practice, and adjudication. (SGD.) CARINA C.
VILLANUEVA29
LAFORTEZA
(Underscoring supplied.)
Malcolm Hall, University of the Philippines College of Law,
Quezon City, 27 July 2010.
Meanwhile, in a letter dated August 18, 2010, Prof. Christian J.
Tams made known his sentiments on the alleged plagiarism
(SGD.) MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN issue to the Court.30 We quote Prof. Tams’ letter here:
Dean and Professor of Law
Glasgow, 18 August 2010
(SGD.) FROILAN M. (SGD.) PACIFICO A.
BACUNGAN AGABIN Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230)
Dean (1978-1983) Dean (1989-1995)
Hon. Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice
(SGD.) SALVADOR T.
(SGD.) MERLIN M. Your Excellency,
CARLOTA
MAGALLONA
Dean (2005-2008) and
Dean (1995-1999)
Professor of Law My name is Christian J. Tams, and I am a professor of
international law at the University of Glasgow. I am writing to
you in relation to the use of one of my publications in the above-
REGULAR FACULTY mentioned judgment of your Honourable Court.

The relevant passage of the judgment is to be found on p. 30 of


(SGD.) CARMELO V. (SGD.) JAY L. your Court’s Judgment, in the section addressing the concept of
SISON BATONGBACAL obligations erga omnes. As the table annexed to this letter
Professor Assistant Professor shows, the relevant sentences were taken almost word by word
from the introductory chapter of my book Enforcing Obligations
Erga Omnes in International Law (Cambridge University Press

6
2005). I note that there is a generic reference to my work in Notably, while the statement was meant to reflect the educators’
footnote 69 of the Judgment, but as this is in relation to a opinion on the allegations of plagiarism against Justice Del
citation from another author (Bruno Simma) rather than with Castillo, they treated such allegation not only as an established
respect to the substantive passages reproduced in the Judgment, fact, but a truth. In particular, they expressed dissatisfaction over
I do not think it can be considered an appropriate form of Justice Del Castillo’s explanation on how he cited the primary
referencing. sources of the quoted portions and yet arrived at a contrary
conclusion to those of the authors of the articles supposedly
I am particularly concerned that my work should have been used plagiarized.
to support the Judgment’s cautious approach to the erga omnes
concept. In fact, a most cursory reading shows that my book’s Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which
central thesis is precisely the opposite: namely that the erga raise concern for the Court. The opening sentence alone is a
omnes concept has been widely accepted and has a firm place in grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads:
contemporary international law. Hence the introductory chapter
notes that "[t]he present study attempts to demystify aspects of An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed
the ‘very mysterious’ concept and thereby to facilitate its against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time
implementation" (p. 5). In the same vein, the concluding section of war.
notes that "the preceding chapters show that the concept is now
a part of the reality of international law, established in the
jurisprudence of courts and the practice of States" (p. 309). The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in
Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as a reprehensible act of
dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the
With due respect to your Honourable Court, I am at a loss to see land. x x x.
how my work should have been cited to support – as it
seemingly has – the opposite approach. More generally, I am
concerned at the way in which your Honourable Court’s The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by
Judgment has drawn on scholarly work without properly imputations of deliberately delaying the resolution of the said
acknowledging it. case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the
Court’s alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the
Vinuya case], as well as the supposed alarming lack of concern
On both aspects, I would appreciate a prompt response from of the members of the Court for even the most basic values of
your Honourable Court. decency and respect.34 x x x. (Underscoring ours.)

I remain In the same Resolution, the Court went on to state that:

Sincerely yours While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is
critical to maintaining a free and democratic society, there is
(Sgd.) also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far.
Christian J. Tams31 Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to
become harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially
In the course of the submission of Atty. Roque and Atty. devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
Bagares’ exhibits during the August 26, 2010 hearing in the independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being
ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, the Ethics Committee permitted to proceed to the disposition of its business in an
noted that Exhibit "J" (a copy of the Restoring Integrity orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its
Statement) was not signed but merely reflected the names of functions and tending to embarrass the administration of
certain faculty members with the letters (SGD.) beside the justice."
names. Thus, the Ethics Committee directed Atty. Roque to
present the signed copy of the said Statement within three days The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the
from the August 26 hearing.32 faculty’s less than objective comments except to discredit the
April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the
It was upon compliance with this directive that the Ethics Court’s honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the
Committee was given a copy of the signed UP Law Faculty motion for its reconsideration. As if the case on the comfort
Statement that showed on the signature pages the names of the women’s claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law faculty
full roster of the UP Law Faculty, 81 faculty members in all. would fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution
Indubitable from the actual signed copy of the Statement was that would not reverse the said decision. This runs contrary to
that only 37 of the 81 faculty members appeared to have signed their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be
the same. However, the 37 actual signatories to the Statement the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to
did not include former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente which they owe fidelity according to the oath they have taken as
V. Mendoza (Justice Mendoza) as represented in the previous attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the administration of
copies of the Statement submitted by Dean Leonen and Atty. justice.35 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring
Roque. It also appeared that Atty. Miguel R. Armovit (Atty. supplied.)
Armovit) signed the Statement although his name was not
included among the signatories in the previous copies submitted Thus, the Court directed Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan
to the Court. Thus, the total number of ostensible signatories to M. Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona,
the Statement remained at 37. Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. Salvador
Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin T. Hilbay,
The Ethics Committee referred this matter to the Court en banc Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G. De Vera,
since the same Statement, having been formally submitted by Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A.
Dean Leonen on August 11, 2010, was already under Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J.
consideration by the Court.33 Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig,
Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Concepcion L.
Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Viña, Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C.
In a Resolution dated October 19, 2010, the Court en banc made Laureta, Owen J. Lynch, Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, Antonio M.
the following observations regarding the UP Law Faculty Santos, Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn
Statement: G. Ursua, Raul T. Vasquez, Susan D. Villanueva and Dina D.
Lucenario to show cause, within ten (10) days from receipt of

7
the copy of the Resolution, why they should not be disciplined In response to the charges of failure to observe due
as members of the Bar for violation of Canons 1,36 11 and 13 respect to legal processes42 and the courts43 and of
and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional tending to influence, or giving the appearance of
Responsibility.37 influencing the Court44 in the issuance of their
Statement, respondents assert that their intention was
Dean Leonen was likewise directed to show cause within the not to malign the Court but rather to defend its
same period why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with for integrity and credibility and to ensure continued
violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 for confidence in the legal system. Their noble motive
submitting through his letter dated August 10, 2010, during the was purportedly evidenced by the portion of their
pendency of G.R. No. 162230 and of the investigation before the Statement "focusing on constructive
Ethics Committee, for the consideration of the Court en banc, a action."45 Respondents’ call in the Statement for the
dummy which is not a true and faithful reproduction of the UP Court "to provide clear and concise guidance to the
Law Faculty Statement.38 Bench and Bar to ensure only the highest quality of
legal research and writing in adjudication," was
reputedly "in keeping with strictures enjoining lawyers
In the same Resolution, the present controversy was docketed as to ‘participate in the development of the legal system
a regular administrative matter. by initiating or supporting efforts in law reform and in
the improvement of the administration of justice’"
Summaries of the Pleadings Filed by Respondents in Response (under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional
to the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution Responsibility) and to "promote respect for the law
and legal processes" (under Canon 1,
On November 19, 2010, within the extension for filing granted id.).46 Furthermore, as academics, they allegedly have
by the Court, respondents filed the following pleadings: a "special interest and duty to vigilantly guard against
plagiarism and misrepresentation because these
unwelcome occurrences have a profound impact in the
(1) Compliance dated November 18, 2010 by counsels academe, especially in our law schools."47
for 35 of the 37 respondents, excluding Prof. Owen
Lynch and Prof. Raul T. Vasquez, in relation to the
charge of violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13 and Rules Respondents further "[called] on this Court not to
1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional misconstrue the Restoring Integrity Statement as an
Responsibility; ‘institutional attack’ x x x on the basis of its first and
ninth paragraphs."48 They further clarified that at the
time the Statement was allegedly drafted and agreed
(2) Compliance and Reservation dated November 18, upon, it appeared to them the Court "was not going to
2010 by Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista in relation take any action on the grave and startling allegations
to the same charge in par. (1); of plagiarism and misrepresentation."49 According to
respondents, the bases for their belief were (i) the
(3) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsel news article published on July 21, 2010 in the
for Prof. Raul T. Vasquez in relation to the same Philippine Daily Inquirer wherein Court Administrator
charge in par. (1); Jose Midas P. Marquez was reported to have said that
Chief Justice Corona would not order an inquiry into
the matter;50 and (ii) the July 22, 2010 letter of Justice
(4) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsels
Del Castillo which they claimed "did nothing but to
for Dean Leonen, in relation to the charge of violation
downplay the gravity of the plagiarism and
of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03; and
misrepresentation charges."51 Respondents claimed
that it was their perception of the Court’s indifference
(5) Manifestation dated November 19, 2010 by to the dangers posed by the plagiarism allegations
counsel for Prof. Owen Lynch. against Justice Del Castillo that impelled them to
urgently take a public stand on the issue.
Common Compliance of 35 Respondents (Excluding Prof.
Owen Lynch and Prof. Raul Vasquez) (b) The "correctness" of respondents’ position that
Justice Del Castillo committed plagiarism and should
Thirty-five (35) of the respondent UP Law professors filed on be held accountable in accordance with the standards
November 19, 2010 a common compliance which was signed by of academic writing
their respective counsels (the Common Compliance). In the
"Preface" of said Common Compliance, respondents stressed A significant portion of the Common Compliance is
that "[they] issued the Restoring Integrity Statement in the devoted to a discussion of the merits of respondents’
discharge of the ‘solemn duties and trust reposed upon them as charge of plagiarism against Justice Del Castillo.
teachers in the profession of law,’ and as members of the Bar to Relying on University of the Philippines Board of
speak out on a matter of public concern and one that is of vital Regents v. Court of Appeals52 and foreign materials
interest to them."39 They likewise alleged that "they acted with and jurisprudence, respondents essentially argue that
the purest of intentions" and pointed out that "none of them was their position regarding the plagiarism charge against
involved either as party or counsel"40 in the Vinuya case. Justice Del Castillo is the correct view and that they
Further, respondents "note with concern" that the Show Cause are therefore justified in issuing their Restoring
Resolution’s findings and conclusions were "a prejudgment – Integrity Statement. Attachments to the Common
that respondents indeed are in contempt, have breached their Compliance included, among others: (i) the letter
obligations as law professors and officers of the Court, and have dated October 28, 2010 of Peter B. Payoyo, LL.M,
violated ‘Canons [1], 11 and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Ph.D.,53 sent to Chief Justice Corona through Justice
Code of Professional Responsibility."41 Sereno, alleging that the Vinuya decision likewise
lifted without proper attribution the text from a legal
By way of explanation, the respondents emphasized the article by Mariana Salazar Albornoz that appeared in
following points: the Anuario Mexicano De Derecho Internacional and
from an International Court of Justice decision; and
(ii) a 2008 Human Rights Law Review Article entitled
(a) Respondents’ alleged noble intentions
"Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and International
Human Rights Law" by Michael O’Flaherty and John

8
Fisher, in support of their charge that Justice Del charge in the Show Cause Resolution dated October
Castillo also lifted passages from said article without 19, 2010 that they may have violated specific canons
proper attribution, but this time, in his ponencia in of the Code of Professional Responsibility is unfair
Ang Ladlad LGBT Party v. Commission on and without basis.
Elections.54
(d) Freedom of expression
(c) Respondents’ belief that they are being "singled
out" by the Court when others have likewise spoken In paragraphs 28 to 30 of the Common Compliance,
on the "plagiarism issue" respondents briefly discussed their position that in
issuing their Statement, "they should be seen as not
In the Common Compliance, respondents likewise only to be performing their duties as members of the
asserted that "the plagiarism and misrepresentation Bar, officers of the court, and teachers of law, but also
allegations are legitimate public issues."55 They as citizens of a democracy who are constitutionally
identified various published reports and opinions, in protected in the exercise of free speech."66 In support
agreement with and in opposition to the stance of of this contention, they cited United States v.
respondents, on the issue of plagiarism, specifically: Bustos,67In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, 68 and In
the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Relief Re:
(i) Newsbreak report on July 19, 2010 by Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880, Gonzales v.
Aries Rufo and Purple Romero;56 Commission on Elections.69

(ii) Column of Ramon Tulfo which appeared (e) Academic freedom


in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 24,
2010;57 In paragraphs 31 to 34 of the Common Compliance, respondents
asserted that their Statement was also issued in the exercise of
(iii) Editorial of the Philippine Daily their academic freedom as teachers in an institution of higher
Inquirer published on July 25, 2010;58 learning. They relied on Section 5 of the University of the
Philippines Charter of 2008 which provided that "[t]he national
university has the right and responsibility to exercise academic
(iv) Letter dated July 22, 2010 of Justice Del freedom." They likewise adverted to Garcia v. The Faculty
Castillo published in the Philippine Star on Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology70 which they
July 30, 2010;59 claimed recognized the extent and breadth of such freedom as to
encourage a free and healthy discussion and communication of a
(v) Column of Former Intellectual Property faculty member’s field of study without fear of reprisal. It is
Office Director General Adrian Cristobal, Jr. respondents’ view that had they remained silent on the
published in the Business Mirror on August plagiarism issue in the Vinuya decision they would have
5, 2010;60 "compromised [their] integrity and credibility as teachers; [their
silence] would have created a culture and generation of students,
(vi) Column of Former Chief Justice professionals, even lawyers, who would lack the competence
Artemio Panganiban published in the and discipline for research and pleading; or, worse, [that] their
Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 8, silence would have communicated to the public that plagiarism
2010;61 and misrepresentation are inconsequential matters and that
intellectual integrity has no bearing or relevance to one’s
conduct."71
(vii) News report regarding Senator Francis
Pangilinan’s call for the resignation of
Justice Del Castillo published in the Daily In closing, respondents’ Common Compliance exhorted this
Tribune and the Manila Standard Today on Court to consider the following portion of the dissenting opinion
July 31, 2010;62 of Justice George A. Malcolm in Salcedo v. Hernandez,72 to wit:

(viii) News reports regarding the statement Respect for the courts can better be obtained by following a
of Dean Cesar Villanueva of the Ateneo de calm and impartial course from the bench than by an attempt to
Manila University School of Law on the compel respect for the judiciary by chastising a lawyer for a too
calls for the resignation of Justice Del vigorous or injudicious exposition of his side of a case. The
Castillo published in The Manila Bulletin, Philippines needs lawyers of independent thought and
the Philippine Star and the Business Mirror courageous bearing, jealous of the interests of their clients and
on August 11, 2010;63 unafraid of any court, high or low, and the courts will do well
tolerantly to overlook occasional intemperate language soon to
be regretted by the lawyer which affects in no way the outcome
(ix) News report on expressions of support of a case.73
for Justice Del Castillo from a former dean
of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila,
the Philippine Constitutional Association, On the matter of the reliefs to which respondents believe they
the Judges Association of Bulacan and the are entitled, the Common Compliance stated, thus:
Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Bulacan
Chapter published in the Philippine Star on WHEREFORE:
August 16, 2010;64 and
A. Respondents, as citizens of a democracy, professors
(x) Letter of the Dean of the Liceo de of law, members of the Bar and officers of the Court,
Cagayan University College of Law respectfully pray that:
published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on
August 10, 2010.65 1. the foregoing be noted; and

In view of the foregoing, respondents alleged that this 2. the Court reconsider and reverse its
Court has singled them out for sanctions and the adverse findings in the Show Cause

9
Resolution, including its conclusions that freedom is constitutionally guaranteed to institutions of higher
respondents have: [a] breached their learning such that schools have the freedom to determine for
"obligation as law professors and officers of themselves who may teach, what may be taught, how lessons
the Court to be the first to uphold the dignity shall be taught and who may be admitted to study and that courts
and authority of this Court, … and not to have no authority to interfere in the schools’ exercise of
promote distrust in the administration of discretion in these matters in the absence of grave abuse of
justice;" and [b] committed "violations of discretion. She claims the Court has encroached on the academic
Canons 10, 11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and freedom of the University of the Philippines and other
11.05 of the Code of Professional universities on their right to determine how lessons shall be
Responsibility." taught.

B. In the event the Honorable Court declines to grant Lastly, Prof. Juan-Bautista asserted that the Statement was an
the foregoing prayer, respondents respectfully pray, in exercise of respondents’ constitutional right to freedom of
the alternative, and in assertion of their due process expression that can only be curtailed when there is grave and
rights, that before final judgment be rendered: imminent danger to public safety, public morale, public health
or other legitimate public interest.78
1. the Show Cause Resolution be set for
hearing; Compliance of Prof. Raul T. Vasquez

2. respondents be given a fair and full On November 19, 2010, Prof. Raul T. Vasquez (Prof. Vasquez)
opportunity to refute and/or address the filed a separate Compliance by registered mail (the Vasquez
findings and conclusions of fact in the Show Compliance). In said Compliance, Prof. Vasquez narrated the
Cause Resolution (including especially the circumstances surrounding his signing of the Statement. He
finding and conclusion of a lack of alleged that the Vinuya decision was a topic of conversation
malicious intent), and in that connection, among the UP Law faculty early in the first semester (of
that appropriate procedures and schedules academic year 2010-11) because it reportedly contained
for hearing be adopted and defined that will citations not properly attributed to the sources; that he was
allow them the full and fair opportunity to shown a copy of the Statement by a clerk of the Office of the
require the production of and to present Dean on his way to his class; and that, agreeing in principle with
testimonial, documentary, and object the main theme advanced by the Statement, he signed the same
evidence bearing on the plagiarism and in utmost good faith.79
misrepresentation issues in Vinuya v.
Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230, In response to the directive from this Court to explain why he
April 28, 2010) and In the Matter of the should not be disciplined as a member of the Bar under the
Charges of Plagiarism, etc. Against Show Cause Resolution, Prof. Vasquez also took the position
Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo that a lawyer has the right, like all citizens in a democratic
(A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC); and society, to comment on acts of public officers. He invited the
attention of the Court to the following authorities: (a) In re:
3. respondents be given fair and full access Vicente Sotto;80 (b) In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen;81 and (c)
to the transcripts, records, drafts, reports and a discussion appearing in American Jurisprudence (AmJur)
submissions in or relating to, and accorded 2d.82 He claims that he "never had any intention to unduly
the opportunity to cross-examine the influence, nor entertained any illusion that he could or should
witnesses who were or could have been influence, [the Court] in its disposition of the Vinuya case"83 and
called in In The Matter of the Charges of that "attacking the integrity of [the Court] was the farthest thing
Plagiarism, etc. Against Associate Justice on respondent’s mind when he signed the Statement."84Unlike
Mariano C. Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17- his colleagues, who wish to impress upon this Court the
SC).74 purported homogeneity of the views on what constitutes
plagiarism, Prof. Vasquez stated in his Compliance that:
Compliance and Reservation of Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-
Bautista 13. Before this Honorable Court rendered its Decision dated 12
October 2010, some espoused the view that willful and
Although already included in the Common Compliance, Prof. deliberate intent to commit plagiarism is an essential element of
Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista (Prof. Juan-Bautista) filed a the same. Others, like respondent, were of the opinion that
separate Compliance and Reservation (the Bautista plagiarism is committed regardless of the intent of the
Compliance), wherein she adopted the allegations in the perpetrator, the way it has always been viewed in the academe.
Common Compliance with some additional averments. This uncertainty made the issue a fair topic for academic
discussion in the College. Now, this Honorable Court has ruled
that plagiarism presupposes deliberate intent to steal another’s
Prof. Juan-Bautista reiterated that her due process rights work and to pass it off as one’s own.85 (Emphases supplied.)
allegedly entitled her to challenge the findings and conclusions
in the Show Cause Resolution. Furthermore, "[i]f the Restoring
Integrity Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under Also in contrast to his colleagues, Prof. Vasquez was willing to
Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, such may be concede that he "might have been remiss in correctly assessing
punished only after charge and hearing."75 the effects of such language [in the Statement] and could have
been more careful."86 He ends his discussion with a respectful
submission that with his explanation, he has faithfully complied
Prof. Juan-Bautista stressed that respondents signed the with the Show Cause Resolution and that the Court will rule that
Statement "in good faith and with the best intentions to protect he had not in any manner violated his oath as a lawyer and
the Supreme Court by asking one member to resign."76 For her officer of the Court.
part, Prof. Juan-Bautista intimated that her deep disappointment
and sadness for the plight of the Malaya Lolas were what
motivated her to sign the Statement. Separate Compliance of Dean Leonen regarding the charge of
violation of Canon 10 in relation to his submission of a
"dummy" of the UP Law Faculty Statement to this Court
On the point of academic freedom, Prof. Juan-Bautista cited
jurisprudence77 which in her view highlighted that academic

10
In his Compliance, Dean Leonen claimed that there were three 2.5. Sometime in the second week of August, judging
drafts/versions of the UP Law Faculty Statement, which he that Restoring Integrity I had been circulated long
described as follows: enough, Dean Leonen instructed his staff to reproduce
the statement in a style and manner appropriate for
"Restoring Integrity I" which bears the entire roster posting in the College of Law. Following his own
of the faculty of the UP College of Law in its signing established practice in relation to significant public
pages, and the actual signatures of the thirty-seven issuances, he directed them to reformat the signing
(37) faculty members subject of the Show Cause pages so that only the names of those who signed the
Resolution. A copy was filed with the Honorable first printed draft would appear, together with the
Court by Roque and Butuyan on 31 August 2010 in corresponding "(SGD.)" note following each name.
A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC. Restoring Integrity II thus came into being.88

"Restoring Integrity II" which does not bear any According to Dean Leonen, the "practice of eliminating blanks
actual physical signature, but which reflects as opposite or above the names of non-signatories in the final draft
signatories the names of thirty-seven (37) members of of significant public issuances, is meant not so much for
the faculty with the notation "(SGD.)". A copy of aesthetic considerations as to secure the integrity of such
Restoring Integrity II was publicly and physically documents."89 He likewise claimed that "[p]osting statements
posted in the UP College of Law on 10 August 2010. with blanks would be an open invitation to vandals and
Another copy of Restoring Integrity II was also pranksters."90
officially received by the Honorable Court from the
Dean of the UP College of Law on 11 August 2010, With respect to the inclusion of Justice Mendoza’s name as
almost three weeks before the filing of Restoring among the signatories in Restoring Integrity II when in fact he
Integrity I. did not sign Restoring Integrity I, Dean Leonen attributed the
mistake to a miscommunication involving his administrative
"Restoring Integrity III" which is a reprinting of officer. In his Compliance, he narrated that:
Restoring Integrity II, and which presently serves as
the official file copy of the Dean’s Office in the UP 2.7. Upon being presented with a draft of Restoring
College of Law that may be signed by other faculty Integrity II with the reformatted signing pages, Dean
members who still wish to. It bears the actual Leonen noticed the inclusion of the name of Justice
signatures of the thirty- seven original signatories to Mendoza among the "(SGD.)" signatories. As Justice
Restoring Integrity I above their printed names and the Mendoza was not among those who had physically
notation "(SGD.") and, in addition, the actual signed Restoring Integrity I when it was previously
signatures of eight (8) other members of the faculty circulated, Dean Leonen called the attention of his
above their handwritten or typewritten names.87 staff to the inclusion of the Justice’s name among the
"(SGD.)" signatories in Restoring Integrity II.
For purposes of this discussion, only Restoring Integrity I and
Restoring Integrity II are relevant since what Dean Leonen has 2.8. Dean Leonen was told by his administrative
been directed to explain are the discrepancies in the signature officer that she had spoken to Justice Mendoza over
pages of these two documents. Restoring Integrity III was never the phone on Friday, 06 August 2010. According to
submitted to this Court. her, Justice Mendoza had authorized the dean to sign
the Restoring Integrity Statement for him as he agreed
On how Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II were fundamentally with its contents. Also according to her,
prepared and came about, Dean Leonen alleged, thus: Justice Mendoza was unable at that time to sign the
Restoring Integrity Statement himself as he was
leaving for the United States the following week. It
2.2 On 27 July 2010, sensing the emergence of a would later turn out that this account was not entirely
relatively broad agreement in the faculty on a draft accurate.91(Underscoring and italics supplied.)
statement, Dean Leonen instructed his staff to print the
draft and circulate it among the faculty members so
that those who wished to may sign. For this purpose, Dean Leonen claimed that he "had no reason to doubt his
the staff encoded the law faculty roster to serve as the administrative officer, however, and so placed full reliance on
printed draft’s signing pages. Thus did the first printed her account"92 as "[t]here were indeed other faculty members
draft of the Restoring Integrity Statement, Restoring who had also authorized the Dean to indicate that they were
Integrity I, come into being. signatories, even though they were at that time unable to affix
their signatures physically to the document."93
2.3. As of 27 July 2010, the date of the Restoring
Integrity Statement, Dean Leonen was unaware that a However, after receiving the Show Cause Resolution, Dean
Motion for Reconsideration of the Honorable Court’s Leonen and his staff reviewed the circumstances surrounding
Decision in Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. their effort to secure Justice Mendoza’s signature. It would turn
162230, 28 April 2010) had already been filed, or that out that this was what actually transpired:
the Honorable Court was in the process of convening
its Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards in A.M. 2.22.1. On Friday, 06 August 2010, when the dean’s
No. 10-7-17-SC. staff talked to Justice Mendoza on the phone, he
[Justice Mendoza] indeed initially agreed to sign the
2.4. Dean Leonen’s staff then circulated Restoring Restoring Integrity Statement as he fundamentally
Integrity I among the members of the faculty. Some agreed with its contents. However, Justice Mendoza
faculty members visited the Dean’s Office to sign the did not exactly say that he authorized the dean to sign
document or had it brought to their classrooms in the the Restoring Integrity Statement. Rather, he inquired
College of Law, or to their offices or residences. Still if he could authorize the dean to sign it for him as he
other faculty members who, for one reason or another, was about to leave for the United States. The dean’s
were unable to sign Restoring Integrity I at that time, staff informed him that they would, at any rate, still try
nevertheless conveyed to Dean Leonen their to bring the Restoring Integrity Statement to him.
assurances that they would sign as soon as they could
manage.

