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[A.C. No. 5624.

January 20, 2004]

NATASHA HUEYSUWAN-FLORIDO, complainant, vs. ATTY. JAMES BENEDICT C.


FLORIDO, respondent.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is an administrative complaint for the disbarment of respondent Atty. James Benedict C.
Florido and his eventual removal from the Roll of Attorneys for allegedly violating his oath as a lawyer
by manufacturing, flaunting and using a spurious and bogus Court of Appeals Resolution/Order.[1]
In her Complaint-Affidavit, Natasha V. Heysuwan-Florido averred that she is the legitimate spouse
of respondent Atty. James Benedict C. Florido, but that they are estranged and living separately from
each other. They have two children namely, Kamille Nicole H. Florido, five years old, and James
Benedict H. Florido, Jr., three years old both of whom are in complainants custody. Complainant filed
a case for the annulment of her marriage with respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 23122, before
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 24. Meanwhile, there is another case related to the
complaint for annulment of marriage which is pending before the Court of Appeals and docketed as
CA-G.R. SP No. 54235 entitled, James Benedict C. Florido v. Hon. Pampio Abarientos, et al.
Sometime in the middle of December 2001, respondent went to complainants residence in Tanjay
City, Negros Oriental and demanded that the custody of their two minor children be surrendered to him.
He showed complainant a photocopy of an alleged Resolution issued by the Court of Appeals which
supposedly granted his motion for temporary child custody.[2]Complainant called up her lawyer but the
latter informed her that he had not received any motion for temporary child custody filed by respondent.
Complainant asked respondent for the original copy of the alleged resolution of the Court of
Appeals, but respondent failed to give it to her. Complainant then examined the resolution closely and
noted that it bore two dates: November 12, 2001 and November 29, 2001. Sensing something amiss,
she refused to give custody of their children to respondent.
In the mid-morning of January 15, 2002, while complainant was with her children in the ABC
Learning Center in Tanjay City, respondent, accompanied by armed men, suddenly arrived and
demanded that she surrender to him the custody of their children. He threatened to forcefully take them
away with the help of his companions, whom he claimed to be agents of the National Bureau of
Investigation.
Alarmed, complainant immediately sought the assistance of the Tanjay City Police. The responding
policemen subsequently escorted her to the police station where the matter could be clarified and
settled peacefully. At the police station, respondent caused to be entered in the Police Blotter a
statement that he, assisted by agents of the NBI, formally served on complainant the appellate courts
resolution/order.[3] In order to diffuse the tension, complainant agreed to allow the children to sleep with
respondent for one night on condition that he would not take them away from Tanjay City. This
agreement was entered into in the presence of Tanjay City Chief of Police Juanito Condes and NBI
Investigator Roger Sususco, among others.
In the early morning of January 16, 2002, complainant received information that a van arrived at
the hotel where respondent and the children were staying to take them to Bacolod City. Complainant
rushed to the hotel and took the children to another room, where they stayed until later in the morning.
On the same day, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City, Branch 31, a
verified petition[4] for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus asserting his right to custody of the children
on the basis of the alleged Court of Appeals resolution. In the meantime, complainant verified the
authenticity of the Resolution and obtained a certification dated January 18, 2002[5] from the Court of
Appeals stating that no such resolution ordering complainant to surrender custody of their children to
respondent had been issued.
At the hearing of the petition for habeas corpus on January 23, 2002, respondent did not appear.
Consequently, the petition was dismissed.
Hence, complainant filed the instant complaint alleging that respondent violated his attorneys oath
by manufacturing, flaunting and using a spurious Court of Appeals Resolution in and outside a court of
law. Furthermore, respondent abused and misused the privileged granted to him by the Supreme Court
to practice law in the country.
After respondent answered the complaint, the matter was referred to the IBP-Commission on Bar
Discipline for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP-CBD recommended that respondent
be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years with a warning that another offense
of this nature will result in his disbarment.[6] On June 23, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted
and approved the Report and recommendation of the Commission with the modification that the penalty
of suspension be increased to six years.
The issue to be resolved is whether or not the respondent can be held administratively liable for
his reliance on and attempt to enforce a spurious Resolution of the Court of Appeals.
In his answer to the complaint, respondent claims that he acted in good faith in invoking the Court
of Appeals Resolution which he honestly believed to be authentic. This, however, is belied by the fact
that he used and presented the spurious resolution several times. As pointed out by the Investigating
Commissioner, the assailed Resolution was presented by respondent on at least two occasions: first,
in his Petition for Issuance of Writ of Habeas Corpus docketed as Special Proc. Case No. 3898,[7] which
he filed with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City; and second, when he sought the assistance
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Tanjay City to recover custody of his minor children from
complainant. Since it was respondent who used the spurious Resolution, he is presumed to have
participated in its fabrication.
Candor and fairness are demanded of every lawyer. The burden cast on the judiciary would be
intolerable if it could not take at face value what is asserted by counsel. The time that will have to be
devoted just to the task of verification of allegations submitted could easily be imagined. Even with due
recognition then that counsel is expected to display the utmost zeal in the defense of a clients cause,
it must never be at the expense of the truth.[8] Thus, the Code of professional Responsibility states:

CANON 10. A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.

Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood; nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor
shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of a paper,
the language or the argument of an opposing counsel, or the text of a decision
or authority, or knowingly cite as a law a provision already rendered inoperative
by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.

Moreover, the records show that respondent used offensive language in his pleadings in describing
complainant and her relatives. A lawyers language should be forceful but dignified, emphatic but
respectful as befitting an advocate and in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession.[9] The lawyers
arguments whether written or oral should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel and should
be of such words as may be properly addressed by one gentlemen to another.[10] By calling
complainant, a sly manipulator of truth as well as a vindictive congenital prevaricator, hardly measures
to the sobriety of speech demanded of a lawyer.
Respondents actions erode the public perception of the legal profession. They constitute gross
misconduct and the sanctions for such malfeasance is prescribed by Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court which states:

SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefore.- A member
of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of
his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required
to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party
without authority to do so.
Considering the attendant circumstances, we agree with the recommendation of the IBP Board of
Governors that respondent should be suspended from the practice of law. However, we find that the
period of six years is too harsh a penalty. Instead, suspension for the lesser period of two years, which
we deem commensurate to the offense committed, is hereby imposed on respondent.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, Atty. James Benedict C. Florido is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.
Let copies of this resolution be entered in the personal record of respondent as a member of the
Bar and furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Court
Administrator for circulation to all courts of the country.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-
Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
RENATO M. MALIGAYA, A.C. No. 6198
Complainant,
Present:

PUNO, J., Chairperson,


SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
AZCUNA and
GARCIA, JJ.

ATTY. ANTONIO G. DORONILLA, JR.,


Respondent. Promulgated:
September 15, 2006

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. of the Judge Advocate Generals Service is before us on a charge
of unethical conduct for having uttered a falsehood in open court during a hearing of Civil Case No. Q-
99-38778.[1]

Civil Case No. Q-99-38778 was an action for damages filed by complainant Renato M.
Maligaya, a doctor and retired colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, against several military
officers for whom Atty. Doronilla stood as counsel. At one point during the February 19, 2002 hearing
of the case, Atty. Doronilla said:

And another matter, Your Honor. I was appearing in other cases he [complainant
Maligaya] filed before against the same defendants. We had an agreement that if we
withdraw the case against him, he will

also withdraw all the cases. So, with that understanding, he even retired and he is
now receiving pension.[2] (emphasis supplied)

Considering this to be of some consequence, presiding Judge Reynaldo B. Daway asked a number of
clarificatory questions and thereafter ordered Atty. Doronilla to put his statements in writing and file the
appropriate pleading.[3] Weeks passed but Atty. Doronilla submitted no such pleading or anything else
to substantiate his averments.

On April 29, 2002, Maligaya filed a complaint against Atty. Doronilla in the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline.[4] The complaint, which charged Atty. Doronilla with
misleading the court through misrepresentation of facts resulting [in] obstruction of justice, [5] was
referred to a commissioner[6] for investigation. Complainant swore before the investigating
commissioner that he had never entered into any agreement to withdraw his lawsuits.[7] Atty. Doronilla,
who took up the larger part of two hearings to present evidence and explain his side, admitted several
times that there was, in fact, no such agreement.[8] Later he explained

in his memorandum that his main concern was to settle the case amicably among comrades in arms
without going to trial[9] and insisted that there was no proof of his having violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath.[10] He pointed out, in addition, that his false statement
(or, as he put it, his alleged acts of falsity) had no effect on the continuance of the case and therefore
caused no actual prejudice to complainant.[11]

In due time, investigating commissioner Lydia A. Navarro submitted a report and


recommendation finding Atty. Doronilla guilty of purposely stating a falsehood in violation of Canon 10,
Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility[12] and recommending that he be suspended from
the government military service as legal officer for a period of three months. [13] This was adopted and
approved in toto by the IBP Board of Governors on August 30, 2003.[14]

There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers who, as officers of the court,
participate in the dispensation of justice, to behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and
honor.[15] The common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel compelled to speak the truth
and to act honestly should not become a common reality.[16] To this end, Canon 10 and Rule 10.01 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility state:

CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS, AND GOOD FAITH TO THE


COURT.

Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court;
nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

By stating untruthfully in open court that complainant had agreed to withdraw his lawsuits, Atty.
Doronilla breached these peremptory tenets of ethical conduct. Not only that, he violated the lawyers
oath to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court, of which Canon 10 and Rule 10.01
are but restatements. His act infringed on every lawyers duty to never seek to mislead the judge or any
judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.[17]

Atty. Doronillas unethical conduct was compounded, moreover, by his obstinate refusal to
acknowledge the impropriety of what he had done. From the very beginning of this administrative case,
Atty. Doronilla maintained the untenable position that he had done nothing wrong in the hearing of Civil
Case No. Q-99-38778. He persisted in doing so even after having admitted that he had, in that hearing,
spoken of an agreement that did not in truth exist. Rather than express remorse for that regrettable
incident, Atty. Doronilla resorted to an ill-conceived attempt to evade responsibility, professing that the
falsehood had not been meant for the information of Judge Daway but only as a sort of question to
complainant regarding a pending proposal to settle the case.[18]
The explanation submitted by Atty. Doronilla, remarkable only for its speciousness, [19] cannot
absolve him. If anything, it leads us to suspect an unseemly readiness on his part to obfuscate plain
facts for the unworthy purpose of escaping his just deserts. There is in his favor, though, a

presumption of good faith[20] which keeps us from treating the incongruity of his proffered excuse as an
indication of mendacity. Besides, in the light of his avowal that his only aim was to settle the case
amicably among comrades in arms without going to trial,[21] perhaps it is not unreasonable to assume
that what he really meant to say was that he had intended the misrepresentation as a gambit to get the
proposed agreement on the table, as it were. But even if that had been so, it would have been no
justification for speaking falsely in court. There is nothing in the duty of a lawyer to foster peace among
disputants that, in any way, makes it necessary under any circumstances for counsel to state as a fact
that which is not true. A lawyers duty to the court to employ only such means as are consistent with
truth and honor[22] forbids recourse to such a tactic. Thus, even as we give Atty. Doronilla the benefit of
the doubt and accept as true his avowed objective of getting the parties to settle the case amicably, we
must call him to account for resorting to falsehood as a means to that end.

Atty. Doronillas offense is within the ambit of Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which in part
declares:

A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the
Supreme Court for any deceit x x x or for any violation of the oath which he is required
to take before admission to practice x x x.

The suspension referred to in the foregoing provision means only suspension from the practice
of law. For this reason, we disagree with the IBPs recommendation for Atty. Doronillas suspension from
the government military service. After all, the only purpose of this administrative case is to determine
Atty. Doronillas liability as a member of the legal profession, not his liability as a legal officer in the
military service. Thus, it would be improper for us to order, as a penalty for his breach of

legal ethics and the lawyers oath, his suspension from employment in the Judge Advocate Generals
Service. Of course, suspension from employment as a military legal officer may well follow as a
consequence of his suspension from the practice of law but that should not be reason for us to impose
it as a penalty for his professional misconduct. We would be going beyond the purpose of this
proceeding were we to do so. Therefore, we shall treat the IBPs recommendation as one for suspension
from the practice of law.

At any rate, we are not inclined to adopt the IBPs recommendation on the duration of Atty. Doronillas
suspension. We need to consider a few circumstances that mitigate his liability somewhat. First, we
give him credit for exhibiting enough candor to admit, during the investigation, the falsity of the
statement he had made in Judge Daways courtroom.Second, the absence of material damage to
complainant may also be considered as a mitigating circumstance.[23] And finally, since this is Atty.
Doronillas first offense, he is entitled to some measure of forbearance.[24]
Nonetheless, his unrepentant attitude throughout the conduct of this administrative case tells
us that a mere slap on the wrist is definitely not enough. Atty. Doronilla, it seems, needs time away
from the practice of law to recognize his error and to purge himself of the misbegotten notion that an
effort to compromise justifies the sacrifice of truthfulness in court.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for TWO MONTHS. He is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar misconduct shall be dealt
with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal record and copies furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Court Administrator, the Chief-of-Staff of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines and the Commanding General of the AFP Judge Advocate Generals Service.

SO ORDERED.
CONRADO QUE, A.C. No. 7054
Complainant,
PUNO, C J.,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. Promulgated:


Respondent.
December 4, 2009
x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

In a complaint for disbarment,[1] Conrado Que (complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.
(respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP Committee
on Bar Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of the provisions of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:

(1) The respondents abuse of court remedies and processes by filing a petition
for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), two petitions for annulment of title
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), a petition for annulment of judgment before
the RTC and lastly, a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC
(collectively, subject cases) to assail and overturn the final judgments of the
Metropolitan Trial Court[2] (MeTC) and RTC[3] in the unlawful detainer case rendered
against the respondents clients. The respondent in this regard, repeatedly raised the
issue of lack of jurisdiction by the MeTC and RTC knowing fully-well that these courts
have jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case. The respondent also repeatedly
attacked the complainants and his siblings titles over the property subject of the
unlawful detainer case;

(2) The respondents commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in order
to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his own
personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to execute
the MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case;

(3) The respondents lack of candor and respect towards his adversary and the courts by
resorting to falsehood and deception to misguide, obstruct and impede the due
administration of justice. The respondent asserted falsehood in the motion for
reconsideration of the dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment by
fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in open court which
allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the respondents in the said case. The
complainant alleged that the respondent did this to cover up his lack of preparation;
the respondent also deceived his clients (who were all squatters) in supporting the
above falsehood.[4]
(4) The respondents willful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and defamed
the good name and reputation of the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. Catolico), the
previous counsel of the respondents clients.

(5) The respondents deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court in the
petition for annulment of judgment for 15 litigants, three of whom are already
deceased;

(6) The respondents willful and fraudulent appearance in the second petition for
annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without being
authorized to do so.

Additionally, the complaint accused the respondent of representing fifty-two (52) litigants in Civil
Case No. Q-03-48762 when no such authority was ever given to him.

The CBD required the respondent to answer the complaint.

In his Answer,[5] the respondent declared that he is a member of the Kalayaan Development
Cooperative (KDC) that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the less fortunate, the
homeless and those in the marginalized sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the cases
formerly handled by other KDC members. One of these cases was the unlawful detainer case handled
by the late Atty. Catolico where the complainant and his siblings were the plaintiffs and the respondents
present clients were the defendants.

With respect to paragraph 1 of the disbarment complaint, the respondent professed his sincerity,
honesty and good faith in filing the petitions complained of; he filed these petitions to protect the
interests of his clients in their property. The respondent asserted that these petitions were all based on
valid grounds the lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC and the RTC over the underlying unlawful detainer
case, the extrinsic fraud committed by the late Atty. Catolico, and the extrinsic fraud committed
by the complainant and his family against his clients; he discovered that the allegedly detained
property did not really belong to the complainant and his family but is a forest land. The respondent
also asserted that his resort to a petition for annulment of judgment and a petition for declaratory relief
to contest the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC were all parts of his legal strategy to protect the
interests of his clients.

On the allegations of falsehood in the motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal of the
petition for annulment of judgment (covered by paragraph 3 of the disbarment complaint), the
respondent maintained that his allegations were based on his observations and the notes he had taken
during the proceedings on what the presiding judge dictated in open court.
The respondent denied that he had made any unauthorized appearance in court (with respect to
paragraphs 5 and 6 of the disbarment complaint). He claimed that the 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-
03-48762 were impleaded by inadvertence; he immediately rectified his error by dropping them from
the case. On the petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent claimed that a majority (31 out of
49) of the litigants who signed the certification constituted sufficient compliance with the rules on forum-
shopping. The respondent likewise denied having represented the Republic of the Philippines in the
second petition for annulment of title. The respondent pointed out that there was no allegation
whatsoever that he was the sole representative of both the complainants (his clients) and the Republic
of the Philippines. The respondent pointed out that the petition embodied a request to the Office of the
Solicitor General to represent his clients in the case.[6]

The respondent submitted that he did not commit any illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or
immoral acts towards the complainant and his siblings. He stressed that he acted in good faith in his
dealings with them and his conduct was consistent with his sworn duty as a lawyer to uphold justice
and the law and to defend the interests of his clients. The respondent additionally claimed that the
disbarment case was filed because the complainants counsel, Atty. Cesar P. Uy (Atty. Uy), had an axe
to grind against him.

Lastly, the respondent posited in his pleadings[7] before the IBP that the present complaint
violated the rule on forum shopping considering that the subject cases were also the ones on which a
complaint was filed against him in CBD Case No. 03-1099 filed by Atty. Uy before the IBP Committee
on Bar Discipline. The respondent also posited that the present complaint was filed to harass, ridicule
and defame his good name and reputation and, indirectly, to harass his clients who are marginalized
members of the KDC.

The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner

Except for the last charge of unauthorized appearance on behalf of 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-
03-48762, Investigating Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan[8](Investigating Commissioner Cunanan)
found all the charges against the respondent meritorious. In his Report and Recommendation, he
stated:

While an attorney admittedly has the solemn duty to defend and protect the cause and
rights of his client with all the fervor and energy within his command, yet, it is equally
true that it is the primary duty of the lawyer to defend the dignity, authority and majesty
of the law and the courts which enforce it. A lawyer is not at liberty to maintain and
defend the cause of his clients thru means, inconsistent with truth and honor. He may
not and must not encourage multiplicity of suits or brazenly engage in forum-shopping.[9]
On the first charge on abuse of court processes, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan noted
the unnecessary use by the respondent of legal remedies to forestall the execution of the final decisions
of the MTC and the RTC in the unlawful detainer case against his clients.[10]

On the second charge, the Investigating Commissioner ruled that the act of the respondent in
filing two petitions for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of judgment and later on a petition for
declaratory relief were all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in the unlawful detainer
case and constituted prohibited forum-shopping.[11]

On the third and fourth charges, Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found ample evidence
showing that the respondent was dishonest in dealing with the court as shown in his petition for
annulment of judgment; he resorted to falsities and attributed acts to Atty. Catolico and to the presiding
judge, all of which were untrue. [12]

On the fifth and sixth charges, the Investigating Commissioner disregarded the respondents
explanation that he had no intention to represent without authority 15 of the litigants (three of whom
were already deceased) in the petition for annulment of judgment (Civil Case No. Q-01-45556). To the
Investigating Commissioner, the respondent merely glossed over the representation issue by claiming
that the authority given by a majority of the litigants complied with the certification of non-forum
shopping requirement. The Investigating Commissioner likewise brushed aside the respondents
argument regarding his misrepresentation in the second complaint for annulment of title since he knew
very well that only the Solicitor General can institute an action for reversion on behalf of the Republic
of the Philippines. Despite this knowledge, the respondent solely signed the amended complaint for
and on behalf of his clients and of the Republic.
The Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, through its Resolution No.
XVII-2005-164 on CBD Case No. 03-1100, adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of
Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and recommended that the respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for two (2) years.[13] On reconsideration, the Board of Governors reduced the
respondents suspension from the practice of law to one (1) year.[14]

The Issue
The case poses to us the core issues of whether the respondent can be held liable for the
imputed unethical infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty these transgressions should
carry.

