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SECOND DIVISION

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

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R E S O L U T I O N


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.

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. (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. 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.
The complaint, which charged Atty. Doronilla with
misleading the court through misrepresentation of
facts resulting [in] obstruction of justice, was
referred to a commissioner for
investigation. Complainant swore before the
investigating commissioner that he had never
entered into any agreement to withdraw his lawsuits.
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. Later he explained

in his memorandum that his main concern was to
settle the case amicably among comrades in arms
without going to trial and insisted that there was no
proof of his having violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility or the lawyers
oath. 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.

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 and
recommending that he be suspended from the
government military service as legal officer for a
period of three months. This was adopted and
approved in toto by the IBP Board of Governors on
August 30, 2003.

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. 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. 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.

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.

The explanation submitted by Atty. Doronilla,
remarkable only for its speciousness, 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 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, 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 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. And
finally, since this is Atty. Doronillas first offense,
he is entitled to some measure of forbearance.

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.

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice


WE CONCUR:



REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairperson



ANGELINA SANDOVAL-
GUTIERREZ ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate
Justice Associate
Justice



CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice

The case, entitled Renato M. Maligaya v. Octavio
S. Dauz, et al., was filed and heard in Branch 90,
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
Rollo, p. 8 (Aside from this damage suit,
complainant filed other cases against the military
officers. The military, on the other hand, had
instituted an administrative case against
complainant prior to his retirement. The case was
dismissed when he retired from the service in 1999.
Id., p. 186).
Id., p. 9.
Docketed as CBD Case No. 02-955.
Rollo, p. 3.
Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro.
TSN, July 11, 2002, pp. 28, 35, 60, & 78.
ATTY. DORONILLA:
Actually there is no agreement but there was a
proposal to dismiss and to withdraw all the
cases. There was no agreement. TSN July 11, 2002,
p. 105;

COMM. NAVARRO:
An answer. His question was, was there an
agreement in the cases pending before Judge Daway
and he answered, there was no agreement.
ATTY. DORONILLA:
There was no agreement. Id., p. 106;

ATTY. DORONILLA:
Q: Is it true that in the hearing of July 11, 2002 on
page 105 you said actually that there was no
agreement but there was proposal to dismiss and to
withdraw all the cases?
A: There was no agreement. TSN, December 10,
2002, p. 43;

COMM. NAVARRO:
Has there been an agreement?
ATTY. DORONILLA:
There was no agreement as I said in an agreement
there must be two parties to have it consummated
(sic). Our part is already done Id., p. 52.
Rollo, p. 217.
Id.
Id. p. 218.
Infra.
Report and Recommendation, p. 6.
Per Resolution No. XVI-2003-37.
Sabayle v. Tandayag, A.C. No. 140-J, 8 March
1988, 158 SCRA 497, 506.
Id.
RULES OF COURT, Rule 138, Sec. 20.
Q: What made you make a manifestation saying (sic)
that there was an agreement?
A: That manifestation is a sort of question to the
plaintiff. It is not giving information to the court.
TSN July 11, 2002, p. 102

Q: What do you mean when you say (sic) there was
an agreement?
A: It was only a question propounded to the
plaintiff on the premise that there was a pending
proposal to agree on those withdrawal (sic). To
withdraw the case before the separation board and
the case before Judge Daway (sic). TSN, July 11,
2002, pp. 106-107.
The contention if taken literally was preposterous,
for he had quite obviously been addressing Judge
Daway when he said there was an agreement, and
that assertion could not have been construed as
other than a statement of fact.
Cuaresma v. Daquis, No. L-35113, 25 March 1975,
63 SCRA 257, 260.
Supra note 9.
RULES OF COURT, Rule 138, Sec. 20 (d); Pangan
v. Ramos, A.C. No. 1053, 7 September 1979, 93
SCRA 87, 89.
Cailing v. Espinosa, 103 Phil. 1165 (1958).
See e.g., Whitson v. Atienza, A.C. No. 5535, 28
August 2003, 410 SCRA 10; Alcantara v. Atty.
Pefianco, 441 Phil. 514 (2002); Fernandez v. Atty.
Novero, Jr., 441 Phil. 506 (2002).
EN BANC
[A.C. No. 5624. January 20, 2004]
NATASHA HUEYSUWAN-FLORIDO,
complainant, vs. ATTY. JAMES BENEDICT C.
FLORIDO, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
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.
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. 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. 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 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 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. 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,
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. 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. 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. 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.
Rollo, p. 1.
Id., p. 14.
Id., p. 9.
Id., p. 10.
Id., p. 13.
IBP Commission on Bar Discipline Report and
Recommendation, p. 9.
Rollo, p. 10.
Muoz v. People, G.R. No. L-33672, 28 September
1973, 53 SCRA 190.
Surigao Mineral v. Cloribel, G.R. No. L-27072, 9
January 1970, 31 SCRA 1; In re Almacen, G.R. No.
L-27654, 18 February 1970, 31 SCRA 562;
Montecillo v. Gica, G.R. No. L-36800, 21 October
1974, 60 SCRA 235; In re Gomez, 43 Phil. 376
[1922]; Sulit v. Tiangco, G.R. No. L-35555, 20 July
1982, 115 SCRA 207; Zaldivar v. Gonzales, G.R.
Nos. L-79690-707, 7 October 1988, 166 SCRA 316.
National Security Co. v. Jarvis, 278 U.S. 610;
People v. Taneo, G.R. No. 117683, 16 January 1998,
284 SCRA 251

Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

JUDGE RENE B. BACULI,
Complainant,




- versus -





ATTY. MELCHOR A. BATTUNG,
Respondent.

A.C. No. 8920

Present:

BRION, J.,*
Acting Chairperson,
DEL CASTILLO,**
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,*** and
SERENO, JJ.

Promulgated:

September 28, 2011

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


DECISION

BRION, J .:
Before us is the resolution of the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) finding Atty. Melchor Battung liable for
violating Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommending that
he be reprimanded. The complainant is Judge Rene
B. Baculi, Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial
Court in Cities, Branch 2, Tuguegarao City. The
respondent, Atty. Battung, is a member of the Bar
with postal address on Aguinaldo St., Tuguegarao
City.

Background

Judge Baculi filed a complaint for disbarment with
the Commission on Discipline of the IBP against
the respondent, alleging that the latter violated
Canons 11 and 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

Violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility

Judge Baculi claimed that on July 24, 2008, during
the hearing on the motion for reconsideration of
Civil Case No. 2502, the respondent was shouting
while arguing his motion. Judge Baculi advised him
to tone down his voice but instead, the respondent
shouted at the top of his voice. When warned that
he would be cited for direct contempt, the
respondent shouted, Then cite me! Judge Baculi
cited him for direct contempt and imposed a fine of
P100.00. The respondent then left.

While other cases were being heard, the respondent
re-entered the courtroom and shouted, Judge, I will
file gross ignorance against you! I am not afraid of
you! Judge Baculi ordered the sheriff to escort the
respondent out of the courtroom and cited him for
direct contempt of court for the second time.

After his hearings, Judge Baculi went out and saw
the respondent at the hall of the courthouse,
apparently waiting for him. The respondent again
shouted in a threatening tone, Judge, I will file
gross ignorance against you! I am not afraid of
you! He kept on shouting, I am not afraid of you!
and challenged the judge to a fight. Staff and
lawyers escorted him out of the building.

Judge Baculi also learned that after the respondent
left the courtroom, he continued shouting and
punched a table at the Office of the Clerk of Court.

Violation of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility

According to Judge Baculi, the respondent filed
dilatory pleadings in Civil Case No. 2640, an
ejectment case.

Judge Baculi rendered on October 4, 2007 a
decision in Civil Case No. 2640, which he modified
on December 14, 2007. After the modified decision
became final and executory, the branch clerk of
court issued a certificate of finality. The respondent
filed a motion to quash the previously issued writ of
execution, raising as a ground the motion to dismiss
filed by the defendant for lack of jurisdiction. Judge
Baculi asserted that the respondent knew as a
lawyer that ejectment cases are within the
jurisdiction of First Level Courts and the latter was
merely delaying the speedy and efficient
administration of justice.

The respondent filed his Answer, essentially saying
that it was Judge Baculi who disrespected him. We
quote from his Answer:

23. I only told Judge Rene Baculi I will file
Gross ignorance of the Law against him once inside
the court room when he was lambasting me[.]

24. It was JUDGE BACULI WHO
DISRESPECTED ME. He did not like that I just
submit the Motion for Reconsideration without oral
argument because he wanted to have an occasion to
just HUMILIATE ME and to make appear to the
public that I am A NEGLIGENT LAWYER, when
he said YOU JUSTIFY YOUR NEGLIGENCE
BEFORE THIS COURT making it an impression
to the litigants and the public that as if I am a
NEGLIGENT, INCOMPETENT, MUMBLING,
and IRRESPONSIBLE LAWYER.

25. These words of Judge Rene Baculi made me
react[.]

x x x x

28. Since I manifested that I was not going to
orally argue the Motion, Judge Rene Baculi could
have just made an order that the Motion for
Reconsideration is submitted for resolution, but
what he did was that he forced me to argue so that
he will have the room to humiliate me as he used to
do not only to me but almost of the lawyers here
(sic).
Atty. Battung asked that the case against him be
dismissed.

The IBP conducted its investigation of the matter
through Commissioner Jose de la Rama, Jr. In his
Commissioners Report, Commissioner De la Rama
stated that during the mandatory conference on
January 16, 2009, both parties merely reiterated
what they alleged in their submitted
pleadings. Both parties agreed that the original
copy of the July 24, 2008 tape of the incident at the
courtroom would be submitted for the
Commissioners review. Judge Baculi submitted
the tape and the transcript of stenographic notes on
January 23, 2009.

Commissioner De la Rama narrated his findings, as
follows:

At the first part of the hearing as reflected in the
TSN, it was observed that the respondent was
calm. He politely argued his case but the voice of
the complainant appears to be in high pitch. During
the mandatory conference, it was also observed that
indeed, the complainant maintains a high pitch
whenever he speaks. In fact, in the TSN, where
there was already an argument, the complainant
stated the following:

Court: Do not shout.
Atty. Battung: Because the court is shouting.
Court: This court has been constantly under this
kind of voice Atty. Battung, we are very sorry if
you do not want to appear before my court, then
you better attend to your cases and do not appear
before my court if you do not want to be corrected!
(TSN, July 24, 2008, page 3)
(NOTE: The underlined words we are very sorry
[ were] actually uttered by Atty. Battung while the
judge was saying the quoted portion of the TSN)

That it was during the time when the complainant
asked the following questions when the undersigned
noticed that Atty. Battung shouted at the presiding
judge.

Court: Did you proceed under the Revised Rules on
Summary Procedure?

*
Atty. Battung: It is not our fault Your Honor to
proceed because we were asked to present our
evidence ex parte. Your Honor, so, if should we
were ordered (sic) by the court to follow the rules
on summary procedure. (TSN page 3, July 24, 2008)

It was observed that the judge uttered the following:

Court: Do not shout.
Atty. Battung: Because the court is shouting.
(Page 3, TSN July 24, 2008)
Note: * it was at this point when the respondent
shouted at the complainant.

Thereafter, it was observed that both were already
shouting at each other.

Respondent claims that he was provoked by the
presiding judge that is why he shouted back at
him. But after hearing the tape, the undersigned in
convinced that it was Atty. Battung who shouted
first at the complainant.

Presumably, there were other lawyers and litigants
present waiting for their cases to be called. They
must have observed the incident. In fact, in the
joint-affidavit submitted by Elenita Pacquing et al.,
they stood as one in saying that it was really Atty.
Battung who shouted at the judge that is why the
latter cautioned him not to shout.

The last part of the incident as contained in page 4
of the TSN reads as follows:

Court: You are now ordered to pay a fine of
P100.00.

Atty. Battung: We will file the necessary action
against this court for gross ignorance of the law.

Court: Yes, proceed.
(NOTE: Atty. Battung went out the courtroom)

Court: Next case.

Interpreter: Civil Case No. 2746.
(Note: Atty. Battung entered again the courtroom)

Atty. Battung: But what we do not like (not
finished)

Court: The next time

Atty. Battung: We would like to clear

Court: Sheriff, throw out the counsel, put that
everything in record. If you want to see me, see me
after the court.

Next case.
Civil Case No. 2746 for Partition and Damages,
Roberto Cabalza vs. Teresita Narag, et al.
(nothing follows)

Commissioner De la Rama found that the
respondent failed to observe Canon 11 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility that requires a lawyer
to observe and maintain respect due the courts and
judicial officers. The respondent also violated Rule
11.03 of Canon 11 that provides that a lawyer shall
abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing
language or behavior before the courts. The
respondents argument that Judge Baculi provoked
him to shout should not be given due consideration
since the respondent should not have shouted at the
presiding judge; by doing so, he created the
impression that disrespect of a judge could be
tolerated. What the respondent should have done
was to file an action before the Office of the Court
Administrator if he believed that Judge Baculi did
not act according to the norms of judicial conduct.

With respect to the charge of violation of Canon 12
of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
Commissioner De la Rama found that the evidence
submitted is insufficient to support a ruling that the
respondent had misused the judicial processes to
frustrate the ends of justice.

Commissioner De la Rama recommended that the
respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for six (6) months.

On October 9, 2010, the IBP Board of Governors
passed a Resolution adopting and approving the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner, with the modification that the
respondent be reprimanded.

The Courts Ruling

We agree with the IBPs finding that the respondent
violated Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Atty. Battung
disrespected Judge Baculi by shouting at him inside
the courtroom during court proceedings in the
presence of litigants and their counsels, and court
personnel. The respondent even came back to
harass Judge Baculi. This behavior, in front of
many witnesses, cannot be allowed. We note that
the respondent continued to threaten Judge Baculi
and acted in a manner that clearly showed
disrespect for his position even after the latter had
cited him for contempt. In fact, after initially leaving
the court, the respondent returned to the courtroom
and disrupted the ongoing proceedings. These
actions were not only against the person, the
position and the stature of Judge Baculi, but against
the court as well whose proceedings were openly
and flagrantly disrupted, and brought to disrepute
by the respondent.