11
2.22.2. Due to some administrative difficulties, Justice complained of existed to warrant an administrative sanction for
Mendoza was unable to sign the Restoring Integrity violation of the standard of honesty provided for by the Code of
Statement before he left for the U.S. the following Professional Responsibility.102
week.
Dean Leonen ends his Compliance with an enumeration of
2.22.3. The staff was able to bring Restoring Integrity nearly identical reliefs as the Common Compliance, including
III to Justice Mendoza when he went to the College to the prayers for a hearing and for access to the records, evidence
teach on 24 September 2010, a day after his arrival and witnesses allegedly relevant not only in this case but also in
from the U.S. This time, Justice Mendoza declined to A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, the ethical investigation involving Justice
sign.94 Del Castillo.

According to the Dean: Manifestation of Prof. Owen Lynch (Lynch Manifestation)

2.23. It was only at this time that Dean Leonen realized the true For his part, Prof. Owen Lynch (Prof. Lynch) manifests to this
import of the call he received from Justice Mendoza in late Court that he is not a member of the Philippine bar; but he is a
September. Indeed, Justice Mendoza confirmed that by the time member of the bar of the State of Minnesota. He alleges that he
the hard copy of the Restoring Integrity Statement was brought first taught as a visiting professor at the UP College of Law in
to him shortly after his arrival from the U.S., he declined to sign 1981 to 1988 and returned in the same capacity in 2010. He
it because it had already become controversial. At that time, he further alleges that "[h]e subscribes to the principle, espoused by
predicted that the Court would take some form of action against this Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, that
the faculty. By then, and under those circumstances, he wanted ‘…[d]ebate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and
to show due deference to the Honorable Court, being a former wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and
Associate Justice and not wishing to unduly aggravate the sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public
situation by signing the Statement.95 (Emphases supplied.) officials."103 In signing the Statement, he believes that "the right
to speak means the right to speak effectively."104 Citing the
With respect to the omission of Atty. Armovit’s name in the dissenting opinions in Manila Public School Teachers
signature page of Restoring Integrity II when he was one of the Association v. Laguio, Jr.,105 Prof. Lynch argued that "[f]or
signatories of Restoring Integrity I and the erroneous description speech to be effective, it must be forceful enough to make the
in Dean Leonen’s August 10, 2010 letter that the version of the intended recipients listen"106 and "[t]he quality of education
Statement submitted to the Court was signed by 38 members of would deteriorate in an atmosphere of repression, when the very
the UP Law Faculty, it was explained in the Compliance that: teachers who are supposed to provide an example of courage
and self-assertiveness to their pupils can speak only in timorous
whispers."107 Relying on the doctrine in In the Matter of Petition
Respondent Atty. Miguel Armovit physically signed Restoring for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act
Integrity I when it was circulated to him. However, his name 4880, Gonzales v. Commission on Elections,108Prof. Lynch
was inadvertently left out by Dean Leonen’s staff in the believed that the Statement did not pose any danger, clear or
reformatting of the signing pages in Restoring Integrity II. The present, of any substantive evil so as to remove it from the
dean assumed that his name was still included in the reformatted protective mantle of the Bill of Rights (i.e., referring to the
signing pages, and so mentioned in his cover note to Chief constitutional guarantee on free speech).109 He also stated that he
Justice Corona that 38 members of the law faculty signed (the "has read the Compliance of the other respondents to the Show
original 37 plus Justice Mendoza.)96 Cause Resolution" and that "he signed the Restoring Integrity
Statement for the same reasons they did."110
Dean Leonen argues that he should not be deemed to have
submitted a dummy of the Statement that was not a true and ISSUES
faithful reproduction of the same. He emphasized that the main
body of the Statement was unchanged in all its three versions
and only the signature pages were not the same. This Based on the Show Cause Resolution and a perusal of the
purportedly is merely "reflective of [the Statement’s] essential submissions of respondents, the material issues to be resolved in
nature as a ‘live’ public manifesto meant to continuously draw this case are as follows:
adherents to its message, its signatory portion is necessarily
evolving and dynamic x x x many other printings of [the 1.) Does the Show Cause Resolution deny respondents
Statement] may be made in the future, each one reflecting the their freedom of expression?
same text but with more and more signatories."97 Adverting to
criminal law by analogy, Dean Leonen claims that "this is not an 2.) Does the Show Cause Resolution violate
instance where it has been made to appear in a document that a respondents’ academic freedom as law professors?
person has participated in an act when the latter did not in fact
so participate"98 for he "did not misrepresent which members of
the faculty of the UP College of Law had agreed with the 3.) Do the submissions of respondents satisfactorily
Restoring Integrity Statement proper and/or had expressed their explain why they should not be disciplined as
desire to be signatories thereto."99 Members of the Bar under Canons 1, 11, and 13 and
Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility?
In this regard, Dean Leonen believes that he had not committed
any violation of Canon 10 or Rules 10.01 and 10.02 for he did
not mislead nor misrepresent to the Court the contents of the 4.) Does the separate Compliance of Dean Leonen
Statement or the identities of the UP Law faculty members who satisfactorily explain why he should not be disciplined
agreed with, or expressed their desire to be signatories to, the as a Member of the Bar under Canon 10, Rules 10.01,
Statement. He also asserts that he did not commit any violation 10.02 and 10.03?
of Rule 10.03 as he "coursed [the Statement] through the
appropriate channels by transmitting the same to Honorable 5.) Are respondents entitled to have the Show Cause
Chief Justice Corona for the latter’s information and proper Resolution set for hearing and in relation to such
disposition with the hope that its points would be duly hearing, are respondents entitled to require the
considered by the Honorable Court en banc."100 Citing Rudecon production or presentation of evidence bearing on the
Management Corporation v. Camacho,101 Dean Leonen posits plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya
that the required quantum of proof has not been met in this case case (G.R. No. 162230) and the ethics case against
and that no dubious character or motivation for the act Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to

12
have access to the records and transcripts of, and the While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is
witnesses and evidence presented, or could have been critical to maintaining a free and democratic society, there is
presented, in the ethics case against Justice Del also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far.
Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC)? Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to
become harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially
DISCUSSION devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being
permitted to proceed to the disposition of its business in an
The Show Cause Resolution does not deny respondents their orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its
freedom of expression. functions and tending to embarrass the administration of
justice."
It is respondents’ collective claim that the Court, with the
issuance of the Show Cause Resolution, has interfered with The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the
respondents’ constitutionally mandated right to free speech and faculty’s less than objective comments except to discredit the
expression. It appears that the underlying assumption behind April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the
respondents’ assertion is the misconception that this Court is Court’s honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the
denying them the right to criticize the Court’s decisions and motion for its reconsideration. As if the case on the comfort
actions, and that this Court seeks to "silence" respondent law women’s claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law faculty
professors’ dissenting view on what they characterize as a would fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution
"legitimate public issue." that would not reverse the said decision. This runs contrary to
their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be
This is far from the truth. A reading of the Show Cause the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to
Resolution will plainly show that it was neither the fact that which they owe fidelity according to the oath they have taken as
respondents had criticized a decision of the Court nor that they attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the administration of
had charged one of its members of plagiarism that motivated the justice.115 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring
said Resolution. It was the manner of the criticism and the supplied.)
contumacious language by which respondents, who are not
parties nor counsels in the Vinuya case, have expressed their Indeed, in a long line of cases, including those cited in
opinion in favor of the petitioners in the said pending case for respondents’ submissions, this Court has held that the right to
the "proper disposition" and consideration of the Court that gave criticize the courts and judicial officers must be balanced against
rise to said Resolution. The Show Cause Resolution the equally primordial concern that the independence of the
painstakingly enumerated the statements that the Court Judiciary be protected from due influence or interference. In
considered excessive and uncalled for under the circumstances cases where the critics are not only citizens but members of the
surrounding the issuance, publication, and later submission to Bar, jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the authority of this
this Court of the UP Law faculty’s Restoring Integrity Court to discipline lawyers whose statements regarding the
Statement. courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or extrajudicial, have
exceeded the limits of fair comment and common decency.
To reiterate, it was not the circumstance that respondents
expressed a belief that Justice Del Castillo was guilty of As early as the 1935 case of Salcedo v. Hernandez,116 the Court
plagiarism but rather their expression of that belief as "not only found Atty. Vicente J. Francisco both guilty of contempt and
as an established fact, but a truth"111 when it was "[o]f public liable administratively for the following paragraph in his second
knowledge [that there was] an ongoing investigation precisely to motion for reconsideration:
determine the truth of such allegations."112 It was also pointed
out in the Show Cause Resolution that there was a pending
motion for reconsideration of the Vinuya decision.113 The Show We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that
Cause Resolution made no objections to the portions of the the resolution of this court, denying our motion for
Restoring Integrity Statement that respondents claimed to be reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an
"constructive" but only asked respondents to explain those outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a
portions of the said Statement that by no stretch of the mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the
imagination could be considered as fair or constructive, to wit: 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
Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the
raise concern for the Court. The opening sentence alone is a municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press publicly to
grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads: 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
An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this honorable court
against the brave Filipinas who had suffered abuse during a time and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the public.
of war. But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous
decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands
The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes
Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as a reprehensible act of of 'sakdalism' and make the public lose confidence in the
dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the administration of justice.117 (Emphases supplied.)
land. x x x.
The highlighted phrases were considered by the Court as neither
The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by justified nor necessary and further held that:
imputations of deliberately delaying the resolution of the said
case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the [I]n order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the
Court’s alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the essential points relied upon in his argument and to emphasize
Vinuya case], as well as the supposed alarming lack of concern the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion
of the members of the Court for even the most basic values of were sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In
decency and respect.114 x x x. (Underscoring ours.) order to appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper and
amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente
To be sure, the Show Cause Resolution itself recognized J. Francisco has done, because both means are annoying and
respondents’ freedom of expression when it stated that: good practice can never sanction them by reason of their natural

13
tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and members of the Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf
impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the and dumb." He then vows to argue the cause of his client "in the
consideration of questions submitted for resolution. people's forum," so that "the people may know of the silent
injustices committed by this Court," and that "whatever
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never
Francisco's motion contains a more or less veiled threat to the be repeated." He ends his petition with a prayer that
court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the
course which the voters of Tiaong should follow in case he fails "x x x a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive
in his attempt, that they will resort to the press for the purpose of the certificate of the undersigned attorney and counsellor-at-law
denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of which his IN TRUST with reservation that at any time in the future and in
client has been the victim; and because he states in a threatening the event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve
manner with the intention of predisposing the mind of the reader our title to assume the practice of the noblest profession."121
against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices
against it in order to make it odious in the public eye, that It is true that in Almacen the Court extensively discussed foreign
decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion promote jurisprudence on the principle that a lawyer, just like any citizen,
distrust in the administration of justice and increase the has the right to criticize and comment upon actuations of public
proselytes of sakdalism, a movement with seditious and officers, including judicial authority. However, the real doctrine
revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of public in Almacen is that such criticism of the courts, whether done in
knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot court or outside of it, must conform to standards of fairness and
mean otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the court and propriety. This case engaged in an even more extensive
disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney discussion of the legal authorities sustaining this
Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so view.1awphi1 To quote from that decision:
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 But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall
erroneously.118 (Emphases supplied.) be bona fide, 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
Significantly, Salcedo is the decision from which respondents thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross
culled their quote from the minority view of Justice Malcolm. violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct
Moreover, Salcedo concerned statements made in a pleading that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
filed by a counsel in a case, unlike the respondents here, who are
neither parties nor counsels in the Vinuya case and therefore, do
not have any standing at all to interfere in the Vinuya case. For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations
Instead of supporting respondents’ theory, Salcedo is authority and duties which are not mere flux and ferment. His investiture
for the following principle: into the legal profession places upon his shoulders no burden
more basic, more exacting and more imperative than that of
respectful behavior toward the courts. He vows solemnly to
As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney conduct himself "with all good fidelity x x x to the courts;" and
Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is in duty bound to uphold the Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and
its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial
because it has conferred upon him the high privilege, not a right officers." The first canon of legal ethics enjoins him "to
(Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being what he now maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake
is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St. Rep., 492, of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the
669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor maintenance of its supreme importance."
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 As Mr. Justice Field puts it:
foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power
to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and "x x x the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they
relief.119 (Emphases supplied.) do not by express declaration take upon themselves, when they
are admitted to the Bar, is not merely to be obedient to the
Thus, the lawyer in Salcedo was fined and reprimanded for his Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times the respect
injudicious statements in his pleading, by accusing the Court of due to courts of justice and judicial officers. This obligation is
"erroneous ruling." Here, the respondents’ Statement goes way not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous
beyond merely ascribing error to the Court. demeanor in open court, but includes abstaining out of court
from all insulting language and offensive conduct toward judges
personally for their judicial acts." (Bradley, v. Fisher, 20 Law.
Other cases cited by respondents likewise espouse rulings 4d. 647, 652)
contrary to their position. In re: Atty. Vicente Raul
Almacen,120 cited in the Common Compliance and the Vasquez
Compliance, was an instance where the Court indefinitely The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the
suspended a member of the Bar for filing and releasing to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence,
press a "Petition to Surrender Lawyer’s Certificate of Title" in in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers — even those
protest of what he claimed was a great injustice to his client gifted with superior intellect — are enjoined to rein up their
committed by the Supreme Court. In the decision, the petition tempers.
was described, thus:
"The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more
He indicts this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled learned lawyer than the judge, and it may tax his patience and
by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore temper to submit to rulings which he regards as incorrect, but
without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit discipline and self-respect are as necessary to the orderly
culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity." His administration of justice as they are to the effectiveness of an
client's he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this Court's army. The decisions of the judge must be obeyed, because he is
"unjust judgment," has become "one of the sacrificial victims the tribunal appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times
before the altar of hypocrisy." In the same breath that he alludes be the foremost in rendering respectful submission." (In Re
to the classic symbol of justice, he ridicules the members of this Scouten, 40 Atl. 481)
Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present

14
xxxx As an officer of the court and its indispensable partner in the
sacred task of administering justice, graver responsibility is
In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the integrity of
personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen the courts and to show respect to its officers. This does not
at another. Thus, statements made by an attorney in private mean, however, that a lawyer cannot criticize a judge. As we
conversations or communications or in the course of a political stated in Tiongco vs. Hon. Aguilar:
campaign, if couched in insulting language as to bring into scorn
and disrepute the administration of justice, may subject the It does not, however, follow that just because a lawyer is an
attorney to disciplinary action.122 (Emphases and underscoring officer of the court, he cannot criticize the courts. That is his
supplied.) right as a citizen, and it is even his duty as an officer of the court
to avail of such right. Thus, in In Re: Almacen (31 SCRA 562,
In a similar vein, In re: Vicente Sotto,123 cited in the Vasquez 579-580 [1970]), this Court explicitly declared:
Compliance, observed that:
Hence, as a citizen and as officer of the court, a lawyer is
[T]his Court, in In re Kelly, held the following: expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his
duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is
he "professionally answerable to a scrutiny into the official
The publication of a criticism of a party or of the court to a conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal
pending cause, respecting the same, has always been considered animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am Dec. 657,
as misbehavior, tending to obstruct the administration of justice, 665).
and subjects such persons to contempt proceedings. Parties have
a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly in court, by
an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publications or public xxxx
clamor. Every citizen has a profound personal interest in the
enforcement of the fundamental right to have justice Nevertheless, such a right is not without limit. For, as this Court
administered by the courts, under the protection and forms of warned in Almacen:
law, free from outside coercion or interference. x x x.
But it is a cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall
Mere criticism or comment on the correctness or wrongness, be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and
soundness or unsoundness of the decision of the court in a propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the
pending case made in good faith may be tolerated; because if one hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges
well founded it may enlighten the court and contribute to the thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross
correction of an error if committed; but if it is not well taken and violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct,
obviously erroneous, it should, in no way, influence the court in that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
reversing or modifying its decision. x x x.
xxxx
xxxx
Elsewise stated, the right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the
To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last freedom of speech and of expression in the Bill of Rights of the
years committing deliberately "so many blunders and Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right
injustices," that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of carries with it a corresponding obligation. Freedom is not
one party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the freedom from responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. x
adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision x x.
was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years,
would tend necessarily to undermine the confidence of the xxxx
people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court,
and consequently to lower or degrade the administration of
justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, Proscribed then are, inter alia, the use of unnecessary language
under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or promotes
people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or distrust in judicial administration (Rheem, supra), or tends
protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if necessarily to undermine the confidence of people in the
the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of integrity of the members of this Court and to degrade the
the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect administration of justice by this Court (In re: Sotto, 82 Phil. 595
justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their [1949]); or of offensive and abusive language (In re: Rafael
own hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]); or abrasive and offensive
result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts Atty. language (Yangson vs. Salandanan, 68 SCRA 42 [1975]; or of
Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the disrespectful, offensive, manifestly baseless, and malicious
dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity statements in pleadings or in a letter addressed to the
according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to judge (Baja vs. Macandog, 158 SCRA [1988], citing the
promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the resolution of 19 January 1988 in Phil. Public Schools Teachers
courts guarantees the stability of other institutions, which Association vs. Quisumbing, G.R. No. 76180, and Ceniza vs.
without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky Sebastian, 130 SCRA 295 [1984]); or of disparaging,
foundation.124 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.) intemperate, and uncalled-for remarks (Sangalang vs.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 177 SCRA 87 [1989]).
That the doctrinal pronouncements in these early cases are still
good law can be easily gleaned even from more recent Any criticism against a judge made in the guise of an
jurisprudence. administrative complaint which is clearly unfounded and
impelled by ulterior motive will not excuse the lawyer
responsible therefor under his duty of fidelity to his client. x x
In Choa v. Chiongson,125 the Court administratively disciplined x.126 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)
a lawyer, through the imposition of a fine, for making malicious
and unfounded criticisms of a judge in the guise of an
administrative complaint and held, thus: In Saberon v. Larong,127 where this Court found respondent
lawyer guilty of simple misconduct for using intemperate

15
language in his pleadings and imposed a fine upon him, we had equally important public interest. One of these fundamental
the occasion to state: public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly
functioning of the administration of justice. There is no
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates: 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
CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, within the context of a functioning and orderly system of
fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of viable
avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. independent institutions for delivery of justice which are
accepted by the general community. x x x.132 (Emphases
Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use supplied.)
language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
For this reason, the Court cannot uphold the view of some
CANON 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respondents133 that the Statement presents no grave or imminent
respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should danger to a legitimate public interest.
insist on similar conduct by others.
The Show Cause Resolution does not interfere with respondents’
Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, academic freedom.
offensive or menacing language or behavior before the
Courts. It is not contested that respondents herein are, by law and
jurisprudence, guaranteed academic freedom and undisputably,
To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has they are free to determine what they will teach their students and
tempted members of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of how they will teach. We must point out that there is nothing in
their duty to advance the interests of their clients. the Show Cause Resolution that dictates upon respondents the
subject matter they can teach and the manner of their instruction.
Moreover, it is not inconsistent with the principle of academic
However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with
vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use freedom for this Court to subject lawyers who teach law to
of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with disciplinary action for contumacious conduct and speech,
coupled with undue intervention in favor of a party in a pending
countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful,
case, without observing proper procedure, even if purportedly
convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not
offensive. done in their capacity as teachers.

A novel issue involved in the present controversy, for it has not


On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the
Bar to abstain from all offensive personalityand to advance been passed upon in any previous case before this Court, is the
no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or question of whether lawyers who are also law professors can
witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which invoke academic freedom as a defense in an administrative
he is charged. In keeping with the dignity of the legal proceeding for intemperate statements tending to pressure the
profession, a lawyer’s language even in his pleadings must be Court or influence the outcome of a case or degrade the courts.
dignified.128
Applying by analogy the Court’s past treatment of the "free
Verily, the accusatory and vilifying nature of certain portions of speech" defense in other bar discipline cases, academic freedom
the Statement exceeded the limits of fair comment and cannot be cannot be successfully invoked by respondents in this case. The
deemed as protected free speech. Even In the Matter of Petition implicit ruling in the jurisprudence discussed above is that the
for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act constitutional right to freedom of expression of members of the
4880, Gonzales v. Commission on Elections,129 relied upon by Bar may be circumscribed by their ethical duties as lawyers to
respondents in the Common Compliance, held that: give due respect to the courts and to uphold the public’s faith in
the legal profession and the justice system. To our mind, the
reason that freedom of expression may be so delimited in the
From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it case of lawyers applies with greater force to the academic
would appear that the right is not susceptible of any limitation. freedom of law professors.
No law may be passed abridging the freedom of speech and of
the press. The realities of life in a complex society preclude
however a literal interpretation. Freedom of expression is not an It would do well for the Court to remind respondents that, in
absolute. It would be too much to insist that at all times and view of the broad definition in Cayetano v. Monsod, 134lawyers
under all circumstances it should remain unfettered and when they teach law are considered engaged in the practice of
unrestrained. There are other societal values that press for law. Unlike professors in other disciplines and more than
recognition. x x x.130 (Emphasis supplied.) lawyers who do not teach law, respondents are bound by their
oath to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession.
Thus, their actions as law professors must be measured against
One such societal value that presses for recognition in the case the same canons of professional responsibility applicable to acts
at bar is the threat to judicial independence and the orderly of members of the Bar as the fact of their being law professors is
administration of justice that immoderate, reckless and unfair inextricably entwined with the fact that they are lawyers.
attacks on judicial decisions and institutions pose. This Court
held as much in Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan and
Gonzales,131 where we indefinitely suspended a lawyer from Even if the Court was willing to accept respondents’ proposition
the practice of law for issuing to the media statements grossly in the Common Compliance that their issuance of the Statement
disrespectful towards the Court in relation to a pending case, to was in keeping with their duty to "participate in the development
wit: of the legal system by initiating or supporting efforts in law
reform and in the improvement of the administration of justice"
under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, we
Respondent Gonzales is entitled to the constitutional guarantee cannot agree that they have fulfilled that same duty in keeping
of free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all with the demands of Canons 1, 11 and 13 to give due respect to
this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom legal processes and the courts, and to avoid conduct that tends to
of speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is influence the courts. Members of the Bar cannot be selective
not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion regarding which canons to abide by given particular situations.
to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of With more reason that law professors are not allowed this