The Courts Ruling


Except for the penalty, we agree with the Report and Recommendation of Investigating
Commissioner Cunanan and the Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline.

We take judicial notice that this disbarment complaint is not the only one so far filed involving
the respondent; another complaint invoking similar grounds has previously been filed. In Plus Builders,
Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v. Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr.,[15] we suspended the respondent from the
practice of law for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court procedures
and processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal
practice of law. We initially imposed a suspension of two (2) years, but in an act of leniency
subsequently reduced the suspension to six (6) months.[16]
Abuse of court procedures and processes

The following undisputed facts fully support the conclusion that the respondent is guilty of serious
misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to shield his clients from the execution of the
final judgments of the MeTC and RTC in the unlawful detainer case against these clients:

First, the respondent filed a petition for certiorari (docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53892) with
prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to question the final
judgments of the MeTC and RTC for lack of jurisdiction. In dismissing the respondents petition, the CA
held:

Even for the sake of argument considering that the petition case be the proper remedy,
still it must be rejected for failure of petitioners to satisfactorily demonstrate lack of
jurisdiction on the part of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City over the ejectment
case.[17]

Second, notwithstanding the CAs dismissal of the petition for certiorari, the respondent again
questioned the MeTCs and the RTCs lack of jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case in a petition
for annulment of judgment (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-45556) before the RTC with an ancillary
prayer for the grant of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The RTC dismissed this
petition on the basis of the motion to dismiss filed.[18]

Third, the respondent successively filed two petitions (docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-
38780 and Civil Case No. Q-02-46885) for annulment of the complainants title to the property involved
in the unlawful detainer case. The records show that these petitions were both dismissed for lack of
legal personality on the part of the plaintiffs to file the petition.[19]
Fourth, after the dismissals of the petition for annulment of judgment and the petitions for annulment of
title, the respondent this time filed a petition for declaratory relief with prayer for a writ of preliminary
injunction to enjoin the complainant and his siblings from exercising their rights over the same property
subject of the unlawful detainer case. The respondent based the petition on the alleged nullity of the
complainants title because the property is a part of forest land.

Fifth, the persistent applications by the respondent for injunctive relief in the four petitions he had filed
in several courts the petition for certiorari, the petition for annulment of judgment, the second petition
for annulment of complainants title and the petition for declaratory relief reveal the respondents
persistence in preventing and avoiding the execution of the final decisions of the MeTC and RTC
against his clients in the unlawful detainer case.

Under the circumstances, the respondents repeated attempts go beyond the legitimate means
allowed by professional ethical rules in defending the interests of his client.These are already uncalled
for measures to avoid the enforcement of final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. In these attempts, the
respondent violated Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which makes it
obligatory for a lawyer to observe the rules of procedure and. . . not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends
of justice. By his actions, the respondent used procedural rules to thwart and obstruct the speedy and
efficient administration of justice, resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that case.[20]

Filing of multiple actions and forum shopping

The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility,[21] as well as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed
against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations constitute abuse of
court processes; they tend to degrade the administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly judicial
procedure;[22] and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.[23]

While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question the lower courts jurisdiction may be a
procedurally legitimate (but substantively erroneous) move, the respondents subsequent petitions
involving the same property and the same parties not only demonstrate his attempts to secure favorable
ruling using different fora, but his obvious objective as well of preventing the execution of the MeTC
and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. This intent is most obvious with
respect to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory relief, both geared towards
preventing the execution of the unlawful detainer decision, long after this decision had become final.
Willful, intentional and deliberate
falsehood before the courts
The records also reveal that the respondent committed willful,
intentional and deliberate falsehood in the pleadings he filed with the lower courts.

First, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed before the RTC, Branch 101, Quezon City,
the respondent cited extrinsic fraud as one of the grounds for the annulment sought. The extrinsic fraud
was alleged in the last paragraph of the petition, as follows:

In here, counsel for the petitioners (defendants therein), deliberately neglected to file the
proper remedy then available after receipt of the denial of their Motion for
Reconsideration thus corruptly sold out the interest of the petitioners (defendants
therein) by keeping them away to the Court and in complete ignorance of the suit by
a false pretense of compromise and fraudulent acts of alleging representing them when
in truth and in fact, have connived with the attorney of the prevailing party at his
defeat to the prejudice of the petitioner (defendants therein) [24]

Yet, in paragraph 35 of the same petition, the respondent alleged that no second motion for
reconsideration or for new trial, or no other petition with the CA had been filed, as he believed that
the decisions rendered both by the MeTC and the RTC are null and void.[25] These conflicting claims,
no doubt, involve a fabrication made for the purpose of supporting the petition for annulment. Worse, it
involved a direct and unsubstantiated attack on the reputation of a law office colleague, another
violation we shall separately discuss below.
Second, the respondent employed another obvious subterfuge when he filed his second petition for
annulment of title, which was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the rule that only the Solicitor
General may commence reversion proceedings of public lands[26] on behalf of the Republic of
the Philippines. This second petition, filed by a private party and not by the Republic, showed that: (a)
the respondent and his clients requested that they be represented by the Solicitor General in the
proceedings; (b) the Republic of the Philippines was simply impleaded in the amended petition without
its consent as a plaintiff; and (c) the respondent signed the amended petition where he alone stood as
counsel for the plaintiffs. In this underhanded manner, the respondent sought to compel the Republic
to litigate and waste its resources on an unauthorized and unwanted suit.

Third, the respondent also committed falsehood in his motion for reconsideration of the order
dismissing his petition for annulment of judgment where he misrepresented to the court and his clients
what actually transpired in the hearing of June 28, 2002 in this wise:

Likewise, the proceedings on said date of hearing (June 28, 2002) show, that after both
counsel have argued on the aforesaid pending incident, the Honorable Presiding Judge,
in open court, and in the presence and within the hearing distance of all the plaintiffs
and their counsel as well as the counsel of the defendants resolved: TO DENY THE
MOTION TO DISMISS FILED AND DIRECTED DEFENDANTS COUNSEL TO FILE
AN ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT WITHIN THE REMAINING
PERIOD.[27][Underscoring and emphasis theirs]
The records, however, disclose that the scheduled hearing for June 28, 2002 was actually for the
respondents application for temporary restraining order and was not a hearing on the adverse partys
motion to dismiss.[28] The records also show that RTC-Branch 101 held in abeyance the respondents
application for injunctive relief pending the resolution of the motion to dismiss filed by the adverse
party.[29] As stated in the order of the Presiding Judge of RTC-Branch 101:
Browsing over the records of this case specifically the transcripts of stenographic
notes as transcribed by the Stenographer, the same will indicate that the allegations in
the Motion for Reconsideration are not true.

how can this Court make a ruling on the matter even without stating the factual and legal
bases as required/mandated by the Rules. Moreover, there are no indications or iota of
irregularity in the preparation by Stenographer of the transcripts, and by the Court
interpreter of the Minutes of the open Court session.[Underscoring theirs]
The records further disclose that despite knowledge of the falsity of his allegations, the
respondent took advantage of his position and the trust reposed in him by his clients (who are all
squatters) to convince them to support, through their affidavits, his false claims on what allegedly
transpired in the June 28, 2002 hearing. [30]
For these acts, we find the respondent liable under Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 the Code of
Professional Responsibility for violating the lawyers duty to observe candor and fairness in his dealings
with the court. This provision states:

CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE


COURT

Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court,
nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be mislead by an artifice.

Likewise, the respondent violated his duty as an attorney and his oath as a lawyer never to
mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.[31] The respondent
failed to remember that his duty as an officer of the court makes him an indispensable participant in the
administration of justice,[32] and that he is expected to act candidly, fairly and truthfully in his work.[33] His
duty as a lawyer obligates him not to conceal the truth from the court, or to mislead the court in any
manner, no matter how demanding his duties to his clients may be.[34] In case of conflict, his duties to
his client yield to his duty to deal candidly with the court.[35]
In defending his clients interest, the respondent also failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads:

CANON 19 A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE
BOUNDS OF LAW

Rule 19.01 A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
objectives of his clients x x x
This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to employ only such means as are
consistent with truth and honor.[36] He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or
institute clearly groundless actions.[37] The recital of what the respondent did to prevent the execution
of the judgment against his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule expressly
prohibits.

Maligning the name of his fellow lawyers

To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition for annulment of judgment, the respondent
attacked (as quoted above) the name and reputation of the late Atty. Catolico and accused him of
deliberate neglect, corrupt motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse party.

We find it significant that the respondent failed to demonstrate how he came upon his accusation
against Atty. Catolico. The respondent, by his own admission, only participated in the cases previously
assigned to Atty. Catolico after the latter died. At the same time, the respondents petition for annulment
of judgment also represented that no second motion for reconsideration or appeal was filed to contest
the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case for the reason that the respondent believed
the said decisions were null and void ab initio.

Under these circumstances, we believe that the respondent has been less than fair in his
professional relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for violating Canon 8 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which obligates a lawyer to conduct himself with courtesy, fairness, and
candor toward his professional colleagues. He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing to Atty.
Catolico without showing any factual basis therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. Catolico, who is now
dead and unable to defend himself.

Unauthorized appearances

We support Investigating Commissioner Cunanans finding that the respondent twice represented
parties without proper authorization: first, in the petition for annulment of judgment; and second, in the
second petition for annulment of title.[38]

In the first instance, the records show that the respondent filed the petition for annulment of
judgment on behalf of 49 individuals, 31 of whom gave their consent while the other 15 individuals did
not. We cannot agree with the respondents off-hand explanation that he truly believed that a majority
of the litigants who signed the certification of non-forum shopping in the petition already gave him the
necessary authority to sign for the others. We find it highly improbable that this kind of lapse could have
been committed by a seasoned lawyer like the respondent, who has been engaged in the practice of
law for more than 30 years and who received rigid and strict training as he so proudly declares, from
the University of the Philippines College of Law and in the two law firms with which he was previously
associated.[39] As Investigating Commissioner Cunanan found, the respondents explanation of
compliance with the rule on the certification of non-forum shopping glossed over the real charge of
appearing in court without the proper authorization of the parties he allegedly represented.

In the second instance, which occurred in the second complaint for annulment of title, the
respondent knew that only the Solicitor General can legally represent the Republic of the Philippines in
actions for reversion of land. Nevertheless, he filed an amended petition where he impleaded the
Republic of the Philippines as plaintiff without its authority and consent, as a surreptitious way of forcing
the Republic to litigate. Notably, he signed the amended complaint on behalf of all the plaintiffs his
clients and the Republic.
In both instances, the respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court when he
undertook the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not represent a litigant
without authority from the latter or from the latters representative or, in the absence thereof, without
leave of court.[40] The willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given case constitutes
contumacious conduct and also warrants disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for
professional misconduct.[41]
The Respondents Defenses

We find no merit in the respondents defenses.

Good faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking unconscientious advantage of
another. Accordingly, in University of the East v. Jader we said that "[g]ood faith connotes an honest
intention to abstain from taking undue advantage of another, even though the forms and technicalities
of law, together with the absence of all information or belief of facts, would render the transaction
unconscientious."[42] Bad faith, on the other hand, is a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive
design or with some motive of self-interest, ill will or for an ulterior purpose.[43] As both concepts are
states of mind, they may be deduced from the attendant circumstances and, more particularly, from the
acts and statements of the person whose state of mind is the subject of inquiry.

In this case, we find that the respondent acted in bad faith in defending the interests of his
clients. We draw this conclusion from the misrepresentations and the dubious recourses he made, all
obviously geared towards forestalling the execution of the final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. That
he took advantage of his legal knowledge and experience and misread the Rules immeasurably
strengthen the presence of bad faith.
We find neither sincerity nor honest belief on the part of the respondent in pleading the
soundness and merit of the cases that he filed in court to prevent the execution of the MeTC and RTC
decisions, considering his own conduct of presenting conflicting theories in his petitions. The
succession of cases he filed shows a desperation that negates the sincere and honest belief he claims;
these are simply scattershot means to achieve his objective of avoiding the execution of the unlawful
detainer judgment against his clients.

On the respondents allegations regarding his discretion to determine legal strategy, it is not
amiss to note that this was the same defense he raised in the first disbarment case.[44] As we explained
in Plus Builders, the exercise of a lawyers discretion in acting for his client can never be at the expense
of truth and justice. In the words of this cited case:

While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to
his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as
well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the
bounds of the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable
results of his clients case with the end in view of promoting respect for the law and legal
processes, and counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him
to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the
law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took upon admission to the Bar that
he will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor
give aid nor consent to the same; and that he will conduct [himself] as a lawyer according
to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as
to [his] clients. Needless to state, the lawyers fidelity to his client must not be pursued
at the expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be done within the
bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyers responsibility to protect and advance
the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and
malicious intentions against the other party.[45]
We cannot give credence to the respondents claim that the disbarment case was filed because
the counsel of the complainant, Atty. Uy, had an axe to grind against him. We reject this argument,
considering that it was not Atty. Uy who filed the present disbarment case against him; Atty. Uy is only
the counsel in this case. In fact, Atty. Uy has filed his own separate disbarment case against the
respondent.

The sui generis nature of a disbarment case renders the underlying motives of the complainants
unimportant and with very little relevance. The purpose of a disbarment proceeding is mainly to
determine the fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer of the court and a participant in the
dispensation of justice an issue where the complainants personal motives have little relevance. For this
reason, disbarment proceedings may be initiated by the Court motu proprio upon information of an
alleged wrongdoing. As we also explained in the case In re: Almacen:

. . .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 one of its officers. Not being
intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution.
xxx
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 proper 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.[46]

Hence, we give little or no weight to the alleged personal motivation that drove the complainant Que
and his counsel to file the present disbarment case.

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the respondent committed various acts of professional
misconduct and thereby failed to live up to the exacting ethical standards imposed on members of the
Bar. We cannot agree, however, that only a penalty of one-year suspension from the practice of law
should be imposed. Neither should we limit ourselves to the originally recommended penalty of
suspension for two (2) years.

Given the respondents multiple violations, his past record as previously discussed, and the
nature of these violations which shows the readiness to disregard court rules and to gloss over concerns
for the orderly administration of justice, we believe and so hold that the appropriate action of this Court
is to disbar the respondent to keep him away from the law profession and from any significant role in
the administration of justice which he has disgraced. He is a continuing risk, too, to the public that the
legal profession serves. Not even his ardor and overzealousness in defending the interests of his client
can save him. Such traits at the expense of everything else, particularly the integrity of the profession
and the orderly administration of justice, this Court cannot accept nor tolerate.

Additionally, disbarment is merited because this is not the respondents first ethical infraction of
the same nature. We penalized him in Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo Garcia versus Atty. Anastacio
E. Revilla for his willful and intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court procedures and
processes to delay the execution of a judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the illegal
practice of law. We showed leniency then by reducing his penalty to suspension for six (6) months. We
cannot similarly treat the respondent this time; it is clear that he did not learn any lesson from his past
experience and since then has exhibited traits of incorrigibility. It is time to put a finis to the respondents
professional legal career for the sake of the public, the profession and the interest of justice.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby AFFIRM Resolution No. XVII-2005-164
dated December 17, 2005 and Resolution No. XVII-2008-657 dated December 11, 2008 of the Board
of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline insofar as respondent Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.
is found liable for professional misconduct for violations of the Lawyers Oath; Canon 8; Rules 10.01
and 10.03, Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04, Canon 12; Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility; and Sections 20(d), 21 and 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. However,
we modify the penalty the IBP imposed, and hold that the respondent should be DISBARRED from the
practice of law.

SO ORDERED.
JOHN SIY LIM, A.C. No. 5653
Complainant,
Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus- AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO,* JJ.

ATTY. CARMELITO A. Promulgated:


MONTANO,
Respondent. February 27, 2006
x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:


Atty. Carmelito A. Montano stands charged with gross misconduct relative to his filing of Civil
Case No. C-19928 entitled Spouses Tomas See Tuazon and Natividad See Deecho v. John Siy Lim
and the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City.[1]

It appears that complainant John Siy Lim was the defendant in Civil Case No. C-14542 for
reformation of contract, quieting of title, with damages, then pending before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 131.[2] The subject of the dispute was a 650-square meter conjugal lot
along A. del Mundo Street, 7th Avenue, CaloocanCity covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
860. After trial, the RTC ruled in favor of defendant (complainant herein), and declared that the deed of
sale the parties executed on July 15, 1987 was an absolute and unconditional conveyance of subject
property by the plaintiff in favor of such defendant. On motion for reconsideration, however, the trial
court reversed itself and declared that the sale was in fact an equitable mortgage. It thus ordered the
cancellation of TCT No. 152621 and the reinstatement of the previous title on the subject property.

The complainant appealed the case to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
40167. In its Decision dated March 31, 1995, the appellate court reversed the ruling of the RTC, to wit:

WHEREFORE, the appealed Order dated November 16, 1992, is hereby


REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the original Decision of the trial court, dated
December 2, 1991, hereby REINSTATED, with the modification that plaintiff-appellee is
ordered to pay defendant-appellant the sum of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos a
month as reasonable rental for the use and occupation of Apartment No. 161 from July
15, 1988 until the premises shall have been vacated and possession thereof peacefully
turned over to defendant-appellant.

The counterclaim for attorneys fees of defendant-appellant is DENIED. There


is no clear showing that the action taken by plaintiff-appellee was done in bad faith.
There should be no penalty on the right to litigate.[3]

The aggrieved party elevated the matter to this Court, and the petition was docketed as G.R.
No. 119794. On October 3, 2000, the Court affirmed the ruling of the CA and denied the petition.[4] Entry
of judgment was made of record on October 3, 2000.[5]

On January 4, 2002, respondent filed a Notice of Appearance[6] as counsel of Tomas


See Tuazon (the losing party) in the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 131 in Civil Case No. C-14542.
On January 7, 2002, he filed, in behalf of his client, a Motion to Comply to [sic] Decision without
Writ,[7] worded as follows:
1. Plaintiff is aware that pursuant to the decision of the court, as affirmed
by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, the decision on the present case
had already become final and executory.

2. In order to avoid undue inconvenience on the part of herein defendant,


plaintiff shall voluntarily settle the money judgment as stated in the decision sought to
be enforced.

3. The plaintiff will be filing Eight Hundred Ten Thousand (P810,000.00)


Pesos, equivalent to 162 months of rent as per decision and the same to be covered
by supersedeas bond issued by a reliable insurance company to answer for said
obligation.

4. Every month starting February 15, 2002, plaintiff shall deposit to the court
the amount of P5,000.00 as monthly rent.[8]

On the same date, respondent, in behalf of his clients (the spouses Tomas See Tuazon) filed the
Complaint[9] for nullity of TCT and other documents, reconveyance, maintenance of physical
possession before the RTC of Caloocan City, eventually raffled to Branch 121 thereof (Civil Case No.
C-19928).

Meantime, on February 19, 2002, Judge Luisito C. Sardillo of Branch 126[10] issued an
Order[11] in Civil Case No. C-14542 granting the Motion for Execution with Manifestation earlier filed by
the prevailing party (complainant herein), and denying for lack of merit, the Motion to Comply to
[sic] Decision without Writ filed by respondent counsel.

This prompted the complainant to file the instant complaint for disbarment against respondent.
In his Complaint-Affidavit[12] dated March 20, 2002, complainant alleged that respondent filed the
complaint in Civil Case No. C-19928 out of malice, pointing out that it involves the same parties, the
same causes of action and relief prayed for as that of Civil Case No. C-14542. Thus, the complainant
prayed that the respondent be disbarred and/or suspended from the practice of law for his gross
misconduct, on the following allegation:

6. Evidently, I have been subjected to harassment by the antics of the


respondent in filing a recycled case docketed as Civil Case No. C-19928 on January
07, 2002. Respondent is guilty in abetting the conduct of his clients, Sps. Tuazon. He
has clearly violated his lawyers oath not to promote or sue groundless, false or unlawful
suits among others. Instead of counseling his clients to abide and obey the decision of
our Supreme Court, the final arbiter of all controversies and disputes, he is showing
disrespect to a final and executory decision of our court.[13]

In his Comment,[14] respondent denied the allegations against him. While he admitted that he
filed Civil Case No. C-19928 as counsel for the plaintiff therein, he claimed that it was not filed with
malicious intent. Moreover, while the new case involved the same party, it was for a different cause of
action and relief, and, as such, the principle of res judicata did not apply. He further explained that the
complaint in Civil Case No. C-14542 was for declaratory relief or reformation of instrument, while Civil
Case No. 19928 was for annulment of title. He accepted the case based on his professional
appreciation that his client had a good case.