Litigants and counsels, particularly the latter
because of their position and avowed duty to the
courts, cannot be allowed to publicly ridicule,
demean and disrespect a judge, and the court that he
represents. The Code of Professional Responsibility
provides:

Canon 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the
respect due the courts and to judicial officers and
should insist on similar conduct by others.

Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous,
offensive or menacing language or behavior before
the Courts.


We ruled in Roxas v. De Zuzuarregui, Jr. that it is
the duty of a lawyer, as an officer of the court, to
uphold the dignity and authority of the
courts. Respect for the courts guarantees the
stability of the judicial institution; without this
guarantee, the institution would be resting on very
shaky foundations.

A lawyer who insults a judge inside a courtroom
completely disregards the latters role, stature and
position in our justice system. When the respondent
publicly berated and brazenly threatened Judge
Baculi that he would file a case for gross ignorance
of the law against the latter, the
respondent effectively acted in a manner tending to
erode the public confidence in Judge Baculis
competence and in his ability to decide cases.
Incompetence is a matter that, even if true, must be
handled with sensitivity in the manner provided
under the Rules of Court; an objecting or
complaining lawyer cannot act in a manner that puts
the courts in a bad light and bring the justice system
into disrepute.

The IBP Board of Governors recommended that
Atty. Battung be reprimanded, while the
Investigating Commissioner recommended a
penalty of six (6) months suspension.

We believe that these recommended penalties are
too light for the offense.

In Re: Suspension of Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo,
Former Senior State Prosecutor, we suspended Atty.
Bagabuyo for one year for violating Rule 11.05,
Canon 11, and Rule 13.02, Canon 13 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and for violating the
Lawyers Oath for airing his grievances against a
judge in newspapers and radio programs. In this
case, Atty. Battungs violations are no less serious
as they were committed in the courtroom in the
course of judicial proceedings where the respondent
was acting as an officer of the court, and before the
litigating public. His actions were plainly
disrespectful to Judge Baculi and to the court, to the
point of being scandalous and offensive to the
integrity of the judicial system itself.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty.
Melchor A. Battung is found GUILTY of violating
Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, for which he is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for one (1) year effective upon
the finality of this Decision. He is STERNLY
WARNED that a 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 the
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.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:


MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice


Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION


DENIS B. HABAWEL
and ALEXIS F.
MEDINA,
Petitioners,




- versus -




THE COURT OF
TAX APPEALS,
FIRST DIVISION,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 174759

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:


September 7, 2011
x-------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------x

D E C I S I O N


BERSAMIN, J .:

Found guilty of direct contempt by the First
Division of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA First
Division), and sanctioned with imprisonment for a
period of ten days and a fine of P2,000.00, the
petitioners have come to the Court for relief through
certiorari, claiming that the CTA First
Divisions finding and sentence were made in
grave abuse of its discretion because the language
they used in their motion for reconsideration as the
attorneys for a party was contumacious. Specifically,
they assail the resolution dated May 16, 2006,
whereby the CTA First Division disposed as
follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court
finds Attorneys Denis B. Habawel and Alexis F.
Medina of the Ponce Enrile Reyes and
Manalastas Law Offices guilty of DIRECT
CONTEMPT. Each counsel is

hereby ORDERED TO PAY a fine of Two
Thousand Pesos and to SUFFER IMPRISONMENT
for a period of ten (10) days.

SO ORDERED.

and the resolution dated July 26, 2006, whereby the
CTA First Division denied their motion for
reconsideration and reiterated the penalties.

Antecedents

The petitioners were the counsel of Surfield
Development Corporation (Surfield), which sought
from the Office of the City Treasurer of
Mandaluyong City the refund of excess realty taxes
paid from 1995 until 2000. After the City
Government of Mandaluyong City denied its claim
for refund, Surfield initiated a special civil action
for mandamus in the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
in Mandaluyong City, which was docketed as SCA
No. MC03-2142 entitled Surfield Development
Corporation v. Hon. City Treasurer of
Mandaluyong City, and Hon. City Assessor of
Mandaluyong City, and assigned to Branch
214. Surfield later amended its petition to include
its claim for refund of the excess taxes paid from
2001 until 2003.

On October 15, 2004, the RTC dismissed the
petition on the ground that the period to file the
claim had already prescribed and that Surfield had
failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The RTC
ruled that the grant of a tax refund was not a
ministerial duty compellable by writ of mandamus.

Surfield, represented by the petitioners, elevated the
dismissal to the CTA via petition for review (CTA
AC No. 5 entitled Surfield Development
Corporation v. Hon. City Treasurer and Hon. City
Assessor, Mandaluyong City). The appeal was
assigned to the First Division, composed of
Presiding Justice Ernesto D. Acosta, Associate
Justice Lovell R. Bautista and Associate Justice
Caesar A. Casanova.

In its decision dated January 5, 2006, the CTA First
Division denied the petition for lack of jurisdiction
and for failure to exhaust the remedies provided
under Section 253 and Section 226 of Republic Act
No. 7160 (Local Government Code).

Undeterred, the petitioners sought reconsideration
in behalf of Surfield, insisting that the CTA had
jurisdiction pursuant to Section 7(a)(3) of Republic
Act No. 9282; and arguing that the CTA First
Division manifested its lack of understanding or
respect for the doctrine of stare decisis in not
applying the ruling in Ty v. Trampe (G.R. No.
117577, December 1, 1995, 250 SCRA 500), to the
effect that there was no need to file an appeal before
the Local Board of Assessment Appeals pursuant to
Section 22 of Republic Act No. 7160.

On March 15, 2006, the CTA First Division denied
Surfields motion for reconsideration. On the issue
of jurisdiction, the CTA First Division explained
that the jurisdiction conferred by Section 7(a)(3) of
Republic Act No. 1125, as amended by Republic
Act No. 9282, referred to appeals from the decisions,
orders, or resolutions of the RTCs in local tax cases
and did not include the real property tax, an ad
valorem tax, the refund of excess payment of which
Surfield was claiming. Accordingly, the CTA First
Division ruled that the jurisdiction of the CTA
concerning real property tax cases fell under a
different section of Republic Act No. 9282 and
under a separate book of Republic Act No. 7160.

In addition, the CTA First Division, taking notice of
the language the petitioners employed in the motion
for reconsideration, required them to explain within
five days from receipt why they should not be liable
for indirect contempt or be made subject to
disciplinary action, thusly:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for
lack of merit. And insofar as the merits of the case
are concerned let this Resolution be considered as
the final decision on the matter.

However, this Court finds the statements of
petitioners counsel that it is gross ignorance of the
law for the Honorable Court to have held that it has
no jurisdiction over this instant petition; the
grossness of this Honorable Courts ignorance of
the law is matched only by the unequivocal
expression of this Honorable Courts jurisdiction
over the instant case and this Court lacked the
understanding and respect for the doctrine of stare
decisis as derogatory, offensive and disrespectful.
Lawyers are charged with the basic duty to observe
and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice
and judicial officers; they vow solemnly to
conduct themselves with all good fidelityto the
courts. As a matter of fact, the first canon of legal
ethics enjoins them 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 superior importance.
Therefore, petitioners counsel is hereby
ORDERED to explain within five (5) days from
receipt of this Resolution why he should not be held
for indirect contempt and/or subject to disciplinary
action.


SO ORDERED.

The petitioners submitted a compliance dated
March 27, 2006, in which they appeared to
apologize but nonetheless justified their language as,
among others, necessary to bluntly call the
Honorable Courts attention to the grievousness of
the error by calling a spade by spade.
In its first assailed resolution, the CTA First
Division found the petitioners apology wanting in
sincerity and humility, observing that they chose
words that were so strong, which brings disrepute
the Courts honor and integrity for brazenly
pointing to the Courts alleged ignorance and
grave abuse of discretion, to wit:

In their Compliance, the Court finds no sincerity
and humility when counsels Denis B. Habawel and
Alexis F. Medina asked for apology. In fact, the
counsels brazenly pointed the Courts alleged
ignorance and grave abuse of discretion. Their
chosen words are so strong, which brings disrepute
the Courts honor and integrity. We quote:

a) Admittedly, the language of the Motion for
Reconsideration was not endearing. However, the
undersigned counsel found it necessary to bluntly
call the Honorable Courts attention to the
grievousness of the error by calling a spade a spade.
The advocacy needed a strong articulation of the
gravity of the error of the Honorable Court in
avoiding the substantial and transcendental issues
by the simple expedient of dismissing the petition
for alleged lack of jurisdiction, in violation of
Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution, which
requires that the Decision must express clearly and
distinctly the facts and the law on which the
Decision was based (par. 3 of the Compliance;
docket, p. 349);

b) Since the Honorable Court simply quoted
Section 7(a)(5) and it totally ignored Section 7(a)(3),
to perfunctorily find that (U)ndoubtedly, appeals
of the decisions or rulings of the Regional Trial
Court concerning real property taxes evidently do
not fall within the jurisdiction of the CTA, the
undersigned counsel formed a perception that the
Honorable Court was totally unaware or ignorant of
the new provision, Section 7(a)(3). Hence, the
statements that it was gross ignorance of the law for
the Honorable Court to have held that it has not [sic]
jurisdiction, as well as, the grossness of the
Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is matched
only by the unequivocal expression of this
Honorable Courts jurisdiction over the instant case
were an honest and frank articulation of
undersigned counsels perception that was
influenced by its failure to understand why the
Honorable Court totally ignored Section 7(a)(3) in
ruling on its lack of jurisdiction (par. 10 of the
Compliance; docket, p. 353);

Accordingly, the CTA First Division adjudged both
of the petitioners guilty of direct contempt of court
for failing to uphold their duty of preserving the
integrity and respect due to the courts, sentencing
each to suffer imprisonment of ten days and to pay
P2,000.00 as fine.
Seeking reconsideration, the petitioners submitted
that they could not be held guilty of direct contempt
because: (a) the phrase gross ignorance of the law
was used in its legal sense to describe the error of
judgment and was not directed to the character or
competence of the decision makers; (b) there was
no unfounded accusation or allegation, or
scandalous, offensive or menacing, intemperate,
abusive, abrasive or threatening, or vile, rude and
repulsive statements or words contained in their
motion for reconsideration; (c) there was no
statement in their motion for reconsideration that
brought the authority of the CTA and the
administration of the law into disrepute; and (d)
they had repeatedly offered their apology in their
compliance.

Their submissions did not convince and move the
CTA First Division to reconsider, which declared
through its second assailed resolution that:

The tone of an irate lawyer would almost always
reveal the sarcasm in the phrases used. The
scurrilous attacks made in the guise of pointing out
errors of judgment almost always result to the
destruction of the high esteem and regard towards
the Court.

and disposed thusly:

WHEREFORE, petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of
merit. Each counsel is hereby ORDERED TO PAY
a fine of Two Thousand Pesos and to SUFFER
IMPRISONMENT for a period of ten (10) days.

SO, ORDERED.

Issues

Arguing that they were merely prompted by their
(z)ealous advocacy and an appalling error
committed by the CTA First Division to frankly
describe such error as gross ignorance of the law,
the petitioners now attribute grave abuse of
discretion to the CTA First Division in finding that:

I
THE PETITIONERS LANGUAGE IN THE
SUBJECT MOTION AND COMPLIANCE WAS
CONTUMACIOUS;

II
THE PETITIONERS WERE NOT SINCERE IN
THEIR APOLOGY AND WERE ARROGANT;

III
THE EXERCISE OF CONTEMPT POWER WAS
WITHIN THE LIMITS SET BY THE SUPREME
COURT; AND

IV
THE PETITIONERS WERE GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF DIRECT
CONTEMPT.


The petitioners continue to posit that the phrase
gross ignorance of the law was used in its strict
legal sense to emphasize the gravity of the error of
law committed by the CTA First Division; and that
the statements described by the CTA First Division
as abrasive, offensive, derogatory, offensive and
disrespectful should be viewed within the context
of the general tone and language of their motion for
reconsideration; that their overall language was
tempered, restrained and respectful and should
not be construed as a display of contumacious
attitude or as a flouting or arrogant belligerence in
defiance of the court to be penalized as direct
contempt; that the CTA First Division did not
appreciate the sincerity of their apology; and that
they merely pointed out the error in the decision of
the CTA First Division.

For its part, the CTA First Division contends that a
reading of the motion for reconsideration and the
character of the words used therein by the
petitioners indicated that their statements reflected
no humility, nor were they expressive of a contrite
heart; and that their submissions instead reflected
arrogance and sarcasm, that they even took the
opportunity to again deride the public respondent on
the manner of how it wrote the decision.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opines
that submitting a pleading containing derogatory,
offensive and malicious statements to the same
court or judge in which the proceedings are pending
constitutes direct contempt; and that the CTA First
Division did not abuse its discretion in finding the
petitioners liable for direct contempt under Section
1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.

Ruling

We dismiss the petition for certiorari, and declare
that the CTA First Division did not abuse its
discretion, least of all gravely, in finding that the
petitioners committed direct contempt of court.

Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility mandates all attorneys to observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial
officers and to insist on similar conduct by
others. Rule 11.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility specifically enjoins all attorneys thus:

Rule 11.03. A lawyer shall abstain from
scandalous, offensive or menacing language or
behavior before the Courts.


It is conceded that an attorney or any other person
may be critical of the courts and their judges
provided the criticism is made in respectful terms
and through legitimate channels. In that regard, we
have long adhered to the sentiment aptly given
expression to in the leading case of In re: Almacen:

xxx every citizen has the right to comment upon
and criticize the actuations of public officers.
This right is not diminished by the fact that the
criticism is aimed at a judicial authority, or that
it is articulated by a lawyer. Such right is
especially recognized where the criticism
concerns a concluded litigation, because then the
courts actuation are thrown open to public
consumption.
xxx
Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. They
should and expect critical evaluation of their
performance. For like the executive and the
legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the
soil of democratic society, nourished by the
periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is
expected to serve.

Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer,
both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to
criticize in properly respectful terms and
through legitimate channels the acts of courts
and judges.xxx
xxx
Hence, as a citizen and as officer of the court, a
lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right,
but also to consider it his duty to avail of such
right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he
professionally answerable for a scrutiny into
the official conduct of the judges, which would
not expose him to legal animadversion as a
citizen. xxx
xxx
But it is the cardinal condition of all such
criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not
spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A
wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one
hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the
judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and
unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of
respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that
subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
(emphasis supplied)

The test for criticizing a judges decision is,
therefore, whether or not the criticism is bona fide
or done in good faith, and does not spill over the
walls of decency and propriety.

Here, the petitioners motion for reconsideration
contained the following statements, to wit: (a) [i]t
is gross ignorance of the law for the Honorable
Court to have held that it has no jurisdiction over
the instant petition; (b) [t]he grossness of the
Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is matched
only by the unequivocal expression of this
Honorable Courts jurisdiction; and (c) the
Honorable Courts lack of understanding or respect
for the doctrine of stare decisis.

The CTA First Division held the statements to
constitute direct contempt of court meriting prompt
penalty.

We agree.

By such statements, the petitioners clearly and
definitely overstepped the bounds of propriety as
attorneys, and disregarded their sworn duty to
respect the courts. An imputation in a pleading of
gross ignorance against a court or its judge,
especially in the absence of any evidence, is a
serious allegation, and constitutes direct contempt
of court. It is settled that derogatory, offensive or
malicious statements contained in pleadings or
written submissions presented to the same court or
judge in which the proceedings are pending are
treated as direct contempt because they
are equivalent to a misbehavior committed in the
presence of or so near a court or judge as to
interrupt the administration of justice. This is true,
even if the derogatory, offensive or malicious
statements are not read in open court. Indeed, in
Dantes v. Judge Ramon S. Caguioa, where the
petitioners motion for clarification stated that the
respondent judges decision constituted gross
negligence and ignorance of the rules, and was pure
chicanery and sophistry, the Court held that a
pleading containing derogatory, offensive or
malicious statements when submitted before a court
or judge in which the proceedings are pending 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.

In his dissent, Justice Del Castillo, although
conceding that the petitioners statements were
strong, tactless and hurtful, regards the statements
not contemptuous, or not necessarily assuming the
level of contempt for being explanations of their
position in a case under consideration and
because an unfavorable decision usually incites
bitter feelings.

Such contempt of court cannot be condoned or be
simply ignored and set aside, however, for the
characterization that the statements were strong,
tactless and hurtful, although obviously correct,
provides no ground to be lenient towards the
petitioners, even assuming that such strong,
tactless and hurtful statements were used to
explain their clients position in the case. The
statements manifested a disrespect towards the CTA
and the members of its First Division approaching
disdain. Nor was the offensiveness of their strong,
tactless and hurtful language minimized on the
basis that snide remarks or sarcastic innuendos
made by counsels are not considered contemptuous
considering that unfavorable decision usually incite
bitter feelings. By branding the CTA and the
members of its First Division as totally unaware or
ignorant of Section 7(a)(3) of Republic Act No.
9282, and making the other equally harsh
statements, the petitioners plainly assailed the legal
learning of the members of the CTA First Division.
To hold such language as reflective of a very
deliberate move on the part of the petitioners to
denigrate the CTA and the members of its First
Division is not altogether unwarranted.

The petitioners disdain towards the members of the
CTA First Division for ruling against their side
found firm confirmation in their compliance, in
which they unrepentantly emphasized such disdain
in the following telling words:

3. Admittedly, the language of the Motion for
Reconsideration was not endearing. However, the
undersigned counsel found it necessary to
bluntly call the Honorable Courts attention to
the grievousness of the error by calling a spade a
spade. The advocacy needed a strong
articulation of the gravity of the error of the
Honorable Court in avoiding the substantial and
transcendental issues by the simple expedient of
dismissing the petition for alleged lack of
jurisdiction, in violation of Section 14, Article
VIII of the Constitution, which requires that the
Decision must express clearly and distinctly the
facts and the law on which the Decision was based.
xxx
10. Since the Honorable Court simply quoted
Section 7(a)(5), and it totally ignored Section
7(a)(3), to perfunctorily find that (U)ndoubtedly,
appeals of the decisions or rulings of the Regional
Trial Court concerning real property taxes evidently
do not fall within the jurisdiction of the CTA, the
undersigned counsel formed a perception that
the Honorable Court was totally unaware or
ignorant of the new provision, Section 7(a)(3).
Hence the statements that it was gross ignorance of
the law for the Honorable Court to have held that it
has no jurisdiction, as well as, the grossness of the
Honorable Courts ignorance of the law is matched
only by the unequivocal expression of this
Honorable Courts jurisdiction over the instant case
were an honest and frank articulation of
undersigned counsels perception that was
influenced by its failure to understand why the
Honorable Court totally ignored Section 7(a)(3) in
ruling on its lack of jurisdiction. (emphasis supplied)


We might have been more understanding of the
milieu in which the petitioners made the statements
had they convinced us that the CTA First Division
truly erred in holding itself bereft of jurisdiction
over the appeal of their client. But our review of the
text of the legal provisions involved reveals that the
error was committed by them, not by the CTA First
Division. This result became immediately evident
from a reading of Section 7(a)(3) and Section 7(a)(5)
of Republic Act No. 9282, the former being the
anchor for their claim that the CTA really had
jurisdiction, to wit:

Section 7. Jurisdiction. The CTA shall exercise:

(a) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by
appeal, as herein provided:
xxx
(3) Decisions, orders or resolutions of the
Regional Trial Courts in local tax cases
originally decided or resolved by them in the
exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction;
(emphasis supplied)
xxx
(5) Decisions of the Central Board of
Assessment Appeals in the exercise of its
appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the
assessment and taxation of real property
originally decided by the provincial or city board
of assessment appeals; (emphasis supplied)
xxx

As can be read and seen, Section 7(a)(3) covers
only appeals of the (d)ecisions, orders or
resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts in local tax
cases originally decided or resolved by them in the
exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction.
The provision is clearly limited to local tax disputes
decided by the Regional Trial Courts. In contrast,
Section 7(a)(5) grants the CTA cognizance of
appeals of the (d)ecisions of the Central Board of
Assessment Appeals in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction over cases involving the assessment and
taxation of real property originally decided by the
provincial or city board of assessment appeals. In
its resolution of March 15, 2006, therefore, the CTA
First Division forthrightly explained why, contrary
to the petitioners urging, Section 7(a)(3) was not
applicable by clarifying that a real property tax,
being an ad valorem tax, could not be treated as a
local tax.

It would have been ethically better for the
petitioners to have then retreated and simply
admitted their blatant error upon being so informed
by the CTA First Division about the untenability of
their legal position on the matter, but they still
persisted by going on in their compliance dated
March 27, 2006 to also blame the CTA First
Division for their perception about the CTA First
Divisions being totally oblivious of Section
7(a)(3) due to the terseness of the Decision dated
05 January 2006, viz:

12. Undersigned counsel regrets having bluntly
argued that this Honorable Court was grossly
ignorant of Section 7(a)(3) because from the
terseness of the Decision dated 05 January 2006,
the undersigned counsel perceived the
Honorable Court as being totally oblivious of
Section 7(a)(3). Had the reasons discussed in the
Resolution dated 15 March 2006 been articulated
in the 05 January 2006 decision, there would
have been no basis for undersigned counsels to
have formed the above-mentioned perception.
(emphasis supplied)

The foregoing circumstances do not give cause for
the Court to excuse the petitioners contemptuous
and offensive language. No attorney, no matter his
great fame or high prestige, should ever brand a
court or judge as grossly ignorant of the law,
especially if there was no sincere or legitimate
reason for doing so. Every attorney must use only
fair and temperate language in arguing a worthy
position on the law, and must eschew harsh and
intemperate language that has no place in the
educated ranks of the Legal Profession. Truly, the
Bar should strive to win arguments through civility
and fairness, not by heated and acrimonious tone,
as the Court aptly instructed in Slade Perkins v.
Perkins, to wit:

The court notices with considerable regret the
heated and acrimonious tone of the remarks of
the counsel for appellant, in his brief, in
speaking of the action of the trial judge. We
desire to express our opinion that excessive
language weakens rather than strengthens the
persuasive force of legal reasoning. We have
noticed a growing tendency to use language that
experience has shown not to be conducive to the
orderly and proper administration of justice. We
therefore bespeak the attorneys of this court to
desist from such practices, and to treat their
opposing attorneys, and the judges who have
decided their cases in the lower court adversely
to their contentions with that courtesy all have a
right to expect. (emphasis supplied)

We do not hesitate to punish the petitioners for the
direct contempt of court. They threw out self-
restraint and courtesy, traits that in the most trying
occasions equate to rare virtues that all members of
the Legal Profession should possess and cherish.
They shunted aside the nobility of their profession.
They wittingly banished the ideal that even the
highest degree of zealousness in defending the
causes of clients did not permit them to cross the
line between liberty and license. Indeed, the Court
has not lacked in frequently reminding the Bar that
language, though forceful, must still be dignified;
and though emphatic, must remain respectful as
befitting advocates and in keeping with the dignity
of the Legal Profession. It is always worthwhile to
bear in mind, too, that the language vehicle did not
run short of expressions that were emphatic, yet
respectful; convincing, yet not derogatory; and
illuminating, yet not offensive. No attorney worthy
of the title should forget that his first and foremost
status as an officer of the Court calls upon him to be
respectful and restrained in his dealings with a court
or its judge. Clearly, the petitioners criticism of the
CTA First Division was not bona fide or done in
good faith, and spilled over the walls of propriety.

The power to punish contempt of court is exercised
on the preservative and not on the vindictive
principle, and only occasionally should a court
invoke its inherent power to punish contempt of
court in order to retain that respect without which
the administration of justice must falter or fail. We
reiterate that the sanction the CTA First Division
has visited upon the petitioners was preservative,
for the sanction maintained and promoted the
proper respect that attorneys and their clients should
bear towards the courts of justice.

Inasmuch as the circumstances indicate that the
petitioners tone of apology was probably feigned,
for they did not relent but continued to justify their
contemptuous language, they do not merit any
leniency. Nonetheless, the penalty of imprisonment
for ten days and a fine of P2,000.00 is excessive
punishment of the direct contempt of court for using
contemptuous and offensive language and verges on
the vindictive. The Court foregoes the
imprisonment.

The Courts treatment of contemptuous and
offensive language used by counsel in pleadings
and other written submissions to the courts of law,
including this Court, has not been uniform. The
treatment has dealt with contemptuous and
offensive language either as contempt of court or
administrative or ethical misconduct, or as both.
The sanction has ranged from a warning (to be more
circumspect), a reprimand with stern warning
against a repetition of the misconduct, a fine of
P2,000.00, a fine of P5,000.00, and even indefinite
suspension from the practice of law.

The sanction has usually been set depending on
whether the offensive language is viewed as
contempt of court or as ethical misconduct. In Re:
Letter Dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel S.
Sorreda, the errant lawyer who made baseless
accusations of manipulation in his letters and
compliance to this Court was indefinitely suspended
from the practice of law. Although he was further
declared guilty of contempt of court, the Court
prescribed no separate penalty on him,
notwithstanding that he evinced no remorse and did
not apologize for his actions that resulted from
cases that were decided against his clients for valid
reasons. In Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G.
Angeles, the complaining State Prosecutor, despite
his strong statements to support his position not
being considered as direct contempt of court, was
warned to be more circumspect in language. In
contrast, Judge Angeles was reprimanded and
handed a stern warning for the disrespectful
language she used in her pleadings filed in this
Court, which declared such language to be below
the standard expected of a judicial officer. In Nuez
v. Atty. Arturo B. Astorga, Atty. Astorga was meted
a P2,000.00 fine for conduct unbecoming of a
lawyer for hurling insulting language against the
opposing counsel. Obviously, the language was
dealt with administratively, not as contempt of court.
In Ng v. Atty. Benjamin C. Alar, the Court
prescribed a higher fine of P5,000.00 coupled with a
stern warning against Atty. Alar who, in his motion
for reconsideration and to inhibit, cast insults and
diatribes against the NLRC First Division and its
members. Yet again, the fine was a disciplinary
sanction.

Despite having earlier directed the petitioners
through its resolution of March 15, 2006 that they
should explain within five (5) days from receipt of
this Resolution why (they) should not be held for
indirect contempt and/or subject to disciplinary
action, the CTA First Division was content with
punishing them for direct contempt under Section 1,
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, and did not anymore
pursue the disciplinary aspect. The Court concurs
with the offended courts treatment of the offensive
language as direct contempt. Thus, we impose on
each of them a fine of P2,000.00, the maximum
imposable fine under Section 1 of Rule 71, taking
into consideration the fact that the CTA is a
superior court of the same level as the Court of
Appeals, the second highest court of the land. The
penalty of imprisonment, as earlier clarified, is
deleted. Yet, they are warned against using
offensive or intemperate language towards a court
or its judge in the future, for they may not be as
lightly treated as they now are.

ACCORDINGLY, we DISMISS the petition for
certiorari; UPHOLD the resolutions dated May 16,
2006 and July 26, 2006; and MODIFY the penalty
imposed on Attorney Denis B. Habawel and
Attorney Alexis F. Medina by deleting the penalty
of imprisonment and sentencing them only to pay
the fine of P2,000.00 each.

SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

SECOND DIVISION
[A.M. No. CA-04-40. August 13, 2004]
ATTY. REX J.M.A. FERNANDEZ, complainant, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS ASSOCIATE JUSTICES
EUBOLO G. VERZOLA, MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, Jr., and
MARIO L. GUARIA III, respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on
Certiorari with Administrative Complaint for grave
abuse of discretion, grave misconduct, grave
oppression and gross ignorance of the law filed by
Atty. Rex J.M.A. Fernandez against Court of Appeals
Associate Justices Eubolo G. Verzola, Martin S. Villarama,
Jr. and Mario L. Guaria III, docketed as G.R. No.
160174.
The main case seeks to annul the Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated June 19, 2003, and the
Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration
dated September 26, 2003. The CA decision
declares petitioner Fr. Francisco Silva, National
Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator,
to have issued illegal orders dismissing therein
respondent Atty. Leovigildo T. Mationg, former general
manager of Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO),
and orders such petitioner to reinstate him.
The allegations of Atty. Fernandez against the
respondent Justices are summarized by the Office of
the Court Administrator as follows:
1. That he filed the instant petition before the
Honorable Supreme Court seeking its power to
reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and to
declare that said decision is a fruit of corruption;
2. That the CA decision is patently and obviously a
fruit of corruption without even considering the
backdrop of the whole case but by mere perusal of
the decision;
3. That the justices who penned and concurred with
the decision relied on the premise that there being
no direct evidence of corruption, the Supreme Court
would merely declare it, at most, an error of
judgment;
4. That, although in this case, particular and
specific acts of graft and corruption are not visible
and patent, telltale (sic) signs and collateral
circumstances of acts of graft and corruption must
be declared to be sufficient evidence against such
acts;
5. That complainant stands by his analysis of
corruption that the decision in itself is evidence of
corruption per doctrine res ipsa loquitur;
6. That the acts of the justices of not allowing some
persons due process and in grossly and gravely
ignoring basic legal rights and procedures, gave
undue advantage to respondent Mationg;
7. That giving undue advantage to respondent
Mationg caused damage, injuries and prejudice to
petitioner, the NEA Board of Administrators, the
Board of Directors of AKELCO, the individual
members of the general assembly, and even to the
President, in violation of Section 3 (e) of Rep. Act
No. 3019 and Rep. Act No. 6713.
The complainant prayed that the Court remove the
respondent Associate Justices as Justices of the
Court of Appeals and that the penalty of disbarment
from the practice of law be imposed on them.
In a Resolution dated January 14, 2004, the Court
resolved to docket the case as an informal
preliminary inquiry and to refer the same to the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for
appropriate action.
The respondent Justices submitted their respective
comments on the complaint and denied the charges.
Justice Villarama, Jr. averred that, to merit disciplinary
sanction, the error or mistake of a judge must be
gross and patent, malicious, deliberate or in bad
faith, and pointed out that the complainant failed to
present any concrete evidence to substantiate his
false, malicious and unfair statements. Justice Guaria
claimed that the complaint is premature and lacks
any cause of action, and is sub judice, involving as it
does the question of whether the CA decision is
correct or not, an issue which the Court will later
decide on. Justice Verzola, on the other hand, argued
that the inclusion of an administrative complaint for
alleged acts attendant to the rendition of a decision
subject of a petition for review on certiorari, does
not conform to A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC which took
effect on September 11, 2001.
The OCA, thereafter, recommended the dismissal of
the instant administrative complaint and that the
same be stricken off from the petition in G.R. No.
160174.
We agree.
As a matter of policy, the acts of a judge in his
judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary
action. He cannot be subjected to liability civil,
criminal or administrative, for any of his official
acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in
good faith. To hold otherwise would be to render
judicial office untenable, for no one called upon to
try the facts or interpret the law in the process of
administering justice can be infallible in his
judgment.
Indeed, the filing of an administrative complaint
against a judge is not an appropriate remedy where
judicial recourse is still available. In the absence of
fraud, malice or dishonesty in rendering the assailed
decision or order as in the case at bar, the remedy of
the aggrieved party is to elevate the assailed
decision or order to the higher court for review and
correction. As such, an administrative complaint
against a judge cannot be pursued simultaneously
with the judicial remedies accorded to parties
aggrieved by his erroneous order or judgment.
More importantly, in administrative proceedings,
the complainant has the burden of proving by
substantial evidence the allegations in his
complaint. In the absence of evidence to the
contrary, the presumption that the respondent has
regularly performed his duties will prevail. Even in
administrative cases, if a respondent judge should
be disciplined for a grave offense, the evidence
against him should be competent and derived from
direct knowledge. Charges based on mere suspicion
and speculation cannot be given credence. Hence,
when the complainant fails to substantiate a claim
of corruption and bribery, relying merely on
conjectures and suppositions, the administrative
complaint must be dismissed for lack of merit. As
stated by the OCA in its Report and Recommendation:
Complainant admitted that he has no direct
evidence of corruption committed by respondent
justices. He stated that in this case, particular and
specific acts of corruption are not visible and patent.
His reasoning that the decision itself is evidence of
corruption per doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is untenable.
Rendering an erroneous or baseless judgment, in
itself, is not sufficient to justify the judges
dismissal from the service, there must be proof that
such judgment was rendered with malice, corrupt
practice, improper consideration or bad faith.
Thus, although the decision may seem so erroneous
as to raise doubt concerning a judges integrity,
absent extrinsic evidence, the decision itself would
be insufficient to establish a case against the
judge, and where the charge includes an alleged
violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, as in the
instant case, the quantum of proof required to hold
respondent judge guilty for such violation is proof
beyond reasonable doubt.
The complainant would do well to remember that as
a member of the bar, he is bound by the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Canon 11 thereof
enjoins lawyers to observe and maintain the respect
due to courts and to judicial officers and should
insist on similar conduct by others. Thus, it has
been held that though a lawyers language may be
forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified
and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal
profession. The use of intemperate language and
unkind ascriptions have no place in the dignity of
judicial forum. Civility among members of the legal
profession is a treasured tradition that must at no
time be lost to it. Rule 11.04 of the Code goes
further as to oblige lawyers to refrain from
attributing to a Judge motives not supported by the
record or have no materiality to the case.
In fact, as pointed out by Justice Verzola, an
administrative complaint against judges and Justices
of the Court of Appeals, if instituted by any person,
must be verified and duly supported by affidavits of
persons who have personal knowledge of the facts
alleged therein, or by documents substantiating such
allegations. Hence, the inclusion of such complaint
in a petition for review on certiorari before the
Court, without even alleging the specific acts and
omissions violated by the respondents, is highly
irregular and improper.
The Court has recognized the proliferation of
unfounded or malicious administrative or criminal
cases against members of the judiciary for purposes
of harassment. Thus, we issued A.M. No. 03-10-
01-SC which took effect on November 3, 2003,
where the complainant found to have instituted such
clearly malicious and unfounded administrative
complaint may be required to show cause why he
should not be held in contempt of court. It must be
stressed that the Court will not shirk from its
responsibility of imposing discipline upon its
employees, judges and Associate Justices alike; but
neither will it hesitate to shield them from
unfounded suits that serve to disrupt rather than
promote the orderly administration of justice.
WHEREFORE, the administrative complaint
against Court of Appeals Associate Justices Eubolo G.
Verzola, Martin S. Villarama, Jr. and Mario L. Guaria III
is DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and
Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
See Report and Recommendation, p. 3.
Petition, p. 9.
Id. at 10.
Id.
In page 10 of the Petition, the complainant stated:
[The Court] deliberately refused to acknowledge
even its existence. It seems that the said justices
believed that by not acknowledging the same, it
does not exist. A kind of adulteration of Descartes
aphorism, Cogito ergo sum. The said justices seem
to say: I will not think about it, therefore it does
not exist.
If this is not evidence of judicial corruption, there
are no quasars and black holes.
Id.
Id. at 96.
Id. at 41, 53, 61, 66, 71, 75, 78, 81, 85, 91.
Id. at 99.
Comment dated March 15, 2004, p. 2.
Id. at 6.
Comment dated April 2, 2004, p. 1.
Comment dated March 24, 2004, p. 2.
Castaos v. Escao, 251 SCRA 174 (1995).
Sacmar v. Reyes-Carpio, 400 SCRA 32 (2003).
Julie C. Pitney v. Judge Zeus C. Abrogar, A.M. No.
RTJ-03-1748, November 11, 2003.
Supra, at note 15.
Urgent Appeal/Petition for Immediate Suspension
& Dismissal of Judge Emilio B. Legaspi, Regional
Trial Court, Iloilo City, Branch 22, 405 SCRA 514
(2003).
See Leonides T. Cortes v. Sandiganbayan Justices
Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Ma. Cristina G. Cortez-
Estrada and Rodolfo G. Palattao, A.M. No. SB-04-
11-J, February 13, 2004.
Report and Recommendation, p. 4 (Citations
omitted).
De la Rosa v. Sabio, Jr., 407 SCRA 213 (2003), per
J. Ynares-Santiago.
Ibid., citing Castillo v. Atty. Padilla, Jr., 127 SCRA
743 (1984).
Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court Re:
Discipline of Justices and Judges of Regular and
Special Courts and Justices of the Court of Appeals
and the Sandiganbayan reads in full:
Section 1. Proceedings for the discipline of Judges
of regular and special courts and Justices of the
Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan may be
instituted motu proprio by the Supreme Court or
upon verified complaint, supported by affidavits of
persons who have personal knowledge of the facts
alleged therein or by documents which may
substantiate said allegations, or upon an anonymous
complaint, supported by public records of
indubitable integrity. The complaint shall be in
writing and shall state clearly and concisely the acts
and omissions constituting violations of standards
of conduct prescribed for Judges by law, the Rules
of Court, or the Code of Judicial Conduct (As
amended by SC A.M. No. 01-8-10, Sept. 11, 2001).
Entitled Resolution Prescribing Measures To
Protect Members Of The Judiciary From Baseless
And Unfounded Administrative Complaints. The
Resolution reads in part:
1. If upon an informal preliminary inquiry by the
Office of the Court Administrator, an administrative
complaint against any Justice of the Court of
Appeals or Sandiganbayan or any Judge of the
lower courts filed in connection with a case in court
is shown to be clearly unfounded and baseless and
intended to harass the respondent, such a finding
should be included in the report and
recommendation of the Office of the Court
Administrator. If the recommendation is approved
or affirmed by the Court, the complainant may be
required to show cause why he should not be held in
contempt of court. If the complainant is a lawyer, he
may further be required to show cause why he or
she should not be administratively sanctioned as a
member of the Bar and as an officer of the court.
2. If the complaint is (a) filed within six months
before the compulsory retirement of a Justice or
Judge; (b) for an alleged cause of action that
occurred at least a year before such filing and (c)
shown prima facie that it is intended to harass the
respondent, it must forthwith be recommended for
dismissal. If such is not the case, the Office of the
Court Administrator must require the respondent to
file a comment within ten (10) days from receipt of
the complaint, and submit to the Court a report and
recommendation not later than 30 days from receipt
of the comment. The Court shall act on the
recommendation before the date of compulsory
retirement of the respondent, or if it is not possible
to do so, within six (6) months from such date
without prejudice to the release of the retirement
benefits less such amount as the Court may order to
be withheld, taking into account the gravity of the
cause of action alleged in the complaint.
Julie C. Pitney v. Judge Zeus C. Abrogar, supra.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.C. No. 134-J January 21, 1974
IN RE: THE HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO,
JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL,
BRANCH I, SILAY CITY.
R E S O L U T I O N

