Rule 71 | Contempt Of Court | Burden Of Proof (Law)

Rule 71 FIRST DIVISION

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G.R. No. L-66371 May 15, 1985

ARMANDO ANG, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE JOSE P. CASTRO, Regional Trial Judge, Branch LXXXIV and HON. JUDGE JOSE P. ARRO, Branch CIII, both of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, and ASSISTANT FISCAL NARCISO T. ATIENZA of Quezon City, respondents.

Salonga, Ordonez, Yap, Corpuz and Padlan for petitioner.

RELOVA, J.:

In the supplemenal petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, Armando Ang seeks to set aside the order, dated February 9, 1984, of respondent Judge Jose P. Castro of the Regional Trial Court, Branch LXXXIV in Quezon City, denying his appeal from an order holding him in contempt of court. Petitioner likewise asks this Court (1) to order respondent judge Castro to forward the records of Civil Case No. Q-35466 to the Intermediate Appellate Court; (2) to enjoin him from enforcing his order for the arrest of petitioner; (3) to restrain respondent Assistant Fiscal Narciso 'I'. Atienza of Quezon City from conducting preliminary investigation on the libel charge filed against him by respondent judge; and, (4) to prohibit respondent Judge Jose P. Arro of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch CIII, Quezon City from proceeding and or conducting a hearing on the criminal complaint for libel against petitioner in Criminal Case No. Q-31587. In November 1983, petitioner, through the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs, lodged with this Court an administrative complaint against respondent judge for ignorance of the law, gross inexcusable negligence, incompetence, manifest partiality, grave abuse of discretion, grave misconduct, rendering unjust decision in Civil Case No. Q-35466 and dereliction of duties in not resolving his motion for reconsideration of the adverse decision in said civil case. On December 23, 1983, upon learning of the administrative case filed against him by petitioner, respondent judge ordered petitioner to appear before him on December 29, 1983 at 8:30 in the morning, and to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court, for malicious, insolent, inexcusable disrespect and contemptuous attitude towards the court and towards him. On January 9, 1984, respondent judge found petitioner guilty of contempt of court, sentenced him to suffer five (5) days imprisonment and ordered his arrest for his failure, despite notice, to appear on the scheduled hearing of the contempt charge against him. On February 3, 1984, petitioner filed his notice of appeal from the judgment of conviction in the contempt charge but the same was denied by the respondent judge in an Order, as follows: Considering that ARMANDO ANG was found guilty of "Direct Contempt" of court, the notice of appeal filed by him thru counsel cannot be given due course and is hereby denied, as the pronouncement of guilt in a direct contempt is not appealable. Meantime, in view of the fact that said Armando Ang has remained in hiding and has been eluding the officers of the law in serving the original warrant for his arrest, let an alias warrant be issued for his arrest so that he can serve his sentence of five (5) days imprisonment. (p. 45, Rollo) Thereafter, respondent judge instituted before the Office of the City Fiscal of Quezon City a criminal complaint (I.S. No. 83- 22198) for libel against herein petitioner for using malicious, insolent and contemptuous language against him in his letter- complaint filed before this Court. Hence, instant petition. On February 20, 1984, We issued a temporary restraining order enjoining (1) the respondent judge from carrying out the warrant of arrest issued in Civil Case No. Q-35466, entitled: "Engson Realty Co., Inc., Plaintiff, versus Lim Eng Si, Defendant of the Regional Trial Court, Branch LXXXIV at Quezon City; and (2) the respondent fiscal from conducting the preliminary investigation for libel lodged by respondent judge against petitioner in I.S. No. 8322198 of Quezon City. Asked to comment why he proceeded with the preliminary investigation of the complaint for libel filed by respondent judge against herein petitioner, despite the restraining order from this Court, Fiscal Narciso T. Atienza explained that long before the undersigned receive said order, the information for libel against Armando Ang has already been filed in court." Indeed, records show that the information for libel was lodged on February 2, 1984; whereas, the temporary restraining order was issued on February 20, 1984. On February 29,1984, upon knowing that Criminal Case No. Q-31587 for libel was instituted against him by respondent Fiscal Atienza, petitioner filed a supplemental petition for prohibition against respondent Judge Jose P. Arro of the Regional Trial Court, Branch CIII, in Quezon City, who was assigned to try and hear said criminal case. Petitioner prays for a supplemental writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Judge Arro from proceeding with said Criminal Case No. Q-31587. On March 5, 1984, We issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining respondent Judge from proceeding and/or conducting hearing on the criminal complaint for libel. On June 4, 1984, after considering the allegations, issues, and arguments adduced in the petition and supplemental petition petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, respondents' comments thereon as well as petitioner's reply to respondent fiscal's comment with motion to dismiss the aforesaid petition, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required both parties to submit simultaneously their memoranda on the issues within thirty (30) days from notice.

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Despite the lapse of the period granted both parties, they failed to file their memoranda. Thus, the case is deemed submitted for decision. Upon a careful scrutiny of the records of the case, We found that the alleged malicious imputations were not uttered in the presence or so near respondent Judge Jose P. Castro as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before him; rather, they were contained in the pleadings and/or letterscomplaint filed by petitioner before the Office of the Presidential Assistant on legal Affairs and before this Court in the aforementioned administrative case filed by petitioner against him. Section 3, particularly paragraphs (b) and (d), Rule 71 of the New Rules of Court, provide: SEC. 3. Indirect contempts to be punished after charge and hearing. — After charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the accused to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for contempt: xxx xxx xxx (b) Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, judgment, or command of a court, or injunction granted by a court or judge, including the act of a person who, after being dispossessed or ejected from any real property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, for the purpose of executing acts of ownership or possession, or in any manner disturbs the possession given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto xxx xxx xxx (d) Any improper conduct tending directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice; Respondent Judge Castro, in his comment, argues that failure of petitioner to appear, despite notice, on the scheduled hearing of the contempt charge for the use of derogatory language in his two letters addressed to the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs and to this Court in an administrative complaint against him, constitutes direct contempt as the acts actually impeded, embarrassed and obstructed him in the administration of justice. We do not agree. The Rules of Court cannot be any clearer. The use of disrespectful or contemptuous language against a particular judge in pleadings presented in another court or proceeding is indirect, not direct, contempt as it is not tantamount to a misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the administration of justice. Stated differently, if the pleading containing derogatory, offensive or malicious statements is submitted in the same court or judge in which the proceedings are pending, it is direct contempt because it is equivalent to a misbehavior committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the administration of justice. Considering the aforecited provisions, petitioner's conduct if at all, constitutes indirect contempt and, if found guilty he may appeal pursuant to Section 10, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. which reads: SEC. 10. Review of judgment or order by Court of appeals or Supreme Court; bond for stay. — The judgment or order of a Court of First Instance made in a case of contempt punished after written charge and hearing may be reviewed by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, but execution of the judgment or order shall not be suspended until a bond is filed by the person in contempt, in an amount fixed by the Court of First Instance, conditioned that if the appeal be decided against him he will abide by and perform the judgment or order. The appeal may be taken as in criminal cases. Anent the ancillary action for prohibition, We find the same meritorious, considering that the basis of the libel case (Criminal Case No. Q-31587) filed against petitioner before the respondent Regional Trial Court, Branch CIII, Quezon City was a communication addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court which was coursed through the Office of the Presidential Assistant on legal Affairs, complaining against respondent judge's ignorance of the law, gross inexcusable negligence, incompetence, disregard for the Supreme Court administrative order, grave misconduct, rendering an unjust decision and dereliction of duty. It is manifest that as held in the case of Santiago vs. Calvo, 48 Phil. 922, "a communication made in good faith upon any subject matter in which the party making the communication has an interest or concerning which he has a duty is privileged if made to a person having a corresponding interest or duty, although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter which without the privilege would be libelous and actionable ... that parties, counsel and witnesses are exempted from liability in libel or slander for words otherwise defamatory published in the course of judicial proceedings, provided the statements are pertinent or relevant to the case. " Records show that the libel case had already been instituted in court when the restraining order was issued by Us. Nonetheless, considering the privileged character of petitioner's communication to the Chief Justice barring a prosecution for libel, it is proper that the injunction against respondent Regional Trial Court, Branch CIII, Quezon City, from proceeding with the hearing of Criminal Case No. Q-31587, be made permanent pursuant to the restraining order and established doctrine against the use of the strong arm of the law as an instrument of arbitrary and oppressive prosecution. ACCORDINGLY, the petition with respect to the action against respondent Judge Jose P. Castro of the Regional Trial Court, Branch LXXXIV, Quezon City is granted and said respondent judge is hereby ordered to elevate the records of Civil Case No. Q-35466 to the Intermediate Appellate Court at once for disposition in accordance with the terms hereof. Respondent trial judge is hereby ordered to dismiss the libel case (Criminal Case No. Q-31587). The temporary restraining order issued on February 20, 1984 enjoining respondent Judge Jose P. Castro from enforcing or carrying out the warrant of arrest issued in Civil Case No. Q-35466 is made permanent. SO ORDERED.

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Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Gutierrez, Jr., Dela Fuente and Alampay, JJ., concur.

Rule 71 EN BANC

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G.R. Nos. 115908-09 March 29, 1995

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DANNY GODOY, accused-appellant.

JUDGE EUSTAQUIO Z. GACOTT, JR. complainant, vs. MAURICIO REYNOSO, JR. and EVA P. PONCE DE LEON, respondents.

RESOLUTION

REGALADO, J.:

For separate resolution, as an incident arising from these criminal cases under automatic review by the court, is a complaint 1 filed by judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City, Branch 47, to cite for indirect contempt Mauricio Reynoso, Jr., a columnist, and Eva P. Ponce de Leon, publisher and chairman of the editorial board, respectively, of the Palawan Times. His Honor's plaint is based on an article written by respondent Reynoso, Jr. in his column, "On the Beat," and published in the July 20, 1994 issue of said newspaper which is of general circulation in Puerto Princesa City. The pertinent portions of the article complained of are hereunder reproduced, with the alleged contemptuous statements italicized for ready identification as the particulars equivalent to the innuendo in a libel charge: Isang maalab na issues (sic) pa ay ang DEATH THREATS laban kono kay Judge Eustaquio Gacott, Jr. ng mga pamilya ng kanyang sinentensiyahan ng Double Death Penalty. Sinabi ni Wilmar Godoy sa DWRM programa na wala silang pagbabantang ginawa umano, at hindi nila ito kailan man isinaisip. Umaasa na lamang sila sa magiging resulta ng review ng Korte Suprema. Ayon naman kay Gacott sa kanyang interview sa DYPR ay totoong pinagbabantaan siya ng mga Godoy. Kaya ayon marami siyang Security na armado, in full battle gear. Kung totoo ito, bakit hindi niya kasuhan ang mga ito? Ito rin ang katanungan ni Mr. Tony Omaga Diaz, ang station manager ng DYPR. O bale ba gumawa siya ng sariling MULTO Pagkatapos ay takot na takot siya sa multong kanyang ginawa. Usap-usapan pa rin ang kaso ni Godoy. Ito raw ay isang open book maging sa kanyang mga co-teachers sa Pulot na nagli-live in si Godoy at ang babaing si Mia Taha. Matagal na ang kanilang ugnayan. Meron ding "balita" ewan kung totoo, na noong si Godoy daw ay nasa Provincial Jail pa ay dinadalaw siya ni Taha At kumakain pa sila sa labas kasama ang isang Provincial Guard. Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit ipinagpilitan ni Judge Gacott na madala kaagad sa Muntinlupa sa National Bilibid Prisons si Godoy kahit na ang kaso ay naka-apela pa. xxx xxx xxx Pero mayroon payo si Atty. Telesforo Paredes, Jr. sa mga mamamayan ng Palawan, mag-ingat kayo sa paglalakad at baka kung hindi kayo madapa ay madulas daw kayo. Dahil ayon daw kay Judge Gacott, base sa kanyang interview sa Magandang Gabi Bayan, "Tagilid na raw and mundo. Maraming nagpapatunay daw dito, maski sa kapitolyo." Joke lang. Pero isang warning din sa may mga nobya, na mag-ingat sa pag-break sa inyong girlfriend, dahil baka mademanda kayo at masentensyahan ng double death penalty, lalo na kung kay Judge Gacott, dahil alam na ninyo, tagilid and laban diyan. The complaint avers that the article tends to impede, obstruct, belittle, downgrade and degrade the administration of justice; that the article contains averments which are disrespectful, discourteous, insulting, offensive and derogatory; that it does not only cast aspersions on the integrity and honesty of complainant as a judge and on his ability to administer justice objectively and impartially, but is an imputation that he is biased and he prejudges the cases filed before him; and that the article is sub judice because it is still pending automatic review. Respondent Mauricio Reynoso, Jr. contends in his Comment 2 that his article does not intend to impede nor obstruct the administration of justice because the same was published after complainant had promulgated his decision in the case; that such publication will not affect or influence the review by the Supreme Court of the criminal case, considering that the Palawan Times is circulated only in the City of Puerto Princess and some parts of Palawan; that the comments made therein were made in good faith and in the exercise of the freedom of expression and of the press; that while the article may contain unfavorable comments about complainant, it cannot be considered as having the tendency to degrade or impede the administration of justice; and that the complaint, which is for contempt of a judge of a regional trial court, was erroneously filed with the Supreme Court contrary to Section 4, Rule 71 of the rules of Court. Respondent Eva P. Ponce de Leon, in her Comment 3 and Supplemental Comment, 4 asserts that the article is merely in reaction to the television interview given by complainant in the show, "Magandang Gabi Bayan," last June 18, 1994 wherein the latter defended his decision in Criminal Cases Nos. 11640-41, entitled "People vs. Godoy;" that the article is no longer sub judice as the same was published only after complainant had rendered his decision and had already lost jurisdiction over the case; that the article cannot be considered contemptuous and defamatory in the absence of a clear and present danger that it will tend directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct, or ridicule the administration of justice; that it constitutes a valid exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press; that a reading of the subject article in its entirety will show that the same does not constitute contempt but, at most, is merely a fair criticism which did not intend to malign nor place him in disrepute in the performance of his functions; and that respondent Ponce de Leon cannot be held liable for contempt because she did not have either actual knowledge of, or Personal connection with, the authorship or publication of the allegedly contemptuous article, since she had just returned from the United States when the same was published. On the issue of whether the specified statements complained of are contumacious in nature, we are inclined, based on an overall perusal and objective analysis of the subject article, to hold in the negative. We have read and reread the article in its entirety and we are fully convinced that what is involved