In his Reply,[15] the complainant stressed that the respondent was guilty of forum shopping; Civil
Case No. C-19928 was nothing but a revival of the old complaint; and the lame excuse of the
respondent that the present case is an action in rem while the other case is an action in personam did
not merit consideration.

On November 25, 2002, the Court resolved to refer the matter to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.[16]

On September 1, 2003, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline assigned the case to
Commissioner Salvador L. Pea. Only the counsel for the respondent appeared at the mandatory
conference held on September 30, 2003. Finding that there were no factual issues in the case,
Commissioner Pea terminated the mandatory conference and ordered the parties to submit their
respective verified Position Papers, and, thereafter, considered the case submitted for resolution.

The case was re-assigned to Commissioner Doroteo B. Aguila who submitted his Report and
Recommendation dated May 9, 2005, finding the respondent guilty of misconduct. It was recommended
that respondent be meted a two months suspension from the practice of law.

According to the Investigating Commissioner, the elements of res judicata are present in this
case as to bar the filing of Civil Case No. C-19928 since (a) the judgment in Civil Case No. C-14542,
upholding the validity of the absolute deed of sale, had attained finality; (b) the court which rendered
the decision had the required jurisdiction; and (c) the disposition of the case was a judgment on the
merits.

On October 22, 2005, the Board of Governors of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued
Resolution No. XVII-2005-108, adopting said Report and Recommendation with the modification that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months.

We agree that respondent is administratively liable.

In this case, it is clear that respondent is guilty of forum shopping. By his own admission, he
was aware that Civil Case No. C-14542 was already final and executory when he filed the second case
(Civil Case No. C-19928). His allegation that he was not the original counsel of his clients and that
when he filed the subsequent case for nullity of TCT, his motive was to protect the rights of his clients
whom he believed were not properly addressed in the prior case for reformation and quieting of title,
deserves scant consideration. As a responsible member of the bar, he should have explained the effect
of such final and executory decision on his clients rights, instead of encouraging them to file another
case involving the same property and asserting the same rights.

The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the
same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable
judgment. It exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable
opinion in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same
cause to increase the chances of obtaining a favorable decision. An important factor in determining its
existence is the vexation caused to the courts and the parties-litigants by the filing of similar cases to
claim substantially the same reliefs.[17] Forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentiaare
present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another.[18] Thus, the
following requisites should concur:

(a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both
actions, (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on
the same facts, and (c) the identity of the two preceding particulars is such that any
judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful,
amount to res judicata in the action under consideration. x x x[19]

The fact that the parties in the first and second cases are not identical will not prevent the
application of the principle of res judicata. Mere substantial identity of parties, or a community of
interests between a party in the first case and a party in the subsequent case, even if the latter was
not impleaded in the first case, is sufficient.[20] Moreover, a party cannot, by varying the form of action
or adopting a different method of presenting his case, escape the operation of the principle that one
and the same cause of action shall not be twice litigated between the same parties or their
privies.[21] This was what respondent resorted to in order to give some semblance of merit to the
complaint for annulment of title. He should have realized that

the ruling of the Court in Tuazon v. Court of Appeals[22] effectively determined with finality the rights and
obligations of the parties under the questioned deed of sale.

A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client but not at the expense of truth and the
administration of justice.[23] The filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Courts processes
and improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of justice and will
be punished as contempt of court. Needless to state, the lawyer who files such multiple or repetitious
petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and executory judgment) subjects himself to
disciplinary action for incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his duties as
an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such actions as appear to
him to be just and are consistent with truth and honor. [24]

The filing of another action concerning the same subject matter, in violation of the doctrine of res
judicata, runs contrary to Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires a lawyer
to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of
justice. By his actuations, respondent also violated Rule 12.02[25] and Rule 12.04[26] of the Code, as
well as a lawyers mandate to delay no man for money or malice.[27]

Lawyers should be reminded that their primary duty is to assist the courts in the administration
of justice. Any conduct which tends to delay, impede or obstruct the administration of justice
contravenes such lawyers duty. Indeed, the Court has time and again warned not to resort to forum
shopping for this practice clogs the court dockets.[28]
While we rule that the respondent should be sanctioned for his actions, we also note that the
power to disbar should be exercised with great caution, to be imposed only in a clear case of
misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court
and as a member of the bar. Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty could
accomplish the end desired.[29]

WHEREFORE, for violating Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent


Atty. Carmelito A. Montano is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. He
is STERNLY WARNED that any future violation of his duties as a lawyer will be dealt with more
severely. This Decision is immediately executory. Atty. Montano is DIRECTED to inform the Court of
the date of receipt of this decision.
SO ORDERED.
VICENTE SOTTO January 21, 1949

In re VICENTE SOTTO, for contempt of court.

Vicente Sotto in his own behalf.

FERIA, J.:

This is a proceeding for contempt of our court against the respondent Atty. Vicente Sotto, who was
required by their Court on December 7, 1948, to show cause why he should not be punished for
contempt to court for having issued a written statement in connection with the decision of this Court
in In re Angel Parazo for contempt of court, which statement, as published in the Manila Times and
other daily newspapers of the locality, reads as follows:

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 of narrow mindedness o the majority of its members, In
the wake of so many mindedness of the majority 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 his effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which as its objects
the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted, a constant peril to
liberty and democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: the
Supreme Court very 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.

Upon his request, the respondent was granted ten days more besides the five originally given him to
file his answer, and although his answer was filed after the expiration of the period of time given him
the said answer was admitted. This Court could have rendered a judgment for contempt after
considering his answer, because he does not deny the authenticity of the statement as it has been
published. But, in order to give the respondent ample opportunity to defend himself or justify the
publication of such libelous statement, the case was set for hearing or oral argument on January 4, the
hearing being later postponed to January 10, 1949. As the respondent did not appear at the date set
for hearing, the case was submitted for decision.

In his answer, the respondent does not deny having published the above quoted threat, and intimidation
as well as false and calumnious charges against this Supreme Court. But he therein contends that
under section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, which confers upon this Supreme Court the power to
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure, "this Court has no power to impose
correctional penalties upon the citizens, and that the Supreme Court can only impose fines and
imprisonment by virtue of a law, and has to be promulgated by Congress with the approval of the Chief
Executive." And he also alleges in his answer that "in the exercise of the freedom of speech guaranteed
by the Constitution, the respondent made his statement in the press with the utmost good faith and with
no intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable members of this high Tribunal, who, in his
opinion, erroneously decided the Parazo case; but he has not attacked, or intended to attack the
honesty or integrity of any one.' The other arguments set forth by the respondent in his defenses
observe no consideration.

Rules 64 of the rules promulgated by this court does not punish as for contempt of court an act which
was not punishable as such under the law and the inherent powers of the court to punish for contempt.
The provisions of section 1 and 3 of said Rule 64 are a mere reproduction of section 231 and 232 of
the old Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, amended, in connection with the doctrine laid down by
this Court on the inherent power if the superior courts to punish for contempt is several cases, among
them In re Kelly, 35 Phil., 944. That the power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts of superior
statue, is a doctrine or principle uniformly accepted and applied by the courts of last resort in the United
States, which is applicable in this jurisdiction since our Constitution and courts of justice are patterned
as expounded in American Jurisprudence is as follows:
The power of inflicting punishment upon persons guilty of contempt of court may be regarded
as an essential element of judicial authority, IT is possessed as a part of the judicial authority
granted to courts created by the Constitution of the United States or by the Constitutions of the
several states. It is a power said to be inherent in all courts general jurisdiction, whether they
are State or Federal; such power exists in courts of general jurisdiction independently of any
special express grant of statute. In many instances the right of certain courts of tribunals to
punish for contempt is expressly bestowed by statue, but such statutory authorization is
unnecessary, so far as the courts of general jurisdiction are concerned, and in general adds
nothing statutory authority may be necessary as concerns the inferior courts statutory authority
may be necessary to empower them to act. (Contempt, 12 Jur., pp. 418, 419.)

In conformity with the principle enunciated in the above quotation from American Jurisprudence, this
Court, in In reKelly, held the following:

The publication of a criticism of a party or of the court to a pending cause, respecting the same,
has always been considered as misbehavior, tending to obstruct the administration of justice,
and subjects such persons to contempt proceedings. Parties have a constitutional right to have
their fairly in court, by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publications or public clamor. Every
citizen has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the fundamental right to have
justice administered by the courts, under the protection and forms of law, free from outside
coercion or interference. Any publication, pending a suit, reflecting upon the upon court, the
parties, the officers of the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to the suit, or tending to
influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is punishable. The power to
punish for contempt is inherent in all court. The summary power to commit and punish for
contempt tending to obstructed or degrade the administration of justice, as inherent in courts as
essential to the execution of their powers and to the maintenance of their authority is a part of
the law of the land. (In re Kelly, 35 Phil., 944, 945.)

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; because if well founded it
may enlighten the court and contribute to the correction of an error if committed; but if it is not well taken
and obviously erroneous, it should, in no way, influence the court in reversing or modifying its decision.
Had the respondent in the present case limited himself to as statement that our decision is wrong or
that our construction of the intention of the law is not correct, because it is different from what he, as
proponent of the original bill which became a law had intended, his criticism might in that case be
tolerated, for it could not in any way influence the final disposition of the Parazo case by the court;
inasmuch as it is of judicial notice that the bill presented by the respondent was amended by both
Houses of Congress, and the clause "unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the
interest of the State" was added or inserted; and that, as the Act was passed by Congress and not by
any particular member thereof, the intention of Congress and not that of the respondent must be the
one to be determined by this Court in applying said act.

But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused to be published in the press, the respondent
does not merely criticize or comment on the decision of the Parazo case, which was then and still is
pending reconsideration by this Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not only intends to intimidate
the members of this Court with the presentation of a bill in the next Congress, of which he is one of the
members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the members, reorganizing the Supreme
Court and reducing the members of Justices from eleven to seven, so as to change the members of
this Court which decided the Parazo case, who according to his statement, are incompetent and narrow
minded, in order to influence the final decision of said case by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct
the administration of justice. But the respondent also attacks the honesty and integrity of this Court for
the apparent purpose of bringing the Justices of this Court into disrepute and degrading the
administration of justice, for in his above-quoted statement he says:

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 the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty
and democracy.
To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately "so many
blunders and injustices," that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the
law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was
rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily to undermine the
confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and consequently
to lower or degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is,
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 own 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.

Respondent's assertion in his answer that "he made his statement in the press with the utmost good
faith and without intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable members of this high
Tribunal," if true may mitigate but not exempt him from liability for contempt of court; but it is belied by
his acts and statements during the pendency of this proceeding. The respondent in his petition of
December 11, alleges that Justice Gregorio Perfecto is the principal promoter of this proceeding for
contempt, conveying thereby the idea that this Court acted in the case through the instigation of Mr.
Justice Perfecto.

It is true that the constitutional guaranty of freedom of speech and the press must be protected to its
fullest extent, but license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizen should not be confused with
liberty in its true sense. As important as the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise
of the right of the citizen, is the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary. As Judge Holmes
very appropriately said U. S vs Sullens (1929), 36 Fed. (2nd), 230, 238, 239: "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 to uphold the principles of the Constitution and laws, from which the former receives its
prerogatives 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 if 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 a individual exercises the right of self-defense, it will act to preserve its existence as an
unprejudiced tribunal. . . ."

It is also well settled that an attorney as an officer of the court is under special obligation to be respectful
in his conduct and communication to the courts, he may be removed from office or stricken from the
roll of attorneys as being guilty of flagrant misconduct (17 L. R. A. [N.S.], 586, 594).

In view of all the foregoing, we find the respondent Atty. Vicente Sotto guilty of contempt of this Court
by virtue of the above-quoted publication, and he is hereby sentenced to pay, within the period of fifteen
days from the promulgation of this judgment, a fine of P1,000, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency.

The respondent is also hereby required to appear, within the same period, and show cause to this Court
why he should not be disbarred form practicing as an attorney-at-law in any of the courts of this
Republic, for said publication and the following statements made by him during the pendency of the
case against Angel Parazo for contempt of Court.

In his statement to the press as published in the Manila Times in its issue of December 9, 1948, the
respondent said "The Supreme Court can send me to jail, but it cannot close my mouth; " and in his
other statement published on December 10, 1948, in the same paper, he stated among others: "It is
not the imprisonment that is degrading, but the cause of the imprisonment." In his Rizal day speech at
the Abellana High School in Cebu, published on January 3, 1949, in the Manila Daily Bulletin, the
respondent said that "there was more freedom of speech when American Justices sat in the Tribunal
than now when it is composed of our countrymen;" reiterated that "even if it succeeds in placing him
behind bars, the court can not close his mouth," and added: "I would consider imprisonment a precious
heritage to leave for those who would follow me because the cause is noble and lofty." And the Manila
Chronicle of January 5 published the statement of the respondent in Cebu to the effect that this Court
"acted with malice" in citing him to appear before this Court on January 4 when "the members of this
Court know that I came here on vacation." In all said statements the respondent misrepresents to the
public the cause of the charge against him for contempt of court. He says that the cause is for criticizing
the decision of this Court in said Parazo case in defense of the freedom of the press, when in truth and
in fact he is charged with intending to interfere and influence the final disposition of said case through
intimidation and false accusations against this Supreme Court. So ordered.

Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Perfecto, Bengzon, Briones, Tuason, Montemayor and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

PERFECTO, J., concurring:

Respondent published in the Manila newspapers of Sunday, December 5, 1948, a written statement in
relation with the decision rendered by this Court sentencing Angel Parazo to 30 days imprisonment for
contempt.

On December 7, 1948, considering the statement as "intended not only to intimidate the members of
this Court or influence the final disposition of said (Parazo) case, but also to degrade and vilify the
administration of justice," this Court adopted a resolution ordering respondent to show cause within five
days why he should not be punished for contempt, "without prejudice to taking further action against
him as attorney."

Alleging to be suffering from myologenous leukemia, with moderately severe anemia, and that his
physician had advised him to have "absolute rest and to avoid any form of mental and physical strain
for a few weeks," respondent prayed for a 15-day extension to file his answer. He was granted a 10-
day extension.

In the resolution of December 13, 1948, granting said extension, this Court branded as false
respondent's allegations the effect that he had formal charges pending in this Court against Mr. Justice
Perfecto and that the latter is the "moving spirit" of these contempt proceedings.

Two days after the expiration of the 10-day extension granted to him, respondent filed his answer. The
belated filing of said answer was overlooked by this Court in order not to deprive respondent of the
benefits of his answer. Filed out of time, due to his unexplained fault, it could legally have been rejected.

In said answer, dated December 24, 1948, respondent repeated one of his allegations which, in the
resolution of December 13, 1948, this Court had already declared to be false.

Respondent has not denied that he is the author of the statement for which he has been summoned to
our bar for contempt and he has not denied the correctness of the text published in the Manila
Chronicle and other daily newspapers and which is reproduced in the resolution of this Court of
December 7, 1948.

In his statement, respondent does not limit himself to saying that this Tribunal has erroneously
interpreted Republic Act No. 53, but alleges that said erroneous interpretation "is once more putting in
evidence the incompetency or narrow-mindedness of the majority of its members," coupled with this
sweeping and calumnious accusation:
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 fittingly crown this dastard imputation of deliberately committing blunders and injustice, respondent
would bully the members of this Court, by making the following intimidating announcement:

To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the coming
congressional sessions, will have as its objects the complete reorganization of the Supreme
Court.

There are other rhetorical passages in respondent's statement, aimed to emphasize the nuclear ideas
of the statement, to the effect that the majority of the members of the Supreme Court are incompetent
and narrow-minded and guilty of "so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed" and that the
author will introduce in the coming congressional sessions a measure "to change the members of the
Supreme Court" and to effect a "complete reorganization of the Supreme Court.

Among such maximizing expressions intended to stress the main ideas and purposes of the statement
are the following:

1. As it is now constituted, the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty and
democracy.

2. It need be said loudly, very loudly so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court if
today is far cry from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano
Arellano, Victoriano Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the glory of the
Philippine judiciary.

3. The reporter, who is erroneously convicted of contempt and unjustly sentenced to 30 days
imprisonment by the Supreme Court, should be immediately and spontaneously pardoned by
the Executive Power, to serve as lesson in law to the majority of the members of that High
Tribunal.

4. That sentence is intolerable, and should be protested by all newspapers throughout the
country, under the cry of "The press demands better qualified justices for the Supreme Court."

There can be no question that respondent knowingly published false imputations against the members
of this Court. He accused them of such depravity as to have committed "blunders and injustices
deliberately." He has maliciously branded them to be incompetent, narrow-minded, perpetrators of evil,
"a constant peril to liberty and democracy," to be the opposite of those who were the honor and glory
of the Philippines judiciary, to be needing a lesson in law, to be rendering an intolerable sentence, to
be needing replacement by better qualified justices.

Respondent has not presented any evidence or offered any to support his slanderous imputations, and
no single word can be found in his answer showing that he ever believed that the imputations are based
on fact.

Respondent appears to belong to the class of individuals who have no compunction to resort to
falsehood of falsehoods. The record of this case indicates that the practice of falsehoods seems to be
habitual in respondent, and this is proved when he reiterated in his answer one of his allegations in a
previous petition which were pronounced by this Court to be false in its resolution in its resolution of
December 3, 1948.

More than thirty years ago, using the words of respondent himself, in "those memorable times of
Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, and Manual Araullo and other learned jurists who were the glory
of the Philippines judiciary" and when it was the "impregnable bulwark of Justice," the Supreme Court
pronounced respondent guilty of falsehoods three times: first, in case in which he was sentenced to 4
years and 2 months of prision correccional for criminally abducting Aquilina Vasquez, a girl less then
18 years of age, and to pay her a dowry of P500 and to support the offspring of his relations with her
(U. S. vs. Sotto, 9 Phil., 231); second, in a sentence of disbarment as a blackmailer (In re Sotto, 38
Phil., 532); and third, in prison sentence for false libel (U. S. vs. Sotto, 38 Phil., 666). The first and the
last sentences bear the signature of Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano himself.

In the first case the Supreme Court found that only on July 29, 1906, Vicente Sotto wrote a letter to
Aquilina Vasquez, protesting his love for her and urging her to leave her house and go with him; on the
afternoon of August 1, 1906, Sotto made an arrangement with Luis Crisologo for the renting of his
house since that night when Sotto went with Aquilina into the room of the house, where she passed the
night; Sotto had told Crisologo that he wanted the house for a forestry ranger who was just arriving
from Bohol; Sotto did not leave the room until the middle of the night; Aquilina transferred to a house in
Sambag where Sotto brought various housekeeping utensils; during the following days and nights
Aquilina was visited by respondent.

On August 10, 1906, a complaint was filed against Vicente Sotto and Pio Datan, charging them with
the crime of rapto. As a defense, respondent offered evidence to show that on August 5, 1906, a legal
marriage was celebrated between Aquilina and the accused Pio Datan, Sotto's washerman and
accomplice in crime. Upon the evidence, the Supreme Court pronounced the celebration of the alleged
marriage to be false. The certificate of marriage offered as evidence in support of the claim that the
marriage took place had been declared a forgery.

It is not necessary to give the details of the whole disgusting affair, wherein the revolting and sinister
nature of an individual is pictured in bold relief with some of its ugliest features. The more that 4 years
of imprisonment imposed upon the accused did not reform him. It only served to emphasize the
beginning of along career of falsehoods and slanders already spanning more than 40 years, soon
nearing half of a century.

Respondent also chose not to deny his intimidating announcement to introduce in the coming sessions
of Congress, among the first measures, one for the change of the members of the Supreme Court and
for the latter's complete reorganization.

He has not explained or justified why he has to intimidate the members of the Supreme Court with
change and reorganization, and why, to make the intimidation more dreadful, he had to announce the
horrible course of subverting and trampling down the Constitution, as all who can read and understand
the fundamental law know that it is beyond the powers of Congress to reorganize and change the
membership of the Supreme Court.