16
indulgence, since they are expected to provide their students Still on motive, it is also proposed that the choice of language in
exemplars of the Code of Professional Responsibility as a whole the Statement was intended for effective speech; that speech
and not just their preferred portions thereof. must be "forceful enough to make the intended recipients
listen."136 One wonders what sort of effect respondents were
The Court’s rulings on the submissions regarding the charge of hoping for in branding this Court as, among others, callous,
violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13. dishonest and lacking in concern for the basic values of decency
and respect. The Court fails to see how it can ennoble the
profession if we allow respondents to send a signal to their
Having disposed of respondents’ main arguments of freedom of students that the only way to effectively plead their cases and
expression and academic freedom, the Court considers here the persuade others to their point of view is to be offensive.
other averments in their submissions.
This brings to our mind the letters of Dr. Ellis and Prof. Tams
With respect to good faith, respondents’ allegations presented which were deliberately quoted in full in the narration of
two main ideas: (a) the validity of their position regarding the background facts to illustrate the sharp contrast between the
plagiarism charge against Justice Del Castillo, and (b) their pure civil tenor of these letters and the antagonistic irreverence of the
motive to spur this Court to take the correct action on said issue. Statement. In truth, these foreign authors are the ones who
would expectedly be affected by any perception of misuse of
The Court has already clarified that it is not the expression of their works. Notwithstanding that they are beyond the
respondents’ staunch belief that Justice Del Castillo has disciplinary reach of this Court, they still obviously took pains
committed a misconduct that the majority of this Court has to convey their objections in a deferential and scholarly manner.
found so unbecoming in the Show Cause Resolution. No matter It is unfathomable to the Court why respondents could not do
how firm a lawyer’s conviction in the righteousness of his cause the same. These foreign authors’ letters underscore the
there is simply no excuse for denigrating the courts and universality of the tenet that legal professionals must deal with
engaging in public behavior that tends to put the courts and the each other in good faith and due respect. The mark of the true
legal profession into disrepute. This doctrine, which we have intellectual is one who can express his opinions logically and
repeatedly upheld in such cases as Salcedo, In re Almacen and soberly without resort to exaggerated rhetoric and unproductive
Saberong, should be applied in this case with more reason, as recriminations.
the respondents, not parties to the Vinuya case, denounced the
Court and urged it to change its decision therein, in a public As for the claim that the respondents’ noble intention is to spur
statement using contumacious language, which with temerity the Court to take "constructive action" on the plagiarism issue,
they subsequently submitted to the Court for "proper the Court has some doubts as to its veracity. For if the Statement
disposition." was primarily meant for this Court’s consideration, why was the
same published and reported in the media first before it was
That humiliating the Court into reconsidering the Vinuya submitted to this Court? It is more plausible that the Statement
Decision in favor of the Malaya Lolas was one of the objectives was prepared for consumption by the general public and
of the Statement could be seen in the following paragraphs from designed to capture media attention as part of the effort to
the same: generate interest in the most controversial ground in the
Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration filed in the Vinuya
And in light of the significance of this decision to the quest for case by Atty. Roque, who is respondents’ colleague on the UP
justice not only of Filipino women, but of women elsewhere in Law faculty.
the world who have suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and
exploitation in times of war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief In this regard, the Court finds that there was indeed a lack of
and justice to the petitioners on the basis of pilfered and observance of fidelity and due respect to the Court, particularly
misinterpreted texts. when respondents knew fully well that the matter of plagiarism
in the Vinuya decision and the merits of the Vinuya decision
xxxx itself, at the time of the Statement’s issuance, were still both sub
judice or pending final disposition of the Court. These facts have
been widely publicized. On this point, respondents allege that at
(3) The same breach and consequent disposition of the time the Statement was first drafted on July 27, 2010, they
the Vinuya case does violence to the primordial function of the did not know of the constitution of the Ethics Committee and
Supreme Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to all those they had issued the Statement under the belief that this Court
who have been left without legal or equitable recourse, such as intended to take no action on the ethics charge against Justice
the petitioners therein.135 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.) Del Castillo. Still, there was a significant lapse of time from the
drafting and printing of the Statement on July 27, 2010 and its
Whether or not respondents’ views regarding the plagiarism publication and submission to this Court in early August when
issue in the Vinuya case had valid basis was wholly immaterial the Ethics Committee had already been convened. If it is true
to their liability for contumacious speech and conduct. These are that the respondents’ outrage was fueled by their perception of
two separate matters to be properly threshed out in separate indifference on the part of the Court then, when it became
proceedings. The Court considers it highly inappropriate, if not known that the Court did intend to take action, there was nothing
tantamount to dissembling, the discussion devoted in one of the to prevent respondents from recalibrating the Statement to take
compliances arguing the guilt of Justice Del Castillo. In the this supervening event into account in the interest of fairness.
Common Compliance, respondents even go so far as to attach
documentary evidence to support the plagiarism charges against Speaking of the publicity this case has generated, we likewise
Justice Del Castillo in the present controversy. The ethics case find no merit in the respondents’ reliance on various news
of Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC), with the filing of reports and commentaries in the print media and the internet as
a motion for reconsideration, was still pending at the time of the proof that they are being unfairly "singled out." On the contrary,
filing of respondents’ submissions in this administrative case. these same annexes to the Common Compliance show that it is
As respondents themselves admit, they are neither parties nor not enough for one to criticize the Court to warrant the
counsels in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. institution of disciplinary137 or contempt138 action. This Court
Notwithstanding their professed overriding interest in said ethics takes into account the nature of the criticism and weighs the
case, it is not proper procedure for respondents to bring up their possible repercussions of the same on the Judiciary. When the
plagiarism arguments here especially when it has no bearing on criticism comes from persons outside the profession who may
their own administrative case. not have a full grasp of legal issues or from individuals whose
personal or other interests in making the criticism are obvious,
the Court may perhaps tolerate or ignore them. However, when

17
law professors are the ones who appear to have lost sight of the As for Prof. Lynch, in view of his Manifestation that he is a
boundaries of fair commentary and worse, would justify the member of the Bar of the State of Minnesota and, therefore, not
same as an exercise of civil liberties, this Court cannot remain under the disciplinary authority of this Court, he should be
silent for such silence would have a grave implication on legal excused from these proceedings. However, he should be
education in our country. reminded that while he is engaged as a professor in a Philippine
law school he should strive to be a model of responsible and
With respect to the 35 respondents named in the Common professional conduct to his students even without the threat of
Compliance, considering that this appears to be the first time sanction from this Court. For even if one is not bound by the
these respondents have been involved in disciplinary Code of Professional Responsibility for members of the
proceedings of this sort, the Court is willing to give them the Philippine Bar, civility and respect among legal professionals of
benefit of the doubt that they were for the most part well- any nationality should be aspired for under universal standards
intentioned in the issuance of the Statement. However, it is of decency and fairness.
established in jurisprudence that where the excessive and
contumacious language used is plain and undeniable, then good The Court’s ruling on Dean Leonen’s Compliance regarding the
intent can only be mitigating. As this Court expounded in charge of violation of Canon 10.
Salcedo:
To recall, the Show Cause Resolution directed Dean Leonen to
In his defense, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco states that it was show cause why he should not be disciplinary dealt with for
not his intention to offend the court or to be recreant to the violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 and for
respect thereto but, unfortunately, there are his phrases which submitting a "dummy" that was not a true and faithful
need no further comment. Furthermore, it is a well settled rule in reproduction of the signed Statement.
all places where the same conditions and practice as those in this
jurisdiction obtain, that want of intention is no excuse from In his Compliance, Dean Leonen essentially denies
liability (13 C. J., 45). Neither is the fact that the phrases that Restoring Integrity II was not a true and faithful
employed are justified by the facts a valid defense: reproduction of the actual signed copy, Restoring Integrity I,
because looking at the text or the body, there were no
"Where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the differences between the two. He attempts to downplay the
language used was justified by the facts is not admissible as a discrepancies in the signature pages of the two versions of the
defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be Statement (i.e., Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity
observed and enforced." (In re Stewart, 118 La., 827; 43 S., II) by claiming that it is but expected in "live" public manifestos
455.) Said lack or want of intention constitutes at most an with dynamic and evolving pages as more and more signatories
extenuation of liability in this case, taking into consideration add their imprimatur thereto. He likewise stresses that he is not
Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's state of mind, according to him administratively liable because he did not misrepresent the
when he prepared said motion. This court is disposed to make members of the UP Law faculty who "had agreed with the
such concession. However, in order to avoid a recurrence Restoring Integrity Statement proper and/or who had expressed
thereof and to prevent others, by following the bad example, their desire to be signatories thereto."140
from taking the same course, this court considers it imperative to
treat the case of said attorney with the justice it To begin with, the Court cannot subscribe to Dean Leonen’s
deserves.139 (Emphases supplied.) implied view that the signatures in the Statement are not as
significant as its contents. Live public manifesto or not, the
Thus, the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance Statement was formally submitted to this Court at a specific
should, notwithstanding their claim of good faith, be reminded point in time and it should reflect accurately its signatories at
of their lawyerly duty, under Canons 1, 11 and 13, to give due that point. The value of the Statement as a UP Law Faculty
respect to the courts and to refrain from intemperate and Statement lies precisely in the identities of the persons who have
offensive language tending to influence the Court on pending signed it, since the Statement’s persuasive authority mainly
matters or to denigrate the courts and the administration of depends on the reputation and stature of the persons who have
justice. endorsed the same. Indeed, it is apparent from respondents’
explanations that their own belief in the "importance" of their
With respect to Prof. Vasquez, the Court favorably notes the positions as UP law professors prompted them to publicly speak
differences in his Compliance compared to his colleagues. In our out on the matter of the plagiarism issue in the Vinuya case.
view, he was the only one among the respondents who showed
true candor and sincere deference to the Court. He was able to Further, in our assessment, the true cause of Dean Leonen’s
give a straightforward account of how he came to sign the predicament is the fact that he did not from the beginning submit
Statement. He was candid enough to state that his agreement to the signed copy, Restoring Integrity I, to this Court on August
the Statement was in principle and that the reason plagiarism 11, 2010 and, instead, submitted Restoring Integrity II with its
was a "fair topic of discussion" among the UP Law faculty prior retyped or "reformatted" signature pages. It would turn out,
to the promulgation of the October 12, 2010 Decision in A.M. according to Dean Leonen’s account, that there were errors in
No. 10-7-17-SC was the uncertainty brought about by a division the retyping of the signature pages due to lapses of his unnamed
of opinion on whether or not willful or deliberate intent was an staff. First, an unnamed administrative officer in the dean’s
element of plagiarism. He was likewise willing to acknowledge office gave the dean inaccurate information that led him to allow
that he may have been remiss in failing to assess the effect of the the inclusion of Justice Mendoza as among the signatories of
language of the Statement and could have used more care. He Restoring Integrity II. Second, an unnamed staff also failed to
did all this without having to retract his position on the type the name of Atty. Armovit when encoding the signature
plagiarism issue, without demands for undeserved reliefs (as pages of Restoring Integrity II when in fact he had signed
will be discussed below) and without baseless insinuations of Restoring Integrity I.
deprivation of due process or of prejudgment. This is all that this
Court expected from respondents, not for them to sacrifice their The Court can understand why for purposes of posting on a
principles but only that they recognize that they themselves may bulletin board or a website a signed document may have to be
have committed some ethical lapse in this affair. We commend reformatted and signatures may be indicated by the notation
Prof. Vaquez for showing that at least one of the respondents (SGD). This is not unusual. We are willing to accept that the
can grasp the true import of the Show Cause Resolution reformatting of documents meant for posting to eliminate blanks
involving them. For these reasons, the Court finds Prof. is necessitated by vandalism concerns.
Vasquez’s Compliance satisfactory.

18
However, what is unusual is the submission to a court, In the Common Compliance, respondents named therein asked
especially this Court, of a signed document for the Court’s for alternative reliefs should the Court find their Compliance
consideration that did not contain the actual signatures of its unsatisfactory, that is, that the Show Cause Resolution be set for
authors. In most cases, it is the original signed document that is hearing and for that purpose, they be allowed to require the
transmitted to the Court or at the very least a photocopy of the production or presentation of witnesses and evidence bearing on
actual signed document. Dean Leonen has not offered any the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case
explanation why he deviated from this practice with his (G.R. No. 162230) and the plagiarism case against Justice Del
submission to the Court of Restoring Integrity II on August 11, Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to have access to the
2010. There was nothing to prevent the dean from submitting records of, and evidence that were presented or may be
Restoring Integrity I to this Court even with its blanks and presented in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. The
unsigned portions. Dean Leonen cannot claim fears of prayer for a hearing and for access to the records of A.M. No.
vandalism with respect to court submissions for court employees 10-7-17-SC was substantially echoed in Dean Leonen’s separate
are accountable for the care of documents and records that may Compliance. In Prof. Juan-Bautista’s Compliance, she similarly
come into their custody. Yet, Dean Leonen deliberately chose to expressed the sentiment that "[i]f the Restoring Integrity
submit to this Court the facsimile that did not contain the actual Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under Section 3
signatures and his silence on the reason therefor is in itself a of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, such may be punished only
display of lack of candor. after charge and hearing."141 It is this group of respondents’
premise that these reliefs are necessary for them to be accorded
Still, a careful reading of Dean Leonen’s explanations yield the full due process.
answer. In the course of his explanation of his willingness to
accept his administrative officer’s claim that Justice Mendoza The Court finds this contention unmeritorious.
agreed to be indicated as a signatory, Dean Leonen admits in a
footnote that other professors had likewise only authorized him Firstly, it would appear that the confusion as to the necessity of
to indicate them as signatories and had not in fact signed the a hearing in this case springs largely from its characterization as
Statement. Thus, at around the time Restoring Integrity II was a special civil action for indirect contempt in the Dissenting
printed, posted and submitted to this Court, at least one Opinion of Justice Sereno (to the October 19, 2010 Show Cause
purported signatory thereto had not actually signed the same. Resolution) and her reliance therein on the majority’s purported
Contrary to Dean Leonen’s proposition, that is precisely failure to follow the procedure in Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
tantamount to making it appear to this Court that a person or as her main ground for opposition to the Show Cause
persons participated in an act when such person or persons did Resolution.
not.
However, once and for all, it should be clarified that this is not
We are surprised that someone like Dean Leonen, with his an indirect contempt proceeding and Rule 71 (which requires a
reputation for perfection and stringent standards of intellectual hearing) has no application to this case. As explicitly ordered in
honesty, could proffer the explanation that there was no the Show Cause Resolution this case was docketed as an
misrepresentation when he allowed at least one person to be administrative matter.
indicated as having actually signed the Statement when all he
had was a verbal communication of an intent to sign. In the case
of Justice Mendoza, what he had was only hearsay information The rule that is relevant to this controversy is Rule 139-B,
that the former intended to sign the Statement. If Dean Leonen Section 13, on disciplinary proceedings initiated motu proprio
was truly determined to observe candor and truthfulness in his by the Supreme Court, to wit:
dealings with the Court, we see no reason why he could not have
waited until all the professors who indicated their desire to sign SEC. 13. Supreme Court Investigators.—In proceedings
the Statement had in fact signed before transmitting the initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court or in other
Statement to the Court as a duly signed document. If it was truly proceedings when the interest of justice so requires, the Supreme
impossible to secure some signatures, such as that of Justice Court may refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor
Mendoza who had to leave for abroad, then Dean Leonen should General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a
have just resigned himself to the signatures that he was able to lower court, in which case the investigation shall proceed in the
secure. same manner provided in sections 6 to 11 hereof, save that the
review of the report of investigation shall be conducted directly
We cannot imagine what urgent concern there was that he could by the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)
not wait for actual signatures before submission of the Statement
to this Court. As respondents all asserted, they were neither From the foregoing provision, it cannot be denied that a formal
parties to nor counsels in the Vinuya case and the ethics case investigation, through a referral to the specified officers, is
against Justice Del Castillo. The Statement was neither a merely discretionary, not mandatory on the Court.
pleading with a deadline nor a required submission to the Court; Furthermore, it is only if the Court deems such an investigation
rather, it was a voluntary submission that Dean Leonen could do necessary that the procedure in Sections 6 to 11 of Rule 139-A
at any time. will be followed.

In sum, the Court likewise finds Dean Leonen’s Compliance As respondents are fully aware, in general, administrative
unsatisfactory. However, the Court is willing to ascribe these proceedings do not require a trial type hearing. We have held
isolated lapses in judgment of Dean Leonen to his misplaced that:
zeal in pursuit of his objectives. In due consideration of Dean
Leonen’s professed good intentions, the Court deems it The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard
sufficient to admonish Dean Leonen for failing to observe full or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to
candor and honesty in his dealings with the Court as required explain one's side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of
under Canon 10. the action or ruling complained of. What the law prohibits
is absolute absence of the opportunity to be heard, hence, a party
Respondents’ requests for a hearing, for production/presentation cannot feign denial of due process where he had been afforded
of evidence bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation the opportunity to present his side. A formal or trial type hearing
issues in G.R. No. 162230 and A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, and for is not at all times and in all instances essential to due process,
access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC are unmeritorious. the requirements of which are satisfied where the parties are
afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of
the controversy.142 (Emphases supplied.)

19
In relation to bar discipline cases, we have had the occasion to 7-17-SC on the assumption that the findings of this Court which
rule in Pena v. Aparicio143 that: were the bases of the Show Cause Resolution were made in
A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, or were related to the conclusions of the
Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Court in the Decision in that case. This is the primary reason for
Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a their request for access to the records and evidence presented in
trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.
Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended
to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. This assumption on the part of respondents is erroneous. To
Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. illustrate, the only incident in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC that is
It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is relevant to the case at bar is the fact that the submission of the
its primary objective, and the real question for determination is actual signed copy of the Statement (or Restoring Integrity I, as
whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the Dean Leonen referred to it) happened there. Apart from that fact,
privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary it bears repeating that the proceedings in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC,
powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, is a separate and
account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end independent matter from this case.
in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the
proper and honest administration of justice by purging the To find the bases of the statements of the Court in the Show
profession of members who by their misconduct have proved Cause Resolution that the respondents issued a Statement with
themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and language that the Court deems objectionable during the
responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such pendency of the Vinuya case and the ethics case against Justice
posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant Del Castillo, respondents need to go no further than the four
or a prosecutor.144 (Emphases supplied.) corners of the Statement itself, its various versions, news
reports/columns (many of which respondents themselves
In Query of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe, Former Clerk of supplied to this Court in their Common Compliance) and
Court – Br. 81, Romblon – On the Prohibition from Engaging in internet sources that are already of public knowledge.
the Private Practice of Law,145 we further observed that:
Considering that what respondents are chiefly required to
[I]n several cases, the Court has disciplined lawyers without explain are the language of the Statement and the circumstances
further inquiry or resort to any formal investigation where the surrounding the drafting, printing, signing, dissemination, etc.,
facts on record sufficiently provided the basis for the of its various versions, the Court does not see how any witness
determination of their administrative liability. or evidence in the ethics case of Justice Del Castillo could
possibly shed light on these facts. To be sure, these facts are
In Prudential Bank v. Castro, the Court disbarred a lawyer within the knowledge of respondents and if there is any evidence
without need of any further investigation after considering his on these matters the same would be in their possession.
actions based on records showing his unethical misconduct; the
misconduct not only cast dishonor on the image of both the We find it significant that in Dean Leonen’s Compliance he
Bench and the Bar, but was also inimical to public interest and narrated how as early as September 2010, i.e., before the
welfare. In this regard, the Court took judicial notice of several Decision of this Court in the ethics case of Justice Del Castillo
cases handled by the errant lawyer and his cohorts that revealed on October 12, 2010 and before the October 19, 2010 Show
their modus operandi in circumventing the payment of the Cause Resolution, retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente V.
proper judicial fees for the astronomical sums they claimed in Mendoza, after being shown a copy of the Statement upon his
their cases. The Court held that those cases sufficiently provided return from abroad, predicted that the Court would take some
the basis for the determination of respondents' administrative form of action on the Statement. By simply reading a hard copy
liability, without need for further inquiry into the matter under of the Statement, a reasonable person, even one who
the principle of res ipsa loquitur. "fundamentally agreed" with the Statement’s principles, could
foresee the possibility of court action on the same on an implicit
Also on the basis of this principle, we ruled in Richards v. Asoy, recognition that the Statement, as worded, is not a matter this
that no evidentiary hearing is required before the respondent Court should simply let pass. This belies respondents’ claim that
may be disciplined for professional misconduct already it is necessary for them to refer to any record or evidence in
established by the facts on record. A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC in order to divine the bases for the Show
Cause Resolution.
xxxx
If respondents have chosen not to include certain pieces of
evidence in their respective compliances or chosen not to make a
These cases clearly show that the absence of any formal charge full defense at this time, because they were counting on being
against and/or formal investigation of an errant lawyer do not granted a hearing, that is respondents’ own look-out. Indeed, law
preclude the Court from immediately exercising its disciplining professors of their stature are supposed to be aware of the above
authority, as long as the errant lawyer or judge has been given jurisprudential doctrines regarding the non-necessity of a
the opportunity to be heard. As we stated earlier, Atty. Buffe has hearing in disciplinary cases. They should bear the consequence
been afforded the opportunity to be heard on the present matter of the risk they have taken.
through her letter-query and Manifestation filed before this
Court.146(Emphases supplied.)
Thus, respondents’ requests for a hearing and for access to the
records of, and evidence presented in, A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC
Under the rules and jurisprudence, respondents clearly had no should be denied for lack of merit.
right to a hearing and their reservation of a right they do not
have has no effect on these proceedings. Neither have they
shown in their pleadings any justification for this Court to call A final word
for a hearing in this instance. They have not specifically stated
what relevant evidence, documentary or testimonial, they intend In a democracy, members of the legal community are hardly
to present in their defense that will necessitate a formal hearing. expected to have monolithic views on any subject, be it a legal,
political or social issue. Even as lawyers passionately and
Instead, it would appear that they intend to present records, vigorously propound their points of view they are bound by
evidence, and witnesses bearing on the plagiarism and certain rules of conduct for the legal profession. This Court is
misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case and in A.M. No. 10- certainly not claiming that it should be shielded from criticism.

20
All the Court demands is the same respect and courtesy that one
lawyer owes to another under established ethical standards. All Please see Dissenting
lawyers, whether they are judges, court employees, professors or See Dissenting Opinion Opinion
private practitioners, are officers of the Court and have ANTONIO T. CARPIO CONCHITA CARPIO
voluntarily taken an oath, as an indispensable qualification for Associate Justice MORALES
admission to the Bar, to conduct themselves with good fidelity Associate Justice
towards the courts. There is no exemption from this sworn duty
for law professors, regardless of their status in the academic
On leave
community or the law school to which they belong. PRESBITERO J.
ANTONIO EDUARDO
VELASCO, JR.
B. NACHURA*
WHEREFORE, this administrative matter is decided as follows: Associate Justice
Associate Justice

(1) With respect to Prof. Vasquez, after favorably I certify the Mr. Justice
noting his submission, the Court finds his Compliance Brion left his concurring DIOSDADO M.
to be satisfactory. vote PERALTA
ARTURO D. BRION Associate Justice
(2) The Common Compliance of 35 respondents, Associate Justice
namely, Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M.
Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona,
Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. (No Part)
Salvador Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARIANO C. DEL
Te, Florin T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn Associate Justice CASTILLO**
(Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G. De Vera, Solomon F. Associate Justice
Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A. Alampay,
Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. Pls see Separate Opinion
Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. ROBERTO A. ABAD MARTIN S.
Catindig, Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Associate Justice VILLARAMA, JR.
Concepcion L. Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Viña, Associate Justice
Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C. Laureta, Rodolfo Noel S.
Quimbo, Antonio M. Santos, Gmeleen Faye B.
Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn G. Ursua, JOSE PORTUGAL JOSE CATRAL
Susan D. Villanueva and Dina D. Lucenario, is found PEREZ MENDOZA
UNSATISFACTORY. These 35 respondent law Associate Justice Associate Justice
professors are reminded of their lawyerly duty, under
Canons 1, 11 and 13 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, to give due respect to the Court and to I dissent and reserve the right to issue a Separate Opinion
refrain from intemperate and offensive language MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
tending to influence the Court on pending matters or Associate Justice
to denigrate the Court and the administration of justice
and warned that the same or similar act in the future
shall be dealt with more severely.

(3) The separate Compliance of Dean Marvic M.V.F. Footnotes


Leonen regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10
is found UNSATISFACTORY. He is further
ADMONISHED to be more mindful of his duty, as a * On leave.
member of the Bar, an officer of the Court, and a Dean
and professor of law, to observe full candor and ** No part.
honesty in his dealings with the Court and warned that
the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with 1Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M. Bacungan,
more severely. Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona, Salvador T.
Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. Salvador
(4) Prof. Lynch, who is not a member of the Philippine Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin
bar, is excused from these proceedings. However, he T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D.
is reminded that while he is engaged as a professor in Battad, Gwen G. De Vera, Solomon F. Lumba,
a Philippine law school he should strive to be a model Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A. Alampay, Miguel
of responsible and professional conduct to his students R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. Bautista,
even without the threat of sanction from this Court. Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig,
Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo,
(5) Finally, respondents’ requests for a hearing and for Concepcion L. Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Viña,
access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC are Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C. Laureta, Owen J. Lynch,
denied for lack of merit. Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, Antonio M. Santos,
Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty,
Evalyn G. Ursua, Raul T. Vasquez, Susan D.
SO ORDERED. Villanueva and Dina D. Lucenario; rollo, pp. 24-25.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO 2 Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of


Associate Justice the University of the Philippines College of Law on
the Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in
WE CONCUR: the Supreme Court; rollo, pp. 4-9.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

21
3 20
Counsel of record for the Malaya Lolas (petitioners http://www.scribd.com/doc/39856111/Letter-to-
in G.R. No. 162230) is the Roque & Butuyan Law Republic-of-the-Philippines-Supreme-Court-
Offices. Ellis (Last accessed on January 20, 2011).