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here is a situation wherein the alleged disparaging statements have been taken out of context. If the statements claimed to be contumelious had been read with contextual care, there would have been no reason for this contempt proceeding. In our aforestated evaluation, we were sufficiently persuaded to favorably consider the following explanation of respondent Ponce de Leon in her Supplemental Comment: On the other hand, a reading of the subject article in its entirety will show that the same does not constitute contempt, but at most, merely constitutes fair criticism. The first portion of the article reads: "Isang maalab na issues (sic) pa ay ang DEATH THREATS laban kono kay Judge Eustaquio Gacott, Jr. ng mga pamilya ng kanyang sinentensiyahan ng Double Death Penalty. Sinabi ni Wilmar Godoy sa DWRM programa na wala silang pagbabantang ginawa umano, at hindi nila ito kailan man isinaisip. Ayon naman kay Gacott sa kanyang interview sa DYPR ay totoong pinagbabantaan siya ng mga Godoy. Kaya ayon marami siyang Security na armado, in full battle gear. Kung totoo ito, bakit hindi niya kasuhan ang mga ito? Ito rin ang katanungan ni Mr. Tony Omaga Diaz, ang station manager ng DYPR. O bale ba gumawa siya ng sariling MULTO Pagkatapos ay takot na takot siya sa multong kanyang ginawa." The foregoing does not even deal with the merits of the case, but with the public accusations being made by complainant that he is being given death threats by the family of the accused, Danny Godoy. The article only makes a justifiable query as to why Complainant does not file the appropriate charges if his accusations are true. "Usap-usapan pa rin ang kaso ni Godoy. Ito raw ay isang open book maging sa kanyang mga co-teachers sa Pulot na nagli-live in si Godoy at ang babaing si Mia Taha. Matagal na ang kanilang ugnayan. Meron ding ‘balita’ ewan kung totoo, na noong si Godoy daw ay nasa Provincial Jail pa ay dinadalaw siya ni Taha At kumakain pa sila sa labas kasama ang isang Provincial Guard. Ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit ipinagpilitan ni Judge Gacott na madala kaagad sa Muntinlupa sa National Bilibid Prisons si Godoy kahit na ang kaso ay nakaapela pa." (Emphasis supplied) The foregoing is merely a report of rumors regarding the accused Danny Godoy. They are not presented as facts by respondent Mauricio Reynoso, Jr. In fact, he even goes to the extent of acknowledging that he himself does not know if the rumors are true or not. The subject article then offers the following analysis: "Malaking epekto ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema sa dalawang tao, kay Danny Godoy at Judge Gacott. Kung babaliktarin ng Supreme Court and decision ni Gacott, lalaya si Godoy, si Gacott naman ang masisira, ang kanyang aspirations na maitaas sa Court of Appeals at eventually makasama sa mga miyembro ng korte suprema ng bansa. Kung papaboran naman Gacott ay sigurado na ang kamatayan ni Godoy, at double pa pero si Gacott maitataas pa ang puwesto. Tayo naman, hintay lamang tayo ng ano mang magiging developments ng kaso." The foregoing is nothing more than a fair analysis. For indeed, if the Honorable Court affirms the Decision of Complainant, the accused Danny Godoy would be meted the death sentence. On the other hand, if the decision is reversed, this may adversely affect the aspirations of Complainant to be promoted to the Court of Appeals, and eventually to the Honorable Court. Finally, the subject article reads: "Pero mayroon payo si Atty. Telesforo Paredes, Jr. sa mga mamamayan ng Palawan, mag-ingat kayo sa paglalakad at baka kung hindi kayo madapa ay madulas daw kayo. Dahil ayon daw kay Judge Gacott, base sa kanyang interview sa Magandang Gabi Bayan, 'Tagilid na raw and mundo. Maraming nagpapatunay daw dito, maski sa kapitolyo.' Joke lang. Pero isang warning din sa may mga nobya, na mag-ingat sa pag-break sa inyong girlfriend, dahil baka mademanda kayo at masentensyahan ng double death penalty, lalo na kung kay Judge Gacott, dahil alam na ninyo, tagilid and laban diyan." Again, the subject article merely reports what Atty. Telesforo Paredes, Jr. allegedly said. But more importantly, the foregoing is merely a reaction not so much to Complainant's Decision, but to the public statements made by Complainant in the national television show "Magandang Gabi Bayan." Snide remarks or sarcastic innuendoes do not necessarily assume that level of contumely which is actionable under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. Neither do we believe that the publication in question was intended to influence this Court for it could not conceivably be capable of doing so. The article has not transcended the legal limits for editorial comment and criticism. Besides, it has not been shown that there exists a substantive evil which is extremely serious and that the degree of its imminence is so exceptionally high as to warrant punishment for contempt and sufficient to disregard the constitutional guaranties of free speech and press. It has been insightfully explained and suggested that a judge will generally and wisely pass unnoticed any mere hasty and unguarded expression of passion, or at least pass it with simply a reproof. It is so that in every case where a judge decides for one party, he decides against another; and oftentimes both parties are beforehand equally confident and sanguine. The disappointment, therefore, is great, and it is not in human nature that there

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should be other than a bitter feeling, which often reaches to the judge as the cause of the supposed wrong. A judge, therefore, ought to be patient, and tolerate everything which appears as but the momentary outbreak of disappointment. A second thought will generally make a party ashamed of such, outbreak, and the dignity of the court will suffer none by passing it in silence. 5 Prescinding from the foregoing adjudgment, the Court observes that there are two primary issues presented in this incident which deserve a more extended disquisition, firstly, because of their importance and frequent involvement in contempt proceedings filed in the courts, and, secondly, by reason of the fact that there are numerous and variant pronouncements on the subject of contempt which need to be clarified. The principal issues are (1) whether or not there can be contempt of court in case of post-litigation statements or publications; and (2) which court has jurisdiction over a contempt committed against the trial court while the case is pending on appeal. Other cognate and related issues must also be discussed so as to provide judicial guidance on the present state of our statutory and case laws thereon. Before we go into a more intensive analysis of said issues, however, it may be beneficial for purposes thereof to preliminarily revisit and expound on the nature and implications of a special civil action for contempt or of any initiatory pleading therefor filed as an incident in the main case. That exercise will further explain and justify our disposition of the contempt charge herein. I Prefatorial Considerations The exercise of the power to punish for contempt has a dual aspect, primarily, the proper punishment of the guilty party for his disrespect to the court, and, secondarily, his compulsory performance of some act or duty required of him by the court and which he refuses to perform. Due perhaps to this two fold aspect of the exercise of the power to punish them, contempts are classified as civil or criminal. 6 However, the line of demarcation between acts constituting criminal contempt, as distinguished from civil contempt, is quite indistinct. The confusion in attempts to classify civil and criminal contempts is due to the fact that there are contempts in which both elements appear; or there are contempts which are neither wholly civil nor altogether criminal, but partake of the characteristics of both; or it is also possible that the same act may constitute both a civil and criminal contempt. A. As to the Nature of the Offense A criminal contempt is conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court or a judge acting judicially; it is an act obstructing the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect. 7 On the other hand, civil contempt consists in failing to do something ordered to be done by a court in a civil action for the benefit of the opposing party therein and is, therefore, an offense against the party in whose behalf the violated order is made. 8 A criminal contempt, being directed against the dignity and authority of the court, is an offense against organized society and, in addition, is also held to be an offense against public justice which raises an issue between the public and the accused, and the proceedings to punish it are punitive. On the other hand, the proceedings to punish a civil contempt are remedial and for the purpose of the preservation of the right of private persons. It has been held that civil contempt is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, but a power of the court. 9 It has further been stated that intent is a necessary element in criminal contempt, and that no one can be punished for a criminal contempt unless the evidence makes it clear that he intended to commit it. On the contrary, there is authority indicating that since the purpose of civil contempt proceedings is remedial, the defendant's intent in committing the contempt is immaterial. Hence, good faith or the absence of intent to violate the court's order is not a defense in civil contempt. 10 B. As to the Purpose for which the Power is Exercised A major factor in determining whether a contempt is civil or criminal is the purpose for which the power is exercised. Where the primary purpose is to preserve the court’s authority and to punish for disobedience of its orders, the contempt is criminal. Where the primary purpose is to provide a remedy for an injured suitor and to coerce compliance with an order, the contempt is civil. A criminal contempt involves no element of personal injury. It is directed against the power and dignity of the court; private parties have little, if any, interest in the proceedings for punishment. Conversely, if the contempt consists in the refusal of a person to do an act that the court has ordered him to do for the benefit or advantage of a party to an action pending before the court, and the contemnor is committed until he complies with the order, the commitment is in the nature of an execution to enforce the judgment of the court; the party in whose favor that judgment was rendered is the real party in interest in the proceedings. Civil contempt proceedings look only to the future. And it is said that in civil contempt proceedings, the contemnor must be in a position to purge himself. 11 C. As to the Character of the Contempt Proceeding It has been said that the real character of the proceedings is to be determined by the relief sought, or the dominant purpose, and the proceedings are to be regarded as criminal when the purpose is primarily punishment, and civil when the purpose is primarily compensatory or remedial. 12 Criminal contempt proceedings are generally held to be in the nature of criminal or quasi-criminal actions. They are punitive in nature, and the Government, the courts, and the people are interested in their prosecution. Their purpose is to preserve the power and vindicate the authority and dignity of the court, and to punish for disobedience of its orders. Strictly speaking, however, they are not criminal proceedings or prosecutions, even though the contemptuous act involved is also a crime. The proceeding has been characterized as sui generis, partaking of some of the elements of both a civil and criminal proceeding, but really constituting neither. In general, criminal contempt proceedings should be conducted in accordance with the principles and rules applicable to criminal cases, in so far as such procedure is consistent with the summary nature of contempt proceedings. So it has been held that the strict rules that govern criminal prosecutions apply to a prosecution for criminal contempt, that the accused is to be afforded many of the protections provided in regular criminal cases, and that proceedings under statutes governing them are to be strictly construed. However, criminal proceedings are not required to take any particular form so long as the substantial rights of the accused are preserved. 13