Because the announcement is highly subversive, being aimed at shaking the very foundations of this
Republic, it could have been no less terrible than for the respondent to have announced an intention to
attain his purposes by resorting to open rebellion. The fact that respondent is a lawyer and a senator
aggravates his flaunted purpose to assault the very Constitution he has sworn to obey and defend.

We have devoted considerable time to respondent's answer.

As first defense, respondent alleges that he made the written press statement, not as a lawyer or as a
private citizen, but as a senator. He avers a senator should have ample liberty to discuss public affairs
and should not be annoyed with contempt proceedings.

Now law or valid authority has been invoked in support of the theory, unless we could countenance a
fictitious maxim that respondent is the sovereign. The theory lacks even the merit of novelty. Long
before the claim of respondent that, because he is a senator, he is above the law, Mussolini, Hitler and
all the tyrants and dictators who preceded them since the dawn of history had always claimed that they
were above they law and acted as if they were really so. Unfortunately for respondent, senators are
creatures of the Constitution and the Constitution makes them amenable to law.

As a second defense, respondent alleges that, not having appeared either as attorney or a witness in
the Parazo case, he cannot be held either for direct or for indirect contempt.

The defense is based on stark ignorance of the law on the subject.


Respondent alleges, as third defense, that he made his statement with "utmost good faith," with "no
intention of offending any of the majority of the honorable members of the High Tribunal," and that he
has not attacked nor intended to attack the honesty or integrity of any one.

This allegation lacks sincerity in view of his imputation, among several others equally false and
calumnious, that the majority members of the Supreme Court have committed many blunders and
injustices deliberately." The slanderous imputation can only be attributed to bad faith.

As another defense, respondent questions the validity of the penal provisions of Rule 64, implying that
said penalties are not procedural in nature, and invoking the provisions of section 13 of Article VIII of
the Constitution, limiting the rule-making power of the Supreme Court to matters of pleading, practice,
and procedure in courts, and to the admission to the practice of law.

Respondent's contention can be easily disposed of by quoting the following provisions of Act No. 190:

SEC. 231. What Contempts of Court may be Punished Summarily. — A court of First Instance
or a judge of such court at chambers, may punish summarily, by fine not exceeding two hundred
pesos, or by imprisonment not exceeding ten days, or both, a person guilty of misbehavior in
the presence of or so near the court or judge as to obstruct administration of justice, including
the refusal of a person present in court to be sworn as a witness or to answer as a witness when
lawfully required.

SEC. 232. What Other Acts are Contempts of Court. — A person guilty of any of the following
act any be punished as for contempt:

1. Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, judgment of command of a


court, or injunction granted by a court or judge;

2. Misbehavior of an officer of the court in the performance of his official duties, or in his official
transactions;

3. A failure to obey a subpoena duly served;

4. The rescue, or attempted rescue, of a person or property in the custody of an officer by virtue
of an order or process of the court held by him.

5. The persons defeated in a civil action concerning the ownership or possession of real estate
who, after being evicted by the sheriff from the realty under litigation in compliance with
judgment rendered, shall enter or attempt to enter upon the same for the purpose of executing
acts of ownership or possession or who shall in any manner disturb possession by the person
who the sheriff placed in possession of said reality.

SEC. 235. Trial of the Charge. — Upon the day fixed for the trial, the court shall proceed to
investigate the charge and shall hear any answer or testimony which the accused may make or
offer.

SEC. 236. Punishment if Found Guilty. — The court shall then determine whether the accused
is guilty off the contempt charged; and, if it be adjudged that he is guilty, he may be fined not
exceeding one thousand pesos, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. If the
contempt consist in the violation of an injunction, the person guilty of such contempt may also
be ordered to make complete restitution to the party injured by such violation.

Therefore, even on the false hypothesis that penalties for contempt are not procedural in nature, courts
of justice may impose said penalties, if not under Rule 64, under the provisions of Act No. 190.

The power to punish for contempt is inherent in courts of justice. It springs from the very nature of their
functions. Without such power, courts of justice would be unable to perform effectively their functions.
They function by orders. Every decision is a command. The power to punish disobedience to command
is essential to make the commands effective.
Respondent is in error in maintaining that the Supreme Court has no power to enact Rule 64, He is
correct in calling it judicial legislation although he fails to remember that judicial legislation in matters of
judicial practice and procedure is expressly authorized by section 13 of Article VIII of the Constitution.

As a last defense, respondent invokes the constitutional freedom of the press, which includes the right
to criticize judges in court proceedings.

Respondent, undoubtedly, misses the point, and his citations about said freedom, with which we fully
agree, have absolutely no bearing on the question involved in these proceedings.

No one, and the members of the Supreme Court would be the last to do so, has ever denied respondent
the freedom of the press and his freedom to criticize our proceedings, this Court and its members.
Respondent's statement goes much further than mere criticism of our decision and the majority
members of this Court. The statement is an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice, to
miscarry and defeat justice, by trammelling the freedom of action of the members of the Supreme Court,
by bullying them with the menace of change, reorganization, and removal, upon the false accusation
that they have been committing "blunders and injustices deliberately," and the menacing action
constitutes a flagrant violation of the Constitution. Such a thing is not covered by the freedom of the
press or by the freedom to criticize judges and court proceedings, as no one in his senses has ever
conceived that such freedom include any form of expressed gangterism, whether oral or written.

The freedom of the press is not involved in these proceedings. To assert otherwise is to mislead. What
is at stake in these proceedings is the integrity of our system of administration of justice and the
independence of the Supreme Court and its freedom from any outside interference intended to obstruct
it or to unduly sway it one way or another.

The freedom of the press is one of the causes which we have always endeared. The repeated
prosecution and persecutions we have endured in the past for its sake — we have been hailed to court
eight times, — are conclusive evidence of the firm stand we have taken as defender of such freedom.
It can be seen from official records that every acquittal handed down to us by the Supreme Court had
been a new step forward and new triumph for the freedom of the press. (U. S. vs. Perfecto, 42 Phil.,
113 Sept. 9, 1921; U.S. vs. Perfecto, 43 Phil., 58, March 4, 1922; U. S. vs. Perfecto, 43 Phil., 887,
March 4, 1922.) That stand has remained the same, as can be shown in our written opinion in another
contempt proceedings in the Ben Brillantes case, which failed to attract public attention at the time.

Among the facts which we cannot ignore in deciding this case, are the following:

1. That this is not the first time respondent has been brought to a court of justice, for a grave misbehavior
and for perpetrating stark falsehoods. In a decision by the Supreme Court of September 6, 1918,
respondent was removed from the office of attorney-at-law and incapacitated from exercising the legal
profession. He was found guilty of:

(a) Lack of fidelity to clients;

(b) Blackmailing, by abusing his position as director of a newspaper whose columns he used to blacken
the reputation of those who refused to yield to demands made by him in his business as lawyer;

(c) Publication of malicious and unjustifiable insinuations against the integrity of a judge who had fined
him for the crime of libel;

(d) Giving false testimony or perjury. (38 Phil., 532.)

2. On September 24, 1918, the Supreme Court sentenced respondent to imprisonment for libel, for
besmirching the honesty of three private individuals, Lope K. Santos, Jose Turiano Santiago and
Hermenegildo Cruz with false charges. (38 Phil., 666.)

3. After having been cited for contempt in these proceedings, respondent, in order to pose as a martyr
for the freedom of the press, waged a campaign of viturperation against the Supreme Court. He made
repeated press statements and delivered speeches in his home province to show that he cannot expect
justice from the Supreme Court, that the Supreme Court will imprison him, that he will be imprisoned
for the sake of the freedom of the press, thereby posing as a false martyr for it.

4. In his persecutory obsession, respondent would make all believe that, contrary to fact, the writer of
this opinion is the moving spirit behind these contempt proceedings and that the Supreme Court is
acting merely as a tool. Apparently, respondent was irked by his failure to sit even for a single moment
in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, because of our objection. The publicity given to our objection has
exposed the illegality of respondent's designation made by the Senate President as, under section 11
of Article VI of the Constitution, the power to choose Senators for the Electoral Tribunal belongs to the
Senate, and not to its presiding officer. At the bar of public opinion, the Senate President and
respondent appeared either to be ignorant of the Constitution or to be bent on flagrantly violating it.

5. Respondent is the number of the bill which was enacted into Republic Act No. 53, but the purposes
of his bill were thwarted by an amendment introduced by the Senate, denying the privilege granted
therein when in conflict with the interest of the Senate. Respondent's bill was for an absolute privilege.
Because the majority decision of the Supreme Court had made his failure patent, respondent took
occasion to give vent to his grudge against the Supreme Court, wherein, of the 15 cases he had since
liberation, he lost all except three, as can be seen in the records of the following cases:

L-23, Filomena Domiit Cabiling vs. The Prison Officer


of the Military Prison of Quezon City LOST
L-212, Narcisa de la Fuente vs Fernando Jugo, etc. et
al. WON
L-247, Monsig. Canilo Diel vs. Felix Martinez, etc. et
al. WON
LOST
L-301, In the matter of the petition of Carlos Palanca
(As amicus
to be admitted a Citizen of the Philippines
curiae
L-307, Eufemia Evangelista et al. vs. Rafael Maninang LOST
L-599, Amalia Rodriguez vs. Pio E. Valencia et al. LOST
L-1201, Vicente Sotto vs. Tribunal del Pueblo et al. LOST
L-1287, Ong Sit vs. Edmundo Piccio et al. LOST
L-1365, Vitaliano Jurado vs. Marcelo Flores LOST
L- 1509, Tagakotta Sotto vs. Francisco Enage LOST
L-1510, Bernarda Ybañez de Sabido et al. vs. Juan V.
Borromeo et al. LOST
L-1938, Vicente Sotto vs. Crisanto Aragon et al. WON
L-1961, The People of the Philippines vs. Antonio de
los Reyes LOST
L-2041, Quirico Abeto vs. Sotero Rodas LOST
L-2370, Voltaire Sotto vs. Rafael Dinglasan et al. LOST

Upon the records of his previous cases in 1918 and of these proceedings, it is inevitable to conclude
that we have before us the case of an individual who has lowered himself to unfathomable depths of
moral depravity, — a despicable habitual liar, unscrupulous vilifier and slanderer, unrepented
blackguard and blackmailer, shameful and shameless libeler, unmindful of the principles of decency as
all hardened criminals. He is a disgrace to the human species. He is a shame to the Senate.

Aghast at the baseness of his character, we felt, at first blush, the impulse of acquitting him, as his
contemptible conduct, culminating in the press statement in question, seemed compatible only with the
complete irresponsibility of schizophrenics, idiots, or those suffering from doddery.
His repeated press releases in which he tried to focus public attention to the most harmless part of his
statement, wherein he accuses the majority of the Supreme Court of incompetency or narrow-
mindedness, have shown, however, that respondent is not completely devoid of personal responsibility,
as he is aware that he has no possible defense for alleging that the members of the Supreme Court
have committed "blunders and injustices deliberately," for which reason he has widely publicized his
expectation that he will be sentenced in this case to imprisonment, a penalty that, by his repeated public
utterances, he himself gives the impression that he is convinced he deserves.

Verily he deserves to be sentenced to six months imprisonment, the maximum allowed by Rule 64, and
such penalty would not be heavy enough because of the attendance of several aggravating
circumstances, namely, the falsehoods he resorted to in this case, his insolence after he was cited for
contempt, the fact that he is a lawyer and a Senator, the fact that he has already been sentenced to
imprisonment for falsely libeling three private individuals, the fact that more than 30 years ago he had
been disbarred as a blackmailer, the fact that more than 40 years ago he was sentenced to be jailed
for more than 4 years as an abductor. The majority of this Court has sentenced a young and humble
newspaperman to 30 days imprisonment only for refusing to answer a question. The offense committed
by respondent is much graver than a mere refusal to answer a question.

We concur, however, in the decision imposing upon respondent a fine of P1,000 with subsidiary
imprisonment and ordering him to show cause why he should not be completely deprived of the
privilege of practicing the profession of a lawyer. High reasons of humanity restrained us from sending
respondent to prison, unless he should voluntarily choose to enter therein, instead of paying the fine.
He is old and, according to his physician, suffering from myologenous leukemia with moderately severe
anemia, requiring absolute and avoidance of any from of mental and physical strain, and we do not
wish to endanger respondent's life by sending him to prison, and thus causing him the mental and
physical strains which his physician advised him to avoid. Although the continued existence of
respondents is more harmful than beneficial to our Republic and to human society, we have to be
consistent with our abidance by the injunction of the Sermon on the Mount: "Thou shalt not kill." (Matth.,
Chapter 5, paragraph 21.) Although their segregation from the society of decent men is advisable
because of the dangers of corruptive contamination, even the lives of moral lepers have to be spared.
After all, the heaviest punishment for an evildoer is the inherent stigma of shame of his evildoings.

Let it be clear that we are not punishing respondent because we want to curtail his freedom of the
press, but because of his wanton interference in the independence of the Supreme Court his overt
attempt to deprive us of our freedom of judgment in a pending case, his swashbuckling bravado to
intimidate the members of this Court to sway their decision in favor of a litigant.

The freedom of the press is not in the least involved in these proceedings. The offensive statements
has not been published by respondent as a newspaperman, editor or journalist. He does not appear to
be a member of the staff of any one of the newspapers which published his statement. We did not even
molest said newspapers. Their editors have not been cited for contempt. We did not interfere with their
freedom to publish the scurrilous statement.

If respondent has not attempted by his browbeating to undermine and overthrow the very foundations
of our judicial system and actually sought to defeat and miscarry the administration of justification in a
pending litigation, we would certainly have abstained from summoning him merely for criticizing,
insulting and slandering the members of the Court. After all his reputation for lack of veracity, malice
and unscrupulosity is well-known in official records branding him with the indelible stigma of infamy.

His blatant posing, therefore, in this case as a martyr for the freedom of the press, as part of his
systematic campaign of falsehoods and slanders directed against the Supreme Court, is an imposture
that only ignorants, blockheads and other mental pachyderms can swallow.

It takes too much effrontery for such a character as respondent to pose as a martyr and no less than
for the sake of a sacred cause, the freedom of the press, which no one has no much dishonored with
his blackmailing practices and by his long list of cases in the courts of justice, starting as far back as
1901. (Julia vs. Sotto, 2 Phil., 247; U. S. vs. Sotto, 9 Phil., 231; In re Sotto, 38 Phil., 532; U. S. vs. Sotto,
38 Phil., 666; R.G. No. 201; U. S. vs. Sotto, R.G. No. 11067; U. S. vs. Sotto, R.G. No. 14284; U. S. vs.
Vicente Sotto, R.G. No. 16004; People vs. Vicente Sotto, R.G. No. 23643.)
Respondent belongs to that gang of unprincipled politicians headed by a Senate President who
trampled down the popular will by the arbitrary and unconstitutional suspension of Senators Vera,
Diokno and Romero (Vera vs. Avelino, 77 Phil., 192), who issued the false certification as to the voting
of the congressional resolution regarding the infamous Parity Amendment, thus perpetrating
falsification of public document (Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, 78 Phil., 1), who muzzled the people by
ordering, in usurpation of executive powers mayors all over the country not to allow the holding of public
meetings which the opposition had organized to denounce the frauds in the elections of November 11,
1947 (Cipriano C. Primicias, as General Campaign Manager of the Coalesced Minority Parties vs.
Valeriano E. Fugoso, as Mayor of the City of Manila, 80 Phil., 71) who wantonly violated the Constitution
by interfering with the management of the funds of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (Suanes vs. The Chief
Accountant of the Senate, 81 Phil., 819), who, again in violation of the fundamental law, usurped the
exclusive powers of the Senate when he designated respondent to sit in the Senate Electoral Tribunal,
and who crowned his misdeeds by enunciating on Saturday, January 15, 1949, the most immoral
political philosophy — that of open toleration of rackets, graft and corruption in public office.

According to Rizal, the victims immolated in the altar of great ideals, to be acceptable, have to be noble,
spotless and pure. They should, therefore, be as noble and pure as Socrates, Christ, Joan of Arc,
Lincoln, Bonifacio, Mabini, Gandhi and Rizal himself. Then and only then will martyrdom be hallowed
and glorified because it is will worthy of the effulgent grandeur of sacred ideals. "Hate never produces
anything but monsters and crime criminals!" Love alone realizes wonderful works, virtue alone can
save! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love! Pure and spotless must the
victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable!" (El Filibusterismo.)

Respondent complains in his answer that he is not accorded fair dealing because the writer of this
opinion has not abstained from taking part in this case. The complaint is absolutely groundless. It is
based on two false premises, concocted by respondent to make it appear that he is a victim of
persecution, and on a conclusion, also false, because based on the two false premises.

Respondent alleges that there are pending in the Supreme Court certain charges he filed against the
writer and that the undersigned is the "moving spirit" behind these proceedings. Both trump-up
allegations are false, and the Supreme Court has declared it to be so in its resolution of December 13,
1948.

The records of the Supreme Court show that no such charges have been filed. Respondent ought to
know, if he can read and understand the Constitution, that if he has any charge to file against a justice
of the Supreme Court to seek his ouster, he has to file it with the House of Representatives, the only
agency authorized by the fundamental law to institute impeachment proceedings.

If the House of Representatives should institute it, the respondent will have the opportunity to sit in
judgment as a senator as, under the Constitution, the Senate is the sole tribunal on cases of
impeachment.

No justice with full sense of responsibility should commit a dereliction of official duty by inhibiting himself
in a case upon imaginary or fabricated grounds. The members of the Supreme Court are not such
moral weaklings as to easily yield to dishonest appeals to a false sense of delicacy. A cowardly
surrender to groundless challenges of unscrupulous parties is unbecoming to a judge, and much more
to a Justice of the Highest Tribunal of the Republic.

It is true that, after respondent had failed to sit in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, because we objected
to the designation issued to him by Senate President Avelino on constitutional grounds, he requested
the Chief Justice to relieve us one of the members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and respondent
would make it appear that for his move we are prejudiced against him.

He is absolutely wrong. His request to the Chief Justice did not disturb us the least. The Constitution
does not grant anyone the power to oust, replace, or dismiss any member of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal, judicial or senatorial, during his term of office in the Tribunal. Although an illegal substitution
has been made once in the case of Senators Sebastian and Cuenco, such precedent did not make
constitutional what is unconstitutional, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has made clear his
stand to uphold the Constitution by stating it in black and white in the decision he penned in the Suanes
case L-2460. Respondent's failure was so obvious for us to mind his move.
After all, should we waste time and energy by entertaining any kind of prejudice against respondent,
when there are so many great minds, beautiful characters, and wonderful personalities that are
demanding our attention and whose spiritual companionship makes life enjoyable?

If we had entertained any prejudice against respondent, we would have meted out to him the penalty
of imprisonment which he well deserves ,without minding the ill consequences it may entail to his health
and life and without heeding the promptings of our pity and sense of humanity. Fortunately, very many
years have already elapsed since we acquired the state of mind with which we can judge things and
persons with an open and free conscience, truly emancipated from the shackles of any prejudice. The
hateful events during the Japanese occupation were the best mycelium for spawning and the choicest
fertilizers for growing prejudices against Generals Yamashita and Homma, to the extent of justifying
any measure or action that would spell their doom. Immediate members of our family and ourselves
endured agonizing sufferings and some of our near relatives were liquidated under their regime. But
when Yamashita and Homma came to this Supreme Court, seeking remedy against the absurdly
iniquitous procedure followed by the military commissions which tried them, so iniquitous that it closed
to the Japanese generals all chances of fair trial, no scintilla of prejudice precluded us from casting the
lone vote intended to give them the remedy and justice they sought for, notwithstanding the fact that
Yamashita and Homma, appeared, in the general consent of our people, to be veritable monsters of
cruelty and murder. Certainly, respondent would not pretend having given us, if ever, stronger grounds
for prejudice than Yamashita and Homma, or that he is worse than both of them.

We are not to end this opinion without expressing our steadfast addiction to the following propositions:

1. The independence of the judiciary from outside interference or obstruction is essential to the
effectively of its functions so that it can afford protection to fundamental rights including the freedom of
the press, against encroachments and illegal assaults.