ANTONIO, J .:1wph1.t
In a verified complaint filed on October 15, 1968
by Acting City Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of
Cadiz, Negros Occidental, and Eva Mabug-at,
widow of the deceased Norberto Tongoy,
respondent is charged with gross malfeasance in
office, gross ignorance of the law, and for
knowingly rendering an unjust judgment.
The aforecited charges stemmed from the order
of respondent dated September 5, 1968 and his
decision acquitting accused Carlos Caramonte
promulgated on September 21, 1968, in Criminal
Case No. 690, entitled "People the Philippines
versus Isabelo Montemayor, et al.," for Robbery
in Band with Homicide.
In the Resolution of this Court dated October 22,
1968, the complaint was given due course, and
respondent was required to file, an answer to the
complaint within ten (10) days from notice
thereof, and after the filing of respondent's
answer, the case was referred on December 17,
1968 to the Hon. Nicasio Yatco, Associate Justice
of the Court of Appeals, for investigation and
report. On April 11, 1968, after conducting the
requisite investigation thereon, the investigator
submitted his Report recommending the
exoneration of respondent.
It appears from the record that Acting City
Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of Cadiz, Negros
Occidental, filed a charge for Robbery in Band
with Homicide against thirteen (13) persons as
principals, seven (7) persons as accomplices, and
two (2) persons as accessories, with the Court of
First Instance of Negros Occidental, in Criminal
Case No. 690.<re||an1w> The case was assigned
to Branch I, Silay City, presided over by the
respondent. Out of the 13 persons charged as
principals for the crime, only Carlos Caramonte
was arrested and tried (the six other alleged
principals, including Isabelo Montemayor,
remained at large), while of the persons charged
as accomplices and accessories, the case with
respect to them was dismissed at the instance of
the prosecution or with its conformity, in the
following manner:
(a) Before arraignment:
Jorge Canonoyo
(b) After arraignment:
Agustin Caete
Rosendo Caete
Arsenio Luyao
Elias Giducos
Pedro Layon
Antonio Placencia
(c) Accused Luciano Salinas was discharged
from the information and utilized as state
witness; and
(d) Accused Honorato de Sales, Paulino Quijano,
Cristeta Jimenez, Constancio Pangahin, Julio
Elmo, Primitivo Mata, and Rene Fernandez
before the Amended Information of April 26,
1968, were dropped.
After the case was submitted for decision,
respondent issued an order, dated September 5,
1968, which reads as follows:
The parties are notified that the Court intends to
take judicial notice that the Mateo Chua-Antonio
Uy Compound Cadiz City is the hub of a large
fishing industry operating in the Visayas; that
the said compound is only about 500 meters
away from the Police Station and the City Hall in
Cadiz; that the neighborhood is well-lighted and
well-populated. SO ORDERED.
Thereafter, or more particularly, on September
21, 1968, respondent promulgated his decision in
the case acquitting Carlos Caramonte.
Subsequently, Acting City Fiscal Zulueta
appealed aforementioned decision to this Court;
and when required to comment on said appeal,
Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo, now an
Associate Justice of this Court, submitted his
comment on November 28, 1968 to the effect that
prosecution cannot appeal from the judgment of
acquittal in view of the constitutional protection
against double jeopardy, and made the
observation that "While the validity of the
ocular inspection conducted by the lower court is
open to doubt, the unvarnished fact remains that
the judgment of acquittal was not premised
solely on the results of said ocular inspection, as
erroneously contended by prosecutor. A cursory
perusal of the decision will at once show that said
acquittal was predicated on other well-
considered facts and circumstances so
thoroughly discussed by the lower court in its
decision and the least of those was its
observation arising from the ocular inspection.
On January 30, 1969, this Court, through Justice
Fernando, promulgated its Resolution dismissing
the appeal (G.R. No. L-29599). In the meantime,
on October 15, 1968, the aforementioned
complaint against respondent was instituted as
aforestated..
In his Report, the investigator stated:
Under the first indictment, complainants bewail
as gross malfeasance in office and gross
ignorance of the law, the following behaviour of
the respondent Judge in the case:
I. GROSS MALFEASANCE IN OFFICE
and
GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW
After both parties submitted their respective
Memorandum attached herewith as Annexes
"C" and "D", Criminal Case No. 690 for
"Robbery in Band with Homicide" was closed
and submitted for Decision on July 1, 1968.
About one and a half (1-) months thereafter, or
at about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday,
11 August 1968, respondent judge made a secret
ocular inspection of the poblacion of the City of
Cadiz. Without anybody to guide him, he visited
the places which he thought erroneously were
the scene of the robbery where the Chief of
Police was killed by the Montemayor gang at
about 11:00 o'clock of the dark night of
December 31, 1967. It should be noted that Cadiz
City is 65 kms. away from Bacolod City, the
capital of the province. Because of that
undeniably biased ocular inspection, the
honorable trial judge, who is reputed to be
brilliant, issued a reckless, extremely senseless
and stupid order dated 5 September 1968, to wit:
The parties are notified that the Court intends to
take judicial notice that the Mateo Chua-Antonio
Uy Compound in Cadiz City is the hub of a large
fishing industry during industry operating in the
Visayas; that the said compound is only about
500 meters away from the Police Station and the
City Hall in Cadiz; and that the neighborhood is
well-lighted and well-populated.
SO ORDERED.
which Order, as any student of law would tell
you, is null and void, and illegal per se. Why
respondent Honorable Judge went out of his way
to gather those immaterial and "fabricated"
evidence in favor of the accused is shocking to
the conscience. To say the least, it is gross
ignorance of the law. Why did respondent judge
show his hand unnecessarily and prematurely?
Perhaps, a psychologist or a psychiatrist would
explain that the Order of September 5th is that
of an anguished mind; an Order issued by a
Judge who for the first time had to violate his
oath of office; by a judge who, due to political
pressure and against his will and better
judgment, had to acquit councilor Carlos
Caramonte of the municipality of Bantayan,
province of Cebu. Like an amateur murderer
respondent judge left telltale clues all around. A
murderer, however, may have a strong motive.
But what of a judge who knowingly commits a
"revolting injustice" or through gross ignorance
of the law?
It could be gleaned from a careful perusal of the
complaint that complainants bemoaned the fact
that the respondent Judge conducted a "secret
ocular inspection" of the poblacion of the City of
Cadiz at about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon
Sunday, August 11, 1968, without anybody to
guide him, less in the presence of the prosecution
and concluded that such alleged secret ocular
inspection was the basis of the Order of
September 5, 1968. A painstaking scrutiny of the
records as well as the evidence presented by the
parties does not show any concrete proof that
respondent Judge did conduct a "secret ocular
inspection" of the poblacion of the City of Cadiz
as seriously charge by the complainants. In fact,
the lone witness presented by the complainants
in this case did not even make an insinuation
supporting such serious allegation of said
complainants. The fact is, from the order of
September 5, 1968, the respondent Judge took
judicial notice "that the Mateo Chua-Antonio Uy
Compound in Cadiz City is the hub of a large
fishing industry operating in the Visayas; that
the said compound is only about 500 meters
away from the Police Station and the City Hall in
Cadiz; and that the neighborhood is well-lighted
and well-populated. Nowhere therefrom could it
be deduced that respondent Judge took judicial
notice of these facts by virtue of an ocular
inspection he conducted on the date alleged by
the complainants.
In any event, there is likewise nothing in the
record to support the charge of the complainants
that the order of September 5, 1968, was made
by the respondent Judge as the sole basis for the
acquittal of Carlos Caramonte. In fact, the
decision of the respondent Judge shows that in
rendering judgment of acquittal in the case
before him, said respondent entertained serious
doubts as to the guilt of Caramonte because of
the failure of anyone in the Chua and in the
Uy households, the security guards, the
policemen who engaged the robbers in battle
to identify Caramonte as one of the participants
in the alleged crime. Thus, the decision
pertinently reads:
I s Caramonte guilty?
In spite of the admission of Caramonte's Exh. C
and the damaging inferences derived from his
staying from the ceremony when the newly-
elected officials of Bantayan were inducted into
office, there is doubt in the mind of the Court as
to his actual participation in then bold raid in
Cadiz City on December 31, 1967, because of the
failure of anyone the adults and the children
in the Chua and in the Uy households, the
security guards, the policemen who engaged the
robbers in battle to say on the stand that
Caramonte was indeed one of the robbers.
The Uy spouses and Mateo Chua all took the
stand. They and the other members of the
household were tied up by the robbers, who then
ransacked the two houses for about an hour.
Thereafter, some of them were taken to the
seashore to prevent the police from firing on the
retreating robbers:
Mateo Chua said at the trial:
Q At about 9:30 in the evening of Dec. 31,
1967, where were you?
A I was in my house.
Q Do you remember anything unusual that
happened that evening in
your house?
A Yes, sir.
Q Please tell the Court what happened?
A Several men, pirates, came up my house
and broke into my house.
Q About what time did you notice those
pirates forced themselves
inside your residence?
A Between 9:30 and 10:00 that evening.
Q What was the first thing you noticed when
the pirates as you said
arrived?
A I was about to sleep when they came up,
three of them went
straight up my house.
Q How many floors has your house?
A Two floors.
xxx xxx xxx
Q What did the robbers do when they came
up your house?
A They hogtied me and made me lie flat on
the floor face down.
Q At that time were not your family inside
your house?
A Yes, sir, my children and my wife.
Q What did the robbers do with your wife
and children?
A Because I was hogtied and was lying flat on
the floor face down, I
cannot tell what did they do to my wife and
children.
Q What did the robbers do in your house?
A They ransacked my house.
Q How many minutes did the armed robbers
stay pin your house?
A Almost one hour.
xxx xxx xxx
Q After nearly one hour, did the robbers who
came up your house leave?
A I don't know because I was lying flat on the
floor.
Q How did they come out, you cannot tell?
A No, sir.
Q Who untied you that evening?
A My son untied me after the men left.
Court
This witness did not identify any of the accused?
Fiscal
No, Your Honor.
On her part, Mrs. Ong Sy San (wife of Uy)
related on the witness stand that:
Q Please tell the Court what unusual thing
happened that evening
in your house?
A The robbers broke into our house.
Q More or less, how many robbers broke into
your house that evening of
Dec. 31, 1967?
A About four or five.
Q Were they armed?
A Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q After the four or five persons fired their
shots inside your house, what did
they do?
A We were downstairs when they broke into
our house, using the axe at the
door and then after entering the first floor they
went up.
xxx xxx xxx
Q Can you identify any of the robbers that
came up your house from among
the accused in courtroom?
A I cannot, because I was frightened, I did not
have a chance to look at them.
The bold assault did not take place in absolute
darkness. Why could no one in the Chua and Uy
households say that Carlos Caramonte was one
of the team of robbers?
The police battled with the raiders from a
distance of about 60 meters, according to
Patrolman Armando Maravilla. Two security
guards employed by Uy (Placencia and Giducos)
remained with the besieged families thru the raid.
Security Guard Elias Giducos gave this
testimony:
Q At about 10:00 o'clock of that same evening
of December 31, 1967, do you remember if there
was anything unusual that happened?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was that which happened?
A At about that time we heard a voice of a
man and woman and they asked us where we
were guarding.
Q What did you answer?
A At that time we were on duty at the gate of
the house of Mateo Chua and then we heard the
voice of a man and a woman.
Q After you heard those voices of a man and a
woman, what happened?
A Then we were told not to go to the seashore
because there were armed men.
Q What did you do after hearing that?
A My companion Antonio Placencia called me
because he was the one who had talked to those
persons. He told me not to go to the seashore
because there were armed men there.
Q What did you do after that?
A My companion also suggested that we
better call the Police Department by telephone
because that was already 10:50 in the evening.
Q Were you able to call the Police
Department by telephone?
A We went to the house of Erning Tan
because there is a telephone there connected with
the Police Department and the stand is also at
the window overlooking the Caltex Station. So
Antonio Placencia told me to call the Police
Department and tell them that there are armed
men in the seashore.
Q What did you do after that?
A Then we saw Erning Tan entered his store
to use the telephone and then we saw Antonio
(Kaya) Uy on the other side so we went to him
and told him that there were armed men in the
seashore and Antonio Uy told us. "If anything
happen don't resist because my children might
be hit."
xxx xxx xxx
Q So what did you do after that?
A Because there was a policeman there, we
asked him where our companion security guard
was.
Q And what was his answer?
A The policeman informed us that he did not
report for duty and that it was Guarino who
reported for duty that evening.
xxx xxx xxx
Q When you went down, what happened?
A When I went down, Antonio Uy saw me so
he reprimanded me. He said, "Why are you
walking there? Come up."
Q And then you obeyed his order? You came
up.
A Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q What did Kaya Uy do when he heard the
news?
A Our employer Antonio Uy told us not to
resist. He said, "If they want to get something,
just allow them to get it."
Q What happened after that?
A Because we were there with him, we went to
office to hide.
Q Did you notice anything while you were
hiding there?
A Yes, sir, we heard something.
Q What did you hear?
A We heard several shots.
xxx xxx xxx
Q After the shots lasted, where did you go?
A After the shooting stopped, the mother of
Antonio Uy came to him and informed Mr. Uy
that his wife was brought along by the armed
men.
Q What did Mr. Uy do because you were
there.
A He went down and returned to his own
house.
Q When Mr. Uy went down and returned to
his own house, what did you do?
A I followed him.
Q Where did you go?
A To his house and I called the rest of the
guards.
Q Were you able to reach his house?
A Yes, sir.
which indicates that many people in the
compound must or could have seen some or all of
the robbers and no one could say that
Caramonte was one of them.
The Court takes notice that the Uy Chua
compound is the hub of a large fishing industry,
and is located barely 500 meters from the Cadiz
police station and City Hall. Also that there are
many houses in the neighborhood. Under the
circumstances, the failure of anyone members
of the Chua and Uy households, the security
guards and other employees of the fishing
business, the police, the neighbors to perceive
the presence of Caramonte at the time of the
attack raises doubts as to his participation
therein. (Decision, pp. 12-16).
Be that as it may, under Section 173 of the
Revised Administrative Code, the grounds for
removal of a judge of first instance are (1)
serious misconduct and (2) inefficiency. For
serious misconduct to exist, there must be
reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts
complained of were corrupt or inspired by an
intention to violate the law, or were in persistent
disregard of well-known legal rules. (In re
Impeachment of Hon. Antonio Horrilleno, 43
Phil. 212). In the case at bar, there has been no
proof that in issuing the order of September 5,
1968 (Exh. B), and in rendering a judgment of
acquittal the respondent Judge was inspired by a
dishonest or corrupt intention which prompted
him to violate the law or to disregard well-known
legal rules. In fact, in spite of the biting language
of the complainants in their complaint and in
their memorandum, they admit that the
respondent Judge is not dishonest as far as they
know. Of course, there has been an insinuation
that "respondent Judge prostituted this Court
and acquitted, obviously in bad faith, Councilor
Caramonte of Bantayan, province of Cebu, in all
likelihood because of the dirty hands of power
politics." Inasmuch as proceedings against
judges as the case at bar, have been said to be
governed by the rules of law applicable to penal
cases, the charges must, therefore, be proved
beyond reasonable doubt (In re Horrilleno,
supra), and it is incumbent upon the
complainants to prove their case not by a
preponderance of evidence but beyond a
reasonable doubt, and in this venture, it is
believed they failed. There is, indeed, a paucity
of proof that respondent Judge has acted
partially, or maliciously, or corruptly, or
arbitrarily or oppressively.
xxx xxx xxx
In issuing the order of Sept. 5, 1968, respondent
Judge as stated in his answer, was guided by the
Model Code of Evidence cited by Chief Justice
Moran in his Comments on the Rules of Court.
Whether in taking judicial notice of the facts
stated in the order of September 5, 1968,
respondent Judge erred or not, it is believed, this
is not the proper forum to dwell on the matter.
Since this is an administrative case against him
the controlling factor should be the
circumstances surrounding the issuance of such
order whether in doing so the respondent
Judge was arbitrary, corrupt, partial, or
oppressive. As heretofore stated, the undersigned
finds no proof beyond reasonable doubt along
that line.
Furthermore, it appears from the record that the
Office of the City Fiscal received a copy of the
Order of September 5, 1968 on September 13,
1968. If it were true as alleged by the
complainants that the issuance of such order was
and that the matters taken judicial notice of
therein were wrong, it behooves upon Fiscal
Zulueta, as the prosecutor of the case, to seek for
the reconsideration of such order and at the
same time to invite the attention of the court to
the alleged errors, if there were any. But as the
records show, the prosecution in the said case
did not take any steps from September 13 to
September 21, or a span of eight to protect the
interests of the State against what complainants
herein term to be an "illegality." Of course, the
complainants herein lean on the argument that