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Civil contempt proceedings are generally held to be remedial and civil in their nature; that is, they are proceedings for the enforcement of some duty, and essentially a remedy for coercing a person to do the thing required. As otherwise expressed, a proceeding for civil contempt is one instituted to preserve and enforce the rights of a private party to an action and to compel obedience to a judgment or decree intended to benefit such a party litigant. So a proceeding is one for civil contempt, regardless of its form, if the act charged is wholly the disobedience, by one party to a suit, of a special order made in behalf of the other party and the disobeyed order may still be obeyed, and the purpose of the punishment is to aid in an enforcement of obedience. The rules of procedure governing criminal contempt proceedings, or criminal prosecutions, ordinarily are inapplicable to civil contempt proceedings. It has been held that a proceeding for contempt to enforce a remedy in a civil action is a proceeding in that action. Accordingly, where there has been a violation of a court order in a civil action, it is not necessary to docket an independent action in contempt or proceed in an independent prosecution to enforce the order. It has been held, however, that while the proceeding is auxiliary to the main case in that it proceeds out of the original case, it is essentially a new and independent proceeding in that it involves new issues and must be initiated by the issuance and service of new process. 14 In general, civil contempt proceedings should be instituted by an aggrieved party, or his successor, or someone who has a pecuniary interest in the right to be protected. In criminal contempt proceedings, it is generally held that the State is the real prosecutor. 15 Contempt is not presumed. In proceedings for criminal contempt, the defendant is presumed innocent and the burden is on the prosecution to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt. In proceedings for civil contempt, there is no presumption, although the burden of proof is on the complainant, and while the proof need not be beyond reasonable doubt, it must amount to more than a mere preponderance of evidence. It has been said that the burden of proof in a civil contempt proceeding lies somewhere between the criminal "reasonable doubt" burden and the civil "fair preponderance" burden. 16 On the basis of the foregoing legal principles which are now well settled, it can be safely concluded that under paragraph (d) of Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court on indirect contempt, any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice, constitutes criminal contempt. II Whether or not Post-Litigation Publications can be the Subject of Contempt Proceedings A. Effect of Freedom of Speech and Press Guaranties In the case of In re Sotto, 17 this Court had the opportunity to define the relation between the courts and the press, quoting there in the statements made by Judge Holmes in U.S. vs. Sullen, 18 thus: The administration of justice and the freedom of the press, though separate and distinct, are equally sacred, and neither should be violated by the other. The press and the courts have correlative rights and duties and should cooperate uphold the principles of the Constitution and laws, from which the former receives its prerogative and the latter its jurisdiction. The right of legitimate publicity must be scrupulously recognized and care taken at all times to avoid impinging upon it. In a clear case where it is necessary in order to dispose of judicial business unhampered by publications which reasonably tend to impair the impartiality of verdicts, or otherwise obstruct the administration of justice, this Court will not hesitate to exercise its undoubted power to punish for contempt. This Court must be permitted to proceed with the disposition of its business in an orderly manner free from outside interference obstructive of its constitutional functions. This right will be insisted upon as vital to an impartial court, and, as a last resort, as an individual exercises the right of self-defense, it will act to preserve its existence as an unprejudiced tribunal. Hence, a person charged with contempt of court for making certain utterances or publishing writings which are clearly opprobrious may not, ordinarily, escape liability therefor by merely invoking the constitutional guaranties of freedom of speech and press. Liberty of speech and the press must not be confused with an abuse of such liberties. Obstructing, by means of the spoken or written word, the administration of justice by the courts has been described as an abuse of the liberty of speech or the press such as will subject the abuser to punishment for contempt of court. Guaranties of free speech and a free press, as they appear in the Constitution, are frequently couched so as to impute responsibility for any abuse of the privilege, and it is sometimes recognized that with respect to whether an allegedly scandalous publication or utterance is to be treated as a contempt, a line must be drawn between those speeches or writings which are protected by the privilege of free speech and a free press and those which constitute an abuse of it. The right of freedom of the press is only a specific instance of the general right of freedom of speech; persons engaged in the newspaper business cannot claim any other or greater right than that possessed by persons not in that business. 19 B. Different Doctrines or Schools of Thought In the case of In re Francisco Brillantes, 20 Justice Perfecto explained in his dissenting opinion that "as to whether contempt may be committed for criticizing a tribunal after the same has rendered decision or taken final action on a matter which is the subject of criticism, there are two schools of thought represented, respectively, by what we may call the English doctrine and the American doctrine, the first for the affirmative and the last one for the negative. The question now is to determine which of the two doctrines is more conformable to reason and justice and, therefore, should be, adopted and applied by our tribunals." 1. The English Doctrine According to Justice Perfecto, the rule in England is that there can be contempt of court even after the case has been terminated. He then proceeded to ramify:

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In England comments upon the court's action in a concluded case, where libelous or calculated to bring the court into disrepute, were freely punishable as contempt under the early common law. Distinction between pending and concluded matters does not seem to have been made. Any comment impairing the dignity of the court was punishable as contempt regardless of the time at which made. xxx xxx xxx The whole theory of the early common law of contempt is admirably delivered by Wilmot, J., in King vs. Almon, . . . . The publication there complained of was a volume containing a diatribe against Lord Mansfield for allowing an amendment of pleading as of course, and apparently from corrupt motives, in a concluded case, and further charging him with having introduced a practice to defeat the efficacy of the writ of habeas corpus. It is there said: "The arraignment of the justice of the judges is arraigning the King's justice; it is an impeachment of his wisdom and goodness in the choice of his judges, and excites in the mind of the people a general dissatisfaction with all judicial determinations, and indisposes their minds to obey them; and, whenever men's allegiance to the laws is so fundamentally shaken, it is the most fatal and most dangerous obstruction of justice, and, in my opinion, calls for a more rapid and immediate redress than any other obstruction whatever — not for the sake of the judges as private individuals, but because they are the channels by which the Kings' justice is conveyed to the people. To be impartial, and to be universally thought so, are both absolutely necessary for giving justice that free, open, and uninterrupted current which it has for many ages found all over this Kingdom, and which so eminently distinguishes and exalts it above all nations upon the earth . . . . The constitution has provided very apt and proper remedies for correcting and rectifying the involuntary mistakes of judges, and for punishing and removing them for any voluntary perversions of justice. But, if their authority is to be trampled upon by pamphleteers and newswriters, and the people are to be told that the power given to the judges for their protection is prostituted to their destruction, the court may retain its power some little time; but I am sure it will instantly lose all its authority, and the power of the court will not long survive the authority of it: Is it possible to stab that authority more fatally than by charging the court, and more particularly the chief justice, with having introduced a rule to subvert the constitutional liberty of the people? A greater scandal could not be published . . . . It is conceded that an act of violence upon his person when he was making such an order would be contempt punishable by attachment. Upon what principle? For striking a judge in walking along the streets would not be a contempt of the court. The reason, therefore, must be, that he is in the exercise of his office, and discharging the function of a judge of this court; and, if his person is under this protection, why should not his character be under the same protection? It is not for the sake of the individual, but for the sake of the public, that his person is under such protection; and, in respect of the public, the imputing of corruption and the perversion of justice to him, in an order made by him at his chambers, is attended with much more mischievous consequences than a blow; and therefore the reason of proceeding in this summary manner applies with equal, if not superior, force, to one case as well as the other. There is no greater obstruction to the execution of justice from the striking a judge than from the abusing him, because his order lies open to be enforced or discharged, whether the judge is struck or abused for making it. 2. The American Doctrine In American jurisprudence, the general rule is that defamatory comments on the conduct of a judge with respect to past cases or matters finally disposed of do not constitute contempt, even though libelous and reflecting on the integrity of the judge and the court. 21 It has been said that the power to punish as a contempt a criticism concerning a case made after its termination is denied under the theory that such a power is not necessary as a safeguard to the proper functioning of the court as a judicial tribunal. And it has been said that comments, however stringent, relating to judicial proceedings which are past and ended are not contempt of court even though they may be a libel against the judge or some other officer of the court. There is even the view that when a case is finished, the courts and judges are subject to the same criticisms as other people and that no comment published in connection with a completed case, however libelous or unjust, is punishable as contempt of court. Thus it is said that the remedies of a judge who suffers abuse at the hands of the press, not amounting to contempt, are the same as those available to persons outside the judiciary. 22 To the same effect was the holding in People ex rel. Supreme Court vs. Albertson, 23 where it was declared that — The great weight of authority is to the effect that — in so far as proceedings to punish for contempt are concerned — comment upon the behavior of the court in cases fully determined in the particular court criticized is unrestricted under our constitutional guaranty of liberty of the press and free speech, especially in the absence of a statute of direct application to the contrary. This view in brief is based upon the theory that — keeping our constitutional guaranties in mind — libelous publications which bear upon the proceedings of a court while they are pending may in some way affect their correct determination, and are properly the subject of contempt proceedings. On the other hand, such publications or oral utterances of entirely retrospective bearing come within the sphere of authorized comment unless they affect a judge personally, when he has his remedy in an action of libel or slander, as does any other individual thus offended. He has the right to bring an action at law before a jury of his peers. Along similar lines, in Ex Parte Mcleod, 24 the court ruled that: The right of a court to punish, as for contempts, criticisms of its acts, or even libels upon its officers, not going to the extent, by improper publications, of influencing a pending trial, . . . would not only be dangerous to the rights of the people, but its exercise would drag down the dignity and moral influence of these tribunals. Such criticism is the right of the citizen, and essential not only to the proper administration of justice, but to the public tranquility and contentment. Withdrawing power from courts to summarily interfere with such exercise of the right of the press and freedom of speech deprives them of no useful power. Likewise, the State Supreme Court of Montana in State ex rel. Metcalf vs. District Court, 25 pointed out that the legal proceeding involved therein was not pending when the alleged libelous article was published, then referred to the guaranty of freedom of speech and the press, and eventually held that the publication involved was not punishable as contempt. It declared that so long as the published criticism does not impede the due administration of the law, it is better to maintain the guaranty of the Constitution than to undertake to compel respect or punish libel by the summary process of contempt. Finally, in holding that persons who had published newspaper articles alleging that a designated judge had been intentionally partial and corrupt in the trial of certain causes which had been decided and were not pending when the publication occurred could not be punished as for contempt the court, in State ex rel. Attorney General vs.Circuit Court, 26 cited a number of cases supporting the view that libelous newspaper comments upon the acts of a

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court in actions past and ended do not constitute contempt. It pointed out that some of such decisions took the position that to punish such publications would constitute a serious invasion of constitutional guaranties of free speech and a free press. It ratiocinated in this manner: "Important as it is that courts should perform their grave public duties unimpeded and unprejudiced by illegitimate influences, there are other rights guaranteed to all citizens by our Constitution and form of government, either expressly or impliedly, which are fully as important, and which must be guarded with an equally zealous care. These rights are the rights of free speech and of free publication of the citizens' sentiments on all subjects. It seems clear to us that so extreme a power as to punish for contempt because of libelous publications as to past litigation, is inconsistent with, and would materially impair, the constitutional rights of free speech and free press." However, even under American jurisprudence, as shall hereafter be demonstrated, the aforesaid rulings are not without exceptions. There is ample authority that, under proper circumstances, constitutional guaranties of freedom of speech and liberty of the press do not protect contemptuous publications relating to court proceedings even though such publications are not made until after the pendency of the litigation in question. 27 3. The Philippine Doctrine In the Philippine setting, as we have noted, there are conflicting views on this issue which have to be analyzed and, if possible, reconciled. On that exordial indication, we have digressed into these aspects of the law on contempt and seized upon this incident in the criminal cases at bar in order to essay a rapprochement of such views into what we may call the Philippine doctrine. In the early cases decided by this Court involving contempts through newspaper publications, the rule was that contemptuous publications were actionable only if committed with respect to pending suits. Apparently, the weight of authority then was to the effect that criticism of the conduct of a judge or a court with regard to matters finally disposed of does not constitute contempt, even though it may be libelous. That rule first found application in the case of In re Lozano, et al. 28 and was reiterated in the subsequent cases of In re Abistado, 29 and People vs. Alarcon, et al, 30 where this Court, speaking through Justice Malcolm, tersely stated: The rule is well established that newspaper publications tending to impede, obstruct, embarrass, or influence the courts in administering justice in a pending suit proceeding constitute criminal contempt which is summarily punishable by the courts. The rule is otherwise after the cause is ended. . . . (6 R.C.L., pp. 508-515). It will be noted that the aforequoted conclusion was arrived at after a short discourse presented by the ponente on the existing divergence of opinions on the matter between the English and American courts. But the learned justice, notwithstanding his preference for and application of the American doctrine, nonetheless thereafter made the recommendatory observation that "(w)ith reference to the applicability of the above authorities, it should be remarked first of all that this court is not bound to accept any of them absolutely and unqualifiedly. What is best for the maintenance of the judiciary in the Philippines should be the criterion." It seems that this view was shared by then Associate Justice Moran when he dissented from the majority opinion in the aforecited case of People vs. Alarcon, et al., which upheld the doctrine enunciated in Lozano and Abistado, in this wise: "I know that in the United States, publications about courts, after the conclusion of a pending case, no matter how perverse or scandalous, are in many instances brought within the constitutional protection of the liberty of the press. But while this rule may find justification in that country, considering the American temper and psychology and the stability of its political institutions, it is doubtful whether here a similar toleration of gross misuse of liberty of the press would, under our circumstances, result in no untoward consequences to our structure of democracy yet in the process of healthful development and growth." Such perception could have probably impelled Justice Moran to deviate from the then accepted doctrine, with this rationalization: Contempt, by reason of publications relating to courts and to court proceedings, are of two kinds. A publication which tends to impede, obstruct, embarrass or influence the courts in administering justice in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes criminal contempt which is summarily punishable by courts. This is the rule announced in the cases relied upon by the majority. A publication which tends to degrade the courts and to destroy public confidence in them or that which tends to bring them in any way into disrepute, constitutes likewise criminal contempt, and is equally punishable by courts. In the language of the majority, what is sought, in the language of the majority, what is sought, in the first kind of contempt, to be shielded against the influenced of newspaper comments, is the all-important duty of the courts to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. In the second kind of contempt, the punitive hand of justice is extended to vindicate the courts from any act or conduct calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy public confidence in them. In the first, there is no contempt where there is no action pending, as there is no decision which might in any way be influenced by the newspaper publication. In the second, the contempt exists, with or without a pending case, as what is sought to be protected is the court itself and its dignity. Courts would lose their utility if public confidence in them is destroyed. That dissenting opinion was impliedly adopted in the subsequent case of In re Brillantes, 31 where the editor of the Manila Guardian was declared in contempt of court for publishing an editorial, stating that the 1944 Bar Examinations were conducted in a farcical manner, even after the case involving the validity of said examinations had been terminated. This was followed by In re Almacen 32 where the Court stated categorically that the rule that bars contempt after a judicial proceeding has terminated had lost much of its validity, invoking therein the ruling inBrillantes and quoting with approval the dissenting opinion in Alarcon. It appears, therefore, that in the two latest cases decided by this Court, the general rule that there can be no contempt in post-litigation publications is not necessarily all-embracing under certain situations. From the shift in judicial approach in Brillantes to the position announced in Almacen, it can inevitably be concluded that the termination of the case is not a guaranty of immunity from a contempt charge for publications or utterances which are defamatory or libelous, depending on the purpose and effects thereof. In other words, one may still be cited for contempt of court even after a case has ended, where such punitive action is necessary to protect the court and its dignity and to vindicate it from acts or conduct intended or calculated to degrade, ridicule or bring the court into disfavor and thereby erode or destroy public confidence in that court.