2. The freedom of the press includes the right to comment on pending judicial cases and the right to
criticize the public and private life of all public officers, without any exception.

3. The freedom of the press does not, however, safeguard any publication intended to bully courts and
judges in order to sway their judgment on pending cases, and such interference and obstruction should
be promptly and drastically checked for the sake of an effective administration of justice.

4. Tribunal should be prompt in stopping the threatening and browbeating tactics of swaggering political
ruffians and cutthroats bend on thwarting the scale of justice, as the opposing alternative to such a
stern judicial attitude is surrendered to judicial anarchy.

5. Courts of justice annealed to face and ever ready to deal vigorously with attempts to turn them into
puppets of domineering would-be dictators are essential in maintaining the reign of law and
guaranteeing the existence of an orderly society.

This opinion has been written to modify and clarify our stand in concurring in the decision.
G.R. No. L-22979 June 26, 1967

RHEEM OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., ET AL., petitioners,


vs.
ZOILO R. FERRER, ET AL., respondents.

IN RE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ALFONSO PONCE ENRILE, LEONARDO SIGUION REYNA,


MANUEL G. MONTECILLO, ENRIQUE M. BELO, OSCAR R. ONGSIAKO, and JOSE S. ARMONIO,
members of the Philippine Bar.

Ponce Enrile, Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Belo for petitioners.


Jose T. Valmonte for respondents.

RESOLUTION

SANCHEZ, J.:

Contempt proceedings. The following from the motion to reconsider the decision herein, filed by counsel
for petitioners —

One pitfall into which this Honorable Court has repeatedly fallen whenever the question as to
whether or not a particular subject matter is within the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial
Relations is the tendency of this Honorable Court to rely upon its own pronouncement without
due regard to the statutes which delineate the jurisdiction of the industrial court. Quite often, it
is overlooked that no court, not even this Honorable Court, is empowered to expand or contract
through its decision the scope of its jurisdictional authority as conferred by law. This error is
manifested by the decisions of this Honorable Court citing earlier rulings but without making any
reference to and analysis of the pertinent statute governing the jurisdiction of the Court of
Industrial Relations. This manifestation appears in this Honorable Court's decision in the instant
case. As a result, the errors committed in earlier cases dealing with the jurisdiction of the
industrial court are perpetuated in subsequent cases involving the same issue . . . .

It may also be mentioned in passing that this Honorable Court contravened Rule 2, Section 5
of the Rules of Court when it applied the so-called "rule against splitting of jurisdiction" in its
Decision in the present case. As applied by this Honorable Court, the rule means that when an
employee files with the Court of Industrial Relations numerous claims relative to his employment
but only one [of] which is cognizable by said court under the law, while the others pertain to
other tribunals, that court has authority to entertain all the claims to avoid multiplicity, of suits. .
...

drew from the Court an order directing counsel to show cause why they should not be dealt with for
contempt of court.

In respondent attorneys' verified return, they offered "their most sincere apologies for the language
used" and stated that "[i]t was not and it has never been their intention to be disrespectful." They
manifested that the language "was the result of overenthusiasm on the part of Atty. [Jose S.] Armonio,
who thought best to focus the attention of this Honorable Court to the issue in the case, as not in any
way meant to slight or offend this Honorable Court. They also said that the unfortunate Motion for
Reconsideration was prepared and filed by Atty. Armonio who had been personally handling the case
since its inception at the Court of Industrial Relations, and who had, perhaps, become too emotionally
involved in the case."

Respondent members of the law firm, namely, Attys. Alfonso Ponce Enrile, Leonardo Siguion Reyna,
Manuel G. Montecillo, Enrique M. Belo and Oscar R. Ongsiako assumed "full responsibility" for what
appears in the motion for reconsideration. They submitted, not as an excuse, but as fact, that not one
of the partners was able to pass upon the draft or final form of the said motion, and that Atty. Armonio,
an associate, prepared, signed and filed the motion "without clearing it with any of the partners of the
firm." The return winds up with an expression of deep regret about the incident, coupled with an earnest
pledge that it "shall never happen again."
Subsequent to the return, respondent attorneys appeared in court. Attys. Ponce Enrile and Armonio
were orally heard.1äwphï1.ñët

1. As we look back at the language (heretofore quoted) employed in the motion for reconsideration,
implications there are which inescapably arrest attention. It speaks of one pitfall into which this Court
has repeatedly fallen whenever the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations comes into question.
That pitfall is the tendency of this Court to rely on its own pronouncements in disregard of the law on
jurisdiction. It makes a sweeping charge that the decisions of this Court blindly adhere to earlier rulings
without as much as making "any reference to and analysis of" the pertinent statute governing the
jurisdiction of the industrial court. The plain import of all these is that this Court is so patently inept that
in determining the jurisdiction of the industrial court, it has committed error and continuously repeated
that error to the point of perpetuation. It pictures this Court as one which refuses to hew to the line
drawn by the law on jurisdictional boundaries. Implicit in the quoted statements is that the
pronouncements of this Court on the jurisdiction of the industrial court are not entitled to respect. Those
statements detract much from the dignity of and respect due this Court. They bring into question the
capability of the members and — some former members — of this Court to render justice. The second
paragraph quoted yields a tone of sarcasm when counsel labelled as "so-called" the "rule against
splitting of jurisdiction."1

By now, a lawyer's duties to the Court have become common place. Really, there could hardly be any
valid excuse for lapses in the observance thereof. Section 20 (b), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, in
categorical terms, spells out one such duty: "To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of
justice and judicial officers." As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces that "[i]t is
the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the
temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance." That
same canon, as a corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against
"unjust criticism and clamor." And more. The attorney's oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that
should be "with all good fidelity . . . to the courts." Worth remembering is that the duty of an attorney to
the courts "can only be maintained by rendering no service involving any disrespect to the judicial office
which he is bound to uphold." 2

We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment. That is his privilege. And, he
may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. That is his misfortune. Some such frame of
mind, however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a court's decision in
words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the temples of right. He should
give due allowance to the fact that judges are but men; and men are encompassed by error, fettered
by fallibility.

2. What we have before us is not without precedent. Time and again, this Court has admonished and
punished, in varying degrees, members of the Bar for statements, disrespectful or irreverent,
acrimonious or defamatory, of this Court or the lower courts. 3 Resort by an attorney — in a motion for
reconsideration — to words which may drag this Court down into disrepute, is frowned upon as "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 the motion" are "sufficient," and such words "superfluous." 4 It is in this context that
we must say that just because Atty. Armonio "thought best to focus the attention" of this Court "to the
issue in the case" does not give him in bridled license in language. To be sure, lawyers may come up
with various methods, perhaps much more effective, in calling the Court's attention to the issues
involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions, emphatic but respectful, convincing
but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive.

To be proscribed then is the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem in courts,
creates or promotes distrust in judicial administration, or which could have the effect of "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." 5 Stability of judicial institutions suggests that the Bar stand firm on this
precept.

The language here in question, respondents aver, "was the result of overenthusiasm." It is but to repeat
an old idea when we say that enthusiasm, or even excess of it, is not really bad. In fact, the one or the
other is no less a virtue, if channelled in the right direction. However, it must be circumscribed within
the bounds of propriety and with due regard for the proper place of courts in our system of government. 6

We are not unmindful of counsel's statement that the language used "was not in any way meant to
slight or offend" this Court. Want of intention, we feel constrained to say, is no excuse for the language
employed. For, counsel cannot escape responsibility "by claiming that his words did not mean what any
reader must have understood them as meaning." 7 At best, it extenuates liability.

3. We now turn to the partners of the law firm. They explained that not one of them cleared the motion
in which the questionable portion appears. Their reason is that they were not in the office at the time
said motion was filed — which was the last day. They added that "it is the policy of the firm known to
all its members and associates that only the partners can sign court pleadings except in rare cases
where, for want of time or due to unexpected circumstances, an associate has to sign the same." We
understood Atty. Alfonso Ponce Enrile to have said in open court that in his long years of practice, he
knows that it serves no useful purpose to downgrade the dignity of the Court. We may overlook the
shortcomings of the members of the law firm; except that, as we see it, partners are duty bound to
provide for efficacious control of court pleadings and other court papers that carry their names or the
name of their law firm. Seemingly, such control was absent here.

In the end, we admonish Atty. Jose S. Antonio, with the warning that repetition of this incident will be
dealt with accordingly. Let a copy of this resolution be attached to his record.

Attention of Attys. Alfonso Ponce Enrile, Leonardo Siguion Reyna, Manuel G. Montecillo, Enrique M.
Belo and Oscar R. Ongsiako is invited to the necessity of exercising adequete supervision and control
of the pleadings and other documents submitted by their law firm to the courts of justice of this country.

So ordered.
[G.R. No. 159286. April 5, 2005]

TACARDON vs. ANG

EN BANC

Sirs/Mesdames:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated APR 5 2005.

G.R. No. 159286 (Rolando Tacardon, Hernan V. Fermin, Reynaldo M. Vargas and Jose Y. Ojoylan vs.
Ramon Ang, represented by Armando Ponce Enrile.)

The Court En Banc Resolved to ACCEPT this case which was referred to it en consulta by the Third
Division in the latter's resolution dated 30 March 2005.

Subsequent to this Court's Resolution dated September 15, 2003 denying his petition for review
on certiorari and Resolution dated January 12, 2004 denying his motion for reconsideration, Attorney
Francisco B. Cruz, counsel for petitioners, filed "A Practicing Lawyer's Plaint" and other manifestations
containing improvident and disrespectful language, highly reflecting his contemptuous regard for this
Court. Thus, notwithstanding that there has been an Entry of Judgment in this case dated February 13,
2004, we find it imperative to take appropriate action on the matter, specifically to perform our
constitutional mandate of instilling discipline upon an erring member of the Bar.

In his pleading entitled "A Practicing Lawyer's Plaint," Atty. Cruz alleged that this Court, in denying his
petition for review on certiorari and motion for reconsideration, has "desecrated legal and
jurisprudential norms." He cautioned its members that "acts not anchored on the rule of law but
on the rule of the powerful and the influential can be worse than the most heinous crimes." He
concluded that this Court "has become unpredictable" and thus, it is time for him "to consider
retiring from the practice of law."

Atty. Cruz's "Manifestation" dated June 7, 2004 contains a rather more direct innuendo, stating that he
has a "nascent suspicion that the Minute Resolutions denying his petition for review and motion
for reconsideration did not emanate from this Court and are of dubious authorship."Apparently,
Atty. Cruz doubts the authenticity of the Minute Resolutions dated September 15, 2003 and January
12, 2004 because they do not bear the signatures of the Justices concerned.

In the Resolution dated September 8, 2004, this Court, in order to enlighten him, called his attention
to Borromeo vs. Court of Appeals[1] which held:

"Minute resolutions need not be signed by the members of the Court who took part in the deliberations
of a case nor do they require the certification of the Chief Justice. For to require members of the Court
to sign all resolutions issued would not only delay the issuance of its resolutions but a great amount of
their time would be spent on functions more properly performed by the Clerk of Court and which time
could be more profitably used in the analysis of cases and the formulation of decisions and orders of
important nature and character."

Unfortunately, Atty. Cruz refused to be enlightened. He persisted in demanding that the names of the
Justices who took part in the deliberation of his petition be revealed. He even insinuated that the
withholding of their names shows that "something is indeed amiss," "there is a lot of corruption going
around x x x to which even Justices and Judges have not been immune," and that he should not be
blamed for doubting the authorship of the said Resolutions involving several violations of procedural
rules and considering that respondent is a powerful and influential person. His "plaint" is quoted as
follows:

"UNDERSIGNED attorney to this Honorable Court respectfully states that the Resolution promulgated
on September 8, 2004, received by counsel on October 13, 2004, has not answered the question
discreetly asked in his Manifestation dated June 7, 2004 regarding the authorship of the resolutions
denying his petition for review on certiorari filed in behalf of his clients.
In fact, the resolution to expunge the manifestation from the records has only whet the curiosity
of the undersigned regarding the said authorship and to suspect that something is indeed
amiss.

The undersigned is trying to get an assurance of the legitimacy of the resolutions issued in this case
by hoping to see the signatures of the members of this Honorable Court without giving offense to them.
The suggested signing of resolutions is merely incidental to the inquiry regarding the authorship of the
resolutions denying his petition for review on certiorari.

Obviously, the assurance cannot be given by the very persons who might be responsible for
any impropriety.

There is a lot of corruption going around involving Presidents, Legislators, Cabinet members,
and to which even Justices and Judges have not been immune, and lately, Generals. Even
lawyers are not now trusted as reflected in new rules promulgated by this Honorable Court.
Should this lawyer thus be blamed for doubting the authorship of the denial of his petition for
review on certiorari involving, as it does, several violations of the rules of procedure, and
considering that a very powerful and influential person is a party, to whom many will kowtow
and pay obeisance, even without being asked?

x x x

And the undersigned is willing to be censured if there is no basis for his doubt so he may the
better understand."

It clearly appears to us that the reason behind the above derogatory remarks is Atty. Cruz's
dissatisfaction with this Court's issuance of Minute Resolutions sans the signatures of the Justices who
deliberated on the case. He attributes a sinister irregularity in such procedure.

Counsel's imputation of irregularity is, of course, without basis. Had he taken time to read the Borromeo
vs. Court of Appeals cited in our Resolution dated September 8, 2004, he would have understood that
such a procedure is a recognized practice in this Court. In that case, we even ordered all law
practitioners, government lawyers, government prosecutors and Judges of trial courts to familiarize
themselves with such procedure and to refrain from filing, taking cognizance of, or otherwise taking
part in harassment suits against officials of the Court. There, this Court ruled:

"The Court reminds all lower courts, lawyers, and litigants that it disposes of the bulk of its cases by
minute resolutions and decrees them as final and executory, as where a case is patently without merit,
where the issues raised are factual in nature, where the decision appealed from is supported by
substantial evidence and is in accord with the facts of the case and the applicable laws, where it is clear
from the records that the petition is filed merely to forestall the early execution of judgment and for non-
compliance with the rules. The resolution denying due course or dismissing the petition always gives
the legal basis."

In In Re: Wenceslao Laureta,[2]cralaw this Court stressed that it is not "duty bound" to render signed
Decisions all the time. It has ample discretion to formulate Decisions and/or Minute Resolutions,
provided a legal basis is given, depending on its evaluation of the case, as was done here. As a
practitioner, Atty. Cruz should have been aware that this Court promulgates Minute Resolutions only
after the Justices have deliberated on the cases involved.

Now, we go to Atty. Cruz's accountability as a member of the Bar.

At the outset, it is best to take a look at the authority of this Court to discipline members of the Bar. As
guardian of the legal profession, it has plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys pursuant to its
constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which also includes authority to
regulate the practice of law itself. Apart from such constitutional mandate, this Court's disciplinary
authority is an inherent power incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an
orderly discharge of judicial functions.
Additionally, this Court has an inherent power to punish lawyers for contempt and to control in the
furtherance of justice their conduct. Where their conduct is contumacious, it constitutes
professional misconduct calling into play this Court's disciplinary authority.[3]

The case at bar involves the interplay of two (2) related powers: this Court's inherent powers
to (a)discipline attorneys and (b) punish them for contempt.

While professing reverence for the Court, Atty. Cruz has repeatedly insulted and threatened it in the
most loutish and insolent manner. He accused the Justices who deliberated on his case
of "desecrating legal and jurisprudential norms" and of being "unpredictable." He threatened them
that "acts not anchored on the rule of law but on the rule of the powerful and the influential can
be worse than the most heinous crimes. He broadly hinted that, "something is indeed amiss" in
the issuance of the subject Minute Resolutions and that the non-disclosure of the names of the Justices
was due to some irregularities. He justified his suspicions on the premise that "there is a lot of
corruption going around involving ...Justices" and that respondent is "a very powerful and
influential person to whom many will kowtow and pay obeisance, even without being asked." He
insulted this Court by stating that with its unpredictability, he might as well consider "retiring from the
practice of law."And lastly, he even challenged the Court to censure him if there is no basis for his
suspicions. His statements, without any basis, are grossly disrespectful, casting dishonor and disdain
to this Court. As a member of the Bar and officer of the Court, Atty. Cruz should have been the first one
to respect it and uphold its dignity.

Viewed vis-à-vis similar statements[4]cralaw penalized as contemptuous in the past, this Court holds
that Atty. Cruz's statements constitute direct contempt of court and call for the exercise of its disciplinary
authority.

In Ante vs. Pascua,[5]cralaw this Court held that contemptuous statements made in the pleadings
filed with the court constitute direct contempt. This is a reiteration of our ruling in Ang vs.
Castro,[6]cralawdeclaring that 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.

Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court reads:

"SECTION 1. Direct contempt punished summarily. - A person guilty of misbehavior in the presence of
or so near a court as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect
toward the court, offensive personalities towards others or refusal to be sworn or to answer as a
witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do so may be summarily
adjudged in contempt by such court and punished a fine not exceeding two thousand pesos or
imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days or both, if it be a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent
or higher rank x x x."

Atty. Cruz is also guilty of professional misconduct. Every lawyer is expected to maintain the
proper decorum in his dealings with the courts of justice and is never justified in using scurrilous and
threatening language in pleading his client's cause. Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility mandates that "A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts
and to judicial officers x x x." Rule 11.03 thereof mandates that "A lawyer shall abstain from
scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the courts." Impoliteness is a
vice that every member of the Bar must avoid. Intimidations do not suit his role as an officer of the
court. While criticism of judicial conduct is not forbidden and zeal in advocacy is in fact encouraged,
every lawyer must always act within the limits of propriety and good taste and with deference to the
courts before which he pleads.

By his own acts and words, Atty. Cruz has clearly shown that he is unfit to continue as a member of
the Philippine bar. Thus, we adopt the penalty imposed in the parallel case of In Re: Ponciano B.
Jacinto[7]which is suspension from the Bar. Atty. Cruz should be excluded from the Bar until he proves
worthy again to enjoy the privileges of his membership. It is imperative to instill in him a new sense of
discipline that should teach him anew that it is his duty to respect the courts of justice, especially this
Tribunal. This rehabilitation must be done outside the brotherhood he has dishonored and to which he
will be allowed to return only after he has purged himself of his misdeeds.[8]cralaw

ACCORDINGLY, Atty. Francisco B. Cruz is found guilty both of direct contempt of court and gross
misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. He is hereby SUSPENDED as a member
of the Bar and is prohibited from engaging in the practice of law until otherwise ordered by this Court.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Court Administrator to be distributed to all courts for their
information. This Resolution shall be spread in his personal record and is immediately executory.

Very truly yours,


[G.R. No. 120654. September 11, 1996]

MARIA LOURDES PAREDES-GARCIA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and HON.


ESCOLASTICO M. CRUZ, JR., respondents.

DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to set aside the
decision of 19 June 1995[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 dismissing the petitioners
special civil action for certiorari to annul the order of respondent Judge Escolastico M. Cruz, Jr., which
cited the petitioner for contempt and ordered her to pay a fine of P100.00.
The pleadings and the annexes thereto disclose the following uncontroverted facts:
The petitioner, an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal, was deputized at the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Makati City and assigned at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 58, Makati City. The
respondent is the presiding judge of the said branch.
At 8:30 a.m. of 11 April 1995, the respondent Judge commenced the session of his court. When
Criminal Cases Nos. 93-7434 to 39 (People of the Philippines vs. Ofelia Baja) was called, the petitioner,
who was the prosecutor assigned to the said case, was not yet around. She arrived ten minutes later,
just when the second case in the calendar was on its first call.The respondent Judge forthwith ordered
the petitioner to explain within seventy-two hours her failure to come to court on time.
Before the finalization of the aforesaid open court order, the petitioner filed her Explanation.[2] She
alleged therein that she actually reported to her office at 8:00 a.m., as shown by a copy of a page of
the Prosecutors logbook, and that she went to the respondent Judges court. However, she returned to
her office to attend to some matters prior to the hearing. She thereafter proceeded back to the
respondent Judges court for the hearings, but was late for ten minutes. At the time, the second case
was just on its first call. She asserted further that she had never been late in any of the hearings of the
court nor previously fined or ordered to explain for tardiness in any hearing, which is the respondent
Judges usual practice for lawyers and litigants who come late.
On 12 April 1996, the respondent Judge issued the following order,[3] which cited the petitioner in
contempt of court and directed her to pay within seventy-two hours from receipt of the order a penalty
in the amount of P100.00.
In an open court order dated April 11, 1995, the Public Prosecutor and the Public Attorney were
ordered to explain their failure to come to court at 8:30 in the morning.
On even date and before the finalization of the aforesaid open court order, Public Prosecutor Maria
Lourdes P. Garcia submitted an Explanation alleging, among other things, that on April 11, 1995, she
reported for work at around 8:00 a.m. as shown by the logbook, a photocopy of which she appended
to her Explanation.
In paragraph 5 of her Explanation, she contends that she had never been late in any of the court
hearings as in fact she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, a usual practice as a
matter of course.
The time has come for the Court to advice [sic] Asst. Prosecutor Garcia of the need to disabuse
her mind with the thought that the xerox copy of the logbook she attached to her Explanation has
evidentiary value insofar as coming to court on time is concerned. She maybe [sic] in her office at 8:00
a.m. or even earlier, but it does not follow that she is also in the court room before sessions
begin. Under the law on physics, no creature can occupy two different spaces at the same time. Coming
to her office on time is certainly different from coming to court on time.
On the argument that she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, Asst. Prosecutor
Garcia is well aware that her allegation of for the record, undersigned had never been late in any of the
hearings of this Court x x x is a downright lie. If only she will examine her conscience, she would know
that paragraph 5 of her Explanation is a falsity. The only reason why the court never ordered her to
explain her tardiness is because of PAKIKISAMA (companionship as translated into the English
language by Mr. Leo James English).
Asst. Prosecutor Garcias verbal clash with the branch clerk of court yesterday, April 11, 1995 is
the proverbial last straw that broke the camels back. The branch clerks refusals to let her enter the
undersigneds chambers are all orders of the undersigned out of propriety. Propriety dictates that no
lawyer with a pending case government or private should be allowed to talk with the undersigned. Asst.
Prosecutor Garcia has not only been improper in her several attempts to enter the undersigneds
chambers she has also been improper in asking the staff of this court to carry her travelling
bags/paraphernalias [sic] for her, to buy food, to deposit her pay checks, to run errands for her all
reaching the knowledge of the branch clerk of court and the undersigned. Worse, if the Asst. Prosecutor
would perhaps get down to brass tacks and remain in the court room while criminal proceedings are
going on, no case on technicality could have been lost (re: People vs. Cawili).
In defiance of Memorandum # 1-95 dated March 28, 1995 conspicuously posted right at the court
room door, she still attempted several times to talk to the undersigned in chambers, prompting the
branch clerk of court to exercise her administrative powers to rightfully prevent as she did, the Asst.
Prosecutor from doing so.
WHEREFORE, with all these and more, finding the Explanation a downright lie, Asst.
Prosecutor MARIA LOURDES P. GARCIA is hereby cited in CONTEMPT of Court. Consequently, she
is hereby ordered to pay within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of this order, a penalty in the amount
of P100.00 to the branch clerk, this court, who in turn is directed to turn over the fine to the Office of
the Clerk of Court after issuing the corresponding receipt therefor.
The petitioner filed a motion for a reconsideration of the order, which was, however, denied by the
respondent Judge. Pertinent portion of the order of denial reads:
Paragraph 9 of Asst. Prosecutor Maria Lourdes P. Garcias Motion for Reconsideration alleging
that x x x this being the first incident at that, she does not deserve such cruel and harsh treatment from
this Honorable Court; is false, for the truth is what is stated in page 2 of the contempt order reproduced
hereunder, thus:

On the argument that she had never been ordered to explain nor imposed a fine, Asst. Prosecutor
Garcia is well aware that her allegation of for the record, undersigned had never been late in any of the
hearings of this court x x x is a downright lie. If only she will examine her conscience, she would know
that paragraph 5 of her Explanation is a falsity. The only reason why the court never asked her to
explain her tardiness is because of PAKIKISAMA (companionship as translated in the English language
by Mr. Leo James English).[4]

Aggrieved by the aforementioned orders, the petitioner instituted with the Court of Appeals a
special civil action for certiorari, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 37081, wherein she
challenged the orders in this manner:

FIRST: BEING UNINTENTIONALLY LATE FOR TEN (10) MINUTES DUE TO THE
PERFORMANCE OF OTHER OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS BY THE PETITIONER WHO IS
AN ASSISTANT PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ASSIGNED IN MAKATI CITY IS NOT A
CALLOUS DISREGARD TO THE ORDERS OF THE COURT NOR A CONTUMACIOUS
ACT AGAINST THE DIGNITY OF THE COURT AND AGAINST THE SOLEMNITY OF
ITS PROCEEDINGS.

SECOND: THE CONTEMPT ORDER AND THE SUBSEQUENT ORDER OF THE HONORABLE
PUBLIC RESPONDENT DENYING PETITIONERS MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION ARE HARSH AND CRUEL AND THAT THEY WERE DONE AND
ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

THIRD: THE ISSUANCE OF A WARRANT OF ARREST IS A MISAPPLICATION AND A CLEAR


MISAPPRECIATION ON THE PART OF THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT
OF SECTION 1, RULE 70 OF THE RULES OF COURT.
FOURTH: THE ASSAILED ORDERS AND THE PENALTIES IMPOSED BY THE HONORABLE
PUBLIC RESPONDENT WILL WORK GREAT INJUSTICE TO THE PETITIONER.

FIFTH: THERE IS NO OTHER PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY
COURSE AND LAW AVAILABLE TO THE HEREIN PETITIONER.[5]

In his comment on the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081, the respondent Judge defended the
correctness of his orders and attached thereto, among other things, (a) his Office Memorandum 1-95
of 28 March 1995 outlining his policy on those who wish to see him in his chambers; (b) his own affidavit
narrating his policies on how to conduct sessions in relation to tardiness and imposition of fines in
particular, the instances when the petitioner personally apologized to him for her tardiness, and the
reason why he cited the petitioner for contempt; (c) copies of eight of his orders imposing fines on
government and private prosecuting lawyers and litigants who arrived late in court; (d) separate
affidavits of the personnel of his sala (branch clerk of court, Criminal Cases in-charge, legal researcher,
two court stenographers, branch sheriff, process server, court aide, two casual employees), a
prosecution witness, and a private complainant, attesting to instances of tardiness of the petitioner.
The Court of Appeals limited the issues to whether the petitioner was tardy and whether she
committed falsehood in her explanation.[6]
In its decision of 19 June 1995,[7] the Court of Appeals dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 37081. As to
the first issue, it held that the petitioner herself admitted the fact of her tardiness. As to the second
issue, it found that the petitioner was not honest about her punctual attendance in court, which if
considered together with her tardiness, may be punished with contempt. Thus:
The possibility is, the petitioner was penalized for contempt not only because she was late or tardy,
but also because of falsehood in her April 11, [1995] explanation. Precisely, the respondent said,
despite her tardiness, she offered no apology and worst she allegedly lied. Her temerity in alleging a
falsehood is a callous disregard of the dignity of the court and a manifestation of disregard of the virtue
of honesty. Besides, petitioners blatant allegation of an obvious falsehood is a wrongful act.[8]
The Court of Appeals gave credence to the affidavits of the respondent Judge and several court
employees attesting to the tardiness of the petitioner on certain occasions. It concluded that although
a late appearance by only about 10 minutes does not per se amount to a stubborn or perverse
disobedience, that tardiness coupled with statements less than truthful should certainly be castigated. It
went on to state that:

The respondent Judge should not be faulted for being strict in the matter of time attendance during
trials. He has . . . consistently penalized private as well as government lawyers, litigants, witnesses and
court personnel who are remiss in their duties to come to court on time, a policy he adopted without
exemptions, since 1989 when he was still a Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila.[9]

The petitioner then came to this Court through the instant petition for review contending that the
decision of the Court of Appeals is based on a mere possibility, thereby depriving her of her
constitutional right to be presumed innocent. She would never have the nerve or temerity to violate the
courts rules, indulge in any falsehood, or commit any act which would taint her record and jeopardize
her burning ambition to join the judiciary in the future. She argues that if indeed she had been late, the
best evidence would have been a reprimand or admonition in an order issued by the respondent Judge;
no such order exists. The fact that she immediately submitted her explanation indicated her unfailing
respect to the court. She also attacks the value of the affidavits submitted by the respondent Judge
before the Court of Appeals for having been executed through the respondent Judges influence, who
exercises moral ascendancy over the affiants. She attached to her petition machine copies of several
pages of the Prosecutors Logbook showing her daily attendance from 16 August 1994 to 11 April
1995.[10]
The petitioner also alleges that the contempt order was a retaliatory act because she had spurned
the respondent Judges amorous advances to her. Describing herself as a young woman, who is, by
standards of physical beauty, well-endowed and physically attractive, she claims that the respondent
Judge had been extending unusual courtesies to her. There were numerous occasions when he would
visit her in her office or invite her for lunch at his chambers or elsewhere; he also allowed her frequent
access to his chambers and provided her an electric fan and a cellular phone. These were discreet
ministrations for her to give in to his offers for cocktails or a date at karaoke clubs. But prior to the
issuance of the contempt order, she earned the ire of the respondent Judge, because on a trip to
Cagayan de Oro City, she failed to call him despite his numerous requests to do so. She explained to
him that she had lost the phone. At another time, he sought her for the jurat in his affidavit; but when
she requested him to personally appear before her and take his oath, the respondent Judge was
apparently insulted and had the affidavit retrieved and referred to another prosecutor instead. She was,
in fact, the prime target of Memorandum No. 1-95, to sever whatever free access she had previously
enjoyed.
Finally, the petitioner asserts that the respondent Judge acted with unusual haste in dismissing her
explanation and motion for reconsideration. If she were indeed guilty of anything, it would only be an
indirect contempt.
In his Comment, the respondent Judge questions the viability of this petition for its failure to raise
questions of law and to show that it falls within the exceptions to the rule on conclusiveness of the
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals. He underscores the fact that the petitioner admitted her
tardiness. The affidavits he submitted cannot be taken lightly, for they have been obtained from various
affiants whose positive assertions cannot prevail over the petitioners self-serving denial. He also
observes that some annexes[11] of the petition readily show that the petitioner had been late seven times
when she logged her time of arrival at her office at 8:30 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 8:45 a.m. Evidently, if she
arrived at her office at 8:30 a.m., she could not have been in court at the same time. He claims that he
has consistently fined public and private lawyers and litigants who arrived late in court.
The respondent Judge further alleges that the electric fan was lent to the petitioner by the officer-
in-charge of the court, not by him, and that the cellular phone was just borrowed from him by the
petitioner. He denies the alleged amorous advances and claims that the petitioner is suffering from
some delusion of beauty.[12]
Finally, the respondent Judge avers that all these years his record as a trial court judge remains
unsullied. He had been the recipient of several awards, such as the (1) Jose Abad Santos Award for
Most Outstanding Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of the Philippines [1991] given by the Foundation for
Judicial Excellence; (2) Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award [1991] given by the Office of the President;
and the (3) Outstanding Pillar of Justice Award [1994] given by the city government of Manila. On the
other hand, he bemoans the petitioners competence as a prosecutor and cites an instance where her
neglect in requesting the complainant to identify the signature of the drawee of bounced checks caused
the acquittal of the accused in a case[13] involving a violation of B.P. Blg. 22 (Bouncing Checks Law). In
another case,[14] she deliberately attempted to mislead the court by offering exhibits different from that
presented and marked in court.
In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General prays for the dismissal of the petition, as (a) it
raises pure questions of fact; and (b) contrary to the petitioners assertion, the challenged decision is
supported by the evidence on record notwithstanding the Court of Appeals use of the word possibility. In
any event, the error thus raised refers to the application of evidence. As regards the petitioners
contention that the Court of Appeals disregarded certain relevant facts showing the oppressive and
vindictive attitude of the respondent Judge, the Office of the Solicitor General avers that the same
cannot be entertained for having been raised for the first time on appeal.
In her Reply to the Comments, the petitioner brings into focus the Court of Appeals alleged error
in upholding the nature of the contempt as direct contempt; in sustaining the legality of the contempt
order, although it was issued without due process; and in failing to consider the ulterior motive of the
respondent Judge in issuing the contempt order and to correct the patent cruelty, the latent
vindictiveness, oppressiveness, and the retaliatory nature of the said order. She attached thereto a
copy of her performance rating sheet and the affidavit of Ma. Enrina Talag-Pascual. The former shows
that her performance score for 1995 was 90%, earning for her a very satisfactory rating. She was, as
well, evaluated to possess good public relations and an integrity that is beyond reproach. In the latter,
affiant Enrina, a former acting branch clerk of court and interpreter of Branch 13, Metropolitan Trial
Court of Manila, declared that when the respondent Judge was the presiding judge of the said branch,
he did certain acts leading toward a special personal relationship with her. When he later noticed her
frequent male visitor and her preference for that visitor, the respondent Judge would no longer talk to
her nor give her anything to do. Eventually, another person got the appointment to the position she was
aspiring for. Feeling cheated and taken advantage of, she resigned.
We resolved to give due course to this petition, and the parties submitted the required memoranda.
We find for the petitioner.
The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts. It is indispensable to their right of self-
preservation, to the execution of their powers, and to the maintenance of their authority, and
consequently to the due administration of justice.[15] It is an essential element, or is possessed as part,
of judicial authority vested by the Constitution in the courts.[16] Put a little differently, the power is an
implied constitutional power.[17]
The power, however, is not limitless. It must be used sparingly with caution, restraint,
judiciousness, deliberation, and due regard to the provisions of the law and the constitutional rights of
the individual. It should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. Being
drastic and extraordinary in its nature, it should not be resorted to unless necessary in the interest of
justice.[18] For, as observed in People vs. Estenzo:[19]
There is a compelling and exigent need therefore for judges to take utmost care lest prejudice, innate
or covert hostility to personality of counsel, or previous incidents lead them to characterize conduct
susceptible of innocent explanation as slights on the dignity of the court. It is ever timely to remember
how easy it is to overstep the dividing line that should separate the prosecutor from the judge, when
both roles are merged in the same person. The infusion of personal element may go unnoticed. Even
if such were not the case, objectively viewed, such an impression may be difficult to avoid by
laymen. That is a consideration that cannot be overlooked.
Indeed, the contempt power could easily tempt a judge to make its exercise nothing more than a
camouflage for a wounded pride, a burning prejudice, revenge, a misplaced passion, or selfish motives.
We do not hesitate to rule that the respondent Judge failed to observe the rule of conduct in the
exercise of the power to punish the petitioner for contempt of court. In our considered opinion, he acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in holding the petitioner guilty of
contempt without complying with the requirements of due process.
It must be underscored that in open court on 11 April 1995, the respondent Judge merely ordered
the petitioner to explain her failure to come to court on time or at 8:30 a.m. of that day.That order did
not yet amount to a show-cause order or a citation directing an explanation why she should not be held
in contempt of court for tardiness. Tardiness could be a valid ground for contempt. Justice Malcolm
remarked:
All too frequently, a Court of First Instance finds it necessary to impose a small fine on attorneys for
failure to be present at the session of the court at the hour and on the day named and for unseemly
behavior in the presence of the court.[20]
Failure of counsel to appear in court for trial despite due notice was held to constitute indirect
contempt,[21] for it is a misbehavior committed not in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to
interrupt the administration of justice.[22]
The Explanation of the petitioner which was forthwith submitted was an explanation of her failure
to come on time, as was, in fact, called for in the order.
The respondent Judge issued the challenged order of 12 April 1995 mainly because of his
perception that the explanation was a downright lie, and for the other grounds enumerated in the
order, viz., the petitioners (a) verbal clash with the branch clerk of court on 11 April 1995 when the latter
prevented the former from entering the Judges chamber; (b) previous improper attempts to enter the
said chambers; (c) improper conduct in asking the staff of the court to carry her travelling bags or
paraphernalia, buy food, deposit her pay checks, or run errands for her; (d) defiance of the respondent
Judges Memorandum No. 1-95, dated 28 March 1995; and (e) failure to remain in court while criminal
proceedings were going on resulting in the dismissal of a case due to technicality.
Clearly then, the petitioner was cited and punished for contempt not only because of her failure to
come to court on time in the morning of 11 April 1995, but also because of the foregoing acts or
omissions. Her tardiness as a ground for contempt was, however, relegated to the background, for the
respondent Judge had found other grounds for contempt.
The grounds or reasons enumerated by the respondent Judge could constitute grounds for indirect
contempt under Section 3, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, probably under paragraphs (a) and (d)
thereof.[23] He cannot, therefore, immediately impose a penalty, but must faithfully comply with the due
process requirements prescribed in the said Section 3, namely, the filing of a charge in writing and
giving the accused an opportunity to be heard by himself or by counsel. The charge under this section
may be made by the judge himself.[24] And considering that the latter seemed to have personal
knowledge of such alleged grounds, it was even his duty if he were honestly convinced of the viability
of such grounds to institute the proceedings.[25] If the answer to the charge is satisfactory, the contempt
proceedings ends. Otherwise, it shall proceed in accordance with the Rules.[26] On the day set for the
hearing, the court shall proceed to investigate the charges and consider such answer or testimony as
the respondent may make or offer.[27] Since contempt of court proceedings are commonly treated as
criminal in their nature, the mode of procedure and rules of evidence therein are assimilated to criminal
prosecutions.[28] Accordingly, if reasonable doubt in fact or in law exists as to the alleged contemners
guilt, the doubt shall be resolved in favor of the alleged contemner.[29] The penalty, if warranted, can
only be imposed after the alleged contemner shall have been heard.[30]
In finding the petitioner guilty of the aforementioned acts and imposing upon her the penalty of a
fine without granting her an opportunity to answer the imputed falsehood and improprieties and an
opportunity to be heard, the respondent Judge disregarded the requirements of due process in
contempt proceedings and, therefore, acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion.[31]
Even assuming arguendo that the respondent Judges order of 12 April 1995 was meant to be a
resolution on the issue of the petitioners tardiness in the morning of 11 April 1995, and that it could be
summarily dealt with as a direct contempt and forthwith punished, the penalty of P100.00 is
unreasonable. The petitioner admitted that she was late by ten minutes and that she arrived when the
second case in the calendar was on its first call. This reference to a first call, which is not denied by the
respondent Judge, presupposes the existence of a practice where at the commencement of the
sessions at 8:30 a.m. the cases are called to determine which are ready and to call the second time
those which were not ready on the first call. Of course, it cannot be expected that two cases ready on
the first call would be tried at the same time. The delay then of ten minutes was of de
minimis importance, especially considering the fact that there is no showing at all that another case
was ready for trial at 8:30 a.m.
As to the alleged lie which the respondent Judge characterized as downright, no evidence supports
it except his appeal to the petitioner to examine her conscience because she knew that if the court
never ordered her to explain her tardiness it was due to pakikisama. This appeal to the petitioners
conscience was itself an admission that there was no evidence to prove the petitioners prior tardiness
or of any order calling her attention to it or admonishing her for that. If it was the respondent Judges
practice or policy to impose a fine on lawyers and litigants and he was able to attach to his Comment
in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 copies of eight orders imposing such fines then he should have done so
against the petitioner if she were tardy in the past. Yet, he could not produce any order intended for the
petitioner; he was then unfair or discriminatory in the implementation of his policy or practice. If the
petitioner had in fact been tardy to a point of habituality, no pakikisama can warrant the respondent
Judges tolerance, unless we are to believe the petitioners version that she had been the object of the
respondent Judges special attention or grant of privileges in the past.
Moreover, since what was filed was a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court, which is an available remedy in appropriate cases of judgments in contempt
proceedings,[32] the only issue which the respondent Court had to resolve was whether the respondent
Judge has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the
challenged orders.[33] It should not have taken into account in resolving the merits of the case the
affidavits and other documents submitted by the respondent Judge to prove the alleged falsehood in
the petitioners Explanation and the correctness of his orders. These pieces of evidence, obtained when
this case was already before the Court of Appeals, were not available to or considered by the
respondent Judge when he issued the orders.
The above pronouncements should not be understood as absolving the petitioner from any liability
for her tardiness or from her solemn duty as an officer of the court. As a lawyer, she is bound by her
oath to conduct herself as a lawyer according to the best of her knowledge and discretion with all good
fidelity as well to the courts as to her client. She should never forget that punctuality is not only a practice
mandated by the Code of Professional Responsibility[34] and Canons of Professional Ethics,[35] it is a
virtue which must be faithfully maintained as part of her contribution in the task of ensuring a speedy,
efficient, and effective administration of justice. If the petitioner then had committed a breach of her
duty to the court she should accordingly be dealt with but in accordance with established
procedure. The right to do so is hereby reserved to the respondent Judge.
We close with the sad observation that both the petitioner and the respondent Judge have resorted
to personal attacks against each other in this case. They failed to limit themselves to the issues and
even exchanged tirades on their competence and physical being. They did not observe the proper
decorum of civility and refinement even in times of disagreement. Such is not expected of them as
officers of the court. What happened in this case may not easily be forgotten by them. If the petitioner
would thus remain detailed at the branch of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City presided over by
the respondent Judge the soured relationship may affect the administration of justice. The petitioner
then must be re-assigned somewhere else.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The challenged decision of 19 June 1995 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 37081 and the challenged orders of respondent Judge Escolastico
M. Cruz, Jr., of 12 April 1995 and 20 April 1995 in Criminal Cases Nos. 93-7434 to 39 are SET ASIDE.
The Department of Justice and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal are requested to
recall the designation of the petitioner to Branch 58 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City and to
detail her to other courts if these have not been done yet.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
JONAR SANTIAGO, A.C. No. 6252
Complainant,
Present:

Panganiban, J.,
Chairman,
- versus - Sandoval-Gutierrez,
Corona, and
Carpio Morales,* JJ
Promulgated:
Atty. EDISON V. RAFANAN,
Respondent. October 5, 2004

x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- x

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

notaries public are expected to exert utmost care in the performance of their duties, which are

impressed with public interest. They are enjoined to comply faithfully with the solemnities and

requirements of the Notarial Law. This Court will not hesitate to mete out appropriate sanctions to those

who violate it or neglect observance thereof.