Fiscal Zulueta
Because if I do that, Your Honor, respondent
Judge would realize his mistake which we believe
malicious (p. 29, t.s.n.).
It may be pertinent to state at this juncture, that
this attitude of the prosecution in Criminal Case
No. 690 does appear to be commendable. A
prosecutor should lay the court fairly and fully
every fact and circumstance known to him to
exist, without regard to whether such fact tends
to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused
(Malcolm, Legal and Judicial Ethics, p. 123) and
to this may be added without regard to any
personal conviction or presumption of what the
Judge may do or is disposed to do. Prosecuting
officer presumed to be men learned in the law, of
a high character, and to perform their duties
impartially and with but one object in view, that
being that justice may be meted out to all
violators of the law and that no innocent man be
punished (Malcolm, p. 124). In the pursuit of
that solemn obligation, therefore, personal
conviction should be ignored lest it may lead to a
sacrifice of the purpose sought to be achieved.
Fortunately, in Criminal Case No. 690, the very
witness of the complainants affirmed the
correctness of the matters taken judicial notice
of by the respondent Judge. Thus, Mr. Agustin
Javier, lone witness for the complainants,
testified
Atty. Aquino
Q When Fiscal Zulueta on September 13,
1968 showed you that order of Judge Climaco
wherein he stated that he was taking judicial
notice that Mateo Chua-Antonio Uy Compound
in Cadiz City is a hub of a large fishing industry
operating in the Visayas; that said compound is
only a five hundred (500) meters from the City
Hall in Cadiz and that the neighborhood is well-
lighted and well-populated, after reading that
order, did you make any comment to Fiscal
Zulueta?
A No, sir.
Q But the statements here in the order are
true?
A Yes, you mean the "Uy-Chua Compound"?
Q I mean the statements in the order are true?
A Yes, sir. (pp. 64-65, t.s.n.)
The charges impute upon respondent (a)
dereliction of duty or misconduct in office
( prevaricacion), which contemplates the
rendition of an unjust judgment knowingly,
and/or in (b) rendering a manifestly unjust
judgment by reason of inexcusable negligence or
ignorance.
In order that a judge may be held liable for
knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, it
must be shown beyond doubt that the judgment
is unjust as it is contrary to law or is not
supported by the evidence, and the same was
made with conscious and deliberate intent to do
an injustice. "Es tan preciso," commented Viada,
"que la falta se cometa a sabiendas, esto es, con
malicia, con voluntad reflexiva, que en cada de
uno de estos articulos vemos consignada dicha
expresion para que por nadie y en ningun caso se
confunda la falta de justicia producida por
ignorancia, la preocupacion o el error, con la que
solo inspira la enemistad, el odio o cualquiera
otra pasion bastarda y corrompida. Esta es la
prevaricacion verdadera."
1

To hold a judge liable for the rendition of a
manifestly unjust judgment by reason of
inexcusable negligence or ignorance, it must be
shown, according to Groizard, that although he
has acted without malice, he failed to observe in
the performance of his duty, that diligence,
prudence and care which the law is entitled to
exact in the rendering of any public service.
2

Negligence and ignorance are inexcusable if they
imply a manifest injustice which cannot be
explained by a reasonable interpretation.
3

Inexcusable mistake only exists in the legal
concept when it implies a manifest injustice, that
is to say, such injustice which cannot be
explained by a reasonable interpretation, even
though there is a misunderstanding or error of
the law applied, in the contrary it results,
logically and reasonably, and in a very clear and
indisputable manner, in the notorious violation
of the legal precept.
4

It is also well-settled that a judicial officer, when
required to exercise his judgment or discretion,
is not liable criminally, for any error he commits,
provided he acts in good faith.
From a review of the record, We find that the
decision respondent contains clearly and
distinctly the facts and law on which it is based.
We cannot conclude on the basis thereof that
respondent has knowingly rendered an unjust
judgment, much less could it be held that
respondent in the performance of his duty has
failed to observe the diligence, prudence and
care required by law.
As noted in the aforecited report, the Acting City
Fiscal of Cadiz had employed offensive and
abusive language his complaint and
memorandum. It bears emphasis that the use in
pleadings of language disrespectful to the court
or containing offensive personalities serves no
useful purpose and on the contrary constitutes
direct contempt.
5

We must repeat what this Court thru Justice
Sanchez stated in an earlier case:
6

A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like
the court itself, an instrument or agency to
advance the ends of justice." (People ex rel.
Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851, 855.). His duty
is to uphold the dignity and authority of the
courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote
distrust in the administration of justice." (In re
Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, 602.). Faith in the courts a
lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to
undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to
the continuity of government and to the
attainment of the liberties of the people."
(Malcolm, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1949 ed., p.
160.).
Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[as] an
officer of the court, it is his own and moral duty
to help build and not destroy unnecessarily that
high esteem and regard towards the court so
essential to the proper administration of justice.
(People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572, 580.).
... It has been said that "[a] lawyer's language
should be dignified in keeping with the dignity of
the legal profession." (5 Martin, op. cit., p. 97.).
It is Sotto's duty as a member of the Bar "[t]o
abstain from all offensive personality and to
advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or
reputation of a party or witness, unless required
by the justice of the cause with which he is
charged." (Section 20 (f), Rule 138, Rules of
Court.).
We have analyzed the facts, and there is nothing
on the basis thereof which would in any manner
justify their inclusion in the pleadings.
WHEREFORE, respondent judge is hereby
exonerated of the aforestated charges. Acting
City Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of Cadiz City, is,
nevertheless, censured for his use of offensive
and abusive language in the complaint and other
pleadings filed with this Court, with a warning
that repetition of the same may constrain Us to
impose a more severe sanction.
Makalintal, C.J ., Zaldivar, Castro, Esguerra,
Fernandez and Muoz Palma, J J .,
concur.1wph1.t
Barredo, Makasiar and Aquino, J J ., took no part.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, J ., concurring:
The high quality of craftsmanship that is so
typical of the work of Justice Antonio is once
again in evidence. What is more, his opinion for
the Court is so well-researched and so thorough
that to add a few words might yield the
impression that to do so is to magnify a trifling
difference. That risk, if so it is, I take if only to
give expression to a point of view not infused
with too great a significance, I must admit, but
possessed, in my way of thinking, of an
implication that did preclude a full and complete
acceptance of what is set forth in the dispositive
portion of the decision of the Court. Hence this
brief concurrence.
In addition to exonerating respondent Judge of
charges filed against him by another city fiscal,
Norberto L. Zulueta of Capiz, the resolution of
this Court would censure the complainant for
the use of offensive and abusive language. On
both grounds, I am fully in agreement. I am not,
at this stage, prepared to go along, however, with
the last clause in the dispositive portion of our
resolution with its "warning that repetition of
the same may strain Us to impose a more severe
sanction."
1
It is that such a penalty would be
inappropriate. Certainly, a proper sense of
decorum, not to say the degree of civility
expected of a dignitary like a city fiscal, ought to
have cautioned against resort to what Dean
Pound aptly termed epithetical jurisprudence.
To paraphrase the then Justice Bengzon in
Lagumbay v. Comelec,
2
the employment of
intemperate language serves no purpose but to
detract from the force of the argument. That is
to put at its mildest a well-deserved reproach to
such a propensity. A member of the bar who has
given vent to such expression of ill will, not to say
malevolence, betrays gross disrespect not only to
the adverse party, but also to this Tribunal. That
is not all there is to the matter though. I view
with a certain degree of misgiving, perhaps not
altogether justified, the warning is to the more
severe penalty to be inflicted in case of a
repetition of such offense thus made the
dispositive portion of the opinion for, to my mind,
it could, in some way, however slight, limit the
freedom of a future Court to deal with such a
situation if and when it occurs. It is only in that
sense that I am unable to the rest of my
colleagues in yielding complete and
unconditional assent to the highly persuasive and
otherwise impeccable opinion of Justice Antonio.
TEEHANKEE, J ., concurring:
I concur in the result of the main opinion of Mr.
Justice Antonio, which exonerates respondent
judge of the charges, since a judicial officer
required to exercise his judgment or discretion
who in the process acquits an accused on
grounds of reasonable doubt in view of his non-
identification by the prosecution witnesses
(notwithstanding his admission and "the
damaging inferences derived from his staying
away (as a newly elected councilor) from the
ceremony (on January 1, 1968) when the newly-
elected officials of Bantayan (Cebu) were
inducted into office" as he was charged with
participation in the pirate raid in Cadiz City on
the night of December 31, 1967, as noted by
respondent judge himself in his decision)
1
may
not be held liable criminally or administratively
for any error of judgment that he may commit,
absent of any showing of bad faith, corruption,
malice, a deliberate intent to violate the law or a
persistent disregard of well-known legal rules
and principles.
Respondent judge based his acquittal verdict on
the stated premises that "(T)he bold assault did
not take place in absolute darkness. Why could
no one in the Chua and Uy households say that
Carlos Caramonte was one of the team of
robbers" and followed this up with a statement
of judicial notice that "the Uy Chua compound is
the hub of a large fishing industry, and is located
barely 500 meters from the Cadiz police station
and City Hall. Also that there are many houses
in the neighborhood. Under the circumstances,
the failure of anyone the members of the
Chua and Uy households, the security guards
and other employees of the fishing business, the
police, the neighbors to perceive the presence
of Caramonte at the time of the attack raises
doubts as to his participation therein."
Such taking of judicial notice in turn was the
result of an ex-parteocular inspection conducted
by himself alone without notice to nor the
presence of the parties on August 11, 1968, over
a month after the hearings had been closed and
the case submitted for decision on July 1, 1968
and is the main target of the present complaint.
In view of the result reached, respondent judge's
verdict of acquittal on the ground of non-
identification is now a closed matter, although
the prosecutor-complainant could cite the fear
and terror under which the victims-witnesses
were held by the notorious band of pirates who
hogtied them and made them lie on the floor face
down. They had previously ordered their
security guards to offer no resistance "because
(their) children might be hit" and the wife of one
them (Mr. Uy) was brought along by the armed
as a hostage.
2

The purpose of this brief opinion is merely to
avoid undue inference of approval or sanction of
the ex-parte ocular inspection conducted by
respondent judge. As noted by then Solicitor
General, now Associate Justice Antonio P.
Barredo in his comment
3
"the validity of the
ocular inspection conducted by the lower court is
open to doubt."
Indeed, such ex-parte ocular inspection
conducted by respondent judge alone without
notice to nor the presence the parties and after
the case had already been submitted for decision
was improperly made and may not be sanctioned.
If he had entertained doubts that he wished to
clear up after the trial had already terminated,
he should have ordered motu proprio the
reopening of the trial for the purpose, with due
notice to the parties for their participation
therein is essential to due process.
As succinctly restated by Chief Justice Moran,
"(T)he inspection or view outside the courtroom
should be in made in the presence of the parties
or at least with previous notice to them in order
that they may show the object to be viewed. Such
inspection or view is a part of the trial, inasmuch
as evidence is thereby being received, which
expressly authorized by law.<re||an1w> The
parties are entitled to be present at any stage of the
trial, and consequently they are entitled to be at
least notified of the time and place for the view.
It is an error for the judge to go alone to the land
in question, or to the place where the crime
committed and take a view, without previous
knowledgeor consent of the parties, inspected the
place of collision, in his decision stated that after
having viewed the place, he was convinced that
the testimony of one of the witnesses was
incredible."
4

As was aptly held by the appellate court in
setting aside such ex-parte ocular inspection
conducted by a trial judge "(W)e know of no
rule of law or practice which authorizes a trial
judge, after a cause had been submitted to him
for determination, to search of his own motion
and without the consent of the parties for
extrinsic testimony and circumstances, and apply
what he may learn in this way to corroborate the
testimony upon one side or to cast discredit on
the testimony of the adverse party."
5

Separate Opinions
FERNANDO, J ., concurring:
The high quality of craftsmanship that is so
typical of the work of Justice Antonio is once
again in evidence. What is more, his opinion for
the Court is so well-researched and so thorough
that to add a few words might yield the
impression that to do so is to magnify a trifling
difference. That risk, if so it is, I take if only to
give expression to a point of view not infused
with too great a significance, I must admit, but
possessed, in my way of thinking, of an
implication that did preclude a full and complete
acceptance of what is set forth in the dispositive
portion of the decision of the Court. Hence this
brief concurrence.
In addition to exonerating respondent Judge of
charges filed against him by another city fiscal,
Norberto L. Zulueta of Capiz, the resolution of
this Court would censure the complainant for
the use of offensive and abusive language. On
both grounds, I am fully in agreement. I am not,
at this stage, prepared to go along, however, with
the last clause in the dispositive portion of our
resolution with its "warning that repetition of
the same may strain Us to impose a more severe
sanction."
1
It is that such a penalty would be
inappropriate. Certainly, a proper sense of
decorum, not to say the degree of civility
expected of a dignitary like a city fiscal, ought to
have cautioned against resort to what Dean
Pound aptly termed epithetical jurisprudence.
To paraphrase the then Justice Bengzon in
Lagumbay v. Comelec,
2
the employment of
intemperate language serves no purpose but to
detract from the force of the argument. That is
to put at its mildest a well-deserved reproach to
such a propensity. A member of the bar who has
given vent to such expression of ill will, not to say
malevolence, betrays gross disrespect not only to
the adverse party, but also to this Tribunal. That
is not all there is to the matter though. I view
with a certain degree of misgiving, perhaps not
altogether justified, the warning is to the more
severe penalty to be inflicted in case of a
repetition of such offense thus made the
dispositive portion of the opinion for, to my mind,
it could, in some way, however slight, limit the
freedom of a future Court to deal with such a
situation if and when it occurs. It is only in that
sense that I am unable to the rest of my
colleagues in yielding complete and
unconditional assent to the highly persuasive and
otherwise impeccable opinion of Justice Antonio.
TEEHANKEE, J ., concurring:
I concur in the result of the main opinion of Mr.
Justice Antonio, which exonerates respondent
judge of the charges, since a judicial officer
required to exercise his judgment or discretion
who in the process acquits an accused on
grounds of reasonable doubt in view of his non-
identification by the prosecution witnesses
(notwithstanding his admission and "the
damaging inferences derived from his staying
away (as a newly elected councilor) from the
ceremony (on January 1, 1968) when the newly-
elected officials of Bantayan (Cebu) were
inducted into office" as he was charged with
participation in the pirate raid in Cadiz City on
the night of December 31, 1967, as noted by
respondent judge himself in his decision)
1
may
not be held liable criminally or administratively
for any error of judgment that he may commit,
absent of any showing of bad faith, corruption,
malice, a deliberate intent to violate the law or a
persistent disregard of well-known legal rules
and principles.
Respondent judge based his acquittal verdict on
the stated premises that "(T)he bold assault did
not take place in absolute darkness. Why could
no one in the Chua and Uy households say that
Carlos Caramonte was one of the team of
robbers" and followed this up with a statement
of judicial notice that "the Uy Chua compound is
the hub of a large fishing industry, and is located
barely 500 meters from the Cadiz police station
and City Hall. Also that there are many houses
in the neighborhood. Under the circumstances,
the failure of anyone the members of the
Chua and Uy households, the security guards
and other employees of the fishing business, the
police, the neighbors to perceive the presence
of Caramonte at the time of the attack raises
doubts as to his participation therein."
Such taking of judicial notice in turn was the
result of an ex-parteocular inspection conducted
by himself alone without notice to nor the
presence of the parties on August 11, 1968, over
a month after the hearings had been closed and
the case submitted for decision on July 1, 1968
and is the main target of the present complaint.
In view of the result reached, respondent judge's
verdict of acquittal on the ground of non-
identification is now a closed matter, although
the prosecutor-complainant could cite the fear
and terror under which the victims-witnesses
were held by the notorious band of pirates who
hogtied them and made them lie on the floor face
down. They had previously ordered their
security guards to offer no resistance "because
(their) children might be hit" and the wife of one
them (Mr. Uy) was brought along by the armed
as a hostage.
2