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This qualified distinction is not without justification and, in fact, was also foreshadowed by the concurring opinion of Justice Briones in Brillantes wherein, after noting the conflicting views on the amenability of the contemnor during the pendency or after the termination of the judicial proceeding in the court involved as illustrated by the English and American doctrines thereon, he advanced the proposition that — . . . esta distincion no tiene mucha importancia. Lo importante para mi es ver si la critica lanzada por el recurrido es falsa y esta concebida en terminos tales que "tiende directamente a degradar la administracion de justicia," . . . es indiferente si versa sobre un asunto o negociacion totalmente terminada o no; el desacato existe entonces y debe ser castigado. . . . Se trata simplemente de la facultad inherente en los tribunales de reprimir y castigar todo acto que tiende a ambarazarles y obstruirles en su funcion de administrar justicia, . . . . The rationale for making a qualification to the rule generally considered as the American doctrine, which rule as herein qualified we now adopt and refer to as the Philippine doctrine on this issue, is profoundly and eloquently explicated by Justice Moran in Alarcon, to wit: It is true that the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and of the press. But license or abuse of that freedom should not be confused with freedom in its true sense. Well-ordered liberty demands no less unrelaxing vigilance against abuse of the sacred guaranties of the Constitution than the fullest protection of their legitimate exercise. As important as is the maintenance of a free press and the free exercise of the rights of the citizens is the maintenance of a judiciary unhampered in its administration of justice and secure in its continuous enjoyment of public confidence. "The administration of justice and freedom of the press, though separate and distinct are equally sacred, and neither should be violated by the other. The press and the courts have correlative rights and duties and should cooperate to uphold the principles of the Constitution and the laws, from which the former receives its prerogatives and the latter its jurisdiction." (U.S. vs. Su liens, 38 Fed., 2d., 230.) Democracy cannot long endure in a country where liberty is grossly misused any more than where liberty is illegitimately abridged. xxx xxx xxx If the contemptuous publication made by the respondent herein were directed to this Court in connection with a case already decided, the effect of the rule laid down by the majority is to deny this court the power to vindicate its dignity. The mischievous consequences that will follow from the situation thus sought to be permitted, are both too obvious and odious to be stated. The administration of Justice, no matter how righteous, may be identified with all sorts of fancied scandal and corruption. Litigants, discontented for having lost their cases, will have every way to give vent to their resentment. Respect and obedience to Law will ultimately be shattered, and, as a consequence, the utility of the courts will completely disappear. It may be said that respect to courts cannot be compelled and that public confidence should be a tribute to judicial worth, virtue and intelligence. But compelling respect to courts is one thing and denying the courts the power to vindicate themselves when outraged is another. I know of no principle of law that authorizes with impunity a discontented citizen to unleash, by newspaper publications, the avalanche of his wrath and venom upon courts and judges. If he believes that a judge is corrupt and that justice has somewhere been perverted, law and order require that he follow the processes provided by the Constitution and the statutes by instituting the corresponding proceedings for impeachment or otherwise. As Mr. Justice Palmer, in speaking of the duty of courts and court officers, has wisely said: Would it be just to the persons who are called upon to exercise these powers to compel them to do so, and at the same time allow them to be maltreated or libeled because they did so? How would a suitor like a juryman trying his case who might expect he would be assaulted, beaten, his property destroyed, or his reputation blasted, in case he decided against his opponent? Apply the same thing to judges, or the sheriff, and how long could organized society hold together? With reference to a judge, if he has acted corruptly, it is worse than a mere contempt. But it is apparent it would not be right that the court of which he is a member should determine this, and consequently the law has provided a plain and easy method of bringing him to justice by a petition to Parliament; but, while the law authorizes this, it does not allow infamous charges to be made against him by persons, either in the newspapers or otherwise, with reference to how he has or shall discharge the duties of his office. It must be apparent to all right thinking men that, if such were allowed to be indulged in, it must end in the usefulness of the court itself being destroyed, however righteous its judges may act. From what I have said it must not be supposed that I think that the decisions of the court, or the actions of the judges, or other persons composing the court, are not to be discussed; on the contrary, I would allow the freest criticism of all such acts if done in a fair spirit, only stopping at what must injure or destroy the court itself and bring the administration of the law into disrepute, or be an outrage on the persons whose acts are discussed, or when such discussion would interfere with the right decision of the cause before the court. We do not hesitate to hereby give our imprimatur to the aforequoted opinion which, we fully believe, conforms to basic dogmatic teachings on judicial and professional conduct requiring respect for and the giving of due deference to the judicial system and its members — ethical standards which this Court has, time and again, been trying to inculcate in the minds of every member of the Bar and the public in general. 4. Cautela on the Balancing of Interests On the bases of the foregoing authorities, it is evident that a line has to be drawn between those utterances or writings which are protected by the privileges of free speech and a free press and those which constitute an abuse thereof, in determining whether an allegedly scurrilous publication or statement is to be treated as contempt of court. But to find the line where the permissible right of free speech ends and its reprehensible abuse begins is not always an easy task. In contempt proceedings, it was held that this line must usually be defined by the courts themselves, and in such cases its location is to be established with special care and caution. 33

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In so doing, it becomes necessary to give the subject that careful examination commensurate with its importance, mindful that, on the one hand, the dignity and authority of the courts must be maintained, while, on the other, free speech, a free press, and the liberty of the citizen must be preserved. Both are equally valuable rights. If the court is shorn of its power to punish for contempt in all proper cases, it cannot preserve its authority, so that even without any constitutional or statutory guaranty this power is inherent in the court. But the Constitution itself, in the Bill of Rights, guarantees free speech and liberty of the press. Of course, it was never intended, under the guise of these constitutional guaranties, that the power of the court should be trenched upon. 34 How to determine whether an act or utterance is covered by the protective mantle of the constitutional guaranty of liberty of the press or whether it is already outside or an abuse thereof, is an altogether different matter. We have perforce to draw from tenets in American jurisprudence, although with discriminating choice, since after all our present doctrines on contempt vis-a-vis constitutional limitations trace their roots in the main to the lessons laid down and born of the social and judicial experience in that jurisdiction. The liberty of the press consists in the right to publish with impunity the truth, with good motives and for justifiable ends, whether it respects governments individuals; the right freely to publish whatever the citizen may please and to be protected against any responsibility for so doing, except in so far as such publications, from their blasphemy, obscenity, or scandalous character, may be a public offense, are as by their falsehood and malice they may injuriously affect the standing, reputation, or pecuniary interests of individuals. The true liberty of the press is amply secured by permitting every man to publish his opinion; but it is due to the peace and dignity of society to inquire into the motives of such publications, and to distinguish between those which are meant for use and reformation, and with an eye solely to the public good, and those which are intended merely to delude and defame. To the latter description, it is impossible that any good government should afford protection and impunity. The liberty of the press means that anyone can publish anything he pleases, but he is liable for the abuse of this liberty. If he does this by scandalizing the courts of his country, he is liable to be punished for contempt. In other words, the abuse of the privilege consists principally in not telling the truth. There is a right to publish the truth, but no right to publish falsehood to the injury of others with impunity. It, therefore, does not include the right to malign the courts, to libel and slander and utter the most flagrant and indecent calumnies about the court and its officers, nor to invade the sanctuaries of the temples. Such practices and such miscreants ought to be condemned, and the courts would deserve condemnation and abolition if they did not vigorously and fearlessly punish such offenders. Such practices are an abuse of the liberty of the press, and if the slander relates to the courts, it concerns the whole public and is consequently punishable summarily as a criminal contempt. It is therefore the liberty of the press that is guaranteed, not the licentiousness. It is the right to speak the truth, not the right to bear false witness against your neighbor. 35 This brings to fore the need to make a distinction between adverse criticism of the court's decision after the case is ended and "scandalizing the court itself." The latter is not criticism; it is personal and scurrilous abuse of a judge as such, in which case it shall be dealt with as a case of contempt. 36 It must be clearly understood and always borne in mind that there is a vast difference between criticism or fair comment on the one side and defamation on the other. Where defamation commences, true criticism ends. True criticism differs from defamation in the following particulars; (1) Criticism deals only with such things as invite public attention or call for public comment. (2) Criticism never attacks the individual but only his work. In every case the attack is on a man's acts, or on some thing, and not upon the man himself. A true critic never indulges in personalities. (3) True criticism never imputes or insinuates dishonorable motives, unless justice absolutely requires it, and then only on the clearest proofs. (4) The critic never takes advantage of the occasion to gratify private malice, or to attain any other object beyond the fair discussion of matters of public interest, and the judicious guidance of the public taste. 37 Generally, criticism of a court's rulings or decisions is not improper, and may not be restricted after a case has been finally disposed of and has ceased to be pending. So long as critics confine their criticisms to facts and base them on the decisions of the court, they commit no contempt no matter how severe the criticism may be; but when they pass beyond that line and charge that judicial conduct was influenced by improper, corrupt, or selfish motives, or that such conduct was affected by political prejudice or interest, the tendency is to create distrust and destroy the confidence of the people in their courts. 38 Moreover, it has been held that criticism of courts after a case is finally disposed of, does not constitute contempt and, to this effect, a case may be said to be pending so long as there is still something for the court to do therein. But criticism should be distinguished from insult. A criticism after a case has been disposed of can no longer influence the court, and on that ground it does not constitute contempt. On the other hand, an insult hurled to the court, even after a case is decided, can under no circumstance be justified. Mere criticism or comment on the correctness or wrongness, soundness or unsoundness of the decision of the court in a pending case made in good faith may be tolerated; but to hurl the false charge that the Supreme Court has been committing deliberately so many blunders and injustices would tend necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of its members, and consequently to lower or degrade the administration of justice, and it constitutes contempt. 39 The Philippine rule, therefore, is that in case of a post-litigation newspaper publication, fair criticism of the court, its proceedings and its members, are allowed. However, there may be a contempt of court, even though the case has been terminated, if the publication is attended by either of these two circumstances: (1) where it tends to bring the court into disrespect or, in other words, to scandalize the court; 40 or (2) where there is a clear and present danger that the administration of justice would be impeded. And this brings us to the familiar invocation of freedom of expression usually resorted to as a defense in contempt proceedings. On the first ground, it has been said that the right of free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution and must be sacredly guarded, but that an abuse thereof is expressly prohibited by that instrument and must not be permitted to destroy or impair the efficiency of the courts or the public respect therefor and the confidence therein. 41 Thus, in State vs. Morril, 42 the court said that any citizen has the right to publish the proceedings and decisions of the court, and if he deems it necessary for the public good, to comment upon them freely, discuss their correctness, the fitness or unfitness of the judges for their stations, and the fidelity with which they perform the important public trusts reposed in them; but he has no right to attempt, by defamatory publications, to degrade the tribunal, destroy public confidence in it, and dispose the community to disregard and set at naught its orders, judgments and decrees. Such publications are an abuse of the liberty of the press; and tend to sap the very foundation of good order and well-being in society by obstructing the course of justice. Courts possess the power to punish for contempt libelous publications regarding their proceedings, present or past, upon the ground that they tend to degrade the tribunals, destroy public confidence and respect for their judgments and decrees, so essentially necessary to the good order and well-being of society, and most effectually obstruct the free course of justice.