__________________
*
On leave.

The Case and the Facts

Before us is a verified Complaint[1] filed by Jonar Santiago, an employee of the Bureau of Jail

Management and Penology (BJMP), for the disbarment of Atty. Edison V. Rafanan. The Complaint was

filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on

January 16, 2001. It charged Atty. Rafanan with deceit; malpractice or other gross misconduct in office

under Section 27 of Rule 138[2] of the Rules of Court; and violation of Canons 1.01, 1.02 and 1.03[3],
Canon 5[4], and Canons 12.07[5] and 12.08

of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).

In his Report, IBP Investigating Commissioner Leland R. Villadolid Jr. summarized the

allegations of the complainant in this wise:

x x x. In his Letter-Complaint, Complainant alleged, among others, that


Respondent in notarizing several documents on different dates failed and/or refused to:
a)make the proper notation regarding the cedula or community tax certificate of the
affiants; b) enter the details of the notarized documents in the notarial register; and c)
make and execute the certification and enter his PTR and IBP numbers in the documents
he had notarized, all in violation of the notarial provisions of the Revised Administrative
Code.

Complainant likewise alleged that Respondent executed an Affidavit in favor of


his client and offered the same as evidence in the case wherein he was actively
representing his client. Finally, Complainant alleges that on a certain date, Respondent
accompanied by several persons waited for Complainant after the hearing and after
confronting the latter disarmed him of his sidearm and thereafter uttered insulting words
and veiled threats.[6]

On March 23, 2001, pursuant to the January 19, 2001 Order of the CBD, [7] Atty. Rafanan filed his

verified Answer.[8] He admitted having administered the oath to the affiants whose Affidavits were

attached to the verified Complaint. He believed, however, that the non-notation of their Residence

Certificates in the Affidavits and the Counter-affidavits was allowed.

He opined that the notation of residence certificates applied only to documents acknowledged

by a notary public and was not mandatory for affidavits related to cases pending before courts and

other government offices. He pointed out that in the latter, the affidavits, which were sworn to before

government prosecutors, did not have to indicate the residence certificates of the affiants. Neither did

other notaries public in Nueva Ecija -- some of whom were older practitioners -- indicate the affiants

residence certificates on the documents they notarized, or have entries in their notarial register for

these documents.
As to his alleged failure to comply with the certification required by Section 3 of Rule 112[9] of

the Rules of Criminal Procedure, respondent explained that as counsel of the affiants, he had the option

to comply or not with the certification. To nullify the Affidavits, it was complainant who was duty-bound

to bring the said noncompliance to the attention of the prosecutor conducting the preliminary

investigation.

As to his alleged violation of Rule 12.08 of the CPR, respondent argued that lawyers could

testify on behalf of their clients on substantial matters, in cases where [their] testimony is essential to

the ends of justice. Complainant charged respondents clients with attempted murder. Respondent

averred that since they were in his house when the alleged crime occurred, his testimony is very

essential to the ends of justice.

Respondent alleged that it was complainant who had threatened and harassed his clients after

the hearing of their case by the provincial prosecutor on January 4, 2001. Respondent requested the

assistance of the Cabanatuan City Police the following day, January 5, 2001, which was the next

scheduled hearing, to avoid a repetition of the incident and to allay the fears of his clients. In support

of his allegations, he submitted Certifications[10] from the Cabanatuan City Police and the Joint

Affidavit[11] of the two police officers who had assisted them.

Lastly, he contended that the case had been initiated for no other purpose than to harass him,

because he was the counsel of Barangay Captain Ernesto Ramos in the cases filed by the latter before

the ombudsman and the BJMP against complainant.

After receipt of respondents Answer, the CBD, through Commissioner Tyrone R. Cimafranca,

set the case for hearing on June 5, 2001, at two oclock in the afternoon. Notices[12] of the hearing were

sent to the parties by registered mail. On the scheduled date and time of the hearing, only complainant

appeared.Respondent was unable to do so, apparently because he had received the Notice only on

June 8, 2001.[13] The hearing was reset to July 3, 2001 at two oclock in the afternoon.
On the same day, June 5, 2001, complainant filed his Reply[14] to the verified Answer of

respondent. The latters Rejoinder was received by the CBD on July 13, 2001.[15] It also received

complainants Letter-Request[16] to dispense with the hearings. Accordingly, it granted that request in

its Order[17] dated July 24, 2001, issued through Commissioner Cimafranca. It thereby directed the

parties to submit their respective memoranda within fifteen days from receipt of the Order, after which

the case was to be deemed submitted for resolution.

The CBD received complainants Memorandum[18] on September 26, 2001. Respondent did not file

any.

The IBPs Recommendation

On September 27, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2003-

172[19] approving and adopting the Investigating Commissioners Report that respondent had violated

specific requirements of the Notarial Law on the execution of a certification, the entry of such

certification in the notarial register, and the indication of the affiants residence certificate. The IBP Board

of Governors found his excuse for the violations unacceptable. It modified, however, the

recommendation[20] of the investigating commissioner by increasing the fine to P3,000 with a

warning that any repetition of the violation will be dealt with a heavier penalty.

The other charges -- violation of Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court; and Canons 1.01

to 1.03, 12.07 and 12.08 of the CPR -- were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

The Courts Ruling


We agree with the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors.

Respondents Administrative Liability

Violation of the Notarial Law


The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries public. They are required

to certify that the party to every document acknowledged before them has presented the proper

residence certificate (or exemption from the residence tax); and to enter its number, place of issue and

date as part of such certification.[21] They are also required to maintain and keep a notarial register; to

enter therein all instruments notarized by them; and to give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or

acknowledged before [them] a number corresponding to the one in [their] register [and to state therein]

the page or pages of [their] register, on which the same is recorded. [22] Failure to perform these duties

would result in the revocation of their commission as notaries public.[23]

These formalities are mandatory and cannot be simply neglected, considering the degree of

importance and evidentiary weight attached to notarized documents. Notaries public entering into their

commissions are presumed to be aware of these elementary requirements.

In Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,[24] the Court explained the value and meaning of notarization as

follows:

The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be


overemphasized. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested
with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or authorized may
act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private document into a public document
thus making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of its
authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its
face. Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon
the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private instrument.

For this reason, notaries public should not take for granted the solemn duties pertaining to their

office. Slipshod methods in their performance of the notarial act are never to be countenanced. They

are expected to exert utmost care in the performance of their duties,[25] which are dictated by public

policy and are impressed with public interest.


It is clear from the pleadings before us -- and respondent has readily admitted -- that he violated

the Notarial Law by failing to enter in the documents notations of the residence certificate, as well as

the entry number and the pages of the notarial registry.

Respondent believes, however, that noncompliance with those requirements is not mandatory

for affidavits relative to cases pending before the courts and government agencies. He points to similar

practices of older notaries in Nueva Ecija.

We cannot give credence to, much less honor, his claim. His belief that the requirements do not

apply to affidavits is patently irrelevant. No law dispenses with these formalities. Au contraire, the

Notarial Law makes no qualification or exception. It is appalling and inexcusable that he did away with

the basics of notarial procedure allegedly because others were doing so. Being swayed by the bad

example of others is not an acceptable justification for breaking the law.

We note further that the documents attached to the verified Complaint are the Joint Counter-

Affidavit of respondents clients Ernesto Ramos and Rey Geronimo, as well as their witnesses Affidavits

relative to Criminal Case No. 69-2000 for attempted murder, filed by complainants brother against the

aforementioned clients. These documents became the basis of the present Complaint.

As correctly pointed out by the investigating commissioner, Section 3 of Rule 112 of the Rules

of Criminal Procedure expressly requires respondent as notary -- in the absence of any fiscal, state

prosecutor or government official authorized to administer the oath -- to certify that he has personally

examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily executed and understood their

affidavits. Respondent failed to do so with respect to the subject Affidavits and Counter-Affidavits in the

belief that -- as counsel for the affiants -- he was not required to comply with the certification

requirement.
It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and

promote respect for the law and legal processes.[26] They are expected to be in the forefront in the

observance and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-

informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal developments, recent enactments and

jurisprudence.[27] It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles.Unless they faithfully

comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their obligations

as members of the bar. Worse, they may become susceptible to committing mistakes.

Where notaries public are lawyers, a graver responsibility is placed upon them by reason of

their solemn oath to obey the laws.[28] No custom or age-old practice provides sufficient excuse or

justification for their failure to adhere to the provisions of the law. In this case, the excuse given by

respondent exhibited his clear ignorance of the Notarial Law, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the

importance of his office as a notary public.

Nonetheless, we do not agree with complainants plea to disbar respondent from the practice of

law. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution.[29] Disbarment will be imposed as a

penalty only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and the character of the

lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar. Where any lesser penalty can accomplish

the end desired, disbarment should not be decreed.[30] Considering the nature of the infraction and the

absence of deceit on the part of respondent, we believe that the penalty recommended by the IBP

Board of Governors is a sufficient disciplinary measure in this case.

Lawyer as Witness for Client


Complainant further faults respondent for executing before Prosecutor Leonardo Padolina an

affidavit corroborating the defense of alibi proffered by respondents clients, allegedly in violation of Rule

12.08 of the CPR: A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client.

Rule 12.08 of Canon 12 of the CPR states:


Rule 12.08 A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client, except:

a) on formal matters, such as the mailing, authentication or


custody of an instrument and the like;

b) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony is


essential to the ends of justice, in which event he must, during his
testimony, entrust the trial of the case to another counsel.

Parenthetically, under the law, a lawyer is not disqualified from being a witness,[31] except only

in certain cases pertaining to privileged communication arising from an attorney-client relationship.[32]

The reason behind such rule is the difficulty posed upon lawyers by the task of dissociating their

relation to their clients as witnesses from that as advocates.Witnesses are expected to tell the facts as

they recall them. In contradistinction, advocates are partisans -- those who actively plead and defend

the cause of others. It is difficult to distinguish the fairness and impartiality of a disinterested witness

from the zeal of an advocate. The question is one of propriety rather than of competency of the lawyers

who testify for their clients.

Acting or appearing to act in the double capacity of lawyer and witness for the client will provoke

unkind criticism and leave many people to suspect the truthfulness of the lawyer because they cannot

believe the lawyer as disinterested. The people will have a plausible reason for thinking, and if their

sympathies are against the lawyers client, they will have an opportunity, not likely to be neglected, for
charging, that as a witness he fortified it with his own testimony. The testimony of the lawyer becomes

doubted and is looked upon as partial and untruthful.[33]

Thus, although the law does not forbid lawyers from being witnesses and at the same time

counsels for a cause, the preference is for them to refrain from testifying as witnesses, unless they

absolutely have to; and should they do so, to withdraw from active management of the case.[34]

Notwithstanding this guideline and the existence of the Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan in favor of

his clients, we cannot hastily make him administratively liable for the following reasons:

First, we consider it the duty of a lawyer to assert every remedy and defense that is authorized

by law for the benefit of the client, especially in a criminal action in which the latters life and liberty are

at stake.[35] It is the fundamental right of the accused to be afforded full opportunity to rebut the charges

against them. They are entitled to suggest all those reasonable doubts that may arise from the evidence

as to their guilt; and to ensure that if they are convicted, such conviction is according to law.

Having undertaken the defense of the accused, respondent, as defense counsel, was thus

expected to spare no effort to save his clients from a wrong conviction. He had the duty to present --

by all fair and honorable means -- every defense and mitigating circumstance that the law permitted, to

the end that his clients would not be deprived of life, liberty or property, except by due process of law.[36]

The Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan was clearly necessary for the defense of his clients,

since it pointed out the fact that on the alleged date and time of the incident, his clients were at his

residence and could not have possibly committed the crime charged against them. Notably, in his

Affidavit, complainant does not dispute the statements of respondent or suggest the falsity of its

contents.
Second, paragraph (b) of Rule 12.08 contemplates a situation in which lawyers give their

testimonies during the trial. In this instance, the Affidavit was submitted during the preliminary

investigation which, as such, was merely inquisitorial.[37] Not being a trial of the case on the merits, a

preliminary investigation has the oft-repeated purposes of securing innocent persons against hasty,

malicious and oppressive prosecutions; protecting them from open and public accusations of crime and

from the trouble as well as expense and anxiety of a public trial; and protecting the State from useless

and expensive prosecutions.[38]The investigation is advisedly called preliminary, as it is yet to be

followed by the trial proper.

Nonetheless, we deem it important to stress and remind respondent to refrain from accepting

employment in any matter in which he knows or has reason to believe that he may be an essential

witness for the prospective client. Furthermore, in future cases in which his testimony may become

essential to serve the ends of justice, the canons of the profession require him to withdraw from the

active prosecution of these cases.

No Proof of Harassment

The charge that respondent harassed complainant and uttered insulting words and veiled

threats is not supported by evidence. Allegation is never equivalent to proof, and a bare charge cannot

be equated with liability.[39] It is not the self-serving claim of complainant but the version of respondent

that is more credible, considering that the latters allegations are corroborated by the Affidavits of the

police officers and the Certifications of the Cabanatuan City Police.


WHEREFORE, Atty. Edison V. Rafanan is found guilty of violating the Notarial Law and Canon 5 of the

Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby FINED P3,000 with a warning that similar infractions

in the future will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.
RE : SUSPENSION OF ATTY. ADM. CASE No. 7006
ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, FORMER
SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR Present:

PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ.
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
GARCIA,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:
October 9, 2007
X ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ X

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

This administrative case stemmed from the events of the proceedings in Crim. Case No.
5144, entitled People v. Luis Bucalon Plaza, heard before the sala of Presiding Judge Jose Manuel P.
Tan, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Surigao City, Branch 29.

Crim. Case No. 5144 was originally raffled to the sala of Judge Floripinas C. Buyser, RTC of
Surigao City, Branch 30. In an Order dated March 14, 2002, Judge Buyser denied the Demurrer to
the Evidence of the accused, declaring that the evidence thus presented by the prosecution was
sufficient to prove the crime of homicide and not the charge of murder. Consequently, the counsel for
the defense filed a Motion to Fix the Amount of Bail Bond. Respondent Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo, then
Senior State Prosecutor and the deputized prosecutor of the case, objected thereto mainly on the
ground that the original charge of murder, punishable with reclusion perpetua, was not subject to bail
under Sec. 4, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.[1]

In an Order dated August 30, 2002,[2] Judge Buyser inhibited himself from further trying the case
because of the harsh insinuation of Senior Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo that he lacks the cold
neutrality of an impartial magistrate, by allegedly suggesting the filing of the motion to fix the amount of
bail bond by counsel for the accused.

The case was transferred to Branch 29 of the RTC of Surigao City, presided by Judge Jose
Manuel P. Tan. In an Order dated November 12, 2002, Judge Tan favorably resolved the Motion to Fix
the Amount of Bail Bond, and fixed the amount of the bond at P40,000.
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order dated November 12, 2002, which
motion was denied for lack of merit in an Order dated February 10, 2003. In October, 2003, respondent
appealed from the Orders dated November 12, 2002 and February 10, 2003, to the Court of Appeals
(CA).

Instead of availing himself only of judicial remedies, respondent caused the publication of an
article regarding the Order granting bail to the accused in the August 18, 2003issue of the Mindanao
Gold Star Daily. The article, entitled Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing murder
suspect to bail out, reads:

SENIOR state prosecutor has lashed at a judge in Surigao City for allowing a
murder suspect to go out on bail.

Senior state prosecutor Rogelio Bagabuyo lambasted Judge Manuel Tan of


the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 based in Surigao City for ruling on a
motion that sought a bailbond for Luis Plaza who stands charged with murdering a
policeman . . . .

Plaza reportedly posted a P40-thousand bail bond.

Bagabuyo argued that the crime of murder is a non-bailable offense. But


Bagabuyo admitted that a judge could still opt to allow a murder suspect to bail out in
cases when the evidence of the prosecution is weak.

But in this murder case, Bagabuyo said the judge who previously handled it,
Judge F[lori]pinas B[uy]ser, described the evidence to be strong. B[uy]ser inhibited from
the case for an unclear reason.

xxx

Bagabuyo said he would contest Tans decision before the Court of Appeals and
would file criminal and administrative charges of certiorari against the judge.

Bagabuyuo said he was not afraid of being cited in contempt by Judge Tan.

This is the only way that the public would know that there are judges there who
are displaying judicial arrogance. he said.[3]

In an Order dated August 21, 2003, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, directed respondent
and the writer of the article, Mark Francisco of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, to appear in court on
September 20, 2003 to explain why they should not be cited for indirect contempt of court for the
publication of the article which degraded the court and its presiding judge with its lies and
misrepresentation.

The said Order stated that contrary to the statements in the article, Judge Buyser described the
evidence for the prosecution as not strong, but sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused only for
homicide. Moreover, it was not true that Judge Buyser inhibited himself from the case for an unclear
reason. Judge Buyser, in an Order dated August 30, 2002, declared in open court in the presence of
respondent that he was inhibiting himself from the case due to the harsh insinuation of respondent that
he lacked the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.
On the scheduled hearing of the contempt charge, Mark Francisco admitted that the Mindanao
Gold Star Daily caused the publication of the article. He disclosed that respondent, in a press
conference, stated that the crime of murder is non-bailable. When asked by the trial court why he printed
such lies, Mr. Francisco answered that his only source was respondent.[4] Mr. Francisco clarified that
in the statement alleging that Judge Buyser inhibited himself from the case for an unclear reason, the
phrase for an unclear reason, was added by the newspapers Executive Editor Herby S. Gomez.[5]

Respondent admitted that he caused the holding of the press conference, but refused to answer
whether he made the statements in the article until after he shall have filed a motion to dismiss. For his
refusal to answer, the trial court declared him in contempt of court pursuant to Sec. 3, Rule 71 of the
Rules of Court.[6] The Courts Order dated September 30, 2003 reads:

ORDER
Mr. Mark Francisco for publishing this article which is a lie clothed in half truth to
give it a semblance of truth is hereby ordered to pay a fine of P10,000. Prosecutor
Bagabuyo, for obstinately refusing to explain why he should not be cited for contempt
and admitting that the article published in the Mindanao Gold Star Daily on August 18,
2003 and quoted in the Order of this Court dated August 21, 2003 which is contemptuous
was caused by him to be published, is hereby adjudged to have committed indirect
contempt of Court pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court and he is
hereby ordered to suffer the penalty of 30 days in jail. The BJMP is hereby ordered to
arrest Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo if he does not put up a bond of P100,000.00.