4Malaya Lolas’ Motion for Reconsideration dated 21Per Curiam Decision, In the Matter of Charges of
May 31, 2010, p. 1. Plagiarism, etc., against Associate Justice Mariano C.
del Castillo, A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, October 12, 2010.
5 Id. at 8.
22http://www.newsbreak.ph/2010/08/09/restoring-
6The contents of the Supplemental Motion for integrity/ (Last accessed on January 24, 2011).
Reconsideration were posted on Atty. Roque's blog on
23
July 18, 2010, the day before its filing. http://harryroque.com/2010/08/09/restoring-
See http://harryroque.com/2010/07/18/supplemental- integritya-statement-by-the-faculty-of/ (Last accessed
motion-alleging-plagiarism-in-the-supreme-court/ (last on January 20, 2011).
accessed on January 20, 2011).
24http://www.gmanews.tv/story/198182/resignation-
7Malaya Lolas’ Supplemental Motion for of-sc-justice-in-plagiarism-issue-sought (Last accessed
Reconsideration dated July 19, 2010, p. 8. on January 20, 2011).

8 25
Id. at 36. (Emphasis supplied.) http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/faculties-hit-
plagiarized-ruling (Last accessed on January 20,
9 Which appeared in the Yale Law Journal in 2009. 2011).

26
10 Cambridge University Press, 2005. See paragraph 2.9, Dean Leonen Compliance dated
November 19, 2010; rollo, p. 327.
11Published in the Case Western Reserve Journal of 27The
International Law in 2006. date of posting of the Statement is not indicated
on the UP Law website.
See http://law.upd.edu.ph/index.php?option=com_cont
12See Annex 4 of the 35 respondents’ Common ent&view=article&id=166:restoring-integrity-a-
Compliance filed on November 19, 2010. The article’s statement-by-the-faculty-of-the-up-college-of-
time of posting was indicated as 7:00 a.m.; rollo, p. law&catid=52:faculty-news&Itemid=369 (Last
304. accessed on January 20, 2011).

13The article was posted on July 19, 2010 at 12:02 28 Although the Dean’s letter indicated that 38 faculty
a.m. See http://www.gmanews.tv/story/196407/sc- members signed the statement, an examination of the
justice-plagiarized-parts-of-ruling-on-comfort- attachment showed that the number of purported
women (Last accessed on January 20, 2011). signatories was only 37.

14
See http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpi 29 Rollo, pp. 4-9.
nion.htm?f=2010/july/22/harryroque.isx&d=2010/july
/22(Last accessed January 24, 2011). 30 This was received by the Court on August 20, 2010.
It was also reported on Newsbreak that same day. See
15The link indicated in Julian Ku’s blog entry was not (http://www.newsbreak.ph/2010/08/20/third-author-
a newspaper report but the Newsbreak article posted in plagiarized-by-sc-justice-complains/).
GMA News TV’s website.

16
31 See Annex 2 of the 35 respondents’ Compliance
Id. dated November 19, 2010. A full-color PDF replica of
Prof. Tams’ letter was also linked on Atty. Roque’s
17Prof. Criddle’s response was posted on July 19, blog entry dated August 22, 2010. See blog entry here
2010 at 2:44 EST. See link below: - http://harryroque.com/2010/08/22/third-author-
plagiarized-by-sc-justice- complains-from-
http://opiniojuris.org/2010/07/19/international-law- newsbreak/ (last accessed on January 20, 2011) and
plagiarism-charge-bedevils-philippines-supreme- the letter here -
court-justice/ (Last accessed on January 20, 2011). http://harryroque.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/tams-
letter-to-supreme-court.pdf (last accessed on January
21, 2011).
18This letter was subsequently published in the
Philippine Star as shown by Annex 7 of the 35 32
respondents’ Common Compliance filed on November Per Curiam Decision in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC,
19, 2010; rollo, pp. 309-310. October 12, 2010.

33
19Atty. Roque and Atty. Bagares, through the Center Id.
for International Law, have collaborated in the past
34
with the SEAMLDI. The Center for International Law, Resolution dated October 19, 2010; rollo, pp. 23-29.
which has Atty. Roque as Chairman and Atty. Bagares
as Executive Director, hosted the 2nd South East Asia 35 Id. at 26-27.
Media Legal Defense Conference held in October
2009 in Cebu City. 36
See http://www.roquebutuyan.com/centerlaw/index.ht The Show Cause Resolution inadvertently referred
ml and http://jmsc.asia/seasiamediadefense2009/progr to Canon 10 but should refer to Canon 1.
am/ (Both last accessed on January 20, 2011).

22
37 66
Show Cause Resolution; rollo, pp. 27-28. Id. at 215.

38 67
Id. at 28. 37 Phil. 731 (1918).

39 68
Common Compliance; rollo, p. 201. G.R. No. L-27654, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA
562.
40 Id.
69 137 Phil. 471 (1969).
41 Id. at 201-202. (Emphases supplied.)
70 160-A Phil. 929 (1975).
42 Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 1.
71 Common Compliance; rollo, p. 217.
43 Id., Canon 11.
72 61 Phil 724 (1935).
44 Id., Canon 13.
73Id. at 733-734, cited in the Common
45 Common Compliance; rollo, p. 203. Compliance; rollo, p. 219.

74
46 Id. at 204. Common Compliance; rollo, pp. 219-220.

75
47 Id. at 205. Bautista Compliance; id. at 179. (Emphasis
supplied.)
48 Id. at 208. 76 Id. at 180. (Emphasis supplied.)
49 Id at 208-209. 77 Mercado v. AMA Computer College–Parañaque
50
City, Inc., G.R. No. 183572, April 13, 2010; Morales
Respondents were referring to the article by Donna v. Board of Regents of the University of the
Pazzibugan entitled "High Court Not Probing Philippines, G.R. No. 161172, December 13, 2004,
‘Plagiarism,’" which according to footnote 28 of the 446 SCRA 227; University of the Philippines Board of
Common Compliance may be accessed at Regents v. Court of Appeals, supra note 49;
<http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/ Arokiaswamy William Margaret Celine v. University
view/2010072182283/High-court-not-probing- of the Philippines Board of Regents, G.R. No. 152309,
plagiarism> as of November 12, 2010. Resolution, September 18, 2002.

51 Common Compliance; rollo, p. 209. 78Bautista Compliance; rollo, p. 185; citing Integrated
Bar of the Philippines v. Atienza, G.R. No. 175241,
52 February 24, 2010.
372 Phil. 287 (1999).

53 79
According to his letter, Atty. Payoyo is a former UP See Vasquez Compliance; rollo, p. 428.
Law Professor, former chief editor of the Philippine
Law Journal and a recipient of the Court’s centennial 80 82 Phil. 595 (1949).
award in international law.
81
54
Supra note 68.
G.R. No. 190582, April 8, 2010.
82
55
AmJur 2d §52.
Common Compliance; rollo, p. 211.
83
56
Vasquez Compliance; rollo, p. 430.
Annex 4; id. at 304-306.
84
57
Id. at 431.
Annex 5; id. at 307.
85
58
Id. at 430.
Annex 6; id. at 308.
86
59
Id.
Annex 7; id. at 309-310.
87
60
Dean Leonen Compliance; rollo, pp. 324-325.
Annex 8; id. at 311.
88
61
Id. at 325-326.
Annex 9; id. at 312.
89
62
Id. at 326.
Annexes 10 and 11; id. at 313-314.
90
63
Id., in Footnote 2.
Annexes 12, 13 and 14; id. at 315-317.
91
64
Id. at 326-327.
Annex 15; id. at 318-319.
92
65
Id. at 327.
Annex 16; id. at 320.

23
93 122
Id., in Footnote 3. Id. at 580-582.

94 123
Id. at 331-332. Supra note 80.

95 124
Id. at 332. Id. at 599-602.

96 125
Id. at 328, in footnote 4. 329 Phil. 270 (1996).

97 126
Id. at 334, in footnote 7. Id. at 276-279.

98 127
Id. at 335. A.C. No. 6567, April 16, 2008, 551 SCRA 359.

99 128
Id. at 335-336. Id. at 367-368.

100 129
Id. at 338. Supra note 69.

101 130
480 Phil. 652 (2004). Id. at 494.

102 131
Dean Leonen Compliance; rollo, p. 338. 248 Phil. 542 (1988).

103 132
Lynch Manifestation; rollo, p. 188; citing New Id. at 579.
York Times, Co. v. Sullivan, 376 US 254 (1964)
quoted with approval by the Court in Lopez v. Court 133 Prof. Juan-Bautista and Prof. Lynch.
of Appeals, 145 Phil. 219 (1970).
134
104
G.R. No. 100113, September 3, 1991, 201 SCRA
Id. 210, 214, where the Court ruled that:
105 G.R. No. 95445, August 6, 1991, 200 SCRA 323. Practice of law means any activity, in or out
of court, which requires the application of
106Quoted by Prof. Lynch from the Dissenting law, legal procedure, knowledge, training
Opinion of Justice Gutierrez, Jr. in the Manila Public and experience. "To engage in the practice
School Teachers Association case (id. at 338). of law is to perform those acts which are
characteristics of the profession. Generally,
107
Quoted by Prof. Lynch from the Dissenting to practice law is to give notice or render
Opinion of Justice Cruz in the Manila Public School any kind of service, which device or service
Teachers Association case (id. at 343). requires the use in any degree of legal
knowledge or skill." (Citing 111 ALR 23.)
108 Supra note 69. 135 Rollo, pp. 6-7.
109 Lynch Manifestation; rollo, p. 189. 136 Lynch Manifestation; rollo, p. 188.
110 Id. 137 In the case of members of the Bar.
111 Show Cause Resolution; rollo, p. 25. 138In the case of members of the Bar and/or non-
112
lawyers.
Id. at 26.
139
113
Salcedo v. Hernandez, supra note 72 at 729-730.
To date, said motion for reconsideration of
the Vinuya decision is still pending resolution by the 140
Court. Dean Leonen Compliance; rollo, p. 336.

141
114 Show Cause Resolution; rollo, pp. 25-26. Bautista Complaince; rollo, p. 179.

142
115 Id. at 26-27. Placido v. National Labor Relations Commission,
G.R. No. 180888, September 18, 2009, 600 SCRA
116
697, 704-705.
Supra note 72.
143
117
A.C. No. 7298, June 25, 2007, 525 SCRA 444,
Id. at 726. citing In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, supra note
68.
118 Id. at 727-728.
144 Id. at 453.
119 Id. at 728.
145
A.M. No. 08-6-352-RTC, August 19, 2009, 596
120 SCRA 378.
Supra note 68.

121 146
Id. at 564-565. Id. at 396-398.

24
statement of the UP law faculty, taken as a whole, does not
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation exhibit that "irrational obsession to demean, ridicule, degrade
and even destroy the courts and their members" typical of
unprotected judicial criticism.21 On the contrary, the statement,
taken as a whole, seeks to uphold the bedrock democratic value
DISSENTING OPINION of keeping judicial processes free of any taint of dishonesty or
misrepresentation. Thus, the UP law faculty statement is far
removed from speech the Court has rightly sanctioned for
CARPIO, J.: proffering no useful social value, solely crafted to vilify its
members and threaten its very existence.22
I find the Compliance of the 37 legal scholars1 satisfactory and
therefore see no need to admonish or warn them2for supposed On the alleged danger of impairment of this Court’s judicial
use of disrespectful language in their statement3 commenting on independence in resolving the plagiarism charge in Vinuya, this
a public issue involving the official conduct of a member of this too, did not come to pass. In the Resolution of 8 February 2011
Court. The majority’s action impermissibly expands the Court’s in A.M. No. 10-17-17-SC,23 the Court denied reconsideration to
administrative powers4and, more importantly, abridges its earlier ruling finding no merit in the Vinuya petitioners’ claim
constitutionally protected speech on public conduct guaranteed of plagiarism. Not a single word in the 8 February 2011
to all, including members of the bar. Resolution hints that the UP law faculty statement pressured,
much less threatened, this Court to decide the motion for
First. The matter of Justice Mariano del Castillo’s reported reconsideration for the Vinuya petitioners. Thus, the 8 February
misuse and non-attribution of sources in his ponencia in Vinuya 2011 Resolution gives the lie to the conclusion that the UP law
v. Executive Secretary5 is an issue of public concern. A day faculty statement posed any danger, much less one that is
before the Vinuya petitioners’ counsels filed their supplemental "extremely serious," to the Court’s independence.
motion for reconsideration on 19 July 2010 raising these
allegations, a national TV network carried a parallel story Third. The conclusion that the UP law faculty statement
online.6 On the day the pleading was filed, another national TV disrespects the Court and its members is valid only if the
network7 and an online news magazine,8 carried the same story. statement is taken apart, its dismembered parts separately
Soon, one of the authors allegedly plagiarized commented that scrutinized to isolate and highlight perceived offensive phrases
the work he and a co-author wrote was misrepresented and words. This approach defies common sense and departs
in Vinuya.9 Justice del Castillo himself widened the scope of from this Court’s established practice in scrutinizing speech
publicity by submitting his official response to the allegations to critical of the judiciary. People v. Godoy24 instructs that speech
a national daily which published his comment in full. 10 Justice critical of judges must be "read with contextual care," making
del Castillo’s defenses of good faith and non-liability11 echoed sure that disparaging statements are not "taken out of
an earlier statement made by the Chief of the Court’s Public context."25 Using this approach, and applying the clear and
Information Office.12 These unfolding events generated an all- present danger test, the Court in Godoy cleared a columnist and
important public issue affecting no less than the integrity of this a publisher of liability despite the presence in the assailed news
Court’s decision-making – its core constitutional function – thus article of derogatory yet isolated statements about a judge. We
inexorably inviting public comment. can do no less to the statement of the members of the UP law
faculty, who, after all, were impelled by nothing but their sense
Along with other sectors, the law faculty of the University of the of professional obligation to "speak out on a matter of public
Philippines (UP), which counts among its ranks some of this concern and one that is of vital interest to them."26
country’s legal experts,13 responded by issuing a
statement,14 bewailing what the professors see as the Court’s On the supposed unpleasant tone of the statement, critical
indifference to the perceived dishonesty in the crafting of speech, by its nature, is caustic and biting. It is for this same
the Vinuya ponencia and its aggravating effect on reason, however, that it enjoys special constitutional protection.
the Vinuya petitioners’ cause, refuting Justice del Castillo’s "The constitution does not apply only to sober, carefully
defenses, underscoring the seriousness of the issue, and calling reasoned discussion. There may be at least some value in
for the adoption of individual and institutional remedial permitting cranky, obstreperous, defiant conduct by lawyers on
measures.15 This is prime political speech critical of conduct of the ground that it encourages a public culture of skepticism,
public officials and institution, delivered in public forum. Under anti-authoritarianism, pluralism, and openness. It is important to
the scheme of our constitutional values, this species of speech remember that the social function of lawyers is not only to
enjoys the highest protection,16 rooted on the deeply-held notion preserve order, but also to permit challenges to the status quo."27
that "the interest of society and the maintenance of good
government demand a full discussion of public
affairs."17 Indeed, preceding western jurisprudence by nearly Supreme Court Justices, as public officials, and the Supreme
five decades, this Court, in the first score of the last century, Court, as an institution, are entitled to no greater immunity from
identified the specific right to criticize official conduct as criticism than other public officials and institutions.28 The
protected speech, branding attempts by courts to muzzle members of this Court are sustained by the people’s resources
criticism as "tyranny of the basest sort."18 and our actions are always subject to their accounting.29 Thus,
instead of shielding ourselves with a virtual lese-majeste rule,
wholly incompatible with the Constitution’s vision of public
Second. In testing whether speech critical of judges and judicial office as a "public trust,"30we should heed our own near century-
processes falls outside the ambit of constitutionally protected old counsel: a clear conscience, not muzzled critics, is the balm
expression, spilling into the territory of sanctionable utterances, for wounds caused by a "hostile and unjust accusation" on
this Court adheres to the "clear and present danger" test.19 Under official conduct.31
this analytical framework, an utterance is constitutionally
protected unless "the evil consequence of the comment or
utterance [is] ‘extremely serious and the degree of imminence Fourth. The academic bar, which the UP law faculty represents,
extremely high.’"20 is the judiciary’s partner in a perpetual intellectual conversation
to promote the rule of law and build democratic institutions. It
serves the interest of sustaining this vital relationship for the
It appears that the evil consequences the UP law faculty Court to constructively respond to the academics’ criticism.
statement will supposedly spawn are (1) the slurring of this Instead of heeding the UP law faculty’s call for the Court to
Court’s dignity and (2) the impairment of its judicial "ensur[e] that not only the content, but also the processes of
independence vis-à-vis the resolution of the plagiarism preparing and writing its own decisions, are credible and beyond
complaint in Vinuya. Both are absent here. On the matter of question," the majority dismisses their suggestion as useless
institutional degradation, the 12-paragraph, 1,553-word

25
calumny and brands their constitutionally protected speech as Significantly, the 37 academics did not
"unbecoming of lawyers and law professors." The Constitution, counsel or abet activities of any sort and
logic, common sense and a humble awareness of this Court’s none of them is counsel to any of the parties
role in the larger project of dispensing justice in a democracy in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary, thus Rule
revolt against such response. 1.02 and Canon 13 are irrelevant. Rule 11.05
is similarly inapplicable because none of the
Accordingly, I vote to consider respondents’ explanation in their professors authored any of the materials
common and individual Compliance as satisfactory and to used in Vinuya hence, their grievance to the
consider this matter closed and terminated. purported plagiarism and misrepresentation
is not specific and personal to cloak them
with legal personality to institute a
ANTONIO T. CARPIO complaint against Justice Mariano del
Associate Justice Castillo. On the other hand, Canon 1 and
Canon 11, accommodate and do not trump
the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

5 G.R. No. 162230, 28 April 2010.


Footnotes
6The news article "SC justice plagiarized parts of
1 ruling on comfort women" by Aries C. Rufo and
All belonging to the faculty of the University of the
Philippines College of Law including the incumbent Purple S. Romero appeared in the website of ABS-
dean, four former deans, members of the regular CBN on 18 July 2010 (see http://www.abs-
faculty and instructors. Professor Owen Lynch, a cbnnews.com/nation/07/18/10/sc-justice-plagiarized-
visiting professor and a member of the Minnesota bar, parts-ruling-comfort-women).
filed a manifestation joining causes with the
respondents. 7GMA-7 (see
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/196407/sc-justice-
2 plagiarized-parts-of-ruling-on-comfort-women)
The majority excludes from their finding Atty. Raul
T. Vasquez whose Compliance they find satisfactory.
8Newsbreak (see
3 http://newsbreak.com.ph/index.php?option=com_
"Restoring Integrity: A Statement By The University
Of The Philippines College Of Law On The content&task=view&id=7981&Itemid=88889005.)
Allegations Of Plagiarism And Misrepresentation In
The Supreme Court." 9 Commenting on a blog entry on the news stories
ABS-CBN, GMA-7 and Newsbreak carried, Professor
4 Evan Criddle, co-author of the article A Fiduciary
In the Resolution of 19 October 2010, 37 professors
were required to show cause why no disciplinary Theory of Jus Cogens, 34 Yale J. Int’l L. 331 (2009),
sanction should be imposed on them for violating the stated: "Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect
following provisions of the Code of Professional of the court’s jus cogens discussion is that it implies
Responsibility: that the prohibitions against crimes against humanity,
sexual slavery, and torture are not jus cogens norms.
Canon 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the Our article emphatically asserts the opposite."
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and (see http://opiniojuris.org/2010/07/19/international-
promote respect for law and legal processes. law-plagiarism-charge-bedevils-philippines-supreme-
court-justice/). The two other authors, Christian J.
Tams and Mark Ellis, whose works were reportedly
Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or misused in the Court’s ruling in Vinuya, had since
abet activities aimed at defiance of the law filed formal complaints with the Court.
or at lessening confidence in the legal
system. 10Justice del Castillo’s comment appeared in The
Philippine Star’s "Letters to the Editor" section on 30
Canon 11 – A lawyer shall observe and July 2010 captioned "The Del Castillo Ponencia in
maintain respect due to the courts and to Vinuya By Mariano C. Del Castillo, Associate Justice"
judicial officers and should insist on similar (see
conduct by others. http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=59804
4&publicationSubCategoryId=135).
Rule 11.05 - A lawyer shall submit
grievances against a Judge to the proper 11 Justice del Castillo wrote:
authorities only.
It must be emphasized that there was every
Canon 13 – A lawyer shall rely upon the intention to attribute all sources, whenever
merits of his cause and refrain from any due. At no point was there ever any
impropriety which tends to influence, or malicious intent to appropriate another’s
gives the appearance of influencing the work as our own. x x x x
court.
xxxx
Today’s Resolution admonishes the
incumbent dean, Marvic MV.F. Leonen, and
warns 35 other professors for "speech and Incidentally, it was stated in the Newsbreak
conduct unbecoming of lawyers and law article posted by Aries C. Rufo and Purple
professors." S. Romero on July 19, 2010 that "x x x there
is no rule or provision in the judiciary
against copying from other’s work and
passing these off as original material." Dean

26
Pacifico Agabin concurred with this order to prevent a recurrence of similar acts,
observation when he "pointed out, ‘It is not and to provide clear and concise guidance to
prohibited under the Code of Judicial Ethics, the Bench and Bar to ensure only the highest
or any statutes. It is just a matter of quality of legal research and writing in
delicadeza… It bears on the honesty of the pleadings, practice, and adjudication.
judge to give credit where credit is due."
16Chavez v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 168338, 15 February
Finally, Section 184(k) of Republic Act No. 2008, 545 SCRA 441, 538, Carpio, J., concurring.
8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the
Philippines) provides that "any use made of 17United States v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731, 740 (1918).
a work for the purpose of any judicial Jurisprudence privileges this right by requiring the
proceedings x x x" shall not constitute very high quantum of proof of actual malice to
infringement of copyright. establish liability for libelous comment on public
conduct (Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, 373 Phil. 238
12Who informed the public: "You can’t expect all (1999); Flor v. People, G.R. No. 139987, 31 March
justices in the Supreme Court to be familiar with all 2005, 454 SCRA 440).
these journals." (see
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/vi 18 The relevant passage reads:
ew/20100721-282283/High-court-not-probing-
plagiarism).
The guaranties of a free speech and a free
13
press include the right to criticize judicial
Dean Pacifico Agabin, an alumnus of Yale Law conduct. The administration of the law is a
School, is an authority in constitutional law, author of matter of vital public concern. Whether the
numerous scholarly publications and active appellate law is wisely or badly enforced is, therefore,
litigator who frequently appeared before the Court to a fit subject for proper comment. If the
argue landmark public law cases. Dean Merlin people cannot criticize a justice of the peace
Magallona is a recognized expert in international law, or a judge the same as any other public
a published scholar and former Undersecretary of officer, public opinion will be effectively
Foreign Affairs. Professor Tristan Catindig, a Harvard muzzled. Attempted terrorization of public
Law School alumnus, is a commercial law expert and opinion on the part of the judiciary would be
author of numerous publications on the subject. tyranny of the basest sort. x x x x (United
States v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731, 741 (1918)).
14
The respondents claim that they spoke in their
capacity as lawyers, law professors and citizens It was only in 1964 that the United States
(Common Compliance, pp. 2, 16). Supreme Court enunciated a comparable
doctrine, with refinements (see New York
15 Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 [1964]).
Summed in the penultimate paragraph of their
statement:
19Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152
(1) The plagiarism committed in the case of (1957); People v. Godoy, 312 Phil. 977 (1995); In re
Vinuya v. Executive Secretary is Almacen, No. L-27654, 18 February 1970, 31 SCRA
unacceptable, unethical and in breach of the 562.
high standards of moral conduct and judicial
and professional competence expected of the 20 Cabansag v. Fernandez, 102 Phil. 152, 161 (1957).
Supreme Court;
21See e.g. Column of Ramon Tulfo in the Philippine
(2) Such a fundamental breach endangers Daily Inquirer Issues of 13 and 16 October 1989,
the integrity and credibility of the entire A.M. No. 90-4-1545-0, 17 April 1990 (Resolution).
Supreme Court and undermines the
foundations of the Philippine judicial system 22
by allowing implicitly the decision of cases In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595 (1949). See also Column of
and the establishment of legal precedents Ramon Tulfo in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Issues of
through dubious means; 13 and 16 October 1989, id.

23
(3) The same breach and consequent In the Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism etc.,
disposition of the Vinuya case does violence Against Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo.
to the primordial function of the Supreme
Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to 24 People v. Godoy, 312 Phil. 977 (1995).
all those who have been left without legal or
equitable recourse, such as the petitioners 25 We held:
therein;

On the issue of whether the specified


(4) In light of the extremely serious and far- statements complained of are contumacious
reaching nature of the dishonesty and to in nature, we are inclined, based on an
save the honor and dignity of the Supreme overall perusal and objective analysis of the
Court as an institution, it is necessary for the subject article, to hold in the negative. We
ponente of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary to have read and reread the article in its
resign his position, without prejudice to any entirety and we are fully convinced that
other sanctions that the Court may consider what is involved here is a situation wherein
appropriate;(5) The Supreme Court must the alleged disparaging statements have
take this opportunity to review the manner been taken out of context. If the statements
by which it conducts research, prepares claimed to be contum[acious] had been read
drafts, reaches and finalizes decisions in

27
with contextual care, there would have been but which appears to the public to have failed to transcend its
no reason for this contempt proceeding. Id. instinct for self-preservation and to rise above its own hurt,
at 994 (emphasis supplied). gains nothing by punishing those who, to its mind, also lacked
such restraint.
26 Common Compliance, p. 2.
I join the dissents of Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita
27
W. Bradley Wendel, Free Speech For Lawyers, 28 Carpio Morales, and Martin S. Villarama. To be taken together
Hastings Const. L.Q. 305, 440 (2001). with this Opinion is my earlier Dissenting Opinion dated 19
October 2010. The effect and intent of the "Restoring Integrity"
28
Statement must be examined in the context of what this Court
In the Matter of the Allegations Contained in the has done to contribute to the controversy as well as the reception
Columns of Mr. Amado A.P. Macasaet Published in by the public of the pronouncements of this Court on the
Malaya Dated September 18, 19, 20, and 21, 2007, plagiarism charges in connection with the Decision in G.R. No.
A.M. No. 07-09-13-SC, 8 August 2008, 561 SCRA 162230, Vinuya, et al v. Executive Secretary, promulgated on 28
395, 489, Carpio, J., dissenting. April 2010.