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Then, in In re Hayes, 43 it was said that publishers of newspapers have the right, but no higher right than others, to bring to public notice the conduct of the courts, provided the publications are true and fair in spirit. The liberty of the press secures the privilege of discussing in a decent and temperate manner the decisions and judgments of a court of justice; but the language should be that of fair and honorable criticism, and should not go to the extent of assigning to any party or the court false or dishonest motives. There is no law to restrain or punish the freest expressions of disapprobation that any person may entertain of what is done in or by the courts. Under the right of freedom of speech and of the press the public has a right to know and discuss all judicial proceedings, but this does not include the right to attempt, by wanton defamation, groundless charges of unfairness and stubborn partisanship, to degrade the tribunal and impair its efficiency. Finally, in Weston vs. Commonwealth, 44 it was ruled that the freedom of speech may not be exercise in such a manner as to destroy respect for the courts, the very institution which is the guardian of that right. The dignity of the courts and the duty of the citizens to respect them are necessary adjuncts to the administration of justice. Denigrating the court by libelous attacks upon judicial conduct in an ended case, as well as one which is pending before it, may seriously interfere with the administration of justice. While such an attack may not affect the particular litigation which has been terminated, it may very well affect the course of justice in future litigation and impair, if not destroy, the judicial efficiency of the court or judge subjected to the attack. Anent the second ground, the rule in American jurisprudence is that false and libelous utterances present a clear and present danger to the administration of justice. 45 To constitute contempt, criticism of a past action of the court must pose a clear and present danger to a fair administration of justice, that is, the publication must have an inherent tendency to influence, intimidate, impede, embarrass, or obstruct the court's administration of justice. 46 It is not merely a private wrong against the rights of litigants and judges, but a public wrong, a crime against the State, to undertake by libel or slander to impair confidence in the judicial functions. 47 Elucidating on the matter, this Court, in Cabansag vs. Fernandez, et al., 48 held as follows: . . . The first, as interpreted in a number of cases, means that the evil consequence of the comment or utterance must be ''extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high" before the utterance can be punished. The danger to be guarded against is the "substantive evil" sought to be prevented. And this evil is primarily the "disorderly and unfair administration of justice." This test establishes a definite rule in constitutional law. It provides the criterion as to what words may be published. Under this rule, the advocacy of ideas cannot constitutionally be abridged unless there is a clear and present danger that such advocacy will harm the administration of Justice. xxx xxx xxx Thus, speaking of the extent and scope of the application of this rule, the Supreme Court of the United States said: "Clear and present danger of substantive evils as a result of indiscriminate publications regarding judicial proceedings justifies an impairment of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and press only if the evils are extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high. . . . The possibility of engendering disrespect for the judiciary as a result of the published criticism of a judge is not such a substantive evil as will justify impairment of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and press." . . . No less important is the ruling on the power of the court to punish for contempt in relation to the freedom of speech and press. We quote: "Freedom of speech and press should not be impaired through the exercise of the power to punish for contempt of court unless there is no doubt that the utterances in question are a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice. A judge may not hold in contempt one who ventures to publish anything that tends to make him unpopular or to belittle him. The vehemence of the language used in newspaper publications concerning a judge's decision is not alone the measure of the power to punish for contempt . The fires which it kindles must constitute an imminent, not merely a likely, threat to the administration of justice." . . . And in weighing the danger of possible interference with the courts by newspaper criticism against the free speech to determine whether such may constitutionally be punished as contempt, it was ruled that "freedom of public comment should in borderline instances weigh heavily against a possible tendency to influence pending cases." . . . The question in every case, according to Justice Holmes, is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree. . . . Although Cabansag involved a contempt committed during the pendency of a case, no compelling reason exists why the doctrines enunciated therein should not be made applicable to vituperative publications made after the termination of the case. Whether a case is pending or not, there is the constant and ever growing need to protect the courts from a substantive evil, such as invective conduct or utterances which tend to impede or degrade the administration of justice, or which calumniate the courts and their judges. At any rate, in the case of In re Bozorth,49 it was there expressly and categorically ruled that the clear and present danger rule equally applies to publications made after the determination of a case, with the court declaring that a curtailment of criticism of the conduct of finally concluded litigation, to be justified, must be in terms of some serious substantive evil which it is designed to avert. Adverting again to what was further said in State vs. Shepherd, supra, let it here be emphasized that the protection and safety of life, liberty, property and character, the peace of society, the proper administration of justice and even the perpetuity of our institutions and form of government, imperatively demand that everyone — lawyer, layman, citizen, stranger, newspaperman, friend or foe — shall treat the courts with proper respect and shall not attempt to degrade them, or impair the respect of the people, or destroy the faith of the people in them. When the temples of justice become polluted or are not kept pure and clean, the foundations of free government are undermined, and the institution itself threatened. III Jurisdiction in Contempt Proceedings where the Alleged Contumely is Committed Against a Lower Court while the Case is Pending in the Appellate or Higher Court

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In whatever context it may arise, contempt of court involves the doing of an act, or the failure to do an act, in such a manner as to create an affront to the court and the sovereign dignity with which it is clothed. As a matter of practical judicial administration, jurisdiction has been felt properly to rest in only one tribunal at a time with respect to a given controversy. Partly because of administrative considerations, and partly to visit the full personal effect of the punishment on a contemnor, the rule has been that no other court than the one contemned will punish a given contempt. 50 The rationale that is usually advanced for the general rule that the power to punish for contempt rests with the court contemned is that contempt proceedings are sui generis and are triable only by the court against whose authority the contempt are charged; 51 the power to punish for contempt exists for the purpose of enabling a court to compel due decorum and respect in its presence and due obedience to its judgments, orders and processes: 52and in order that a court may compel obedience to its orders, it must have the right to inquire whether there has been any disobedience thereof, for to submit the question of disobedience to another tribunal would operate to deprive the proceeding of half its efficiency. 53 There are, however, several jurisprudentially and statutorily recognized exceptions to the general rule, both under Philippine and American jurisprudence, viz.: 1. Indirect contempt committed against inferior court may also be tried by the proper regional trial court, regardless of the imposable penalty. 54 2. Indirect contempt against the Supreme Court may be caused to be investigated by a prosecuting officer and the charge may be filed in and tried by the regional trial court, or the case may be referred to it for hearing and recommendation where the charge involves questions of fact. 55 3. In People vs. Alarcon, et al., supra, this Court ruled that "in the interrelation of the different courts forming our integrated judicial system, one court is not an agent or representative of another and may not, for this reason, punish contempts in vindication of the authority and decorum which are not its own. The appeal transfers the proceedings to the appellate court , and this last court becomes thereby charged with the authority to deal with contempts committed after the perfection of the appeal." The apparent reason is that both the moral and legal effect of a punishment for contempt would be missed if it were regarded as the resentment of personal affronts offered to judges. Contempts are punished as offenses against the administration of justice, and the offense of violating a judicial order is punishable by the court which is charged with its enforcement, regardless of the court which may have made the order. 56 However, the rule presupposes a complete transfer of jurisdiction to the appellate court, and there is authority that where the contempt does not relate to the subject matter of the appeal, jurisdiction to punish remains in the trial court. 57 4. A court may punish contempts committed against a court or judge constituting one of its parts or agencies, as in the case of a court composed of several coordinate branches or divisions. 58 5. The biggest factor accounting for the exceptions is where the singular jurisdiction of a given matter has been transferred from the contemned court to another court. One of the most common reasons for a transfer of jurisdiction among courts is improper venue. The cases involving venue deal primarily with the question whether a change of venue is available after a contempt proceeding has been begun. While generally a change of venue is not available in a contempt proceeding, some jurisdictions allow such a change in proper circumstances. 59 6. A new court wholly replacing a prior court has jurisdiction to punish for violations of orders entered by its predecessor, although where the successor court is created by a statute which does not extinguish jurisdiction in the predecessor, an affirmative transfer of jurisdiction before the contempt occurs is necessary to empower the successor court to act. 60 7. Transfers of jurisdiction by appellate review have produced numerous instances where contempt against the trial court has been punished in the appellate court, and vice versa. Some appellate courts have taken the view that a contempt committed after an appeal is taken is particularly contemptuous of the appellate court because of the tendency of such contempts to upset the status quo or otherwise interfere with the jurisdiction of such court. 61 8. A judge may disqualify himself, or be disqualified, on a contempt hearing or in the main case, which circumstance may require a transfer of jurisdiction, but where a judge is disqualified only in the main case, because of matters which do not disqualify him in a contempt proceeding, the regular judge should sit in the contempt proceeding. Likewise, where the regular judge, is absent or otherwise unavailable and an order is entered by another judge and made returnable to the proper court, the regular judge may punish for violations of orders so entered. 62 9. Where the same act is a contempt against two or more courts, it is no bar to contempt proceedings in one of them that there is also a contempt against the other. 63 10. While professional disciplinary proceedings have been resorted to as a punishment for contempt, the more recent view is that punishment is of secondary importance to the need to protect the courts and the people from improper professional practice. To the substantial extent that disciplinary action remains a punishment, disciplinary measures imposed by another court than the one contemned furnish an exception to the rule against punishing for contempt of another court. 64 11. Some contemptuous acts are also crime, usually misdemeanors, which are often punishable in other courts than those against which the contemptuous act was done. 65 12. Finally, a conviction for contempt against another court has been allowed to stand on the basis that the failure of the defendant to make timely objection operated as a waiver of the right to be tried before the court actually contemned. 66 The rule, as now accepted and deemed applicable to the present incident, is that where the entire case has already been appealed, jurisdiction to punish for contempt rests with the appellate court where the appeal completely transfers the proceedings thereto or where there is a tendency to affect the status quo or otherwise interfere with the jurisdiction of the appellate court. Accordingly, this Court having acquired jurisdiction over the complaint for indirect contempt against herein respondents, it has taken judicial cognizance thereof and has accordingly resolved the same.

Rule 71

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IV Appropriate Remedies where the Alleged Contemptuous Statement is also Claimed to be Libelous Under the American doctrine, to repeat, the great weight of authority is that in so far as proceedings to punish for contempt are concerned, critical comment upon the behavior of the court in cases fully determined by it is unrestricted, under the constitutional guaranties of the liberty of the press and freedom of speech. Thus, comments, however stringent, which have relation to judicial proceedings which are past and ended, are not contemptuous of the authority of the court to which reference is made. Such comments may constitute a libel against the judge, but it cannot be treated as in contempt of the court's authority. On this score, it is said that prosecution for libel is usually the most appropriate and effective remedy. 67 The force of American public opinion has greatly restrained the courts in the exercise of the power to punish one as in contempt for making disrespectful or injurious remarks, and it has been said that the remedy of a judge is the same as that given to a private citizen. 68 In such a case, therefore. the remedy of a criminal action for libel is available to a judge who has been derogated in a newspaper publication made after the termination aid a case tried by him, since such publication can no longer be made subject of contempt proceedings. The rule, however, is different in instances under the Philippine doctrine earlier discussed wherein there may still be a contempt of court even after a case has been decided and terminated. In such case, the offender may be cited for contempt for uttering libelous remarks against the court or the judge. The availability, however, of the power to punish for contempt does not and will not prevent a prosecution for libel, either before, during, or after the institution of contempt proceedings. In other words, the fact that certain contemptuous conduct likewise constitutes an indictable libel against the judge of the court contemned does not necessarily require him to bring a libel action, rather than relying on contempt Proceedings. 69 The fact that an act constituting a contempt is also criminal and punishable by indictment. or other method of criminal prosecution does not prevent the outraged Court from punishing the contempt. 70 This principle stems from the fundamental doctrine that an act may be punished as a contempt even though it has been punished as a criminal offense. 71 The defense of having once been in jeopardy, based on a conviction for the criminal offense, would not lie in bar of the contempt proceedings, on the proposition that a contempt may be an offense against the dignity of a court and, at the same time, an offense against the peace and dignity of the people of the State. 72But more importantly. adherence to the American doctrine by insisting that a judge should instead file an action fur libel will definitely give rise to an absurd situation and may even cause more harm than good. Drawing also from American jurisprudence, to compel the judge to descend from the plane of his judicial office to the level of the contemnor, pass over the matter of contempt, and instead attack him by a civil action to satisfy the judge in damages for a libel, would be a still greater humiliation of a court. That conduct would be personal; the court is impersonal. In our jurisdiction, the judicial status is fixed to such a point that our courts and the judges thereof should be protected from the improper consequences of their discharge of duties so much so that judicial officers have always been shielded, on the highest considerations of the public good, from being called for questioning in civil actions for things done in their judicial capacity. Whenever we subject the established courts of the and to the degradation of private prosecution, we subdue their independence, and destroy their authority. instead of being venerable before the public, they become contemptible; and we thereby embolden the licentious to trample upon everything sacred in society, and to overturn those institutions which have hitherto been deemed the best guardians of civil liberty. 73 Hence, the suggestion that judges who are unjustly attacked have a remedy in an action for libel, has been assailed as being without rational basis in principle. In the first place, the outrage is not directed to the judge as a private individual but to the judge as such or to the court as an organ of the administration of justice. In the second place, public interests will gravely suffer where the judge, as such, will, from time to time, be pulled down and disrobed of his judicial authority to face his assailant on equal grounds and prosecute cases in his behalf as a private individual. The same reasons of public policy which exempt a judge from civil liability in the exercise of his judicial functions, most fundamental of which is the policy to confine his time exclusively to the discharge of his public duties, applies here with equal, if not superior, force. 74 V Whether or not the Same Contemptuous Conduct of a Member of the Bar can be the Subject of both a Contempt Proceeding and an Administrative Disciplinary Action With the foregoing discussion of the appropriate remedies available to a judge, we feel that this issue with respect to proper remedies against an erring member or the Bar should consequentially be addressed, by way of reiteration, since conflicting and erroneous remedies are sometimes resorted to by aggrieved tribunals or parties. The basic rule here is that the power to punish for contempt and the power to disbar are separate and distinct, and that the exercise of one does not exclude the exercise of the other. 75 A contempt proceeding for misbehavior in court is designed to vindicate the authority of the court; on the other hand, the object of a disciplinary proceeding is to deal with the fitness of the court's officer to continue in that office, to preserve and protect the court and the public from the official ministrations of persons unfit or unworthy to hold such office. 76 The principal purpose of the exercise of the power to cite for contempt is to safeguard the functions of the court and should thus be used sparingly on a preservative and not, on the vindictive principle. 77 The principal purpose of the exercise of disciplinary authority by the Supreme Court is to assure respect for orders of such court by attorneys who, as much as judges, are responsible for the orderly administration of justice. 78 Moreover, it has been held that the imposition a fine as a penalty in a contempt proceeding is not considered res judicata to a subsequent charge for unprofessional conduct. 79 In the same manner an attorney's conviction for contempt was not collaterally estopped by reason of a subsequent disbarment proceeding in which the court found in his favor on essentially the same facts leading to conviction. 80 It has likewise been the rule that a notice to a lawyer to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt cannot be considered as a notice to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law, considering that they have distinct objects and for each of them a different procedure is established. Contempt of court is governed by the procedures laid down under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, whereas disciplinary actions in the Practice of law are governed by file 138 and 139 thereof. 81