SO ORDERD.[7]

Respondent posted the required bond and was released from the custody of the law. He
appealed the indirect contempt order to the CA.

Despite the citation of indirect contempt, respondent presented himself to the media for
interviews in Radio Station DXKS, and again attacked the integrity of Judge Tan and the trial courts
disposition in the proceedings of Crim. Case No. 5144.

In an Order dated October 20, 2003, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, required respondent
to explain and to show cause within five days from receipt thereof why he should not be held in contempt
for his media interviews that degraded the court and the presiding judge, and why he should not be
suspended from the practice of law for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically
Rule 11.05 of Canon 11[8] and Rule 13.02 of Canon 13.[9]

In the Order, the trial court stated that respondent was interviewed by Jun Clergio, and that the
interview was repeatedly aired on September 30, 2003 and in his news program between 6:00 and
8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2003. He was also interviewed by Tony Consing on October 1 and 2, 2003,
between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. in his radio program.In those radio interviews, respondent allegedly called
Judge Tan a judge who does not know the law, a liar, and a dictator who does not accord due process
to the people.
The hearing for the second contempt charge was set on December 4, 2003.

On November, 20, 2003, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer
to Contempt alleging that he was saddled with work of equal importance and needed ample time to
answer the same. He also prayed for a bill of particulars in order to properly prepare for his defense.

In an Order dated November 20, 2003, the trial court denied the motion. It stated that a bill of
particulars is not applicable in contempt proceedings, and that respondentsactions and statements are
detailed in the Order of October 20, 2003.

On the scheduled hearing of December 4, 2003 respondent neither appeared in court nor
informed the court of his absence. The trial court issued an Order dated December 4, 2003
cancelling the hearing to give Prosecutor Bagabuyo all the chances he asks for, and ordered him to
appear on January 12, 2004 to explain in writing or orally why he should not be cited in contempt of
court pursuant to the facts stated in the Order dated October 20, 2003. However, respondent did not
appear in the scheduled hearing of January 12, 2004.

On January 15, 2004, the trial court received respondents Answer dated January 8, 2004.
Respondent denied the charge that he sought to be interviewed by radio station DXKS. He, however,
stated that right after the hearing of September 30, 2003, he was approached by someone who asked
him to comment on the Order issued in open court, and that his comment does not fall within the concept
of indirect contempt of court. He also admitted that he was interviewed by his friend, Tony Consing, at
the latters instance. He justified his response during the interview as a simple exercise of his
constitutional right of freedom of speech and that it was not meant to offend or malign, and was without
malice.

On February 8, 2004, the trial court issued an Order, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding preponderant evidence that Prosecutor Bagabuyo has
grossly violated the Canons of the legal profession and [is] guilty of grave professional
misconduct, rendering him unfit to continue to be entrusted with the duties and
responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney, he is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law.

Likewise, he is also found guilty of indirect contempt of court, for which he is


hereby ordered to suffer the penalty of IMPRISONMENT for ninety (90) days to be
served at the Surigao City Jail and to pay the maximum fine of THIRTY THOUSAND
PESOS (P30,000.00). Future acts of contempt will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of the relevant records be immediately forwarded to the Supreme


Court for automatic review and for further determination of grounds for [the] disbarment
of Prosecutor Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo.[10]

The trial court found respondents denials to be lame as the tape of his interview on October 2,
2003, duly transcribed, showed disrespect of the court and its officers, thus:
TONY CONSING: Fiscal, nanglabay ang mga oras, nanglabay ang gamayng
panahon ang samad sa imong kasingkasing nagpabilin pa ba
ni. O ingnon nato duna na bay pagbag-o sa imong huna-huna
karon?

(Fiscal, after the lapse of time, are you still hurt? Or have you not changed your mind yet?)

BAGABUYO : Ang akong huna-huna kon aduna man ugaling pagbag-o ang pagsiguro,
ang mga Huwes nga dili mahibalo sa balaod tangtangon
pagka abogado, mao kana.

(If my mind has changed at all, it is that I ensure that all judges who are ignorant of the
law should be disbarred. Thats it.)

xxx

BAGABUYO : Mao kana ang tinuod, Ton, ug kining akong guibatonan karon nga
hunahuna mahitungod nianang mga Huwes nga dili kahibalo
sa balaod, magkadugay magkalami. Kada adlao nagatoon
ako. Nagabasa ako sa mga bag-ong jurisprudence ug sa
atong balaod aron sa pagsiguro gayod nga inigsang-at unya
nako sa kaso nga disbarmentniining di mahibalo nga Huwes,
sigurado gayod ako nga katangtangan siya sa lisensiya . . .
. Ang kini nga Huwes nga dili mahibalo sa balaod,
pagatangtangon na, dili lamang sa pagka-Huwes kon dili sa
pagka-abogado. Tan-awa ra gyod kining iyang gibuhat
nga Order, Ton, ang iyang pagkabakakon . . . .

(Thats true, Ton, and this conviction I have now about judges who are ignorant of the
law is made firmer by time. I study everyday. I read new
jurisprudence and the law to insure that when I file the
disbarment case against this Judge who does not know his
law, I am certain that he loses his license. . . . This judge who
is ignorant of the law should not only be removed as a judge
but should also be disbarred. Just take a look at his Order,
Ton, and see what a liar he is . . . .)

xxx

BAGABUYO : Yes, nag-ingon ang iyang Order. . . . Ngano nga nakaingon ako
nga bakakon kini, nag-ingon nga kini konong order given in
open court, ang kalooy sa dios, ang iyang order sa Korte wala
siya mag-ingon ug kantidad nga P100,000.00 nga bail bond.
...

(Yes, his Order said that . . . . Why did I say that he is a liar? It states that this Order was
given in open court, and in Gods mercy, he did not state the
amount of P100,000.00 as bail bond. . . .)

BAGABUYO : Kay dili man lagi mahibalo sa balaod, ako


siyang gui-ingnan, Your Honor, I have the right to appeal. Mibalik dayon, ug miingon
siya, BJMP arrest Bagabuyo.

(Because he does not know the law, I said, Your Honor, I have
the right to appeal. Then he came back and said, BJMP,
arrest Bagabuyo.)

xxx

BAGABUYO : . . . P100,000.00 ang iyang guipapiyansa.


Naunsa na? Dinhi makita nimo ang iyang pagka gross
ignorance of the law. . . .

(He imposed a bail of P100,000.00. How come? This is where you will see his gross
ignorance of the law. . . . )

xxx

TONY CONSING : So karon, unsay plano nimo karon?

(So what is your plan now?)

BAGABUYO : Sumala sa akong gui-ingon moundang lang ako kon matangtang na siya
sa pagka abogado. . . .

(As I have said, I will only stop if he is already disbarred. . . .)

xxx

BAGABUYO : Nasuko siya niini kay hambugero kuno, pero angayan niyang hibaw-an
nga ang trabajo sa Huwes dili ang pagtan-aw kon ang tawo
hambugero . . . . Ug ang akong gisulti mao lamang ang balaod
nga siya in fact at that time I said he is not conversant of the
law, with regards to the case of murder. . . .

(He got angry because I was allegedly bragging but he should know that it is not for a
judge to determine if a person is a braggart. . . .And what I
said was based on the law. In fact, at that time, I said he is not
conversant of the law, with regards to the case of murder . . .
.)

xxx

BAGABUYO : Ah, mi sit down sab ako, contempt ra ba kadto . . . . Mao kana, pero unsa
may iyang katuyoan ang iyang katuyoan nga ipa-adto ako
didto kay didto, iya akong pakauwawan kay iya kong sikopon,
iya kong ipa-priso, pero kay di man lagi mahibalo sa balaod,
ang iyang gui orderan BJMP, intawon por dios por Santo, Mr.
Tan, pagbasa intawon ug balaod, naunsa ka ba Mr.
Tan? Unsa may imong hunahuna nga kon ikaw Huwes, ikaw
na ang diktador, no way, no sir, ours is a democratic country
where all and everyone is entitled to due process of law you
did not accord me due process of law . . . .

(I sat down. . . . Thats it. But what was his purpose? He made me come in order to
humiliate me because he wanted me arrested, he wanted me
imprisoned, but because he is ignorant of the law, he ordered
the BMJP. For Gods sake, Mr. Tan, whats wrong with you, Mr.
Tan? Please read the law. What is your thinking? That when
you are a judge, you are also a dictator? No way, no sir, ours
is a democratic country where all and everyone is entitled to
due process of law you did not accord me due process of law.
. . .)

TONY CONSING: So mopasaka kang disbarment, malaumon kita nga maaksiyonan


kini, with all this problem sa Korte Suprema.

(So you are filing a disbarment case? We hope that this be given action with all the
problems in the Supreme Court.)
BAGABUYO : Dili ako mabalaka niana kay usa ka truck ang akong jurisprudence, nga
ang mga Huwes nga di mahibalo sa balaod pagatangtangon
gayod sa ilang pagka Huwes. . . . Apan unsa man intawon ang
balaod ang iyang gibasa niini nadunggan ko nga kini kuno
siya madjongero, mao bitaw na, madjong ang iyang
guitunan?

(I am not worried because I have a truckload of jurisprudence that judges who are
ignorant of the law must be removed from the Bench. But what
law has he been reading? I heard that he is a
mahjong aficionado (mahjongero) and that is why he is
studying mahjong.[11]

The trial court concluded that respondent, as a member of the bar and an officer of the court, is
duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of the court, and should notpromote distrust in the
administration of justice.

The trial court stated that it is empowered to suspend respondent from the practice of law under
Sec. 28, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court[12] for any of the causes mentioned in Sec. 27[13] of the same
Rule. Respondent was given the opportunity to be heard, but he opted to be silent. Thus, it held that
the requirement of due process has been duly satisfied.

In accordance with the provisions of Sec. 29,[14] Rule 138 and Sec. 9,[15] Rule 139 of the Rules
of Court, the RTC of Surigao City, Branch 29, transmitted to the Office of the Bar Confidant the
Statement of Facts of respondents suspension from the practice of law, dated July 14, 2005, together
with the order of suspension and other relevant documents.

In its Report dated January 4, 2006, the Office of the Bar Confidant found that the article in the
August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, which maligned the integrity and independence
of the court and its officers, and respondents criticism of the trial courts Order dated November 12,
2002, which was aired in radio station DXKS,both in connection with Crim. Case No. 5144, constitute
grave violation of oath of office by respondent. It stated that the requirement of due process was
complied with when respondent was given an opportunity to be heard, but respondent chose to remain
silent.

The Office of the Bar Confidant recommended the implementation of the trial courts order of
suspension dated February 8, 2004, and that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for
one year, with a stern warning that the repetition of a similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

The Court approves the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant. It has been
reiterated in Gonzaga v. Villanueva, Jr.[16] that:
A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his oath, a patent
disregard of his duties, or an odious deportment unbecoming an attorney. Among the
grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court are deceit;
malpractice; gross misconduct in office; grossly immoral conduct; conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude; any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to the practice of law; willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
court; corrupt or willful appearance as an attorney for a party to a case without authority
to do so. The grounds are not preclusive in nature even as they are broad enough as to
cover practically any kind of impropriety that a lawyer does or commits in his professional
career or in his private life. A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral
fiber which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar, but are likewise
essential demands for his continued membership therein.

Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and
defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a
consequence.[17] Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations.[18] Canon 11 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility mandates a lawyer to observe and maintain the respect due to the
courts and to judicial officers and [he] should insist on similar conduct by others. Rule 11.05 of Canon
11 states that a lawyer shall submit grievances against a judge to the proper authorities only.

Respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon 11 when he admittedly caused the holding of a press
conference where he made statements against the Order dated November 12, 2002 allowing the
accused in Crim. Case No. 5144 to be released on bail.

Respondent also violated Canon 11 when he indirectly stated that Judge Tan was displaying
judicial arrogance in the article entitled, Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigaojudge for allowing murder
suspect to bail out, which appeared in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star
Daily. Respondents statements in the article, which were made while Crim. Case No. 5144 was still
pending in court, also violated Rule 13.02 of Canon 13, which states that a lawyer shall not make public
statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a
party.

In regard to the radio interview given to Tony Consing, respondent violated Rule 11.05 of Canon
11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for not resorting to the proper authorities only for redress
of his grievances against Judge Tan. Respondent also violated Canon 11 for his disrespect of the court
and its officer when he stated that Judge Tan was ignorant of the law, that as a mahjong aficionado, he
was studying mahjong instead of studying the law, and that he was a liar.

Respondent also violated the Lawyers Oath, as he has sworn to conduct [himself] as a lawyer
according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to
[his] clients.

As a senior state prosecutor and officer of the court, respondent should have set the example
of observing and maintaining the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers. Montecillo v.
Gica[19] held:

It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude. As
an officer of the court, it is his duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the court to
which he owes fidelity, according to the oath he has taken. Respect for the courts
guarantees the stability of our democratic institutions which, without such respect, would
be resting on a very shaky foundation.

The Court is not against lawyers raising grievances against erring judges but the rules clearly
provide for the proper venue and procedure for doing so, precisely because respect for the institution
must always be maintained.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo is found guilty of violating
Rule 11.05, Canon 11 and Rule 13.02, Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and of
violating the Lawyers Oath, for which he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year
effective upon finality of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that the repetition of a similar offense
shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of
Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 75209 September 30, 1987

NESTLE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner,


vs.
HON. AUGUSTO S. SANCHEZ, MINISTER OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT and THE UNION OF
FILIPRO EMPLOYEES, respondents.

No. 78791 September 30, 1987

KIMBERLY INDEPENDENT LABOR UNION FOR SOLIDARITY, ACTIVISM AND NATIONALISM-


OLALIA, petitioner,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, MANUEL AGUILAR, MA. ESTRELLA ALDAS,
CAPT. REY L. LANADA, COL. VIVENCIO MANAIG and KIMBERLY-CLARK PHILIPPINES,
INC., respondents.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

During the period July 8-10. 1987, respondent in G.R. No. 75029, Union of Filipro Employees, and
petitioner in G.R. No. 78791, Kimberly Independent Labor Union for Solidarity, Activism and
Nationalism-Olalia intensified the intermittent pickets they had been conducting since June 17, 1987 in
front of the Padre Faura gate of the Supreme Court building. They set up pickets' quarters on the
pavement in front of the Supreme Court building, at times obstructing access to and egress from the
Court's premises and offices of justices, officials and employees. They constructed provisional shelters
along the sidewalks, set up a kitchen and littered the place with food containers and trash in utter
disregard of proper hygiene and sanitation. They waved their red streamers and placards with slogans,
and took turns haranguing the court all day long with the use of loud speakers.

These acts were done even after their leaders had been received by Justices Pedro L. Yap and Marcelo
B. Fernan as Chairmen of the Divisions where their cases are pending, and Atty. Jose C. Espinas,
counsel of the Union of Filipro Employees, had been called in order that the pickets might be informed
that the demonstration must cease immediately for the same constitutes direct contempt of court and
that the Court would not entertain their petitions for as long as the pickets were maintained. Thus, on
July 10, 1987, the Court en banc issued a resolution giving the said unions the opportunity to withdraw
graciously and requiring Messrs. Tony Avelino. Lito Payabyab, Eugene San Pedro, Dante Escasura,
Emil Sayao and Nelson Centeno, union leaders of respondent Union of Filipro Employees in the Nestle
case and their counsel of record, Atty. Jose C. Espinas; and Messrs. Ernesto Facundo, Fausto Gapuz,
Jr. and Antonio Gonzales, union leaders of petitioner Kimberly Independent Labor Union for Solidarity,
Activism and Nationalism-Olalia in the Kimberly case to appear before the Court on July 14, 1987 at
10:30 A.M. and then and there to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in contempt of court.
Atty. Jose C. Espinas was further required to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be administratively
dealt with.

On the appointed date and time, the above-named individuals appeared before the Court, represented
by Atty. Jose C. Espinas, in the absence of Atty. Potenciano Flores, counsel of record of petitioner in
G.R. No. 78791, who was still recuperating from an operation.

Atty. Espinas, for himself and in behalf of the union leaders concerned, apologized to the Court for the
above-described acts, together with an assurance that they will not be repeated. He likewise manifested
to the Court that he had experienced to the picketers why their actions were wrong and that the cited
persons were willing to suffer such penalty as may be warranted under the circumstances. 1 He,
however, prayed for the Court's leniency considering that the picket was actually spearheaded by the
leaders of the "Pagkakaisa ng Mangagawa sa Timog Katagalogan" (PAMANTIK), an unregistered
loose alliance of about seventy-five (75) unions in the Southern Tagalog area, and not by either the
Union of Filipro Employees or the Kimberly Independent Labor Union. 2
Atty. Espinas further stated that he had explained to the picketers that any delay in the resolution of
their cases is usually for causes beyond the control of the Court and that the Supreme Court has always
remained steadfast in its role as the guardian of the Constitution.

To confirm for the record that the person cited for contempt fully understood the reason for the citation
and that they wig abide by their promise that said incident will not be repeated, the Court required the
respondents to submit a written manifestation to this effect, which respondents complied with on July
17, 1987.

We accept the apologies offered by the respondents and at this time, forego the imposition of the
sanction warranted by the contemptuous acts described earlier. The liberal stance taken by this Court
in these cases as well as in the earlier case of AHS/PHILIPPINES EMPLOYEES UNION vs. NATIONAL
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, et al., G.R. No. 73721, March 30, 1987, should not, however, be
considered in any other light than an acknowledgment of the euphoria apparently resulting from the
rediscovery of a long-repressed freedom. The Court will not hesitate in future similar situations to apply
the full force of the law and punish for contempt those who attempt to pressure the Court into acting
one way or the other in any case pending before it. Grievances, if any, must be ventilated through the
proper channels, i.e., through appropriate petitions, motions or other pleadings in keeping with the
respect due to the Courts as impartial administrators of justice entitled to "proceed to the disposition of
its business in an orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending
to embarrass the administration of justice." 3

The right of petition is conceded to be an inherent right of the citizen under all free governments.
However, such right, natural and inherent though it may be, has never been invoked to shatter the
standards of propriety entertained for the conduct of courts. For "it is a traditional conviction of civilized
society everywhere that courts and juries, in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune
from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and
that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies."4

Moreover, "parties have a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly in court by an impartial
tribunal, uninfluenced by publication or public clamor. Every citizen has a profound personal interest in
the enforcement of the fundamental right to have justice administered by the courts, under the
protection and forms of law free from outside coercion or interference." 5 The aforecited acts of the
respondents are therefore not only an affront to the dignity of this Court, but equality a violation of the
above-stated right of the adverse parties and the citizenry at large.

We realize that the individuals herein cited who are non-lawyers are not knowledgeable in her
intricacies of substantive and adjective laws. They are not aware that even as the rights of free speech
and of assembly are protected by the Constitution, any attempt to pressure or influence courts of justice
through the exercise of either right amounts to an abuse thereof, is no longer within the ambit of
constitutional protection, nor did they realize that any such efforts to influence the course of justice
constitutes contempt of court. 6 The duty and responsibility of advising them, therefore, rest primarily
and heavily upon the shoulders of their counsel of record. Atty. Jose C. Espinas, when his attention
was called by this Court, did his best to demonstrate to the pickets the untenability of their acts and
posture. Let this incident therefore serve as a reminder to all members of the legal profession that it is
their duty as officers of the court to properly apprise their clients on matters of decorum and proper
attitude toward courts of justice, and to labor leaders of the importance of a continuing educational
program for their members.

WHEREFORE, the contempt charges against herein respondents are DISMISSED. Henceforth, no
demonstrations or pickets intended to pressure or influence courts of justice into acting one way or the
other on pending cases shall be allowed in the vicinity and/or within the premises of any and all courts.

SO ORDERED.

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