29The Constitution provides that "[P]ublic officers and A few days after the Malaya Lolas (petitioners in G.R. No.
employees must, at all times, be accountable to the 162230) filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration of the
people x x x x" (Article XI, Section 1). Vinuya Decision, the Acting Chief of the Court’s Public
Information Office informed the media that the Chief Justice
30 had no plans of inquiring into the plagiarism charges against
Constitution, Article XI, Section 1.
Justice Mariano C. del Castillo raised in said motion. He stated
31 United States v. Bustos, 37 Phil. 731, 741 (1918). further that: "You can’t expect all justices in the Supreme Court
to be familiar with all these journal articles."1 Justice del Castillo
defended himself by submitting his official statement to the
Philippine Star, which published it on 30 July 2010. In the
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation meantime, Dr. Mark Ellis, one of several authors whose works
was allegedly plagiarized, sent a letter dated 23 July 2010 to the
Court, expressing concern about the alleged plagiarism of his
work and the misreading of the arguments therein "for cross
DISSENTING OPINION purposes."

CARPIO MORALES, J.: On 31 July 2010, the Daily Tribune, the Manila Standard, and
other newspapers of national circulation reported that Senator
Francis Pangilinan, a member of the bar, demanded the
Consistent with my dissent from the Court’s October 19, 2010
resignation of Justice Del Castillo in order to "spare the
Resolution, I maintain my position that, in the first place, there
judiciary from embarrassment and harm." On 25 July 2010, the
was no reasonable ground to motu proprio initiate the
Philippine Daily Inquirer discussed the plagiarism issue in their
administrative case, in view of (1) the therein discussed
editorial entitled "Supreme Theft." On 5 August 2010, another
injudiciousness attending the Resolution, anchored on an
member of the bar wrote about plagiarism in his column entitled
irregularly concluded finding of indirect contempt with adverse
"What’s in a Name?" published in the Business Mirror. 2 On 8
declarations prematurely describing the subject Statement of the
August 2010, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published former
UP Law Faculty that could taint the disciplinary action, and (2)
Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s opinion, to the effect that
the Court’s conventionally permissive attitude toward the
the issue "seeps to the very integrity of the Court." That same
"expression of belief" or "manner of criticism" coming from
opinion also raised the question of whether the justices who
legal academics, lawyer-columnists, and civic circles, in a
concurred in the Vinuya ponencia were qualified to sit as
number of high-profile cases, most notably at the height of the
members of the Ethics Committee.
"CJ Appointment Issue" during which time the motion for
reconsideration of the Court’s decision was similarly pending.
Dean Marvic M.V. F. Leonen of the University of the
Philippines College of Law transmitted to the Court a statement
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
entitled "Restoring Integrity: A Statement By The Faculty Of
Associate Justice
The University Of The Philippines College Of Law On The
Allegations Of Plagiarism And Misrepresentation In The
Supreme Court," the cover letter of which was dated 11 August
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation 2010. Shortly thereafter, several schools published their own
declarations on the matter.

A week after the UP Law Faculty’s statement was transmitted to


DISSENTING OPINION the Court, Professor Christian Tams expressed his own views. In
a letter addressed to the Chief Justice3, Professor Tams said:
SERENO, J.: "…I am at a loss to see how my work should have been cited to
support – as it seemingly has – the opposite approach. More
generally, I am concerned at the way in which your Honourable
The history of the Supreme Court shows that the times when it
Court’s Judgment has drawn on scholarly work without properly
emerged with strength from tempests of public criticism were
acknowledging it." Other authors soon followed suit, articulating
those times when it valued constitutional democracy and its own
their own dismay at the use of their original works, through
institutional integrity. Indeed, dangers from pressure and threat
internet blogs, comments and other public fora.4
presented by what is usually constitutionally deemed as free
speech can arise only when the Court allows itself to be so
threatened. It is unfortunate when a tribunal admits that its core Thus, the negative public exposure caused by such acts of
of independence can be shaken by a twelve-paragraph, two-page plagiarism cannot be attributed solely to the UP Law Faculty.
commentary from academia. By issuing the Show Cause Order, That the Court was put in the spotlight and garnered unwanted
and affirming it in the current Decision, the Court puts itself in attention was caused by a myriad of factors, not the least of
the precarious position of shackling free speech and expression. which was Justice Del Castillo’s own published defense entitled
The Court, which has the greater duty of restraint and sobriety, "The Del Castillo ponencia in Vinuya" pending the resolution of

28
the complaint against him by the Ethics Committee, and the The jurisprudence adverted to by the majority dwell on
categorical statement made by the Acting Chief of the Court’s contempt, foremost of which is In re Kelly, one of the first and
Public Information Office to the media that the Chief Justice had leading cases discussing contempt. Citing Ex Parte Terry, the
no plans of investigating the plagiarism charges. These twin acts Supreme Court in that case held that acts punishable as contempt
attracted negative reaction, much of which came from the legal are those "…tending to obstruct or degrade the administration of
profession and the academe. The issue itself – alleged plagiarism justice, as inherent in courts as essential to the execution of their
in a judicial decision, including the alleged use of plagiarized powers and to the maintenance of their
materials to achieve a result opposite to the theses of the said authority."8 Significantly, before he was cited for contempt,
materials – resonated in the public’s consciousness and stirred a Respondent Amzi B. Kelly was first given the opportunity to
natural desire in the citizenry to raise calls to save an important appear before the Court, submit a written Answer, and present
public institution, namely, the judiciary. The responses his oral argument.
published by different sectors constituted nothing more than an
exercise of free speech – critical commentary calling a public The footnote citation in Footnote 4 of the 19 October 2010
official to task in the exercise of his functions. Resolution, A.M. No. 07-09-13-SC, refers to "In the Matter of
the Allegations Contained in the Columns of Mr. Amado P.
The respondents herein, who were not parties to any pending Macasaet Published in Malaya Dated September 18, 19, 20 and
case at the time, forwarded the "Restoring Integrity" Statement 21, 2007," a case for indirect contempt lodged against the
as a public expression of the faculty’s stand regarding the publisher of a national daily.
plagiarism issue. Such an open communication of ideas from the
citizenry is an everyday occurrence – as evidenced by dozens of In this case, the Court not only gave respondent a chance to
letters of appeals for justice received regularly by this Court explain himself, but also created an Investigating Committee
from a myriad of people, and the placards displayed along Padre regarding the subject matter of the alleged contemptible act:
Faura Street every Tuesday. The commentators and participants
in the public discussions on the Vinuya Decision, both on the
Internet and in traditional media, included legal experts and From October 30, 2007 to March 10, 2008, the Investigating
other members of the bar, with even a former Chief Justice of Committee held hearings and gathered affidavits and testimonies
the Supreme Court numbered among them. Yet only members of from the parties concerned.
the UP Law Faculty were deemed to be the cause for the
majority’s trepidation that the Court’s honesty, integrity, and The Committee invited respondent Macasaet, Dañguilan-Vitug,
competence was being undermined. The Show Cause Order Delis, and ACA Marquez to a preliminary meeting, in which
went so far as to hold the respondent faculty members they were requested to submit their respective affidavits which
responsible for threatening the independence of the judiciary. served as their testimonies on direct examination. They were
then later cross-examined on various dates: respondent Macasaet
Despite the assertion that the present case is merely an exercise on January 10, 2008, Dañguilan-Vitug on January 17, 2008,
of the Court’s disciplinary authority over members of the bar, a Delis on January 24, 2008, and ACA Marquez on January 28,
closer look reveals the true nature of the proceeding as one for 2008. The Chief of the Security Services and the Cashier of the
indirect contempt, the due process requirements of which are High Court likewise testified on January 22 and 24, 2008,
strictly provided for under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. The respectively.9
majority attempts to skirt the issue regarding the non-observance
of due process by insisting that the present case is not an This approach of using jurisprudence on contempt to justify
exercise of the Court’s contempt powers, but rather is anchored adverse findings against herein respondents is continued in the
on the Court’s disciplinary powers. Whatever designation the current Decision. The majority cites the 1935 case Salcedo v.
majority may find convenient to formally characterize this Hernandez10 which identified the proceedings specifically as
proceeding, however, the pretext is negated by the disposition in contempt, even though the respondent was a member of the bar.
the Resolution of 19 October 2010 itself and its supporting The 1949 case of In Re Vicente Sotto11, from which the majority
rationale. quotes heavily – and which the majority states is "still good law"
– is explicitly identified as a proceeding for contempt of court.
The majority directed respondents to SHOW CAUSE, within ten In Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan and Gonzales, the Court issued a
(10) days from receipt of a copy of the Resolution, why they Resolution "to require respondent Gonzalez to explain in writing
should not be disciplined as members of the Bar. Yet the within ten (10) days from notice hereof, why he should not be
substance therein demonstrates that the present proceeding is punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to
one for indirect contempt, particularly in the following portions: administrative sanctions…"12 only after a Motion to Cite in
Contempt was filed by the petitioner. Even as the Court
discussed its exercise of both its contempt powers and
We made it clear in the case of In re Kelly that any publication, disciplinary powers over the respondent attorney in the said
pending a suit, reflecting upon the court, the jury, the parties, the case, it still gave him ample time and opportunity to defend
officers of the court, the counsel with reference to the suit, or himself by allowing him to file an Omnibus Motion for
tending to influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt Extension and Inhibition, a Manifestation with Supplemental
of court and is punishable.5 Motion to Inhibit, a Motion to Transfer Administrative
Proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and an
xxx xxx xxx Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File
Explanation Ex Abundante Cautelam.
Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to
become harmful and irresponsible attacks. These potentially The case of In Re Almacen13, also cited in the current Decision,
devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the was in the nature of a contempt proceeding even as it adverted to
independence of the judiciary.6 duties of members of the bar, as can be gleaned from the
following:
xxx xxx xxx
So that, in line with the doctrinal rule that the protective mantle
The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the of contempt may ordinarily be invoked only against scurrilous
faculty’s less than objective comments except to discredit the remarks or malicious innuendoes while a court mulls over a
April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the pending case and not after the conclusion thereof, Atty.
Court’s honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the Almacen would now seek to sidestep the thrust of a contempt
motion for reconsideration.7 (Emphasis supplied) charge by his studied emphasis that the remarks for which he is

29
now called upon to account were made only after this Court had Agapito to show cause within three days from notice why he
written finis to his appeal. should not be held in contempt of court…but, without the
benefit of hearing required in Rule 71, Section 3 of the Rules of
Atty. Almacen filed with the Court a "Petition to Surrender Court, respondent judge, in an Order, dated February 22, 1993,
Lawyer’s Certificate of Title," after his clients had lost the right sentenced Agapito guilty for contempt of court on account of the
to file an appeal before the Court due to his own inadvertence. allegations he made in his affidavit, dated November 18, 1992.
And yet, the Court still gave him the "ampliest [sic] latitude" for Such failure to afford Agapito the opportunity to be heard as a
his defense, giving him an opportunity to file a written matter of due process of law deserves administrative sanction.
explanation and to be heard in oral argument.
In finding Judge Escaño, Jr. guilty of grave abuse of judicial
All of the above negate the claim that this is not a contempt authority, the Court stated:
proceeding but purely an administrative one.
When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic
The central argumentation in the Show Cause Order is evidence and elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his
of the original intent of the proceeding. The allegation and duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the
conclusion that the faculty members purportedly "undermine the position and title he holds or he is too vicious that the oversight
Court’s honesty, integrity, and competence," make it clear that or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave
the true nature of the action is one for indirect contempt. The abuse of judicial authority. In both instances, the judge's
discussion in the Resolution of 19 October 2010 hinged on the dismissal is in order. After all, faith in the administration of
tribunal’s need for self-preservation and independence, in view justice exists only if every party-litigant is assured that
of the "institutional attacks" and "outside interference" with its occupants of the bench cannot justly be accused of deficiency in
functions – charges which more appropriately fall under its their grasp of legal principles. Moreover, witnesses against
contempt authority, rather than the authority to determine fitness erring judges cannot come out in the open to help the Judiciary
of entering and maintaining membership in the bar. in disrobing its inept members if we allow judges to abuse their
judicial discretion, more particularly with respect to the exercise
of their contempt powers.
The Show Cause Order failed to specify which particular mode
of contempt was committed by the respondents (as required in
the Rules of Court). Its language and tenor also explicitly As Justice Carpio Morales finds in her Dissenting Opinion to the
demonstrated that the guilt of respondents had already been Resolution of 19 October 2010, this action of the Court is tainted
prejudged. Page three (3) of the Order states: "The opening with injudiciousness precisely because:
sentence alone is a grim preamble to the institutional attack that
lay ahead." Page four (4) makes the conclusion that: "The "…the Resolution is not what it purports to be. Ostensibly, the
publication of a statement…was totally unnecessary, uncalled Resolution is a show cause order that initiates what would
for, and a rash act of misplaced vigilance." become a newly docketed regular administrative matter. There is
more than meets the eye, however. When stripped of its apparent
The Order also violated respondents’ right to due process complexion, the Resolution shows its true colors and presents
because it never afforded them the categorical requirements of itself as a pronouncement of guilt of indirect contempt without
notice and hearing. The requirements for Indirect Contempt as proper recourse left to the parties."19
laid out in Rule 71 of the Rules of Court demand strict
compliance: 1) a complaint in writing which may either be a Thus, Justice Carpio Morales reiterates in her Dissenting
motion for contempt filed by a party or an order issued by the Opinion to the current Decision her belief that this proceeding is
court requiring a person to appear and explain his conduct, and in essence one for indirect contempt:
2) an opportunity for the person charged to appear and explain
his conduct.14 "Consistent with my dissent from the Court’s October 19, 2010
Resolution, I maintain my position that there was no reasonable
The essence of a court’s contempt powers stems from a much- ground to motu proprio initiate the administrative case, in view
needed remedy for the violation of lawful court orders and for of (i) the therein discussed injudiciousness attending the
maintaining decorum during proceedings, as an essential Resolution, which was anchored on an irregularly concluded
auxiliary to the due administration of justice.15 It is not an all- finding of indirect contempt with adverse declarations
encompassing tool to silence criticism. Courts must exercise the prematurely describing the subject Statement, that could taint
power of contempt for purposes that are impersonal because that the disciplinary action."
power is intended as a safeguard not for the judges but for the
functions they fulfill.16 It must be wielded on the preservative, The power to cite for contempt, as well as the power to
rather than on the vindictive, principle.17 So careful is the discipline, are mechanisms to be exercised solely towards the
approach ordinarily taken by the Court in cases of contempt that orderly administration of justice. Such powers must be weighed
it places a premium on the conduct of a hearing, to such a point carefully against the substantive rights of the public to free
that it administratively sanctioned a lower court judge for expression and academic freedom. In this critical balancing act,
issuing a Show Cause Order sua sponte and finding the the tribunal must therefore utilize, to the fullest extent,
respondent guilty of criminal contempt without the benefit of a soundness and clarity of reasoning, and must not appear to have
hearing. In the case of Castaños v. Judge Escaño, Jr., 18 the Court been swayed by momentary fits of temper.
held:
Instead of regarding criticism as perpetually adversarial, the
It is an oft-repeated rule that the power to punish for contempt is judiciary would do well to respect it, both as an important tool
inherent in all courts so as to preserve order in judicial for public accountability, and as the only soothing balm for
proceedings and to uphold the due administration of justice. vindication of felt injustice. Judicial legitimacy established
Judges, however, should exercise their contempt powers through demonstrated intellectual integrity in decision-making
judiciously and sparingly, with utmost restraint, and with the rightly generates public acceptance of such decisions, which
end in view of utilizing their contempt powers for correction and makes them truly binding. William Howard Taft, who served as
preservation, not for retaliation or vindication. a federal appellate judge before becoming the President of the
United States, understood the weight of public evaluation in this
It is true that, in the case at bench, respondent judge, after wise: "If the law is but the essence of common sense, the protest
having received a copy of Agapito's affidavit in connection with of many average men may evidence a defect in a judicial
the petitioner's administrative charges against him, directed

30
conclusion though based on the nicest reasoning and legality, at all times. It has often been said that the rule of law
profoundest learning."20 requires an independent judiciary that fairly, impartially and
promptly applies the law to cases before it. The rule of law
We who occupy this august chamber are right not because our requires a judiciary that is not beholden to any political power or
word is accorded legal finality on matters that are before us. We private interests, whose only loyalty is to the people and to the
are right only when we have been proven right. There must Constitution that the people have ordained as their fundamental
always reside, in the recesses of our minds, the clear distinction governing precept. It requires integrity, independence and
between what is merely legal and what is legitimate. Legitimacy probity of each individual judge. To be independent, the
is a "tenuous commodity, particularly for unelected judiciary must always remember that it will lose public support
judges,"21 and it can only be maintained by a sustained and in a certain sense, its legitimacy, if it does not demonstrate
perception of fairness, as well as by the retention of the moral its integrity in its judicial decisions. It must show a keen nose
authority of individual judges. This required characteristic of the for the fundamental importance of upholding right over wrong.
Court is diminished when its members do not act through the
rational strength of their decisions, but are instead perceived to To maintain a life of intellectual integrity, those of us in the
have done so in the misunderstanding of the Court’s disciplinary judiciary must be buffeted by the winds of healthful criticism.
powers. Direct and informed criticism of judicial decisions strengthens
accountability. As Taft is noted for writing: "[n]othing tends
"To maintain not only its stature, but also, more importantly, its more to render judges careful in their decisions and anxiously
independence, the judiciary must adhere to the discipline of solicitous to do exact justice than the consciousness that every
judicial decision-making, firmly rooting rulings in the language act of theirs is to be subject to the intelligent scrutiny of their
of the documents in issue, precedent and logic. That is, the fellow men, and to their candid criticism .... In the case of judges
strength of the judiciary's independence depends not only on the having a life tenure, indeed, their very independence makes the
constitutional framework, but also on the extent to which the right freely to comment on their decisions of greater importance,
judiciary acknowledges its responsibility to decide ‘according to because it is the only practical and available instrument in the
law’…"22 hands of a free people to keep such judges alive to the
reasonable demands of those they serve."28
Furthermore, as one American Federal Supreme Court decision
said: This is where academic freedom, when exercised in appropriate
measure, is most helpful. Milton encapsulates free speech as
simply the right to "argue freely according to conscience."29 The
"Secrecy of judicial action can only breed ignorance and distrust value of academic freedom, as a necessary constitutional
of courts and suspicion concerning the competence and component of the right to freedom of expression, lies in the
impartiality of judges; free and robust reporting, criticism, and ability of the common man, aided by the expertise available in
debate can contribute to public understanding of the rule of law the academe, to hold a magistrate accountable in the exercise of
and to comprehension of the functioning of the entire criminal his official functions, foremost of which is the issuance of
justice system, as well as improve the quality of that system by written decisions. Paragraph 23 of the United Nations Basic
subjecting it to the cleansing effects of exposure and public Principles on the Role of Lawyers30 states:
accountability."23
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression,
The Code of Judicial Conduct prescribes the standards for a belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have
judicial response to free speech which, highly-charged though it the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning
may be, is necessarily protected. Rule 3.04 in particular states the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and
that: "A judge should be patient, attentive and courteous to all protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or
lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and international organizations and attend their meetings, without
others appearing before the court. A judge should avoid suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful
unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants action or their membership in a lawful organization…
are made for the courts instead of the courts for the litigants."
The Supreme Court has itself, on occasion, demanded of lower
court judges that they be "dignified in demeanor and refined in The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers "have been
speech, [and] exhibit that temperament of utmost sobriety and formulated to assist Member States in their task of promoting
self-restraint…"24 and ensuring the proper role of lawyers," and these "should be
respected and taken into account by Governments within the
framework of their national legislation and practice and should
Nothing can be gained from the Court’s exercise of a heavy be brought to the attention of lawyers as well as other persons,
hand in a matter which has originated from the Court itself. On such as judges, prosecutors, members of the executive and
the contrary, there is much to lose in imposing penalties on the legislature, and the public in general." Thus, faced with the duty
outspoken merely because the outspoken have earned the ire of of balancing lawyers’ fundamental right to free speech which
the Court’s members. has now been expressly recognized in the international arena,
against this Court’s desire to preserve its exalted role in society
They who seek to judge must first themselves be judged. By by disciplining for offensive language, this Court must examine
occupying an exalted seat in the judiciary, judges in effect whether it has already encroached into constitutionally-
undertake to embrace a profession and lead lives that demand prohibited interference with the basic rights of individuals. The
stringent ethical norms.25 In his dealings with the public, a judge realm of public opinion is where the academe, especially our
must exhibit great self-restraint; he should be the last person to schools and universities, plays a most crucial role in ensuring
be perceived as a tyrant holding imperious sway over his judicial legitimacy. Not by blindly legitimizing its acts, but by
domain,26 and must demonstrate to the public that in the constantly reminding the judiciary of its presence as a helpful
discharge of his judicial role, he "possess[es] the virtue but critical ally. The academe is not to be an applause machine
of gravitas. He should be…dignified in demeanor, refined in for the judiciary; it is to help guide the judiciary by illuminating
speech and virtuous in character…[H]e must exhibit that new paths for the judiciary to take, by alerting the judiciary to its
hallmark judicial temperament of utmost sobriety and self- inconsistent decisions, and by identifying gaps in law and
restraint… a judge should always keep his passion guarded. He jurisprudence.
can never allow it to run loose and overcome his reason."27
In this regard, the law school has a special place. Phoebe
In my view of a constitutional democracy, the judiciary is Haddon writes: "[t]he value and preservation of academic
required to demonstrate moral authority and legitimacy, not only freedom depend on an academic environment that nurtures, not

31
silences, diverse views. The law school faculty has a special court-justice/>; Criddle’s comment was made on 19
responsibility to maintain a nurturing environment for diverse July 2010 at 2:44 pm EST.
views because of the importance of the marketplace of ideas in
our teaching and the value we theoretically place on the role of 5From page four of the Resolution dated 19 October
persuasive discourse in the quest for knowledge. Faculty 2010.
autonomy takes on significance because it can protect freedom
of inquiry."31 In a certain sense, therefore, because the law 6
faculty can discharge a most meaningful role in keeping the From page four of the Resolution dated 19 October
judiciary honest, there must be recognition given to the special 2010. The footnote points to a case docketed as A.M.
role of the law faculty in upholding judicial independence. No. 07-09-13-SC.

7
The testing ground for integrity in judicial decision-making is From page five of the Resolution dated 19 October
provided in large measure by the legal academe, when it probes, 2010.
tests and measures whether judicial decisions rise up to the
definition of just and well-reasoned decisions as they have been 8 35 Phil 944, 951 (1916)
defined by centuries-old norms of legal reasoning and legal
scholarship. If we have a legal academe that is slothful, that is 9A.M. No. 07-09-13-SC, 8 August 2008, 561 SCRA
not self-disciplined, that covets the closeness to the powers-that- 395.
be which an unprofessional relationship with the judicial
leadership can bring, then this refining role of the legal academe
10
is lost. The legal academe is the preserver of the noble standards 61 Phil 724, G.R. No. 42992, 8 August 1935.
of legal reasoning and legal scholarship. It must itself
demonstrate strength and independence and not be punished 11 82 Phil. 595, 21 January 1949.
when doing so.
12 248 Phil. 542, 7 October 1988.
Those who occupy the most powerful positions in this country
must always be ready to hold themselves accountable to the 13G.R. No. L-27654. 18 February 1970, 31 SCRA
people. I believe that the tradition of deference to the judiciary
562.
has limits to its usefulness and these times do not call for the
unbroken observance of such deference as much as they call for
14
a public demonstration of honesty in all its forms. Pacuribot v. Judge Lim, Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-97-1382,
17 July 1997.
I dissent from the Majority Decision admonishing Dean Marvic
15
M. V. F. Leonen and issuing a warning to the thirty-five faculty 17 C.J.S. Contempt § 45.
members in connection with the "Restoring Integrity" Statement.
I find the Common Compliance of the thirty-five faculty 16Heirs of the Late Justice Jose B.L. Reyes v.
members, dated 18 November 2010, as well as the Compliance CA, G.R. Nos. 135180-81, 16 August 2000, 338
submitted by Professor Rosa Maria T. Juan Bautista on 18 SCRA 282, 299, citing Yasay, Jr. v. Recto, 313 SCRA
November 2010 and by Professor Raul Vasquez on 19 739 [1999], citing Dee v. SEC, 199 SCRA 238 (1991).
November 2010, to be satisfactory. I also find the separate
Compliance of Dean Leonen dated 18 November 2010 and of 17Villavicencio v. Lukban, 39 Phil. 778; Peo. v.
Professor Owen J. Lynch dated 19 November 2010 similarly
Alarcon, 69 Phil. 265.
satisfactory, and vote to consider this matter closed and
terminated.
18 A.M. No. RTJ-93-955, 12 December 1995.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
19
Associate Justice Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, Dissenting
Opinion to the Resolution of 19 October 2010, at 2.