The purpose of this brief opinion is merely to
avoid undue inference of approval or sanction of
the ex-parte ocular inspection conducted by
respondent judge. As noted by then Solicitor
General, now Associate Justice Antonio P.
Barredo in his comment
3
"the validity of the
ocular inspection conducted by the lower court is
open to doubt."
Indeed, such ex-parte ocular inspection
conducted by respondent judge alone without
notice to nor the presence the parties and after
the case had already been submitted for decision
was improperly made and may not be sanctioned.
If he had entertained doubts that he wished to
clear up after the trial had already terminated,
he should have ordered motu proprio the
reopening of the trial for the purpose, with due
notice to the parties for their participation
therein is essential to due process.
As succinctly restated by Chief Justice Moran,
"(T)he inspection or view outside the courtroom
should be in made in the presence of the parties
or at least with previous notice to them in order
that they may show the object to be viewed. Such
inspection or view is a part of the trial, inasmuch
as evidence is thereby being received, which
expressly authorized by law. The parties are
entitled to be present at any stage of the trial, and
consequently they are entitled to be at least
notified of the time and place for the view. It is
an error for the judge to go alone to the land in
question, or to the place where the crime
committed and take a view, without previous
knowledgeor consent of the parties, inspected the
place of collision, in his decision stated that after
having viewed the place, he was convinced that
the testimony of one of the witnesses was
incredible."
4

As was aptly held by the appellate court in
setting aside such ex-parte ocular inspection
conducted by a trial judge "(W)e know of no
rule of law or practice which authorizes a trial
judge, after a cause had been submitted to him
for determination, to search of his own motion
and without the consent of the parties for
extrinsic testimony and circumstances, and apply
what he may learn in this way to corroborate the
testimony upon one side or to cast discredit on
the testimony of the adverse party."
5


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-27654 February 18, 1970
IN THE MATTER OF PROCEEDINGS FOR
DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST ATTY.
VICENTE RAUL ALMACEN In L-27654,
ANTONIO H. CALERO,
vs.
VIRGINIA Y. YAPTINCHAY.
R E S O L U T I O N

CASTRO, J .:
Before us is Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen's "Petition
to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," filed on
September 25, 1967, in protest against what he
therein asserts is "a great injustice committed
against his client by this Supreme Court." He indicts
this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled
by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice,
who ignore without reasons their own applicable
decisions and commit culpable violations of the
Constitution with impunity." His client's he
continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this
Court's "unjust judgment," has become "one of the
sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy." In
the same breath that he alludes to the classic symbol
of justice, he ridicules the members of this Court,
saying "that justice as administered by the present
members of the Supreme Court is not only blind,
but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to argue the
cause of his client "in the people's forum," so that
"the people may know of the silent injustice's
committed by this Court," and that "whatever
mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were
committed must never be repeated." He ends his
petition with a prayer that
... a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to
receive the certificate of the undersigned attorney
and counsellor-at-law IN TRUST with reservation
that at any time in the future and in the event we
regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve
our title to assume the practice of the noblest
profession.
He reiterated and disclosed to the press the contents
of the aforementioned petition. Thus, on September
26, 1967, the Manila Times published statements
attributed to him, as follows:
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition,
said he did it to expose the tribunal's
"unconstitutional and obnoxious" practice of
arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without any
reason.
Because of the tribunal's "short-cut justice,"
Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to pay
P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case.
xxx xxx xxx
There is no use continuing his law practice,
Almacen said in this petition, "where our Supreme
Court is composed of men who are calloused to our
pleas for justice, who ignore without reason their
own applicable decisions and commit culpable
violations of the Constitution with impunity.
xxx xxx xxx
He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of
his title by which he earns his living, the present
members of the Supreme Court "will become
responsive to all cases brought to its attention
without discrimination, and will purge itself of
those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of
merit" or "denied resolutions. (Emphasis supplied)
Atty. Almacen's statement that
... our own Supreme Court is composed of men who
are calloused to our pleas of [sic] justice, who
ignore their own applicable decisions and commit
culpable violations of the Constitution with
impunity
was quoted by columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in
the issue of the Manila Chronicle of September 28,
1967. In connection therewith, Pacis commented
that Atty. Almacen had "accused the high tribunal
of offenses so serious that the Court must clear
itself," and that "his charge is one of the
constitutional bases for impeachment."
The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil
case entitled Virginia Y. Yaptinchay vs. Antonio H.
Calero,
1
in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for
the defendant. The trial court, after due hearing,
rendered judgment against his client. On June 15,
1966 Atty. Almacen received a copy of the decision.
Twenty days later, or on July 5, 1966, he moved for
its reconsideration. He served on the adverse
counsel a copy of the motion, but did not notify the
latter of the time and place of hearing on said
motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, 1966, the plaintiff
moved for execution of the judgment. For "lack of
proof of service," the trial court denied both
motions. To prove that he did serve on the adverse
party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration,
Atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second
motion for reconsideration to which he attached the
required registry return card. This second motion
for reconsideration, however, was ordered
withdrawn by the trial court on August 30, 1966,
upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who,
earlier, that is, on August 22, 1966, had already
perfected the appeal. Because the plaintiff
interposed no objection to the record on appeal and
appeal bond, the trial court elevated the case to the
Court of Appeals.
But the Court of Appeals, on the authority of this
Court's decision in Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.,
Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., L-16636, June 24,
1965, dismissed the appeal, in the following words:
Upon consideration of the motion dated March 27,
1967, filed by plaintiff-appellee praying that the
appeal be dismissed, and of the opposition thereto
filed by defendant-appellant; the Court
RESOLVED TO DISMISS, as it hereby dismisses,
the appeal, for the reason that the motion for
reconsideration dated July 5, 1966 (pp. 90-113,
printed record on appeal) does not contain a notice
of time and place of hearing thereof and is,
therefore, a useless piece of paper (Manila Surety &
Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R.
No. L-16636, June 24, 1965), which did not
interrupt the running of the period to appeal, and,
consequently, the appeal was perfected out of time.
Atty. Almacen moved to reconsider this resolution,
urging that Manila Surety & Fidelity Co. is not
decisive. At the same time he filed a pleading
entitled "Latest decision of the Supreme Court in
Support of Motion for Reconsideration," citing
Republic of the Philippines vs. Gregorio A.
Venturanza, L-20417, decided by this Court on May
30, 1966, as the applicable case. Again, the Court of
Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration, thus:
Before this Court for resolution are the motion
dated May 9, 1967 and the supplement thereto of
the same date filed by defendant- appellant, praying
for reconsideration of the resolution of May 8, 1967,
dismissing the appeal.
Appellant contends that there are some important
distinctions between this case and that of Manila
Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction
& Co., G.R. No. L- 16636, June 24, 1965, relied
upon by this Court in its resolution of May 8, 1967.
Appellant further states that in the latest case,
Republic vs. Venturanza, L-20417, May 30, 1966,
decided by the Supreme Court concerning the
question raised by appellant's motion, the ruling is
contrary to the doctrine laid down in the Manila
Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. case.
There is no substantial distinction between this case
and that of Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.
In the case of Republic vs. Venturanza, the
resolution denying the motion to dismiss the appeal,
based on grounds similar to those raised herein was
issued on November 26, 1962, which was much
earlier than the date of promulgation of the decision
in the Manila Surety Case, which was June 24, 1965.
Further, the resolution in the Venturanza case was
interlocutory and the Supreme Court issued it
"without prejudice to appellee's restoring the point
in the brief." In the main decision in said case (Rep.
vs. Venturanza the Supreme Court passed upon the
issue sub silencio presumably because of its prior
decisions contrary to the resolution of November 26,
1962, one of which is that in the Manila Surety and
Fidelity case. Therefore Republic vs. Venturanza is
no authority on the matter in issue.
Atty. Almacen then appealed to this Court by
certiorari. We refused to take the case, and by
minute resolution denied the appeal. Denied shortly
thereafter was his motion for reconsideration as
well as his petition for leave to file a second motion
for reconsideration and for extension of time. Entry
of judgment was made on September 8, 1967.
Hence, the second motion for reconsideration filed
by him after the Said date was ordered expunged
from the records.
It was at this juncture that Atty. Almacen gave vent
to his disappointment by filing his "Petition to
Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," already
adverted to a pleading that is interspersed from
beginning to end with the insolent contemptuous,
grossly disrespectful and derogatory remarks
hereinbefore reproduced, against this Court as well
as its individual members, a behavior that is as
unprecedented as it is unprofessional.
Nonetheless we decided by resolution dated
September 28, 1967 to withhold action on his
petition until he shall have actually surrendered his
certificate. Patiently, we waited for him to make
good his proffer. No word came from him. So he
was reminded to turn over his certificate, which he
had earlier vociferously offered to surrender, so that
this Court could act on his petition. To said
reminder he manifested "that he has no pending
petition in connection with Case G.R. No. L-27654,
Calero vs. Yaptinchay, said case is now final and
executory;" that this Court's September 28, 1967
resolution did not require him to do either a positive
or negative act; and that since his offer was not
accepted, he "chose to pursue the negative act."
In the exercise of its inherent power to discipline a
member of the bar for contumely and gross
misconduct, this Court on November 17, 1967
resolved to require Atty. Almacen to show cause
"why no disciplinary action should be taken against
him." Denying the charges contained in the
November 17 resolution, he asked for permission
"to give reasons and cause why no disciplinary
action should be taken against him ... in an open and
public hearing." This Court resolved (on December
7) "to require Atty. Almacen to state, within five
days from notice hereof, his reasons for such
request, otherwise, oral argument shall be deemed
waived and incident submitted for decision." To this
resolution he manifested that since this Court is "the
complainant, prosecutor and Judge," he preferred to
be heard and to answer questions "in person and in
an open and public hearing" so that this Court could
observe his sincerity and candor. He also asked for
leave to file a written explanation "in the event this
Court has no time to hear him in person." To give
him the ampliest latitude for his defense, he was
allowed to file a written explanation and thereafter
was heard in oral argument.
His written answer, as undignified and cynical as it
is unchastened, offers -no apology. Far from being
contrite Atty. Almacen unremittingly repeats his
jeremiad of lamentations, this time embellishing it
with abundant sarcasm and innuendo. Thus:
At the start, let me quote passages from the Holy
Bible, Chapter 7, St. Matthew:
"Do not judge, that you may not be judged. For with
what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and
with what measure you measure, it shall be
measured to you. But why dost thou see the speck
in thy brother's eye, and yet dost not consider the
beam in thy own eye? Or how can thou say to thy
brother, "Let me cast out the speck from thy eye";
and behold, there is a beam in thy own eye? Thou
hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thy own eye,
and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck
from thy brother's eyes."
"Therefore all that you wish men to do to you, even
to do you also to them: for this is the Law and the
Prophets."
xxx xxx xxx
Your respondent has no intention of disavowing the
statements mentioned in his petition. On the
contrary, he refirms the truth of what he stated,
compatible with his lawyer's oath that he will do no
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court.
But he vigorously DENY under oath that the
underscored statements contained in the CHARGE
are insolent, contemptuous, grossly disrespectful
and derogatory to the individual members of the
Court; that they tend to bring the entire Court,
without justification, into disrepute; and constitute
conduct unbecoming of a member of the noble
profession of law.
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent stands four-square that his statement is
borne by TRUTH and has been asserted with NO
MALICE BEFORE AND AFTER THOUGHT but
mainly motivated with the highest interest of justice
that in the particular case of our client, the members
have shown callousness to our various pleas for
JUSTICE, our pleadings will bear us on this
matter, ...
xxx xxx xxx
To all these beggings, supplications, words of
humility, appeals for charity, generosity, fairness,
understanding, sympathy and above all in the
highest interest of JUSTICE, what did we get
from this COURT? One word, DENIED, with all its
hardiness and insensibility. That was the unfeeling
of the Court towards our pleas and prayers, in
simple word, it is plain callousness towards our
particular case.
xxx xxx xxx
Now that your respondent has the guts to tell the
members of the Court that notwithstanding the
violation of the Constitution, you remained
unpunished, this Court in the reverse order of
natural things, is now in the attempt to inflict
punishment on your respondent for acts he said in
good faith.
Did His Honors care to listen to our pleadings and
supplications for JUSTICE, CHARITY,
GENEROSITY and FAIRNESS? Did His Honors
attempt to justify their stubborn denial with any
semblance of reason, NEVER. Now that your
respondent is given the opportunity to face you, he
reiterates the same statement with emphasis, DID
YOU? Sir. Is this. the way of life in the Philippines
today, that even our own President, said: "the
story is current, though nebulous ,is to its truth, it is
still being circulated that justice in the Philippines
today is not what it is used to be before the war.
There are those who have told me frankly and
brutally that justice is a commodity, a marketable
commodity in the Philippines."
xxx xxx xxx
We condemn the SIN, not the SINNER. We detest
the ACTS, not the ACTOR. We attack the decision
of this Court, not the members. ... We were
provoked. We were compelled by force of necessity.
We were angry but we waited for the finality of the
decision. We waited until this Court has performed
its duties. We never interfered nor obstruct in the
performance of their duties. But in the end, after
seeing that the Constitution has placed finality on
your judgment against our client and sensing that
you have not performed your duties with
"circumspection, carefulness, confidence and
wisdom", your Respondent rise to claim his God
given right to speak the truth and his Constitutional
right of free speech.
xxx xxx xxx
The INJUSTICES which we have attributed to this
Court and the further violations we sought to be
prevented is impliedly shared by our President. ... .
xxx xxx xxx
What has been abhored and condemned, are the
very things that were applied to us. Recalling
Madam Roland's famous apostrophe during the
French revolution, "O Liberty, what crimes are
committed in thy name", we may dare say, "O
JUSTICE, what technicalities are committed in thy
name' or more appropriately, 'O JUSTICE, what
injustices are committed in thy name."
xxx xxx xxx
We must admit that this Court is not free from
commission of any abuses, but who would correct
such abuses considering that yours is a court of last
resort. A strong public opinion must be generated so
as to curtail these abuses.
xxx xxx xxx
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolize in
paintings that can be found in all courts and
government offices. We have added only two more
symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the
sense that no members of this Court has ever heard
our cries for charity, generosity, fairness,
understanding sympathy and for justice; dumb in
the sense, that inspite of our beggings, supplications,
and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeal has
been DENIED, not one word was spoken or given ...
We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above
statement. We only describe the. impersonal state of
things and nothing more.
xxx xxx xxx
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and
confidence in the members of this Court and for
which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's
certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has
been lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the
offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice,
then we alone may decide as to when we must end
our self-sacrifice. If we have to choose between
forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the
members of the Court but disregard our
Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be
condemned by the members of this Court, there is
no choice, we must uphold the latter.
But overlooking, for the nonce, the vituperative
chaff which he claims is not intended as a studied
disrespect to this Court, let us examine the grain of
his grievances.
He chafes at the minute resolution denial of his
petition for review. We are quite aware of the
criticisms
2
expressed against this Court's practice of
rejecting petitions by minute resolutions. We have
been asked to do away with it, to state the facts and
the law, and to spell out the reasons for denial. We
have given this suggestion very careful thought. For
we know the abject frustration of a lawyer who
tediously collates the facts and for many weary
hours meticulously marshalls his arguments, only to
have his efforts rebuffed with a terse unadorned
denial. Truth to tell, however, most petitions
rejected by this Court are utterly frivolous and
ought never to have been lodged at all.
3
The rest do
exhibit a first-impression cogency, but fail to,
withstand critical scrutiny. By and large, this Court
has been generous in giving due course to petitions
for certiorari.
Be this as it may, were we to accept every case or
write a full opinion for every petition we reject, we
would be unable to carry out effectively the burden
placed upon us by the Constitution. The proper role
of the Supreme Court, as Mr. Chief Justice Vinson
of the U.S. Supreme Court has defined it, is to
decide "only those cases which present questions
whose resolutions will have immediate importance
beyond the particular facts and parties involved."
Pertinent here is the observation of Mr. Justice
Frankfurter in Maryland vs. Baltimore Radio Show,
94 L. ed 562, 566:
A variety of considerations underlie denials of the
writ, and as to the same petition different reasons
may read different justices to the same result ... .
Since there are these conflicting, and, to the
uninformed, even confusing reasons for denying
petitions for certiorari, it has been suggested from
time to time that the Court indicate its reasons for
denial. Practical considerations preclude. In order
that the Court may be enabled to discharge its
indispensable duties, Congress has placed the
control of the Court's business, in effect, within the
Court's discretion. During the last three terms the
Court disposed of 260, 217, 224 cases, respectively,
on their merits. For the same three terms the Court
denied, respectively, 1,260, 1,105,1,189 petitions
calling for discretionary review. If the Court is to do
its work it would not be feasible to give reasons,
however brief, for refusing to take these cases. The
tune that would be required is prohibitive. Apart
from the fact that as already indicated different
reasons not infrequently move different members of
the Court in concluding that a particular case at a
particular time makes review undesirable.
Six years ago, in Novino, et al., vs. Court of
Appeals, et al., 1,21098, May 31, 1963 (60 O.G.
8099), this Court, through the then Chief Justice
Cesar Bengzon, articulated its considered view on
this matter. There, the petitioners counsel urged that
a "lack of merit" resolution violates Section 12 of
Article VIII of the Constitution. Said Chief Justice
Bengzon:
In connection with identical short resolutions, the
same question has been raised before; and we held
that these "resolutions" are not "decisions" within
the above constitutional requirement. They merely
hold that the petition for review should not be
entertained in view of the provisions of Rule 46 of
the Rules of Court; and even ordinary lawyers have
all this time so understood it. It should be
remembered that a petition to review the decision of
the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right, but of
sound judicial discretion; and so there is no need to
fully explain the court's denial. For one thing, the
facts and the law are already mentioned in the Court
of Appeals' opinion.
By the way, this mode of disposal has as
intended helped the Court in alleviating its heavy
docket; it was patterned after the practice of the U.S.
Supreme Court, wherein petitions for review are
often merely ordered "dismissed".
We underscore the fact that cases taken to this
Court on petitions for certiorari from the Court of
Appeals have had the benefit of appellate review.
Hence, the need for compelling reasons to buttress
such petitions if this Court is to be moved into
accepting them. For it is axiomatic that the
supervisory jurisdiction vested upon this Court over
the Court of Appeals is not intended to give every
losing party another hearing. This axiom is implied
in sec. 4 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which
recites:
Review of Court of Appeals' decision
discretionary.A review is not a matter of right but
of sound judicial discretion, and will be granted
only when there are special and important reasons
therefor. The following, while neither controlling
nor fully measuring the court's discretion, indicate
the character of reasons which will be considered:
(a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a
question of substance, not theretofore determined
by the Supreme Court, nor has decided it in a way
probably not in accord with law or with the
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court;
(b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed
from the accepted and usual course of judicial
proceedings, or so far sanctioned such departure by
the lower court, as to call for the exercise of the
power of supervision.
Recalling Atty. Almacen's petition for review, we
found, upon a thoroughgoing examination of the
pleadings. and records, that the Court of Appeals
had fully and correctly considered the dismissal of
his appeal in the light of the law and applicable
decisions of this Court. Far from straying away
from the "accepted and usual course of judicial
proceedings," it traced the procedural lines etched
by this Court in a number of decisions. There was,
therefore, no need for this Court to exercise its
supervisory power.
As a law practitioner who was admitted to the Bar
as far back as 1941, Atty. Almacen knew or
ought to have known that for a motion for
reconsideration to stay the running of the period of
appeal, the movant must not only serve a copy of
the motion upon the adverse party (which he did),
but also notify the adverse party of the time and
place of hearing (which admittedly he did not). This
rule was unequivocally articulated in Manila Surety
& Fidelity vs. Batu Construction & Co., supra:
The written notice referred to evidently is
prescribed for motions in general by Rule 15,
Sections 4 and 5 (formerly Rule 26), which
provides that such notice shall state the time, and
place of hearing and shall be served upon all the
Parties concerned at least three days in advance.
And according to Section 6 of the same Rule no
motion shall be acted upon by the court without
proof of such notice. Indeed it has been held that in
such a case the motion is nothing but a useless piece
of paper (Philippine National Bank v. Damasco,
I,18638, Feb. 28, 1963; citing Manakil v. Revilla,
42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop of Lipa v.
Municipality of Unisan, 41 Phil. 866; and Director
of Lands vs. Sanz, 45 Phil. 117). The reason is
obvious: Unless the movant sets the time and place
of hearing the Court would have no way to
determine whether that party agrees to or objects to
the motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his
objection, since the Rules themselves do not fix any
period within which he may file his reply or
opposition.
If Atty. Almacen failed to move the appellate court
to review the lower court's judgment, he has only
himself to blame. His own negligence caused the
forfeiture of the remedy of appeal, which,
incidentally, is not a matter of right. To shift away
from himself the consequences of his carelessness,
he looked for a "whipping boy." But he made sure
that he assumed the posture of a martyr, and, in
offering to surrender his professional certificate, he
took the liberty of vilifying this Court and inflicting
his exacerbating rancor on the members thereof. It
would thus appear that there is no justification for
his scurrilous and scandalous outbursts.
Nonetheless we gave this unprecedented act of Atty.
Almacen the most circumspect consideration. We
know that it is natural for a lawyer to express his
dissatisfaction each time he loses what he
sanguinely believes to be a meritorious case. That is
why lawyers are given 'wide latitude to differ with,
and voice their disapproval of, not only the courts'
rulings but, also the manner in which they are
handed down.
Moreover, every citizen has the right to comment
upon and criticize the actuations of public officers.
This right is not diminished by the fact that the
criticism is aimed at a judicial authority,
4
or that it
is articulated by a lawyer.
5
Such right is especially
recognized where the criticism concerns a
concluded litigation,
6
because then the court's
actuations are thrown open to public consumption.
7