Rule 71

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Although apparently different in legal bases, the authority to punish for contempt and to discipline lawyers are both inherent in the Supreme Court and are equally incidents of the court's basic power to oversee the proper administration of justice and the orderly discharge of judicial functions. As was succinctly expounded in Zaldivar vs.Sandiganbayan, et al.: 82 There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play in cases like that before us here: the Court's inherent power to discipline attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is broader than the power to punish for contempt. Contempt of court may be committed both by lawyers and non-lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct also constitutes professional misconduct which calls into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Where the respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary authority over lawyers may come into play whether or not the misconduct with which the respondent is charged also constitutes contempt of court. The power to punish for contempt of court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over lawyers. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the court's exclusive power of admission to the bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibilities of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act on his part which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the contempt power. With this rounding out of the subordinate and principal issues in resolving the incident, we feel that the guidelines we have laid down will provide assertive references for the lower courts in disciplinary matters arising before them. Coming back to the incident fore resolution, arising as a spin-off from the criminal cases at bar, we reiterate what we have declared at the outset, absolving judge for the reasons therein stated. WHEREFORE, on the foregoing premises, the complaint for indirect contempt against herein respondents Mauricio Reynoso, Jr. and Eva P. Ponce de Leon is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.

Rule 71 EN BANC

16

G.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondents.

G.R. No. 80578 October 7, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, vs. HON. RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondent.

PER CURIAM:

The following are the subjects of this Resolution: 1) a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578. and 2) a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making certain public statements. I The pertinent facts are as follows: Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) pending before the Sandiganbayan. The Office of the Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary investigation and filed the criminal informations in those cases (originally TBP Case No. 86-00778). On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus (G.R. Nos. 79690-707) naming as respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez. Among other things, petitioner assailed: (1) the 5 February 1987 Resolution 1 of the "Tanodbayan" recommending the filing of criminal informations against petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in TBP Case No. 86-00778; and (2) the 1 September 1987 Resolution 2 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 1216312177 denying his Motion to Quash the criminal informations filed in those cases by the "Tanodbayan." In this respect, petitioner alleged that respondent Gonzalez, as Tanodbayan and under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with power and authority independently to investigate and to institute criminal cases for graft and corruption against public officials and employees, and hence that the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 were all null and void. On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which read: G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan and Honorable Raul M. Gonzalez, Claiming To Be and Acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution ).—Acting on the special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with urgent motion for preliminary elimination injunction, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to require the respondents to COMMENT thereon, within ten (10) days from notice. The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, ordering respondent Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST from hearing and trying Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 to 12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is concerned and from hearing and resolving the Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend dated September 3, 1987. The parties later filed their respective pleadings. Petitioner Zaldivar filed with this Court a second Petition for certiorari and Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19 November 1987, initially naming only Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as respondent. That Petition assailed the 24 September 1987 Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 87- 01304 recommending that additional criminal charges for graft and corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other individuals. Once again, petitioner raised the argument of the Tanodbayan's lack of authority under the 1987 Constitution to file such criminal cases and to investigate the same. Petitioner also moved for the consolidation of that petition with G.R. No. 79690-707. In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving due course to the second petition: (1) required respondent Gonzalez to submit a comment thereon: and (2) issued a temporary restraining order "ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 ... and particularly, from filing the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation therein." In a separate resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578 were ordered consolidated by the Court. In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days prior to issuance by this Court of a temporary restraining order in G.R. No. 80578, the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal Case No. 12570 6 with the Sandiganbayan which issued on 23 November 1987 an Order of Arrest 7 for petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in Criminal Case No. 12570. Upon Motion 8 of petitioner Zaldivar, this Court issued the following Resolution on 8 December 1987:

Rule 71

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G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan). The motion filed by the Solicitor General for respondents for an extension of thirty (30) days from the expiration of the original period within which to file comment on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or restraining order is GRANTED. Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat the Sandiganbayan as party-respondent, the Court Resolved to (a) Consider IMPLEADED the Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In pursuance of and supplementing the Temporary Restraining Order of November 24, 1987 "ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01304 entitled, "Commission on Audit vs. Gov. Enrique Zaldivar, et al." and particularly, from filing the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation therein" ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, ordering respondents Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in Criminal Case No. 12570, entitled, "People of the Philippines vs. Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al." and from enforcing the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan in said case. The Solicitor General filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No. 80578, and we required the petitioner to submit a Reply 10 thereto. On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion to Cite in Contempt 11 directed at respondent Gonzalez. The Motion cited as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the information against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous statements to the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his Motion a photocopy of a news article, reproduced here in toto, which appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of the "Philippine Daily Globe:" Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said yesterday the Supreme Court order stopping him from investigating graft cases involving Antique Gov. Enrique Zaldivar can aggravate the thought that affluent persons "an prevent the progress of a trial." What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the order) is that it appears that while rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due course. Gonzalez told the Daily Globe in an exclusive interview. Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order '"eightens the people's apprehension over the justice system in this country, especially because the people have been thinking that only the small fly can get it while big fishes go scot-free." Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the tribunal last week after Zaldivar petitioned the court to stop the Tanodbayan from investigating graft cases filed against him. Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased in his investigations because the latter wanted to help promote the political fortunes of a friend from Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan. Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court stopped Gonzalez from investigating a graft charge against the governor, and from instituting any complaint with the Sandiganbayan. While President Aquino had been prodding me to prosecute graft cases even if they involve the high and mighty, the Supreme Court had been restraining me. Gonzalez said. In accordance with the President's order, Gonzalez said he had filed graft cases against two "very powerful" officials of the Aquino government-Commissioner Quintin Doromal of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dianlan of the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities. While I don't wish to discuss the merits of the Zaldivar petition before the Supreme Court, I am a little bit disturbed that (the order) can aggravate the thinking of some people that affluent persons can prevent the progress of a trial, he said. He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief Executive over the weekend and that while she symphatizes with local officials who are charged in court during election time, 'She said that it might be a disservice to the people and the voters who are entitled to know their candidates. Gonzalez said that while some cases filed against local officials during election time could be mere harassment suits, the Constitution makes it a right of every citizen to be informed of the character of tile candidate, who should be subject to scrutiny. (Emphasis supplied) Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16 February 1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to COMMENT on aforesaid Motion within ten (10) days from notice." 12 On 27 April 1988, the Court rendered its Decision 13 (per curiam) in the Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive portion thereof read: WHEREFORE, We hereby: (1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby NULLIFY the criminal informations filed against him in the Sandiganbayan; and

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(2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting investigations and filing criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise exercising the powers and functions of the Ombudsman. SO ORDERED. A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez the next day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent Gonzalez, after having argued the legal merits of his position, made the following statements totally unrelated to any legal issue raised either in the Court's Decision or in his own Motion: 1. That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a leading member of the court ... and he was asked to 'go slow on Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him;' " 2. That he "was approached and asked to refrain from investigating the COA report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme Court because 'it will embarass the Court;" and 3. That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned respondent was called over the phone by a leading member of the Court and was asked to dismiss the cases against (two Members of the Court)." Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten notes 15 which he claimed were sent by "some members of this Honorable Court, interceeding for cases pending before this office (i.e., the Tanodbayan)." He either released his Motion for Reconsideration with facsimiles of said notes to the press or repeated to the press the above extraneous statements: the metropolitan papers for the next several days carried long reports on those statements and variations and embellishments thereof On 2 May 1988, the Court issued the following Resolution in the Consolidated Petitions: G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al. G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez, etc). 1. Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Gonzalez under date of April 28, 1988, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE the petitioner to COMMENT thereon within ten (10) days from notice hereof. 2. It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez has made public statements to the media which not only deal with matters subjudice but also appear offensive to and disrespectful of the Court and its individual members and calculated, directly or indirectly, to bring the Court into disrepute, discredit and ridicule and to denigrate and degrade the administration of justice, the Court Resolved to require respondent Gonzalez to explain in writing within ten (10) days from notice hereof, why he should not be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making such public statements reported in the media, among others, in the issues of the "Daily Inquirer," the "Journal," the "Manila Times," the "Philippine Star," the "Manila Chronicle" the "Daily Globe" and the "Manila Standard" of April 29 and 30, and May 1, 1988, to wit: (a) That the Court resolution in question is merely "an offshoot of the position he had taken that the SC Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government prosecutors or motivated by a desire to stop him 'from investigating cases against some of their proteges or friends;" (b) That no less than six of the members of the Court "interceded for and on behalf of persons with pending cases before the Tanodbayan," or sought "to pressure him to render decisions favorable to their colleagues and friends;" (c) That attempts were made to influence him to go slow on Zaldivar and not to be too hard on him and to refrain from investigating the Commission on Audit report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme Court because it will embarass the Court; (d) That there were also attempts to cause the dismissal of cases against two Associate Justices; and (e) That the Court had dismissed judges' without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due process. 3. It further appearing that three (3) affidavits relative to the purpose of and circumstances attendant upon the notes written to said public respondent by three (3) members of the Court have since been submitted to the Court and now form part of its official records, the Court further Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to ATTACH to this Resolution copies of said sworn statements and the annexes thereto appended, and to DIRECT respondent Gonzalez also to comment thereon within the same period of ten (10) days. 4. It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution of February 16, 1988 addressed to respondent Gonzalez was misdelivered and therefore not served on him, the Court Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to CAUSE SERVICE of said Resolution on the respondent and to REQUIRE the latter to comply therewith. Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May 1988 an Omnibus Motion for Extension and Inhibition 16 alleging, among other things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of the Court "appears to have overturned that presumption [of innocence] against him:" and that "he gravely doubts whether that 'cold neutrality [of an impartial judge] is still available to him" there being allegedly "at least 4 members of this Tribunal who will not be able to sit in judgment with substantial sobriety and neutrality." Respondent Gonzalez closed out his pleading with a prayer that the four (4) Members of the Court Identified and referred to there by him inhibit themselves in the deliberation and resolution of the Motion to Cite in Contempt.