20William Howard Taft, Criticisms of the Federal


Judiciary, 29 Am. L. Rev. 641, 642 (1895)
Footnotes
21Michael Abramowicz and Thomas Colby, Notice-
and-Comment Judicial Decision-Making, 76 U. Chi.
1The news item is also available on the publication’s
L. Rev. 965 (2009) at 983
website at http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirer
headlines/nation/view/20100721-282283/High-court-
22
not-probing-plagiarism. Thomas Vanaskie, The Independence and
Responsibility of the Federal Judiciary, 46 Vill. L.
Rev. 745
2 Atty. Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr., Plagiarism, in What’s
in a Name?, Business Mirror, 5 August 2010.
23Nebraska Press Ass'n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539, 96
3 S.Ct. 2791 (1976)
Dated 18 August 2010.
24
4 Dagudag v. Paderanga, A.M. No. RTJ-06-2017, 19
Evan Criddle, who co-authored the article, "A
June 2008, 555 SCRA 217, 235.
Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens," with Evan Fox-
Decent, wrote a comment in reply to a post written
25
about the issue in a legal blog. The blog entry to which Ariosa v. Tamin, A.M. No. RTJ-92-798, 15
Criddle commented is the Opinio Juris entry entitled November 2000.
"International Law Plagiarism Charge Bedevils
Philippines Supreme Court Justice", located at 26Torcende v. Sardido, A.M. No. MTJ-99-1238, 24
<http://opiniojuris.org/2010/07/19/international-law- January 2003.
plagiarism-charge-bedevils-philippines-supreme-

32
27Juan de la Cruz v. Carretas, A.M. No. RTJ-07- In their Compliance, 35 of the respondents, excluding Professors
2043, 5 September 2007, 532 SCRA 218, 227-229. Owen J. Lynch and Raul V. Vasquez, take common defense that
the statements contained in Restoring Integrity were mere
28 Supra note 19. expressions of their opinion, dispensed in accordance with their
duties as members of the bar and as professors of law. They aver
that they acted with the purest intentions, guided by their duty of
29In Areopagitica, John Milton’s philosophical candor, fairness and good faith to the Court, and deny that it was
defense of free speech, cited by Justice Isagani Cruz their intention to malign the Court as an institution for its
(Dissenting Opinion), National Press Club v. decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary.2 They claim that any
COMELEC, G.R. No. 102653, 5 March 1992, 207 reference to Vinuya in their statement was made only to
SCRA 1. establish and accent the grave consequences of the allegations of
plagiarism and misrepresentation allegedly committed by one of
30Adopted by the Eight United Nations Congress on the Court’s members. Indeed, they claim that the Statement was
the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of intended "to defend the integrity and credibility of the entire
Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September Supreme Court" and ensure continued confidence in the legal
1990. system and the Judiciary by calling on the Court to take
constructive action in the face of the damaging allegations. They
31Phoebe Haddon, Academic Freedom and also add that the Statement was meant to address what they
Governance: A Call for Increased Dialogue and perceived as indifference on the part of the Court owing to
Diversity, 66 Tex. L. Rev. 1561 certain statements reportedly made by Supreme Court
Administrator and spokesperson, Atty. Jose Midas P. Marquez
(that Chief Justice Renato C. Corona would not take any action
on the charges) and their reading of Justice Mariano C. Del
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation Castillo’s letter replying to the allegations.

Respondents affirm their loyalty and respect for the Court and
claim that as professors of law, they have a special interest in
SEPARATE OPINION guarding against plagiarism and misrepresentation to ensure
intellectual honesty among their students. They allegedly
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: released the Statement in support of "efforts to achieve high
standards in law schools as well as in the practical training of
law students and assist in disseminating information regarding
This treats of respondents’ compliance with the Court’s
law and jurisprudence." Citing similar commentaries on the
Resolution dated October 19, 2010, which required respondents,
issue, they likewise invoke freedom of speech and academic
who are professors of the University of the Philippines College
freedom to justify the publication of their stand on the matter.
of Law, to show cause why they should not be disciplined as
members of the bar for having published a Statement entitled,
"Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the Finally, respondents argue that the Resolution amounted to a
University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations prejudgment of their liability for contempt and breach of Canons
of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court" 1, 11, 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional
which appeared to contain statements that were disrespectful to Responsibility. Thus, they invoke their right to due process and
the Court. The Court’s directive reads as follows: plead for an opportunity to present evidence relative to the
proceedings in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC entitled In the Matter of
the Charges of Plagiarism, etc. Against Associate Justice
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, Attys. Marvic M.V.F.
Mariano C. Del Castillo.
Leonen, Froilan M. Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M.
Magallona, Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P.
Salvador Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista, in her separate Compliance
T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen and Reservation, reiterates the above reservation of her right to
G. De Vera, Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo due process and request for hearing. She likewise supplements
A. Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. the above submissions with additional arguments in support of
Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig, her assertion that she signed the Statement in the exercise of her
Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Concepcion L. freedom of expression.
Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Viña, Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C.
Laureta, Owen J. Lynch, Rodolfo Noel S Quimbo, Antonio M. As to Prof. Owen J. Lynch, Prof. Lynch filed a Manifestation
Santos, Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn invoking freedom of expression and asserting that the statement
G. Ursua, Raul V. Vasquez, Susan D. Villanueva, and Dina D. did not pose a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that
Lucenario, members of the faculty of the University of the the State has a right to prevent. He also manifests that he is not a
Philippines College of Law, are directed to SHOW CAUSE, member of the Philippine Bar as he is an American citizen who
within ten (10) days from receipt of a copy of this Resolution, is a member of the bar of the State of Minnesota.
why they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for
violation of Canons 11, 11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. Prof. Raul V. Vasquez, for his part, likewise submits that he
never had any intention of maligning the Court and alleges that
he signed the Statement as he was fundamentally in agreement
Further, Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen is directed to SHOW with its contents. He further states that he might have been
CAUSE, within ten (10) days from receipt of this Resolution, remiss in correctly assessing the effects of the language
why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with for violation of employed in the Statement and says that he could have been
Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 for submitting, through more careful.
his letter dated August 10, 2010, during the pendency of G.R.
No. 162330, Vinuya v. Executive Secretary and of the
investigation before the Committee on Ethics and Ethical As regards the charge of violating Canon 10 and Rules 10.01,
Standards, for the consideration of the Court En Banc, a dummy 10.02 and 10.03 for submitting to the Court a copy of the
which is not a true and faithful reproduction of the purported Restoring Integrity Statement that was not a true and faithful
statement, entitled "Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the reproduction thereof, Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen submitted
Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the following explanations.
the Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the
Supreme Court." x x x

33
Dean Leonen denies misrepresenting the contents of the statements present no clear and present danger of a substantive
Statement or which faculty members signed and/or signified evil that the State has a right to prevent as to take it out of the
their intention to sign the same. He avers that there are actually protective mantle of the freedom of speech and expression under
three versions of the Statement, all with the same contents, but the Bill of Rights. A reading of the Statement, with particular
with different signature pages. Two versions were submitted to focus on its final paragraphs, will not leave the reader with
the Court: one with the signature pages containing the full roster feelings of contempt for the Court but only a feeling that the
of faculty members and the actual signatures of the signatories Court must champion the cause of integrity. Furthermore, it
(which version he calls Restoring Integrity I) and the other with should be noted that our society has developed to the point
the retyped signature page containing just the names of the where critical analysis of information is not in short supply. The
members who signed, with the notation "(SGD.)" beside their public is nowadays not only more well informed, but it has
names. This second version he referred to as Restoring Integrity access to information with which citizens could make their own
II. According to him, these two copies arose because after the independent assessment of pending issues of public concern,
original version containing the full roster of faculty members including the fitness and integrity of the members of this Court
was circulated for signature, he had the signature pages re-typed to render fair and impartial judgment on the cases before them.
to eliminate the blanks prior to posting in the bulletin board. (He However, given the fact that some isolated portions of the
alleges that the practice of re-typing the signature pages was statement were arguably disrespectful, respondents should be
meant to ensure the integrity of the public issuance as posting reminded to be more circumspect in their future statements.
the Statement with blanks would open it to vandalism.)
As regards Dean Leonen, I likewise submit that his explanation
When the re-typed signature page was presented to him by his is sufficient to exonerate him from the charge of violation of
staff, he noticed that the name of retired Justice Vicente V. Canon 10 and Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03, all of the Code of
Mendoza was indicated as a signatory even though the latter did Professional Responsibility. While it appears that Dean Leonen
not sign the Statement. He asked his administrative staff about mistakenly relied on hearsay information that Justice Mendoza
the inclusion and the latter claimed that she spoke to Justice had authorized him to indicate Justice Mendoza as a signatory to
Mendoza on the phone before the latter flew for the United the Statement, still, Dean Leonen’s lapses appear more the result
States. According to his staff, Justice Mendoza allegedly of overzealousness rather than bad faith or a deliberate intent to
authorized him to sign on behalf of Justice Mendoza since the do falsehood or to mislead the Court. Indeed, under the
latter agrees with the contents of the Statement but was just circumstances as they appeared to him, and considering that
unable to personally affix his signature because he was leaving there were other professors who had authorized him to indicate
for the United States the following week. Dean Leonen claims them as signatories,3 it was not all too remiss on his part to
that he did not have any reason to disbelieve his staff because indicate Justice Mendoza as a signatory to the Statement upon
there were indeed other faculty members who authorized him to the information given to him by his administrative staff. That he
sign the Statement for them. Thus, he placed full faith and acted upon the wrong information given to him, though telling
confidence in his staff’s claim and allowed the inclusion of of some degree of carelessness on his part, is not gross
Justice Mendoza’s name as one of the signatories in Restoring negligence that is tantamount to bad faith. Hence, there being no
Integrity II which he later submitted to the Court. Because of intent or inexcusable negligence, there is no ground to find him
this information, also, he believed that the total number of liable under Canon 10 and Rules 10.01 and 10.02 of the Code of
signatories to the Statement was already 38. Professional Responsibility.

Dean Leonen adds that in September 2010, he received a call Similarly, there is no cogent reason to hold him liable for
from Justice Mendoza, who said that he will no longer sign the violation of Rule 10.03 as it likewise does not appear that Dean
statement "considering that it had already become controversial Leonen violated any rule of procedure or misused any
and that he did not wish to unduly aggravate the situation." On procedural rule to defeat the ends of justice. The submission of
October 21, 2010, after receiving a copy of this Court’s Show the Statement to the Court, it should be noted, was ad hoc.
Cause Resolution, he met with his staff and reviewed what had
transpired in connection with their efforts to secure Justice I therefore vote to NOTE and CONSIDER the explanations
Mendoza’s signature. It was then that he learned that while submitted by respondents in their
Justice Mendoza initially agreed to sign the statement, Justice Compliance/s SATISFACTORY with a REMINDER that they
Mendoza did not exactly authorize him to sign for the latter. be more circumspect in their future statements considering that
Rather, Justice Mendoza merely inquired "if he could authorize the Court also has its own sensibilities.
the dean to sign it for him as he was leaving for the United
States." He then realized the full import of the call he received
from Justice Mendoza in September. I also vote to consider this administrative matter CLOSED and
TERMINATED.
As regards the omission of the name of Atty. Miguel R. Armovit
in the re-typed signature pages of Restoring Integrity II, Dean MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Leonen explains that the omission was due simply to Associate Justice
inadvertence.

After a careful study of the respondents’ submissions, I


respectfully submit that the above submissions are
SATISFACTORY in view of respondents’ claim of good faith Footnotes
and the fact that a re-examination of the Statement indeed
admits of such claim. Consistent with respondents’ claims, the 1The Show Cause Resolution inadvertently mentioned
tenor of the Statement was to call the Court’s attention to the Canon 10.
grave allegations and its effects on the integrity and credibility
of the Court and the Judiciary. Indeed, the general wording of
2
the Statement and its ending paragraphs lend support to G.R. No. 162230, April 8, 2010.
respondents’ averments that the Statement was prompted by the
sincere and honest desire to protect the integrity and credibility 3 Footnote 3 of the Compliance of Dean Leonen, p. 5.
of the Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Given such
submissions, I am willing to afford respondents the benefit of
the doubt as to their intentions concerning the forceful language
employed in certain portions of the Restoring Integrity
Statement. This is especially so considering that the subject

34
Republic of the Philippines Signed
SUPREME COURT
Manila Atty. Norlita De Taza6

EN BANC On October 24, 2007, the complainant went to this Court in


Padre Faura, Manila and learned that the Court had already
A.C. No. 7676 June 10, 2014 denied the petition on November 20, 2006, contrary to Atty. De
Taza’s representations that the case was still pending. He tried to
AMADO T. DIZON, Complainant, communicate with Atty. De Taza, but she could no longer be
vs. found.7
ATTY. NORLITA DE TAZA, Respondent.
Thereafter, on November 6, 2007, the complainant instituted a
DECISION complaint for disbarment8 against Atty. De Taza. He also
attached several affidavits and documents9 from other
individuals who attested that Atty. De Taza issued bouncing
REYES, J.: checks and/or failed to pay off her debts to them. A certain Ana
Lynda Pineda executed an affidavit10which was attached to the
This concerns an administrative complaint1 for disbarment complaint, alleging that Atty. De Taza issued 11 checks11 in her
against Atty. Norlita De Taza (Atty. De Taza) for the latter's favor amounting to ₱481,400.00, which were all dishonored by
demand for and receipt of exorbitant sums of money from her the bank. Demand letters sent to her went unheeded.
client purportedly to expedite the proceedings of their case
which was pending before the Court. Likewise, Darwin Tiamzon, a creditor of Atty. De Taza, whose
Affidavit12 was attached to the complaint, averred that Atty. De
The Facts Taza issued a check13 for ₱50,000.00 as payment for her loan.
Said check was dishonored by the bank for being drawn against
Amado Dizon (complainant) alleged that sometime in February a closed account.
2005, he, along with his siblings engaged the services of
Romero De Taza Cruz and Associates to represent them in the Furthermore, a certain Eleanor Sarmiento submitted an
case of Eliza T. Castaneda, et al. v. Heirs of Spouses Martin and affidavit,14 stating that Atty. De Taza owes her ₱29,560.39 and
Lucia Dizon with G.R. No. 174552.2 The complainant claimed failed to pay the said amount despite repeated demands.
that sometime in February 2007, Atty. De Taza demanded the
sum of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (₱75,000.00) from him to On November 14, 2007, the complainant through a
expedite the proceedings before the Court. This amount was letter15 informed the Court that Atty. De Taza is planning to
over and above the parties’ stipulated retainer fee as evidenced leave the country as she was joining her husband in the United
by a contract.3 States of America (U.S.A.).

According to the complainant, unknown to him at that time was In a Resolution16 dated December 10, 2007, Atty. De Taza was
that, a month earlier or in January 2007, Atty. De Taza had required by the Court to file a Comment. However, the copy of
already demanded and received a total of Eight Hundred the Resolution was returned unserved with the postal carrier’s
Thousand Pesos (₱800,000.00) from his sibling Aurora Dizon, notation "RTS (Return to Sender)-Moved". The Court then
for the same reason that Atty. De Taza proffered to him, which resolved by virtue of the Resolution17 dated July 2, 2008, to send
was to expedite the proceedings of their case before the Court. a copy to Atty. De Taza’s office address at Romero De Taza
Handwritten receipts4 signed by one Atty. Norlita De Taza were Cruz and Associates. Said copy was also returned unserved with
submitted by the complainant, which state: the notation "RTS-not connected."

15 Jan. 2007 It was then required in the Resolution18 dated October 8, 2008
that the complainant inform the Court of Atty. De Taza’s new
Receipt address, which the complainant faithfully complied with by
giving Atty. De Taza’s new address in the U.S.A. The Court, in
That the amount received ₱300,000 shall be used to expedite the its Resolution19 dated January 26, 2009, directed the Clerk of
case which, in turn shall result in the following: Court to resend a copy of the Resolution dated December 10,
2007 with a copy of the complaint to Atty. De Taza using the
latter’s U.S.A. address.
1. Decision favorable to plaintiff w/in 2
mos. from receipt of said amount;
Like the previous occasions, the copy of the Resolution dated
December 10, 2007 with the complaint was returned; this time,
2. Back rentals up to present should be with the postal carrier’s notation "RTS-Unclaimed". The Court
returned, if the same should not be included in its Resolution20 dated September 9, 2009, held that the said
in the Decision, the 300,000.00 shall be copy of the Resolution was deemed served and resolved to
returned. consider Atty. De Taza as having waived the filing of her
comment. The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
Signed Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

Atty. Norlita De Taza518 Jan. 2007 A Notice of Mandatory Conference21 was sent to the parties, in
which they failed to appear. Thus, the parties were directed to
file their respective position papers. The complainant, in a
Receipt
letter22 addressed to the IBP, averred that he was already
residing abroad and maintained that he had already submitted
The amount of ₱500,000 has been advanced as part of expense his documentary evidence at the time of the filing of his
[sic] to expedite the process before the courts. The said amount complaint. Atty. De Taza, for her part, did not file any position
has been advanced by Ms. Aurora Dizon and the same should be paper.
reimbursed to her by her siblings upon winning the case with
finality.

35
In its Report and Recommendation23 dated January 4,2011, the submitted a document evidencing Atty. De Taza’s involvement
IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended that Atty. De in an estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) No. 22 case
Taza be suspended for a period of two years from the practice of filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Angeles City
law. (I.S. 07-J-2815-36) for drawing checks against a closed account,
among other complaint-affidavits executed by her other
The IBP Board of Governors modified the Commission on Bar creditors. Such conduct, while already off-putting when
Discipline’s recommendation in a Resolution24 dated January 3, attributed to an ordinary person, is much more abhorrent when
2013, viz: the same is exhibited by a member of the Bar. As a lawyer, Atty.
De Taza must remember that she is not only a symbol but also
an instrument of justice, equity and fairness.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification,
the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating "We have held that the issuance of checks which were later
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account
this Resolution as Annex "A", and finding the recommendation indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and confidence
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good
laws and rules, and considering Respondent’s demand of moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence.
[P]800,000.00 to expedite the case pending in the Supreme The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the
Court when, in fact, the case had long been dismissed, Atty. remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious
Norlita De Taza is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of effects of such act to the public interest and public
law for one (1) year.25 (Emphasis supplied) order.1âwphi1 It also manifests a lawyer’s low regard to her
commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her peers,
seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession
The Issue she should hold in high esteem."30

WHETHER ATTY. DE TAZASHOULD BE HELD Atty. De Taza’s actuations towards the complainant and his
ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE FOR ISSUING BOUNCING siblings were even worse as she had the gall to make it appear to
CHECKS, DEMANDING AND/OR RECEIVING MONEY the complainant that the proceedings before the Court can be
FROM HER CLIENTS UNDERTHE GUISE OF HAVING expedited and ruled in their favor in exchange for an exorbitant
THE PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COURT EXPEDITED. amount of money. Said scheme was employed by Atty. De Taza
Ruling just to milk more money from her clients. Without a doubt, Atty.
De Taza’s actions are reprehensible and her greed more than
The Court acknowledges the fact that Atty. De Taza was not apparent when she even used the name of the Court to defraud
able to refute the accusations against her. Numerous attempts her client.
were made to afford her an opportunity to defend herself from
the complainant’s allegations, but all these efforts were only met When a lawyer receives money from the client for a particular
with silence. Whether her transfer of residence was an purpose, the lawyer is bound to render an accounting to the
unscrupulous move on her part to evade her creditors, only she client showing that the money was spent for that particular
would certainly know. But as far as the Court is concerned, all purpose. And if he does not use the money for the intended
means were exhausted to give Atty. De Taza an avenue to purpose, the lawyer must immediately return the money to his
oppose the complainant’s charges. Her failure and/or refusal to client.31 In this case, the purpose for which Atty. De Taza
file a comment will not be a hindrance for the Court to mete out demanded money is baseless and non-existent. Thus, her
an appropriate sanction. demand should not have even been made in the first place.

The Court has time and again ruled that disciplinary proceedings Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides for
are investigations by the Court to ascertain whether a lawyer is the disbarment or suspension of a lawyer for any of the
fit to be one. There is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. following: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in
As this Court held in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime
v. Atty. Naldoza,26 citing In the Matter of the Proceedings for involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (7)
Disciplinary Action Against Atty. Almacen, et al. v. willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and
Yaptinchay:27 "Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui (8) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without
generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not authority to do so.32
involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather investigations
by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being
intended to inflict punishment, [they are] in no sense a criminal The Court in Victoria C. Heenan v. Atty. Erlinda
prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a Espejo33 suspended the respondent from the practice of law for
prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the Court motu two years when the latter issued checks which were dishonored
proprio. Public interest is [their] primary objective, and the real due to insufficiency of funds. In A-1 Financial Services, Inc. v.
question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a Valerio,34 the same penalty was meted out by this Court to the
fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the erring lawyer who issued worthless checks to pay off her loan.
exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a
member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of Additionally, in Anacta v. Resurreccion,35 the Court held that
the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the suspension from the practice of law for four years was the
legal profession and the proper and honest administration of appropriate sanction for a lawyer who defrauded his client into
justice by purging the profession of members who by their paying ₱42,000.00 to him for the purported filing of a petition
misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be for annulment of marriage. The respondent therein presented to
entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the his client a copy of the petition with stamped receipt from the
office of an attorney. x x x.28 (Italics supplied) trial court when in reality, no such petition was filed.

"In administrative proceedings, only substantial evidence, i.e., In Celaje v. Atty. Soriano,36 the respondent therein demanded
that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might ₱14,000.00 from the complainant to be put up as injunction
accept as adequate to support a conclusion, is required."29 Based bond and asked for additional sums of money on other
on the documentary evidence submitted by the complainant, it occasions, supposedly to pay the judge who was handling the
appears that Atty. De Taza manifested a propensity for case. When the complainant verified this with the judge, the
borrowing money, issuing bouncing checks and incurring debts judge denied the respondent’s allegations. The complainant later
which she left unpaid without any reason. The complainant even learned that the bond was also unnecessary, as the application

36
for a writ was already denied by the trial court. Due to the Footnotes
foregoing, the Court suspended the respondent from the practice
of law for two years. 1 Rollo, pp. 1-2.

"Law is a noble profession, and the privilege to practice it is 2 Id. at 1.


bestowed only upon individuals who are competent
intellectually, academically and, equally important, morally. 3
Because they are vanguards of the law and the legal system, Id. at 3.
lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their
dealings with their clients and the public at large, with honesty 4 Id. at 4-5.
and integrity in a manner beyond reproach."37 "The Judiciary
has been besieged enough with accusations of corruption and 5 Id. at 5.
malpractice. For a member of the legal profession to further
stoke the embers of mistrust on the judicial system with such
6
irresponsible representations is reprehensible and cannot be Id. at 4.
tolerated."38
7 Id. at 1.
All told, the Court holds that there is no reason to deviate from
the report and recommendation of the IBP Commission on Bar 8 Id. at 1-2.
Discipline which is to suspend Atty. De Taza from the practice
of law for two years. 9 Id. at 11-26.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Norlita De Taza is hereby 10 Id. at 11-13.


SUSPENDED from the practice of law for TWO YEARS with a
STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
11
infraction would be dealt with more severely. Id. at 14-16.

12
Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts of the land, Id. at 23.
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Office of the
Bar Confidant for their information and guidance, and let it be 13 Id. at 25.
entered in Atty. Norlita De Taza's record in this Court.
14 Id. at 26.
SO ORDERED.
15 Id. at 28.
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice 16 Id. at 30.

WE CONCUR: 17 Id. at 33.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO 18 Id. at 63.


Chief Justice
19 Id. at 68.
PRESBITERO J.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO 20
VELASCO, JR. Id. at 101-102.
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
21 Id. at 104.
TERESITA J.
LEONARDO-DE ARTURO D. BRION 22 Id. at 107.
CASTRO Associate Justice
Associate Justice 23 Id. at 121-123.

DIOSDADO M. 24
Id. at 120.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
PERALTA
Associate Justice
Associate Justice 25 Id.

MARIANO C. DEL MARTIN S. 26 374 Phil. 1 (1999).


CASTILLO VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice 27 142 Phil. 353 (1970).

JOSE PORTUGAL JOSE CATRAL 28 Supra note 26, at 10-11.


PEREZ MENDOZA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
29
Babante-Caples v. Caples, A.M. No. HOJ-10-03,
November 15, 2010, 634 SCRA 498, 502.
ESTELA M. PERLAS- MARVIC MARIO
BERNABE VICTOR F. LEONEN 30 Wilkie v. Atty. Limos, 591 Phil. 1, 8 (2008).
Associate Justice Associate Justice

37
31Natividad P. Navarro and Hilda S. Presbitero v. In reply,3 complainant denied that she did not give the full
Atty. Ivan M. Solidum, Jr., A.C. No. 9872, January payment of the filing fee and asserted that the filing fee at that
28, 2014. time amounted only to ₱7,836.60.

32Arellano University, Inc. v. Mijares III, A.C. No. In the Report and Recommendation,4 dated January 12, 2012,
8380, November 20, 2009, 605 SCRA 93, 97. the Investigating Commissioner found Atty. Agleron to have
violated the Code of Professional Responsibility when he
33 A.C. No. 10050, December 3, 2013. neglected a legal matter entrusted to him, and recommended that
he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of four (4)
34
months.
A.C. No. 8390, July 2, 2010, 622 SCRA 616.

35
In its April 16, 2013 Resolution,5 the Integrated Bar of the
A.C. No. 9074, August 14, 2012, 678 SCRA 352. Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors adopted and approved the
report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
36 with modification that Atty. Agleron be suspended from the
561 Phil. 341 (2007).
practice of law for a period of only one (1) month.
37 Resurreccion v. Sayson, 360 Phil. 313, 322 (1998).
The Court agrees with the recommendation of the IBP Board of
38
Berbano v. Atty. Barcelona, 457 Phil. 331, 345 Governors except as to the penalty imposed.
(2003).
Atty. Agleron violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which provides that:

Rule 18.03-A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to


Republic of the Philippines him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him
SUPREME COURT liable.
Manila
Once a lawyer takes up the cause of his client, he is duty bound
THIRD DIVISION to serve his client with competence, and to attend to his client’s
cause with diligence, care and devotion regardless of whether he
A.C. No. 5359 March 10, 2014 accepts it for a fee or for free.6 He owes fidelity to such cause
and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed
on him.7
ERMELINDA LAD VOA. DE DOMINGUEZ, represented
by her Attorney-in-Fact, VICENTE A.
PICHON,Complainant, In the present case, Atty. Agleron admitted his failure to file the
vs. complaint against the Municipality of Caraga, Davao Oriental,
ATTY. ARNULFO M. AGLERON, SR., Respondent. despite the fact that it was already prepared and signed. He
attributed his non-filing of the appropriate charges on the failure
RESOLUTION of complainant to remit the full payment of the filing fee and
pay the 30% of the attorney's fee. Such justification, however, is
not a valid excuse that would exonerate him from liability. As
MENDOZA, J.: stated, every case that is entrusted to a lawyer deserves his full
attention whether he accepts this for a fee or free. Even
Complainant Ermelinda Lad Vda. De Dominguez (complainant) assuming that complainant had not remitted the full payment of
was the widow of the late Felipe Domiguez who died in a the filing fee, he should have found a way to speak to his client
vehicular accident in Caraga, Davao Oriental, on October 18, and inform him about the insufficiency of the filing fee so he
1995, involving a dump truck owned by the Municipality of could file the complaint. Atty. Agleron obviously lacked
Caraga. Aggrieved, complainant decided to file charges against professionalism in dealing with complainant and showed
the Municipality of Caraga and engaged the services of incompetence when he failed to file the appropriate
respondent Atty. Arnulfo M. Agleron, Sr. (Atty. Agleron). On charges.1âwphi1
three (3) occasions, Atty. Agleron requested and received from
complainant the following amounts for the payment of filing In a number of cases,8 the Court held that a lawyer should never
fees and sheriffs fees, to wit: (1) June 3, 1996 -₱3,000.00; (2) neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence
June 7, 1996 -Pl,800.00; and September 2, 1996 - ₱5,250.00 or a renders him liable for disciplinary action such as suspension
total of ₱10,050.00. After the lapse of four (4) years, however, ranging from three months to two years. In this case, the Court
no complaint was filed by Atty. Agleron against the finds the suspension of Atty. Agleron from the practice of law
Municipality of Caraga.1 for a period of three (3) months sufficient.

Atty. Agleron admitted that complainant engaged his WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors is
professional service and received the amount of ₱10,050.00. He, hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accordingly,
however, explained that their agreement was that complainant respondent ATTY. ARNULFO M. AGLERON, SR. is hereby
would pay the filing fees and other incidental expenses and as SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of THREE
soon as the complaint was prepared and ready for filing, (3) MONTHS, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same
complainant would pay 30% of the agreed attorney’s fees of or similar wrongdoing will be dealt with more severely.
₱100,000.00. On June 7, 1996, after the signing of the
complaint, he advised complainant to pay in full the amount of
the filing fee and sheriff’s fees and the 30% of the attorney’s Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant to
fee, but complainant failed to do so. Atty. Agleron averred that be included in the records of the respondent; the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters; and the
since the complaint could not be filed in court, the amount of
₱10,050.00 was deposited in a bank while awaiting the payment Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts
of the balance of the filing fee and attorney’s fee.2 throughout the country.

SO ORDERED.

38
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA Complainants alleged that in February 1997, they engaged the
Associate Justice services of Atty. Guaren for the titling of a residential lot they
acquired in Bonbon, Nueva Caseres; that Atty. Guaren asked for
WE CONCUR: a fee of Ten Thousand Pesos (₱10,000.00) including expenses
relative to its proceeding; that it was agreed that full payment of
the fee shall be made after the delivery of the title; that Atty.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Guaren asked for an advance fee of One Thousand Pesos
Associate Justice (Pl,000.00) which they gave; that Atty. Guaren took all the
Chairperson pertinent documents relative to the titling of their lot-certified
true copy of the tax declaration, original copy of the deed of
DIOSDADO M. exchange, sketch plan, deed of donation, survey plan, and
ROBERTO A. ABAD original copy of the waiver; that on March 10, 1997, Atty.
PERALTA
Associate Justice Guaren asked for additional payment of Six Thousand Pesos
Associate Justice
(₱6,000.00) which they dutifully gave; that from 1997 to 2001,
they always reminded Atty. Guaren about the case and each time
MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN he would say that the titling was in progress; that they became
Associate Justice bothered by the slow progress of the case so they demanded the
return of the money they paid; and that respondent agreed to
return the same provided that the amount of Five Thousand
Pesos (₱5,000.00) be deducted to answer for his professional
fees.
Footnotes
Complainants further alleged that despite the existence of an
1 attorney-client relationship between them, Atty. Guaren made a
Rollo, pp. 1-2.
special appearance against them in a case pending before the
Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court, Oslob, Cebu (MCTC).
2 Id. at 15-17.
Atty. Guaren admitted that he indeed charged complainants an
3 Id. at 26-27. acceptance fee of ₱10,000.00, but denied that the amount was
inclusive of expenses for the titling of the lot. He claimed,
4 Id. at 64-66. however, that he received the payment of ₱1,000.00 and
₱6,000.00; that their agreement was that the case would be filed
5
in court after the complainants fully paid his acceptance fee; that
Id. at 63. he did not take the documents relative to the titling of the lot
except for the photocopy of the tax declaration; and that he did
6Uy v. Tansinsin. A.C. No. 8252, July 21. 2009. 593 not commit betrayal of trust and confidence when he
SCRA 296. participated in a case filed against the complainants in MCTC
explaining that his appearance was for and in behalf of Atty.
7Cariño v. Delos Reyes. 414 Phil. 667 (200 I). citing Ervin Estandante, the counsel on record, who failed to appear in
Santiago v. Fojas, AM No. 4103. 248 SCRA 68. the said hearing.

8Fernandez v. Cabrera III, 463 Phil. 352 (2003); Uy v. In the Report and Recommendation,1 dated August 24, 2012, the
Tansinsin, A.C. No. 8252,.July 21, 2009, 593 SCRA Investigating Commissioner found Atty. Guaren to have violated
296. the Canon of Professional Responsibility when he accepted the
titling of complainants’ lot and despite the acceptance of
₱7,000.00, he failed to perform his obligation and allowed 5
long years to elapse without any progress in the titling of the lot.
Atty. Guaren should also be disciplined for appearing in a case
against complainants without a written consent from the latter.
Republic of the Philippines The CBD recommended that he be suspended for six (6)
SUPREME COURT months.
Manila
In its May 20, 2013 Resolution,2 the IBP Board of Governors,
THIRD DIVISION adopted and approved with modification the Report and
Recommendation of the CBD, suspending Atty. Guaren from
the practice of law for three (3) months only.
A.C. No. 10164 March 10, 2014
The Court adopts the findings of the IBP Board of Governors on
STEPHAN BRUNET and VIRGINIA ROMANILLOS the unethical conduct of Atty. Guaren, except as to the penalty.
BRUNET, Complainants,
vs.
ATTY. RONALD L. GUAREN, Respondent. The practice of law is not a business. It is a profession in which
duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration.
Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making
RESOLUTION venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields
profits. The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary
MENDOZA, J.: consideration. The duty to public service and to the
administration of justice should be the primary consideration of
On August 9, 2002, complainant spouses Stephan and Virginia lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what
Brunet (complainants) filed a complaint against respondent Atty. they owe to themselves.3
Ronald L. Guaren (Atty. Guaren) before the Commission on Bar
Discipline (CED), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
provides that:

39
CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client DECISION
and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
him. BERSAMIN, J.:

CANON 18 - A lawyer shall serve his client with competence This administrative case relates to the performance of duty of an
and diligence. attorney towards his client in which the former is found and
declared to be lacking in knowledge and skill sufficient for the
In the present case, Atty. Guaren admitted that he accepted the engagement. Does quantum meruit attach when an attorney fails
amount of ₱7,000.00 as partial payment of his acceptance fee. to accomplish tasks which he is naturally expected to perform
He, however, failed to perform his obligation to file the case for during his professional engagement?
the titling of complainants' lot despite the lapse of 5 years. Atty.
Guaren breached his duty to serve his client with competence Antecedents
and diligence when he neglected a legal matter entrusted to
him.1âwphi1 Complainant Nenita D. Sanchez has charged respondent Atty.
Romeo G. Aguilos (respondent) with misconduct for the latter's
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ronald L. Guaren is found refusal to return the amount of P70,000.00 she had paid for his
GUILTY of having violated Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of professional services despite his not having performed the
Professional Responsibility and is hereby SUSPENDED from contemplated professional services. She avers that in March
the practice of law for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS effective 2005, she sought the legal services of the respondent to
from receipt of this Resolution, with a warning that a similar represent her in the annulment of her marriage with her
infraction in the future shall be dealt with more severely. estranged husband, Jovencio C. Sanchez; that the respondent
accepted the engagement, fixing his fee at P150,000.00, plus the
appearance fee of P5,000.00/hearing; that she then gave to him
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Bar Confidant to
the initial amount of P90,000.00;1 that she had gone to his
be included in the records of the respondent; the Integrated Bar
residence in May 2005 to inquire on the developments in her
of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters; and the
case, but he told her that he would only start working on the case
Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts
upon her full payment of the acceptance fee; that she had only
throughout the country.
learned then that what he had contemplated to file for her was a
petition for legal separation, not one for the annulment of her
SO ORDERED. marriage; that he further told her that she would have to pay a
higher acceptance fee for the annulment of her marriage;2 that
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA she subsequently withdrew the case from him, and requested the
Associate Justice refund of the amounts already paid, but he refused to do the
same as he had already started working on the case;3 that she
had sent him a letter, through Atty. Isidro S.C. Martinez, to
WE CONCUR: demand the return of her payment less whatever amount
corresponded to the legal services he had already
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. performed;4 that the respondent did not heed her demand letter
Associate Justice despite his not having rendered any appreciable legal services to
Chairperson her;5 and that his constant refusal to return the amounts
prompted her to bring an administrative complaint against
him6 in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on March 20,
DIOSDADO M.
ROBERTO A. ABAD 2007.
PERALTA
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
In his answer dated May 21, 2007,7 the respondent alleges that
the complainant and her British fiancee sought his legal services
MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN to bring the petition for the annulment of her marriage; that
Associate Justice based on his evaluation of her situation, the more appropriate
case would be one for legal separation anchored on the
psychological incapacity of her husband; that she and her British
fiancee agreed on P150,000.00 for his legal services to bring the
action for legal separation, with the fiancee paying him
P70,000.00, as evidenced by his handwritten receipt;8 that for
Footnotes purposes of the petition for legal separation he required the
complainant to submit copies of her marriage contract and the
1 Rollo, pp. 122-126. birth certificates of her children with her husband, as well as for
her to submit to further interviews by him to establish the
2 grounds for legal separation; that he later on communicated with
Id. at 121.
her and her fiancee upon finalizing the petition, but they did not
promptly respond to his communications; that in May 2005, she
3Bengco v. Atty. Bernardo. A.C. No. 6368. June 13, admitted to him that she had spent the money that her fiancee
2012, 672 SCRA 8. had given to pay the balance of his professional fees; and that in
June 2005, she returned to him with a note at the back of the
prepared petition for legal separation essentially requesting him
not to file the petition because she had meanwhile opted to bring
the action for the annulment of her marriage instead.

FIRST DIVISION The respondent admits that he received the demand letter from
Atty. Martinez, but states that he dismissed the letter as a mere
A.C. No. 10543, March 16, 2016 scrap of paper because the demand lacked basis in law. It is
noted that he wrote in the last part of his answer dated May 21,
2007 in relation to the demand letter the following:
NENITA D. SANCHEZ, Petitioner, v. ATTY. ROMEO G. chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
AGUILOS, Respondent. Hence, respondent accordingly treated the said letter demand for
refund dated 15 August 2005 (Annex "B" of the complaint) as a

40
mere scrap of paper or should have been addressed by her suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6)
counsel ATTY. ISIDRO S.C. MARTINEZ, months for failure to show his respect to his fellow lawyer and
who unskillfully relied on an unverified information furnished for using offensive and improper language in his pleadings.
him, to the urinal project of the MMDA where it may serve its Through Resolution No. XVIII-2008-476 dated September 20,
rightful purpose.9ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary 2008,14 the IBP Board of Governors affirmed the findings of
Findings and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner De La Rama, Jr., but modified the
recommendation of the penalty, viz.:
The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) summoned chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
the parties to a mandatory conference on August 3, 2007, 10 but RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
only the complainant and her counsel attended the conference. unanimously ADOPTED AND APPROVED, with
On his part, the respondent sent a letter dated July 20, 2007 to modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
the IBP-CBD to reiterate his answer.11 Due to his non- Investigating Commissioner of the above entitled case, herein
appearance, the IBP-CBD terminated the conference on the made part of this Resolution as Annex "A", and, finding the
same day, but required the complainant to submit a verified recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and
position paper within 10 days. She did not submit the position the applicable laws and rules, and considering respondent's
paper in the end. failure to show respect to his fellow lawyer and for showing
offensive and improper words in his pleadings, Atty. Romeo G.
In his commissioner's report dated July 25, 2008,12 IBP Aguilos, is hereby WARNED and Ordered to Return the
Investigating Commissioner Jose I. De La Rama, Jr. declared Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) Pesos to complainant within
that the respondent's insistence that he could have brought a thirty (30) days from receipt of
petition for legal separation based on the psychological notice.15ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
incapacity of the complainant's husband was sanctionable The respondent filed a motion for reconsideration,16 which the
because he himself was apparently not conversant with the IBP Board of Governors denied through Resolution No. XXI-
grounds for legal separation; that because he rendered some 2014-177 dated March 23, 2014.17
legal services to the complainant, he was entitled to receive only
P40,000.00 out of the P70,000.00 paid to him as acceptance fee, Issues
the P40,000.00 being the value of the services rendered under
the principle of quantum meruit; and that, accordingly, he The two issues for consideration and resolution are: (a) whether
should be made to return to her the amount of P30,000.00. or not the respondent should be held administratively liable for
misconduct; and (b) whether or not he should be ordered to
IBP Investigating Commissioner De La Rama, Jr. observed that return the attorney's fees paid.
the respondent's statement in the last part of his answer, to the
effect that the demand letter sent by Atty. Martinez in behalf of Ruling of the Court
the complainant should be treated as a scrap of paper, or should
have been addressed "to the urinal project of the MMDA where We adopt and affirm Resolution No. XVIII-2008-476 and
it may serve its rightful purpose," was uncalled for and Resolution No. XXI-2014-177, but modify the recommended
improper; and he opined that such offensive and improper penalty.
language uttered by the respondent against a fellow lawyer
violated Rule 8.0113 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
1.
IBP Investigating Commissioner De La Rama, Jr. ultimately
Respondent was liable for misconduct, and he should be
recommended as follows:
ordered to return the entire amount received from the client
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The undersigned Commissioner is most respectfully
The respondent offered himself to the complainant as a lawyer
recommending the following:
who had the requisite professional competence and skill to
handle the action for the annulment of marriage for her. He
(1) To order the respondent to return to the complainant the required her to pay P150,000.00 as attorney's fees, exclusive of
amount of P30,000.00 which he received for the purpose the filing fees and his appearance fee of P5,000.00/hearing. Of
of preparing a petition for legal separation. Undersigned that amount, he received the sum of P70,000.00.
believes that considering the degree of professional
services he has extended, the amount of P40,000.00 he On the respondent's conduct of himself in his professional
received on March 10, 2005 would be sufficient payment relationship with the complainant as his client, we reiterate and
for the same. adopt the thorough analysis and findings by IBP Investigating
Commissioner De La Rama, Jr. to be very apt and cogent, viz.:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
As appearing in Annex "4", which is the handwritten retainer's
(2) For failure to distinguish between the grounds for legal
contract between the respondent and the complainant, there is a
separation and annulment of marriage, respondent should sweeping evidence that there is an attorney-client relationship.
be sanctioned. The respondent agreed to accept the case in the amount of
P150,000.00. The acceptance fee was agreed upon to be paid on
installment basis. Excluded in the agreement is the payment of
(3) Lastly, for failure to conduct himself with courtesy, appearance fee, filing fee and other legal documentation.
fairness towards his colleagues and for using offensive or
improper language in his pleading, which was filed right That next question is - for what case the P150,000.00 was
before the Commission on Bar Discipline, he must also be intended for? Was it intended for the filing of the annulment
sanctioned and disciplined in order to avoid repetition of case or legal separation?
the said misconduct.
In the verified Answer filed by the respondent, even the latter is
quite confused as to what action he is going to file in court. The
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is most respectfully
intention of the British national and the complainant was to get
recommended that Atty. Romeo G. Aguilos be ordered to return
married. At that time and maybe up to now, the complainant is
to complainant Nenita D. Sanchez the amount of P30,000.00
still legally married to a certain Jovencio C. Sanchez. That
which the former received as payment for his services because it
considering that the two are intending to get married, we can
is excessive.
safely assume that the complainant was contemplating of filing a
petition for annulment of marriage in order to free her from the
It is also recommended that the Atty. Romeo G. Aguilos be
marriage bond with her husband. It is only then, granting that

41
the petition will be granted, that the complainant will be free to distinguish between the grounds for legal separation and
marry the British subject. The legal separation is but a grounds for annulment of marriage. But as the respondent stated
separation of husband and wife from board and bed and the in his answer, it appears that he is mixed up with the basic
marriage bond still exists. Granting that the petition for legal provisions of the law.18ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
separation will be granted, one is not free to marry another Clearly, the respondent misrepresented his professional
person. competence and skill to the complainant. As the foregoing
findings reveal, he did not know the distinction between the
A reading of the answer filed by the respondent would show that grounds for legal separation and for annulment of marriage.
he himself is not well versed in the grounds for legal separation. Such knowledge would have been basic and expected of him as
He stated the following; a lawyer accepting a professional engagement for either causes
. . . respondent suggested to them to file instead a legal of action. His explanation that the client initially intended to
separation case for the alleged psychological incapacity of her pursue the action for legal separation should be disbelieved. The
husband to comply with his marital obligations developed or of case unquestionably contemplated by the parties and for which
their marriage on February 6, 1999. (please see par. 2 of the his services was engaged, was no other than an action for
Answer). annulment of the complainant's marriage with her husband with
If the intention was to file a petition for legal separation, under the intention of marrying her British fiancee. They did not
A.M. 02-11-11-SC, the grounds are as follows: contemplate legal separation at all, for legal separation would
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary still render her incapacitated to re-marry. That the respondent
Sec. 2. Petition- was insisting in his answer that he had prepared a petition for
legal separation, and that she had to pay more as attorney's fees
(a) Who may and when to file - (1) A petition for legal if she desired to have the action for annulment was, therefore,
separation may be filed only by the husband or the wife, as the beyond comprehension other than to serve as a hallow
case may be, within five years from the time of the occurrence afterthought to justify his claim for services rendered.
of any of the following causes:
As such, the respondent failed to live up to the standards
(a) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct imposed on him as an attorney. He thus transgressed Canon 18,
directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the and Rules 18.01, 18.02 and 18.03 of the Code of Professional
petitioner; Responsibility, to wit:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(b) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT
to change religious or political affiliation; WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.

(c) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a Rules 18.01 - A lawyer shall not undertake a legal serviee
common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in which he knows or should know that he is not qualified to
prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement; render. However, he may render such service if, with the
consent of his client, he can obtain as collaborating counsel a
(d) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment lawyer who is competent on the matter.
of more than six years, even if pardoned;
Rule 18.02 - A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter
(e) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent; without adequate preparation.