Rule 71

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On 19 May 1988 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. 18 this Court in an extended per curiam Resolution 19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. That denial was made "final and immediately executory. Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of record:
1. Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to Inhibition 20 dated 23 May 1988; 2. Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedures to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines 21 dated 20 May 1988 3. Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File Explanation Ex Abundante Cautelam, 22dated 26 May 1988;

4. Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion (a) For Extension of Time (b) For Inhibition and
(c) For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to the IBP, Under Rule 139-B 23 dated 4 June 1988 (with Annex "A;" May 1988 from the alleged Concerned Employees of the Supreme Court and addressed to respondent): 5. Ex-Parte Manifestation 25 dated 7 June 1988; 6. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration 26 1988; and 7. Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with Motion 27 member 1988.
24

an anonymous letter dated 27

In compliance with the 2 May 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted earlier, respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17 June 1988 an Answer with Explanation and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal arguments and defenses against the contempt and disciplinary charges presently pending before this Court. Attached to that pleading as Annex "A" thereof was respondent's own personal Explanation/Compliance 29 second explanation called "Compliance," 30 with annexes, was also submitted by respondent on 22 July 1988. II We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme Court, as regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to regulate the practice itself of law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members of the Bar is an inherent power incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial functions. 32 Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of justice the conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any manner with a case before the Court. 33 The power to punish for contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an improper interference with the due administration of justice," "(it) is not dependent upon the complaint of any of the parties litigant. 34 There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play in cases like that before us here; the Court's inherent power to discipline attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is broader than the power to punish for contempt. Contempt of court may be committee both by lawyers and non-lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct also constitutes professional misconduct which calls into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. 35 Where the respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary authority over lawyers may come into play whether or not the misconduct with which the respondent is charged also constitutes contempt of court. The power to punish for contempt of court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over lawyers. 36 The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of admission to the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act on his part which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the contempt power. It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish for contempt or of the disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor and arbiter at one and the same time. Thus, in the present case, respondent Gonzalez first sought to get some members of the Court to inhibit themselves in the resolution of this case for alleged bias and prejudice against him. A little later, he in effect asked the whole Court to inhibit itself from passing upon the issues involved in this proceeding and to pass on responsibility for this matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground that respondent cannot expect due process from this Court, that the Court has become incapable of judging him impartially and fairly. Respondent Gonzalez misconceives the nature of the proceeding at bar as well as the function of the members of the Court in such proceeding. Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re Almacen, 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred Fruiz Castro had occasion to deal with this contention in the following lucid manner: xxx xxx xxx

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It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have it appear, the members of the Court are the 'complainants, prosecutors and judges' all rolled up into one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but also of our role therein. Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not—and does not involve—a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the property and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor. Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably as much so against the individual members thereof But in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members. Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but only as a duly constituted court. The distinct individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. So that, in a very real sense, if there be any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members thereof—as well as the people themselveswhose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at grave hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal fraternity. Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident of the power to admit persons to said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it. So that even if it be conceded that the members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of the power because public policy demands that they, acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases which call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of the personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely inexistent.
xxx xxx xxx. 38

It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to disclaim any bias or prejudice against the respondent that would prevent them from acting in accordance with the exacting requirements of their oaths of office. It also appears to the Court that for all the members to inhibit themselves from sitting on this case is to abdicate the responsibility with which the Constitution has burdened them. Reference of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon the Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done before the Supreme Court. There is no need for further investigation of facts in the present case for it is not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements attributed to him. In any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his defense; his defense is not that he did not make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part, having been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved here are issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues. III It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Gonzalez was saying in his statements set out above. Respondent has not denied making the above statements; indeed, he acknowledges that the newspaper reports of the statements attributed to him are substantially correct. 39 Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme Court deliberately rendered an erroneous or wrong decision when it rendered its per curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. That decision according to respondent Gonzalez, was issued as an act of retaliation by the Court against him for the position he had taken "that the (Supreme Court) Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government prosecutors," and in order to stop respondent from investigating against "some of (the) proteges or friends (of some Supreme Court Justices)." The Court cannot, of course, and will not debate the correctness of its Decision of 27 April 1988 and of its Resolution dated 19 May 1988 (denying respondent Gonzalez Motion for Reconsideration) in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. Respondent Gonzalez, and anyone else for that matter, is free intellectually to accept or not to accept the reasoning of the Court set out in its per curiam Decision and Resolution in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. This should not, however, obscure the seriousness of the assault thus undertaken by respondent against the Court and the appalling implications of such assault for the integrity of the system of administration of justice in our country. Respondent has said that the Court rendered its Decision and Resolution without regard to the legal merits of the Zaldivar cases and had used the judicial process to impose private punishment upon respondent for positions he had taken (unrelated to the Zaldivar cases) in carrying out his duties. It is very difficult to imagine a more serious affront to, or a greater outrage upon, the honour and dignity of this Court than this. Respondent's statement is also totally baseless. Respondent's statements were made in complete disregard of the fact that his continuing authority to act as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, had been questioned before this Court as early as 10 September 1987 in the Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus filed against him in these consolidated Petitions 40 that is, more than seven (7) months before the Court rendered its Decision. Respondent also ignores the fact that one day later, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately ordering the Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the criminal cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez. Respondent also disregards the fact that on 24 November 1987, upon the filing of a second Petition for certiorari for Prohibition by Mr. Zaldivar, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order this time requiring therespondent to cease and desist from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-0934. Thus, the decision finally reached by this Court in April 1988 on the constitutional law issue pending before the Court for the preceding eight (8) months, could scarcely have been invented as a reprisal simply against respondent. A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members of the Supreme Court is that they have improperly Id pressured" him to render decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends," including dismissal of "cases" against two (2) members of the Court. This particularly deplorable

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charge too is entirely baseless, as even a cursory examination of the contents of the handwritten notes of three (3) members of this Court addressed to respondent (which respondent attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Court of 27 April 1988 in the consolidated Petitions) win show. It is clear, and respondent Gonzalez does not pretend otherwise, that the subject matters of the said notes had no relation at all to the issues in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. This charge appears to have been made in order to try to impart some substance (at least in the mind of respondent) to the first accusation made by respondent that the Court had deliberately rendered a wrong decision to get even with respondent who had, with great fortitude, resisted "pressure" from some members of the Court. Once again, in total effect, the statements made by respondent appear designed to cast the Court into gross disrepute, and to cause among the general public scorn for and distrust in the Supreme Court and, more generally, the judicial institutions of the Republic. Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing him from prosecuting "rich and powerful persons," that the Court was in effect discrimination between the rich and powerful on the one hand and the poor and defenseless upon the other, and allowing "rich and powerful" accused persons to go "scot-free" while presumably allowing or affirming the conviction of poor and small offenders. This accusation can only be regarded as calculated to present the Court in an extremely bad light. It may be seen as intended to foment hatred against the Supreme Court; it is also suggestive of the divisive tactics of revolutionary class war. Respondent, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly "dismissed judges 'without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due process.'" The Court notes that this last attack is not without relation to the other statements made by respondent against the Court. The total picture that respondent clearly was trying to paint of the Court is that of an "unjudicial" institution able and willing to render "clearly erroneous" decisions by way of reprisal against its critics, as a body that acts arbitrarily and capriciously denying judges and lawyers due process of law. Once again, the purport of respondent's attack against the Court as an institution unworthy of the people's faith and trust, is unmistakable. Had respondent undertaken to examine the records 'of the two (2) judges and the attorney he later Identified in one of his Explanations, he would have discovered that the respondents in those administrative cases had ample opportunity to explain their side and submit evidence in support thereof. 41 He would have also found that there were both strong reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary measures there administered by the Court in the continuing effort to strengthen the judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is appropriate to recall in this connection that due process as a constitutional precept does not, always and in all situations, require the trial-type proceeding, 42 that the essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence one may have in support of one's defense. 43 "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. 44 As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to explain why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative discipline for making the statements adverted to above. In his subsequent pleadings where he asked the full Court to inhibit itself and to transfer the administrative proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, respondent made, among others, the following allegations: (a) That the Members of the Court "should inhibit [themselves] in the contempt and administrative charges against the respondent, in the light of the manifest prejudice and anger they hold against respondent as shown in the language of the resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration;" (b) That "the entire membership of the court has already lost that 'cold neutrality of an impartial judge' [to] be able to allow fairness and due process in the contempt citation as well as in the possible administrative charge; (c) That "respondent honestly feels that this court as angry and prejudiced as it is, respondent has no china man's chance to get fair hearing in the contempt and possible administrative charges;" (d) That one must consider "the milieu before this Tribunal with, perhaps passion and obfuscation running riot;" (e) That respondent, "after having been castigated with such venom by the entire Court in its decision denying the Motion for Reconsideration, does not have confidence in the impartiality of the entire Court" and that he "funds it extremely difficult to believe that the members of this Tribunal can still act with unbiased demeanor towards him;" and (f) That "the Tribunal is determined to disbar [respondent] without due process" and that a specified Member of the Court "has been tasked to be the ponente, or at least prepare the decision." (Underscoring in the original) Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements earlier made, respondent sought to heap still more opprobrium upon the Court, accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and statements justly and according to law. Once again, he paints this Court as a body not only capable of acting without regard to due process but indeed determined so to act. A grand design to hold up this Court to public scorn and disrespect as an unworthy tribunal, one obfuscated by passion and anger at respondent, emerges once more. It is very difficult for members of this Court to understand how respondent Gonzalez could suppose that judges on the highest tribunal of the land would be ready and willing to violate their most solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined private feelings aroused by respondent. The universe of the Court revolves around the daily demands of law and justice and duty, not around respondent nor any other person or group of persons. Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may reasonably be regarded by this Court as contumacious or as warranting exercise of the disciplinary authority of this Court over members of the Bar, may best be assayed by examining samples of the kinds of statements which have been held in our jurisdiction as constituting contempt or otherwise warranting the exercise of the Court's authority. 1. In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirico del Mar as counsel for Montecillo, who was accused in a slander case, moved to reconsider a decision of the Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a veiled threat that he should interpose his next appeal to the President of the Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an unjust judgment," and "judgment rendered through negligence" and implied that the Court of Appeals had allowed itself to be deceived. Atty. del Mar was held guilty of contempt of court by the Court of Appeals. He then sued the three (3) justices of the Court of Appeals for damages before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, seeking to hold them liable for their decision in the appealed slander case. This suit was terminated, however, by compromise agreement after Atty. del Mar apologized to the Court of Appeals and the justices concerned and agreed to pay moral damages to the justices. Atty. del Mar some time later filed with this Court a

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Petition for Review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals in a slander case. This Court denied the Petition for Review. Atty. del Mar then filed a Motion for Reconsideration and addressed a letter to the Clerk of the Supreme Court asking for the names of the justices of this Court who had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion for Reconsideration. After his Motion for Reconsideration was denied for lack of merit, Atty. del Mar filed a Manifestation in this Court saying: I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished me with certified true copies of the last two Resolutions of the Supreme Court confirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case entitled Francisco M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the Justices supporting the same, civil and criminal suits as I did to the Justices of the Court of Appeals who, rewarding the abhorent falsification committed by Mr. Gica,reversed for him the decisions of the City Court and the Court of First Instance of Cebu,not with a view to obtaining a favorable judgment therein but for the purpose of exposing to the people the corroding evils extant in our Government, so that they may well know them and work for their extermination. (60 SCRA at 240;emphasis supplied) Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively dealt with for making the above statements. In his additional explanation, Atty. del Mar made the following statements: ... Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in and outside of the Government. It is this state of things that convinced me that all human efforts to correct and/or reform the said evils will be fruitless and, as stated in my manifestation to you, I have already decided to retire from a life of militancy to a life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling up deficiencies. (60 SCRA at 242) The Court suspended Atty. del Mar, "until further orders," from the practice of law saying: ... Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, corruption and injustice allegedly rampant in and outside of the government as justification for his contemptuous statements. In other words, he already assumed by his own contemptuous utterances that because there is an alleged existence of rampant corruption, graft and injustice in and out of the government, We, by Our act in G.R. No. L-36800, are among the corrupt, the grafters and those allegedly committing injustice. We are at a complete loss to follow respondent del Mar's logic ... xxx xxx xxx To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that second only to the duty of maintaining allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines, is the duty of all attorneys to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule 138, Rules of Court). But We do remind them of said duty to emphasize to their younger brethren its paramount importance. A lawyer must always remember that he is an officer of the court exercising a high privilege and serving in the noble mission of administering justice. xxx xxx xxx. As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A G.R. No. 46504-R was based on its evaluation of the evidence on only one specific issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L-36800 the petition for review on certiorari of the decision because We found no reason for disturbing the appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both instances, both the Court of Appeals and this Court exercised judicial discretion in a case under their respective jurisdiction. The intemperate and imprudent act of respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both Courts reconsider their respective stand in the decision and the resolution that spelled disaster for his client cannot be anything but pure contumely for aid tribunals. It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant respect for the two highest Court of the land when on the flimsy ground of alleged error in deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts by claiming that they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that they acted with intent and malice, if not with gross ignorance of the law, in disposing of the case of his client. xxx xxx xxx ... To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the future will choose to enter this profession, We wish to point to this case as a reminder for them to imprint in their hearts and minds that an attorney owes it to himself to respect the courts of justice and its officers as a fealty for the stability of our democratic institutions. (60 SCRA at 242-247: emphasis supplied) 2. In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4) members of the bar, acting as counsel for MacArthur International Minerals Company were required by this Court to explain certain statements made in MacArthur's third Motion for Reconsideration: d. ...; and I the Supreme Court I has overlooked the applicable law due to the mis-representation and obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). e. ... Never has any civilized democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the "right to reject any and all bids") can be used by vulturous executives to cover up and excuse losses to the public, a government agency or just plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light of our upbringing and schooling, even under many of the incumbent justices, that the Honorable Supreme Court intends to create a decision that in effect does precisely that in a most absolute manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). (31 SCRA at 6) They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion to Inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking

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Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit themselves from considering, judging and resolving the case or any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion charges "It that the brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vice-president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the false, erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the ex-parte preliminary injunction rendered in the above-entitled case, the latter in effect prejudging and predetermining this case even before the joining of an issue. As to the Chief Justice, the motion states [t]hat the son of the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion was given a significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered in this case. The appointment referred to was as secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments. The motion presents a lengthy discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a number of side comments projecting what is claimed to be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It enumerates "incidents" which, according to the motion, brought about respondent MacArthur's belief that unjudicial prejudice had been caused it and that there was 'unjudicial favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners, their appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited by the said decision (31 SCRA at 6-7) Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for MacArthur and filed a fourth Motion for Reconsideration without leave of court, which Motion contained the following paragraphs: 4. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion when in fact he was outside the borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the time of the Oral Argument of the above-entitled case—which condition is prohibited by the New Rules of Court—Section 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; who may take part—... . Only those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its consideration and adjudication ... ." This requirement is especially significant in the present instance because the member who penned the decision was the very member who was absent for approximately four months or more. This provision also applies to the Honorable Justices Claudio Teehankee and Antonio Barredo. xxx xxx xxx 6. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company abandons its quest for justice in the Judiciary of the Philippine Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of Philippine Government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required by the Nickel Law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel deposits, to the World Court on grounds of deprivation of justice and confiscation of property and/or to the United States Government, either its executive or judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation of respondent's proprietary vested rights by the Philippine Government without either compensation or due process of law and invoking the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or compensation is made. (31 SCRA at 10-11) Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys guilty of contempt: 1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for reconsideration, we, indeed, find language that is not to be expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as 'vulturous executives.' He speaks of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,' but by innuendo would suggest that it is not. In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July 31, 1968 as 'false, erroneous and illegal' in a presumptuous manner. He then charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this case prejudiced and predetermined the case even before the joining of an issue. He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for being interested in the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his brother is the vice president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, whose son was appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, 'a significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President, a short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered.' In this backdrop, he proceeds to state that 'it would seem that the principles thus established [the moral and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial authority by the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to itself.' He puts forth the claim that lesser and further removed conditions have been known to create favoritism, only to conclude that there is no reason for a belief that the conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and Justice Castro would be less likely to engender favoritism and prejudice for or against a particular cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro are insensible to delicadeza, which could make their actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro not only were not free from the appearance of impropriety but did arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their judgment. He points out that courts must be above suspicion at all times like Ceasar's wife, warns that loss of confidence for the Tribunal or a member thereof should not be allowed to happen in our country, 'although the process has already begun. xxx xxx xxx What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in fact and in law.The slur made is not limited to the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For, inhibition is also asked if, we repeated any other justices who have received favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or any members of any boardpetitioner or their agents or principals, including the president.'The absurdity of this posture is at once apparent. For one thing, the justices of this Court are appointed by the President and in that sense may be considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should these justices inhibit themselves every time a case involving the Administration crops up? Such a thought may not certainly be entertained. The consequence thereof would be to paralyze the machinery of this Court. We would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government operating in this country. Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the unfounded charge? There is the not too-well concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's attorney to downgrade this Court.

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The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to discern. Such disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a court of justice. Decidedly not an expression of faith, counsel's words are intended to create an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief. xxx xxx xxx The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to lawyers. and yet, this Court finds in the language of Atty. Santiago a style that undermines and degrades the administration of justice. The stricture in Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules against improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is guilty of contempt of court. xxx xxx xxx Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World Court and/or the United States government. It must be remembered that respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision of this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were in ejected. More specifically, the motion announced that McArthur 'will inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of the Philippine government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court' and would invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, amount to more than fifty million dollars annually ... This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the blind of this Court to decide the case' in its favor. A notice of appeal to the World Court has even been embodied in Meads return. There is a gross inconsistency between the appeal and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a decision presupposes that a party has already abandoned any move to reconsider that decision. And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is being dangled as a threat to effect a change of the decision of this Court. Such act has no aboveboard explanation. xxx xxx xxx The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where infraction of ethics meets with complacency rather than punishment. The people should not be given cause to break faith with the belief that a judge is the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court of justice should not yield to the assaults of disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to think, is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a cause before a court of justice. (31 SCRA at 13-23; emphasis supplied) 3. In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in protest against what he asserted was "a great injustice committed against his client by the Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title. He alleged that his client was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," and had become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy," saying that "justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court [was) not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." Atty. Almacen vowed to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum" so that "the people may know of this silent injustice committed by this Court' and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed [may] never be repeated." Atty. Almacen released to the press the contents of his Petition and on 26 September 1967, the "Manila Times" published statements attributed to him as follows: Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did not expose the tribunal's'unconstitutional and obnoxious' practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without any reason. Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case. xxx xxx xxx There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition, 'where our Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas of justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.' xxx xxx xxx He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns his living, the present members of the Supreme Court 'will become responsible to all cases brought to its attention without discrimination, and will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit' or "denied resolutions. (31 SCRA at 565566; emphasis supplied) Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. His explanation, which in part read: xxx xxx xxx The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in paintings that can be found in all courts and government offices. We have added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding, sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspire of our beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeals has been DENIED, not one word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above statement. We only described the impersonal state of Things and nothing more.

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xxx xxx xxx As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of this Court and for which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self- sacrifice. If we have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of the Court but disregard our Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there is no choice, we must uphold the latter. (31 SCRA at 572; emphasis supplied) was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected. The Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from the practice of law holding, through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had exceeded the boundaries of "fair criticism." 4. In Paragas V. Cruz, 47 Counsel, whose Petition for Ceriorari ran was dismissed by this Court, made the following statements in his Motion for Reconsideration: The petitioner respectfully prays for a reconsideration of the resolution of this Honorable Court dated April 20,1966 on the ground that it constitutes a violation of Section 14 of Rule 11 2 of the Rules of Court promulgated by this very Hon. Supreme Court, and on the further ground that it is likewise a violation of the most important right in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Philippines, a culpable violation which is a ground for impeachment. ... The rule of law in a democracy should always be upheld and protected by all means, because the rule of law creates and preserves peace and order and gives satisfaction and contentment to all concerned. But when the laws and the rules are violated, the victims resort, sometimes, to armed force and to the ways of the cavemen We do not want Verzosa and Reyes repeated again and again, killed in the premises of the Supreme Court and in those of the City Hall of Manila. Educated people should keep their temper under control at all times! But justice should be done to all concerned to perpetuate the very life of Democracy on the face of the earth. (14 SCRA at 810; emphasis supplied) The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the dignity of the Court and required counsel to show cause why administrative action should not be taken against him. Counsel later explained that he had merely related factual events (i.e., the killing of Verzosa and Reyes) and to express his desire to avoid repetition of such acts. The Court, through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, found these explanations unsatisfactory and the above statements contumacious. ... The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration ... are plainly contemptuous and disrespectful, and reference to the recent killing of two employees is but a covert threat upon the members of the Court. ... That such threats and disrespectful language contained in a pleading filed in courts are constitutive of direct contempt has been repeatedly decided(Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724; People vs. Venturanza, 52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151; De Joya vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal, 1, 9785, September 19,1956; Sison vs. Sandejas L- 9270, April 29,1959; Lualhati vs. Albert, 57 Phil. 86). What makes the present case more deplorable is that the guilty party is a member of the bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 580Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with that courtesy all have a right to expect. As an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice. It in light and plausible that an attorney in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the dignity of the courts require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re Francisco], 61 Phil. 729)' (1 4 SCRA at 811-812; emphasis supplied) 5. In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo, invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the source of the news item which carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing. Atty. Vicente Sotto, a senator and author of said law, caused the publication of the following item in a number of daily newspapers in Manila: As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53), interpreted by the Supreme Court in the case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who now has to suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the source of a news published in his paper, I regret to say that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once more putting in evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members. In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, I believe that the only remedy to put an end to so much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions, will have as its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted, the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty and democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court of today is a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary. (82 Phil. at 597598; emphasis supplied) In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the constitutional guarantee of free speech and in requiring him to show cause why he should not be disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice Feria, saidTo hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately so many blunders and injustices that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the

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one in whose favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily to undermine the coincidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and consequently to lower and degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation. (82 Phil. at 601-602; emphasis supplied) 6. In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a Motion before the Supreme Court which contained the following paragraph (in translation): We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court, denying our motion for reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means within our power in order that this error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we should not want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, thejudicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has been the victim, and because it is our utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this honorable court and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the public. But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism and make the public lose confidence in the administration of justice. (61 Phil. at 726; emphasis supplied) When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be declared in contempt, Atty. Francisco responded by saying that it was not contempt to tell the truth. Examining the statements made above, the Court held: ... [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter disregard of the laws, the rights of the parties, and of the untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client, because the acts of outraging and mocking from which the words 'outrage' and mockery' used therein are derived, means exactly the same as all these, according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language published by the Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 132-513). The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, for many years a member of the Philippine bar, was neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion were sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper and amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because both means are annoying and good practice can ever sanction them by reason of their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of questions submitted for resolution. There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a more or less veiled threat to the court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the voters of Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of which his client has been the victim; and because he states in a threatening manner with the intention of predisposing the mind of the reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in order to make it odious in the public eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion to promote distrust in the administration of justice and increase the proselytes of sakdalism a movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of public knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with good reasons, that it has acted erroneously. As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is in duty bound to uphold its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it had conferred upon him the high privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St., Rep., 492, 669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents anybody from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief (61 Phil. at 727-728; emphasis supplied) It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed exhaust our case law on this matter. In the following cases, among others, the Supreme Court punished for contempt or administratively disciplined lawyers who had made statements not very different from those made in the cases discussed above: 1) In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382 (1987); 2) Borromeo v. Court of appeals, 87 SCRA 67 (1978); 3) Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA 441 (1967);

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4) Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961); 5) De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, 99 Phil. 907 (1956); 6) People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211 (1956); 7) In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per curiam Resolution (unreported), Promulgated 29 April 1955; 8) Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950); 9) People v. Carillon, 77 Phil. 572 (1946); 10) Intestate Estate of Rosario 0lba; Contempt Proceedings against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. 312 (1939); and 11) Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932). Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above which the Court has in the past penalized as contemptuous or as warranting application of disciplinary sanctions, this Court is compelled to hold that the statements here made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Respondent's statements, especially the charge that the Court deliberately rendered an erroneous and unjust decision in the Consolidated Petitions, necessarily implying that the justices of this Court betrayed their oath of office, merely to wreak vengeance upon the respondent here, constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the country. That respondent's baseless charges have had some impact outside the internal world of subjective intent, is clearly demonstrated by the filing of a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the then fourteen (14) incumbent members of this Court, a complaint the centerpiece of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of respondent that this Court deliberately rendered a wrong decision as an act of reprisal against the respondent. IV The principal defense of respondent Gonzalez is that he was merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He also invokes the related doctrines of qualified privileged communications and fair criticism in the public interest. Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general community. As Mr. Justice Frankfurter put it:
... A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor an independent judiciary to a free press. Neither has primacy over the other; both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom of the press in itself presupposes an independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if necessary be vindicated. And one of the potent means for assuring judges their independence is a free press. 50

Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the following terms:
The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of speech and press. This constitutional right must be protected in its fullest extent. The Court has heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard for charges under the Libel Law which come dangerously close to its violation. We shall continue in this chosen path. The liberty of the citizens must be preserved in all of its completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizens should not be confused with liberty ill its true sense. As important as is the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the rights of the citizens is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot be had if persons are privileged to scorn a resolution of the court adopted for good purposes, and if such persons are to be permitted by subterranean means to diffuse inaccurate accounts of confidential proceedings to the embarassment of the parties and the courts. 51 (Emphasis supplied)

Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and control professional misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable participants in the task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts have held, persuasively it appears to us, that a lawyer's right of free expression may have to be more limited than that of a layman. 52 It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court as the embodiment and the repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of the respondent "to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court' and "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice 53 is heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer. Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to criticize the rulings of this Court, to point out where he feels the Court may have lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of criticism is not unlimited. Its limits were marked out by Mr. Justice Castro in In re Almacen which are worth noting But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bonafide and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on

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the other.Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action. The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers.
xxx xxx xxx 54

(Emphasis supplied) The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent has criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to the nature of that criticism or comment and the manner in which it was carried out. Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far as characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not, however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import of his words and acts. 55 It is upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and exhibited no repentance. 56 Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury to the judiciary has been shown, and points to the fact that this Court denied his Motion for Reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of 27 April 1988 and reiterated and amplified that Decision in its Resolution of 19 May 1988. In the first place, proof of actual damage sustained by a court or the judiciary in general is not essential for a finding of contempt or for the application of the disciplinary authority of the Court. Insofar as the Consolidated Petitions are concerned, this Court after careful review of the bases of its 27 April 1988 Decision, denied respondent's Motion for Reconsideration thereof and rejected the public pressures brought to bear upon this Court by the respondent through his much publicized acts and statements for which he is here being required to account. Obstructing the free and undisturbed resolution of a particular case is not the only species of injury that the Court has a right and a duty to prevent and redress. What is at stake in cases of this kind is the integrity of the judicial institutions of the country in general and of the Supreme Court in particular. Damage to such institutions might not be quantifiable at a given moment in time but damage there will surely be if acts like those of respondent Gonzalez are not effectively stopped and countered. The level of trust and confidence of the general public in the courts, including the court of last resort, is not easily measured; but few will dispute that a high level of such trust and confidence is critical for the stability of democratic government. Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggests that punishment for contempt is not the proper remedy in this case and suggests that the members of this Court have recourse to libel suits against him. While the remedy of libel suits by individual members of this Court may well be available against respondent Gonzalez, such is by no means an exclusive remedy. Moreover, where, as in the instant case, it is not only the individual members of the Court but the Court itself as an institution that has been falsely attacked, libel suits cannot be an adequate remedy. 57 The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and until further orders from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance. Fernan C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

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