(f) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent; Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted
to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render
(g) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous him liable. (Emphasis supplied)
marriage, whether in or outside the Philippines; The next to be dealt with is the matter of the attorney's fees. We
can easily agree that every attorney is entitled to have and
(h) Sexual infidelity or perversion of the respondent; receive a just and reasonable compensation for services
performed at the special instance and request of his client. As
(i) Attempt on the life of petitioner by the respondent; or long as the attorney is in good faith and honestly trying to
represent and serve the interests of the client, he should have a
(j) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable reasonable compensation for such services.19
cause for more than one year.
Psychological incapacity, contrary to what respondent explained The attorney's fees shall be those stipulated in the retainer's
to the complainant, is not one of those mentioned in any of the agreement between the client and the attorney, which constitutes
grounds for legal separation. the law between the parties for as long as it is not contrary to
law, good morals, good customs, public policy or public
Even in Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, order.20 The underlying theory is that the retainer's agreement
psychological incapacity is never a ground for the purpose of between them gives to the client the reasonable notice of the
filing a petition for legal separation. arrangement on the fees. Once the attorney has performed the
task assigned to him in a valid agreement, his compensation is
On the other hand, psychological incapacity has always been determined on the basis of what he and the client agreed. 21 In the
used for the purpose of filing a petition for declaration of nullity absence of the written agreement, the lawyer's compensation
or annulment of marriage. shall be based on quantum meruit, which means "as much as he
deserved."22 The determination of attorney's fees on the basis
That as provided for by Article 36 of the New Family Code, it of quantum meruit is also authorized "when the counsel, for
stales that "a marriage contracted by any party who, at the time justifiable cause, was not able to finish the case to its
of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply conclusion."23 Moreover, quantum meruit becomes the basis of
with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise recovery of compensation by the attorney where the
be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its circumstances of the engagement indicate that it will be contrary
solemnization." to the parties' expectation to deprive the attorney of all
compensation.
That lawyers shall keep abreast of the legal developments and
participate in continuing legal education program (Canon 5 of Nevertheless, the court shall determine in every case what is
the Code of Professional Responsibility) in order to prevent reasonable compensation based on the obtaining
repetition of such kind of advise that respondent gave to the circumstances,24 provided that the attorney does not receive
complainant. In giving an advise, he should be able to more than what is reasonable, in keeping with Section 24 of

42
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to wit: 2.
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Section 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees - Respondent did not conduct himself with courtesy, fairness
An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client and candor towards his professional colleague
no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a
view to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, The Rules of Court mandates members of the Philippine Bar to
the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing "abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact
of the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness,
attorneys as expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is
may disregard such testimony and base its conclusion on its own charged."26 This duty of lawyers is further emphasized in
professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall the Code of Professional Responsibility, whose Canon 8
control the amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court provides: "A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy,
to be unconscionable or unreasonable. fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall
The courts supervision of the lawyer's compensation for legal avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel." Rule 8.01 of
services rendered is not only for the purpose of ensuring the Canon 8 specifically demands that: "A lawyer shall not, in his
reasonableness of the amount of attorney's fees charged, but also professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive
for the purpose of preserving the dignity and integrity of the or otherwise improper."
legal profession.25cralawred
The Court recognizes the adversarial nature of our legal system
The respondent should not have accepted the engagement which has necessitated lawyers to use strong language in the
because as it was later revealed, it was way above his ability and advancement of the interest of their clients.27 However, as
competence to handle the case for annulment of marriage. As a members of a noble profession, lawyers are always impressed
consequence, he had no basis to accept any amount as attorney's with the duty to represent their clients' cause, or, as in this case,
fees from the complainant. He did not even begin to perform the to represent a personal matter in court, with courage and zeal but
contemplated task he undertook for the complainant because it that should not be used as license for the use of offensive and
was improbable that the agreement with her was to bring the abusive language. In maintaining the integrity and dignity of the
action for legal separation. His having supposedly prepared the legal profession, a lawyer's language - spoken or in his pleadings
petition for legal separation instead of the petition for annulment - must be dignified.28 As such, every lawyer is mandated to
of marriage was either his way of covering up for his carry out his duty as an agent in the administration of justice
incompetence, or his means of charging her more. Either way with courtesy, dignity and respect not only towards his clients,
did not entitle him to retain the amount he had already received. the court and judicial officers, but equally towards his
colleagues in the Legal Profession.
The written receipt dated March 10, 2005 shows that the
respondent received P70,000.00 as acceptance fee. His refusal to The respondent's statement in his answer that the demand from
return the amount to the complainant rested on his claim of Atty. Martinez should be treated "as a mere scrap of paper or
having already completed the first phase of the preparation of should have been addressed by her counsel x x x to the urinal
the petition for legal separation after having held conferences project of the MMDA where it may service its rightful purpose"
with the complainant and her British fiancee. In this respect, IBP constituted simple misconduct that this Court cannot tolerate.
Investigating Commission De la Rama, Jr. opined that the
respondent could retain P40,000.00 of the P70,000.00 because In his motion for reconsideration, the respondent tried to justify
the respondent had rendered some legal services to the the offensive and improper language by asserting that the
complainant, specifically: (a) having the complainant undergo phraseology was not per se uncalled for and improper. He
further interviews towards establishing the ground for legal explained that he had sufficient cause for maintaining that the
separation; (b) reducing into writing the grounds discussed demand letter should be treated as a mere scrap of paper and
during the interviews based on her statement in her own dialect should be disregarded. However, his assertion does not excuse
(Annexes 1 and 2) after he could not understand the written the offensiveness and impropriety of his language. He could
statement prepared for the purpose by her British fiancee; (c) have easily been respectful and proper in responding to the
requiring her to submit her marriage contract with her husband letter.
Jovencio C. Sanchez (Annex 3), and the certificates of live birth
of her four children: Mary Joy, Timothy, Christine, and Janette As penalty for this particular misconduct, he is reprimanded,
Anne, all surnamed Sanchez (Annexes 4, 5, 6 and 7); and (d) with the stern warning that a repetition of the offense will be
finalizing her petition for legal separation (Annex 8) in the later severely punished.chanrobleslaw
part of April, 2007.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the Resolution No.
The opinion of IBP Investigating Commission De la Rama, Jr. in XVIII-2008-476 dated September 20, 2008 of the Integrated Bar
favor of the respondent was too generous. We cannot see how of the Philippines Board of Governors, with
the respondent deserved any compensation because he did not the MODIFICATION that Atty. Romeo G. Aguilos is
really begin to perform the contemplated tasks if, even based on hereby FINED P10,000.00 for misrepresenting his professional
his version, he would prepare the petition for legal separation competence to the client, and REPRIMANDS him for his use
instead of the petition for annulment of marriage. The attorney of offensive and improper language towards his fellow attorney,
who fails to accomplish the tasks he should naturally and with the stern warning that a repetition of the offense shall be
expectedly perform during his professional engagement does not severely punished.
discharge his professional responsibility and ethical duty toward
his client. The respondent was thus guilty of misconduct, and The Court ORDERS Atty. Romeo G. Aguilos to RETURN to
may be sanctioned according to the degree of the misconduct. the complainant within thirty (30) days from notice the sum of
As a consequence, he may be ordered to restitute to the client P70,000.00, plus legal interest of 6% per annum reckoned from
the amount received from the latter in consideration of the the date of this decision until full payment.
professional engagement, subject to the rule on quantum meruit,
if warranted. Let copies of this decision be attached to the personal records of
Atty. Romeo G. Aguilos as a member of the Philippine Bar, and
Accordingly, the respondent shall be fined in the amount of be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated
P10,000.00 for his misrepresentation of his professional Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator
competence, and he is further to be ordered to return the entire for proper dissemination to all courts throughout the country.
amount of P70,000.00 received from the client, plus legal
interest of 6% per annum reckoned from the date of this SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
decision until full payment.

43
Sereno, C.J., Leonardo-De Castro, Perlas-Bernabe, A.C. No. 11246, June 14, 2016
and Caguioa, JJ., concur.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
ARNOLD PACAO, Complainant, v. ATTY. SINAMAR
Endnotes: LIMOS, Respondent.

DECISION
1Rollo, pp. 2-3.
2
PER CURIAM:
Id.
3 Id. Before this Court is a verified complaint1 filed on November 4,
2011 by Arnold Pacao (complainant), seeking the disbarment of
4 Id. at 6. Atty. Sinamar Limos (Atty. Limos) for conduct unbecoming of a
member of the Bar.
5 Id. at 3.
The Facts
6 Id. at 2-4.
Sometime in March 2008, complainant's wife Mariadel Pacao,
7 Id. at 17-20. former vault custodian of BHF Pawnshop (BHF) branch in
Mandaluyong City, was charged with qualified theft by BHF. At
8 Id. at 11. the preliminary investigation, Atty. Limos appeared as counsel
for BHF. Thereafter, the case was filed before the Regional Trial
9 Id. at 20. Court of Mandaluyong City.2ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

10 Id. at 49. To buy peace, the complainant initiated negotiation with BHF,
through Atty. Limos, for a possible settlement. A meeting was
11 Id. at 15. then arranged between the complainant and Atty. Limos, where
the latter represented that she was duly authorized by BHF.
12 Id. at 56-69. After a series of negotiations, Atty. Limos relayed that BHF is
demanding the sum of P530,000.00 to be paid in full or by
13Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, installments. Further negotiation led to an agreement whereby
use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. the complainant would pay an initial amount of P200,000.00 to
be entrusted to Atty. Limos, who will then deliver to the
14Rollo, p. 55. complainant a signed affidavit of desistance, a compromise
agreement, and a joint motion to approve compromise
15 Id. agreement for filing with the court.3ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

16 Id. at 70-74. On October 29, 2009, the complainant gave the initial amount of
P200,000.00 to Atty. Limos, who in turn, signed an
17 Id. at 80. Acknowledgment Receipt4 recognizing her undertakings as
counsel of BHF. However, Atty. Limos failed to meet the terms
18 Id. at 85-88. of their agreement. Notwithstanding such failure, Atty. Limos
still sought to get from the complainant the next installment
19TradersRoyal Bank Employees Union-Independent v. NLRC, amount of their purported agreement, but the latter
G.R. No. 120592, March 14, 1997, 269 SCRA 733, 743; De refused.5ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Guzman v. Visayan Rapit Transit Co., Inc., 68 Phil. 643 (1939).
Thereafter, in June 2010, the complainant met BHF's
20ReparationsCommission vs. Visayan Packing Corporation, representative, Camille Bonifacio, who informed him that Atty.
G.R. No. 30712, February 6, 1991, 193 SCRA 531, 540. Limos was no longer BHF's counsel and was not authorized to
negotiate any settlement nor receive any money in behalf of
21Francisco v. Malias, L-16349, January 1, 1964, 10 SCRA 89, BHF. The complainant also learned that BHF did not receive the
95. P200,000.00 initial payment that he gave to Atty.
Limos.6ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
22Rilloraza,
Africa, De Ocampo and Africa v. Eastern
Telecommunications Phils., Inc., G.R. No. 104600, July 2, 1999, This prompted the complainant to send a demand letter7 to Atty.
309 SCRA 566, 575. Limos to return the P200,000.00 initial settlement payment, but
the latter failed and refused to do
23 Id. so.8ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

24Bach v. Ongkiko Kalaw Manhit & Acorda Law Offices, G.R. The complainant then filed a disbarment case against Atty.
No. 160334, September 11, 2006, 501 SCRA 419, 426- Limos before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) -
427.cralawred Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD). The IBP-CBD required
Atty. Limos to file an answer but she did not file any responsive
25 Id. at 433-434. pleading.9 A mandatory conference was then set on March 1 and
29, 2012, and April 19, 2012, but Atty. Limos failed to attend.
26 Rule 138, Sec. 20 (I) of the Rules of Court.cralawred Thereafter, the IBP-CBD ordered the parties to submit their
position paper, but once again, Atty. Limos did not bother to
27Saberon v. Larong, A.C. No. 6567, April 16, 2008, 551 SCRA submit her position paper.
359, 368.
On May 5, 2014, the Investigating Commissioner recommended
28 Id. the disbarment of Atty. Limos.10 The Investigating
Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove that
Atty. Limos committed fraud and practiced deceit on the
complainant to the latter's prejudice by concealing or omitting to
disclose the material fact that she no longer had the authority to
EN BANC

44
negotiate and conclude a settlement for and on behalf of BHF, demonstrate that she still possessed the integrity and morality
nor was authorized to receive the P200,000.00 from the demanded of a member of the Bar. Her seeming indifference to
complainant. Atty. Limos was likewise ordered to return to the the complaint brought against her was made obvious by her
complainant the full amount of P200,000.00 with interest unreasonable absence from the proceedings before the IBP. Her
thereon at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of her disobedience to the IBP is, in fact, a gross and blatant disrespect
receipt of the said amount to the date of her return of the full for the authority of the Court.
amount.11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Despite her two prior suspensions, still, Atty. Limos is once
In a Resolution12 dated April 19, 2015, the IBP Board of again demonstrating to this Court that not only is she unfit to
Governors adopted and approved the Investigating stay in the legal profession for her deceitful conduct but is also
Commissioner's report and recommendation. remiss in following the dictates of the Court, which has
supervision over her. Atty. Limos' unwarranted obstinacy is a
On March 8, 2016, the IBP transmitted the notice of the great insolence to the Court which cannot be tolerated.
resolution and the case records to the Court for final action
pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.13 As per The present case comes clearly under the grounds given in
verification of the Court, neither party has filed a motion for Section 27,18 Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. The
reconsideration or a petition for review thereafter. Court, however, does not hesitate to impose the penalty of
disbarment when the guilty party has become a repeat offender.
The Issue Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light
of Atty. Limos' prior misconduct which grossly degrades the
Whether or not the instant disbarment complaint constitutes a legal profession, the imposition of the ultimate penalty of
sufficient basis to disbar Atty. Limos from the practice of disbarment is warranted.
law?14ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In imposing the penalty of disbarment upon Atty. Limos, the
Ruling of the Court Court is aware that the power to disbar is one to be exercised
with great caution and only in clear cases of misconduct that
To begin with, the Court notes that this is not the first time that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as a
Atty. Limos is facing an administrative case, for she had already legal professional and as an officer of the Court.19 However,
been twice suspended from the practice of law, by this Court, for Atty. Limos' recalcitrant attitude and unwillingness to heed with
three months each in Villaflores v. Atty. Limos15 and Wilkie v. the Court's warning, which is deemed to be an affront to the
Atty. Limos.16 In Villaflores, Atty. Limos received attorney's fees Court's authority over members of the Bar, warrant an utmost
of P20,000.00 plus miscellaneous expenses of P2,000.00, but disciplinary sanction from this Court. Her repeated desecration
she failed to perform her undertaking with her client; thus she of her ethical commitments proved herself to be unfit to remain
was found guilty of gross negligence and dereliction of duty. in the legal profession. Worse, she remains apathetic to the need
Likewise, in Wilkie, Atty. Limos was held administratively to reform herself.
liable for her deceitful and dishonest conduct when she obtained
a loan of P250,000.00 from her client and issued two postdated "[T]he practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by
checks in the latter's favor to pay the said loan despite the State upon those who show that they possess, and continue
knowledge of insufficiency of funds to cover the same. In both to possess, the qualifications required by law for the conferment
cases, the Court, gave Atty. Limos a warning that repetition of of such privilege. Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened
the same or similar acts by her will merit a more severe penalty. with conditions."20 "Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is
most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn
Once again, for the third time, Atty. Limos is facing an servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and
administrative case before this Court for receiving the amount of override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the
P200,000.00 from the complainant purportedly for a possible very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and
amicable settlement with her client BHF. However, Atty. Limos office, and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and
was no longer BHF's counsel and was not authorize to negotiate dangerous elements of the body
and conclude a settlement for and on behalf of BHF nor was she politic."21ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
authorized to receive any money in behalf of BHF. Her blunder
is compounded by the fact that she did not turn over the money Indeed, Atty. Limos has disgraced the legal profession. The facts
to BHF, nor did she return the same to the complainant, despite and evidence obtaining in this case definitely establish her
due demand. Furthermore, she even tried to get the next failure to live up to her duties as a lawyer in accordance with the
installment knowing fully well that she was not authorized to strictures of the lawyer's oath, the Code of Professional
enter into settlement negotiations with the complainant as her Responsibility and the Canons of Professional Ethics, thereby
engagement as counsel of BHF had already ceased. making her unworthy to continue as a member of the bar.

The fact that this is Atty. Limos' third transgression exacerbates WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Sinamar Limos, having
her offense. The foregoing factual antecedents demonstrate her violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by committing
propensity to employ deceit and misrepresentation. It is not too grave misconduct and willful insubordination,
farfetched for this Court to conclude that from the very is DISBARRED and her name ordered STRICKEN OFF the
beginning, Atty. Limos had planned to employ deceit on the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately.
complainant to get hold of a sum of money. Such a conduct is
unbecoming and does not speak well of a member of the Bar. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the records of Atty.
Sinamar Limos. Further, let other copies be served on the
Atty. Limos' case is further highlighted by her lack of regard for Integrated Bar of the Philippines and on the Office of the Court
the charges brought against her. Similar with Wilkie, despite due Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the
notice, Atty. Limos did not bother to answer the complaint courts in the country for their information and guidance.
against her. She also failed to file her mandatory conference
brief and her verified position paper. Worse, Atty. Limos did not This Decision is immediately executory.
even enter appearance either personally or by counsel, and she
failed to appear at the scheduled date of the mandatory SO ORDERED.
conferences which she was duly
notified.17ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro,
Bersamin, Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen,
By her failure to present convincing evidence, or any evidence and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
for that matter, to justify her actions, Atty. Limos failed to

45
Brion, and Del Castillo, JJ., on official leave. PER CURIAM:
Peralta, and Jardeleza, JJ., on official business.
This resolves a disbarment case against respondent Atty.
Endnotes: Socrates R. Rivera for absconding with money entrusted to him
and soliciting money to bribe a judge.

1Rollo, pp. 2-5. On May 13, 2014, complainant Adegoke R. Plumptre filed a
complaint for disbarment1 against respondent before the
2 Id. at 2. Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

3 Id. at 2-3. Complainant alleges that on March 7, 2014, he called


respondent and asked for help in his application for a work
4 Id. at 6. permit from the Bureau of Immigration.2 They met a few days
later, and complainant paid respondent P10,000.00 as
5 Id. at 3. professional fee.3chanrobleslaw

6 Id. They met again, and complainant gave respondent another


P10,000.00, together with his passport. This was allegedly for
7 Id. at 7. the processing of his work permit.4chanrobleslaw

8 Id. at 3. They met for a third time since respondent asked complainant to
submit ID photos.5 Respondent asked complainant for another
9 Id. at 9. P10,000.00, but complainant refused as they only agreed on the
amount of P20,000.00.6chanrobleslaw
10 Id. at 96-102.
Respondent also asked complainant for P8,000.00, allegedly for
11 Id. at 102. complainant's other case, which respondent was also working
on.7 He explained that P5,000.00 would be given to a Las Piñas
12 Id. at 94-95. judge to reverse the motion for reconsideration against
complainant, while P3,000.00 would be used to process the
13 Id. at 93. motion for reconsideration. Complainant gave him the
P8,000.00.8chanrobleslaw
14 Id. at 18.
Complainant claims that after respondent received the money,
15 563 Phil. 453 (2007). he never received any updates on the status of his work permit
and pending court case.9 Further, whenever he called respondent
16 591 Phil. 1 (2008). to follow up on his work permit, respondent hurled invectives at
him and threatened him and his wife.10chanrobleslaw
17Rollo, p, 98.
Complainant would retort by saying that he would file
18SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by complaints against respondent if he did not give back the money
Supreme Court; grounds therefor. — A member of the bar and passport. That was the last time complainant heard from
may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the respondent.11chanrobleslaw
Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by After inquiring and researching on respondent's
reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or whereabouts,12 complainant was able to track down respondent
for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before and get back his passport, which respondent coursed through
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful complainant's aunt.13However, despite the return of
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing complainant's passport, respondent still refused to return the
as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. P28,000.00 earlier endorsed to him.14chanrobleslaw
The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes Complainant then decided to file a complaint against respondent
malpractice. before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.15chanrobleslaw

19Spouses Floran v. Atty. Ediza, A.C. No. 5325, February 9, On May 14, 2014, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued
2016. the Order16 directing respondent to file an answer to the
complaint.
20Atty.
Alcantara, et al. v. Atty. De Vera, 650 Phil. 214, 220
(2010). Respondent failed to show up at the September 17, 2014
mandatory conference,17 as well as at the second mandatory
21Yu, et al. v. Atty. Palaña, 580 Phil. 19, 28-29 (2008). conference set on October 22, 2014.18 The parties were directed
to submit their verified position papers, after which the case was
submitted for resolution.19chanrobleslaw

On May 27, 2015, the Investigating Commissioner


EN BANC recommended respondent's suspension for two (2) years from
the practice of law and return of P28,000.00 to
A.C. No. 11350 [Formerly CBD Case No. 14-4211], August complainant.20chanrobleslaw
09, 2016
On June 20, 2015, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of
Governors adopted and approved21 the Investigating
ADEGOKE R. PLUMPTRE, Complainant, v. ATTY. Commissioner's recommendation, but modified it to disbar
SOCRATES R. RIVERA, Respondent. respondent from the practice of law,
thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
RESOLUTION RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and

46
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the exertion of his utmost learning and ability."26 The lawyer also
above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as has a fiduciary duty, with the lawyer-client relationship imbued
Annex "A ", for Respondent's violation of Canon 1, Canon 7, with utmost trust and confidence.27chanrobleslaw
Canon 16, Rule 16.01, Canon 17 and Rule 18.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, aggravated by his failure to file Respondent failed to serve his client with fidelity, competence,
Answer and to appear in the Mandatory Conference. Thus, Atty. and diligence. He not only neglected the attorney-client
Socrates R. Rivera is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of relationship established between them; he also acted in a
law and his name stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys and reprehensible manner towards complainant, i.e., cussing and
Ordered to Return the Twenty Eight Thousand (P28,000.00) threatening complainant and his family with bodily harm, hiding
Pesos to Complainant.22 (Emphasis in the original) from complainant, and refusing without reason to return the
On April 20, 2016, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines money entrusted to him for the processing of the work permit.
transmitted the case to this Court for final action under Rule Respondent's behavior demonstrates his lack of integrity and
139-B of the Rules of Court.23chanrobleslaw moral soundness.

This Court modifies the findings of the Board of Governors. Del Mundo v. Capistrano28 has reiterated the exacting standards
expected of law practitioners:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
I To stress, the practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who
meet the high standards of legal proficiency and morality,
Respondent's repeated failure to comply with several including honesty, integrity and fair dealing. They must perform
Resolutions of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines requiring their fourfold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and
him to comment on the complaint lends credence to their clients, in accordance with the values and norms of the
complainant's allegations. It manifests his tacit admission. legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Hence, we resolve this case on the basis of the complaint and Responsibility. Falling short of this standard, the Court will not
other documents submitted to the Integrated Bar of the hesitate to discipline an erring lawyer by imposing an
Philippines. appropriate penalty based on the exercise of sound judicial
discretion in consideration of the surrounding facts.29 (Emphasis
In Macarilay v. Seriña,24 this Court held that "[t]he unjustified supplied, citations omitted)
withholding of funds belonging to the client warrants the A lawyer must, at no time, lack probity and moral fiber, which
imposition of disciplinary action against the are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the bar but
lawyer."25cralawred By absconding with the money entrusted to are likewise essential demands for his continued
him by his client and behaving in a manner not befitting a membership.30chanrobleslaw
member of the bar, respondent violated the following Canons of
the Code of Professional II
Responsibility:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the When complainant refused to give respondent any more money
laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal to process his work permit, respondent persuaded complainant
processes. to give him an additional P8,000.00 purportedly to ensure that a
motion for reconsideration pending before a Las Piñas judge
.... would be decided in complainant's favor.31 However, after
receiving P28,000.00 from complainant for the work permit and
CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and ensuring the success of complainant's court case, respondent
dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the made himself scarce and could no longer be contacted.
integrated bar.
Although nothing in the records showed whether the court case
.... was indeed decided in complainant's favor, respondent's act of
soliciting money to bribe a judge served to malign the judge and
CANON 16 - A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and the judiciary by giving the impression that court cases are won
properties of his client that may come into his possession. by the party with the deepest pockets and not on the
merits.32chanrobleslaw
Rule 16.01. - A lawyer shall account for all money or property
collected or received for or from the client. "A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance
of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal
.... system."33 Further, "a lawyer shall not state or imply that he is
able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative
CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client body."34chanrobleslaw
and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
him. By implying that he can negotiate a favorable ruling for the sum
of P8,000.00, respondent trampled upon the integrity of the
.... judicial system and eroded confidence on the judiciary. This
gross disrespect of the judicial system shows that he is wanting
CANON 18 - A lawyer shall serve his client with competence in moral fiber and betrays the lack of integrity in his character.
and diligence. The practice of law is a privilege, and respondent has repeatedly
shown that he is unfit to exercise it.
....
III
Rule 18.03. - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted
to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render As for the sufficiency of notice to respondent of the disbarment
him liable. proceedings against him, this Court notes that on May 14, 2014,
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines directed respondent to
Rule 18.04. - A lawyer shall keep his client informed of the answer the complaint against him, but he failed to file his
status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to answer.35 The Integrated Bar of the Philippines set two (2)
the clients request for information. separate dates for mandatory conferences36 after respondent
As his client's advocate, a lawyer is duty-bound to protect his failed to attend the first setting, but he failed to appear in both
client's interests and the degree of service expected of him in instances.37 All issuances from the Integrated Bar of the
this capacity is his "entire devotion to the interest of the client, Philippines had the requisite registry receipts attached to them.
warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the

47
Stemmerik v. Mas38 discussed the sufficiency of notice of
23
disbarment proceedings. This Court held that lawyers must Id. at 34.
update their records with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines by
24
informing it of any change in office or residential address and 497 Phil 348 (2005) [Per J. Panganiban, Third Division].
contact details.39 Service of notice on the office or residential
25cralawred
address appearing in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Id. at 360.
records shall constitute sufficient notice to a lawyer for
administrative proceedings against him or her.40chanrobleslaw 26 Section 15, Canons of Professional Ethics.
27Saldivar
WHEREFORE, respondent Arty. Socrates R. Rivera v. Cabanes, Jr., 713 Phil. 530, 537 (2013) [Per. J.
is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years. He Perlas-Beraabe, Second Division].
is ORDERED to return to complainant Adegoke R. Plumptre
28
the amount of P28,000.00 with interest at 6% per annum from 685 Phil 687 (2012) [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe, Third Division].
the date of promulgation of this Resolution until fully paid. He is
29
likewise DIRECTED to submit to this Court proof of payment Id. at 693.
of the amount within 10 days from payment.
30Gonzaga v. Villanueva, Jr., 478 Phil. 859, 869 (2004) [Per C.J.
Let copies of this Resolution be entered in respondent's personal Davide, Jr., First Division].
record as a member of the bar, and be furnished to the Integrated
31Rollo,
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator p. 4.
for dissemination to all courts in the country.
32 Id. at 3.
SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
33 Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 1, rule 1.02.
Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro,
34
Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas- Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 15, rule 15.06.
Bernabe, Leonen, Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
35Rollo,
Brion, J., on leave. p. 14.
36
Endnotes: Id. at 15 and 22.
37 Id. at 21 and 23.
1Rollo, pp. 2-13. 38 607 Phil. 89 (2009) [Per Curiam, En Banc].
2 Id. at 2. 39 Id. at 95-96.
3 Id. 40 Id.
4 Id.
5 Id.
6 Id.
7 Id. at 4.
8 Id.
9 Id. at 3.
10 Id.
11 Id.
12 Id. at 4-5.
13 Id. at 3.
14 Id.
15 Id. at 2-13.
16 Id. at 14.
17 Id. at 22.
18 Id. at 24.
19 Id.
20 Id. at 46-47, Report and Recommendation.
21 Id. at 35-36, Notice of Resolution.
22 Id. at 35.

48