"Our decisions and all our official actions," said the
Supreme Court of Nebraska,
8
"are public property,
and the press and the people have the undoubted
right to comment on them, criticize and censure
them as they see fit. Judicial officers, like other
public servants, must answer for their official
actions before the chancery of public opinion."
The likely danger of confusing the fury of human
reaction to an attack on one's integrity, competence
and honesty, with "imminent danger to the
administration of justice," is the reason why courts
have been loath to inflict punishment on those who
assail their actuations.
9
This danger lurks especially
in such a case as this where those who Sit as
members of an entire Court are themselves
collectively the aggrieved parties.
Courts thus treat with forbearance and restraint a
lawyer who vigorously assails their actuations.
10

For courageous and fearless advocates are the
strands that weave durability into the tapestry of
justice. Hence, as citizen and officer of the court,
every lawyer is expected not only to exercise the
right, but also to consider it his duty to expose the
shortcomings and indiscretions of courts and judges.
11

Courts and judges are not sacrosanct.
12
They
should and expect critical evaluation of their
performance.
13
For like the executive and the
legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the
soil of democratic society, nourished by the periodic
appraisal of the citizens whom it is expected to
serve.
Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer,
both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to
criticize in properly respectful terms and through
legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges.
The reason is that
An attorney does not surrender, in assuming the
important place accorded to him in the
administration of justice, his right as a citizen to
criticize the decisions of the courts in a fair and
respectful manner, and the independence of the bar,
as well as of the judiciary, has always been
encouraged by the courts. (In re Ades, 6 F Supp.
487) .
Criticism of the courts has, indeed, been an
important part of the traditional work of the bar. In
the prosecution of appeals, he points out the errors
of lower courts. In written for law journals he
dissects with detachment the doctrinal
pronouncements of courts and fearlessly lays bare
for -all to see that flaws and inconsistence" of the
doctrines (Hill v. Lyman, 126 NYS 2d 286). As
aptly stated by Chief Justice Sharswood in Ex Parte
Steinman, 40 Am. Rep. 641:
No class of the community ought to be allowed
freer scope in the expansion or publication of
opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity
of judges than members of the bar. They have the
best opportunities for observing and forming a
correct judgment. They are in constant attendance
on the courts. ... To say that an attorney can only act
or speak on this subject under liability to be called
to account and to be deprived of his profession and
livelihood, by the judge or judges whom he may
consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a
position too monstrous to be
entertained. ... .
Hence, as a citizen and as Officer of the court a
lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but
also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No
law may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally
answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of
the judges, which would not expose him to legal
animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am.
Dee. 657, 665).
Above all others, the members of the bar have the
beat Opportunity to become conversant with the
character and efficiency of our judges. No class is
less likely to abuse the privilege, as no other class
has as great an interest in the preservation of an able
and upright bench. (State Board of Examiners in
Law v. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216)
To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the
foibles of courts and judges is to seal the lips of
those in the best position to give advice and who
might consider it their duty to speak disparagingly.
"Under such a rule," so far as the bar is concerned,
"the merits of a sitting judge may be rehearsed, but
as to his demerits there must be profound silence."
(State v. Circuit Court, 72 N.W. 196)
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism
that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the
walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm
exists between fair criticism, on the One hand, and
abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof,
on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a
gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is
Such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to
disciplinary action.
For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person
obligations and duties which are not mere flux and
ferment. His investiture into the legal profession
places upon his shoulders no burden more basic,
more exacting and more imperative than that of
respectful behavior toward the courts. He vows
solemnly to conduct himself "with all good
fidelity ... to the courts;
14
and the Rules of Court
constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the
respect due to courts of justice and judicial
officers."
15
The first canon of legal ethics enjoins
him "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."
As Mr. Justice Field puts it:
... the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume,
if they do not by express declaration take upon
themselves, when they are admitted to the Bar, is
not merely to be obedient to the Constitution and
laws, but to maintain at all times the respect due to
courts of justice and judicial officers. This
obligation is not discharged by merely observing
the rules of courteous demeanor in open court, but
includes abstaining out of court from all insulting
language and offensive conduct toward judges
personally for their judicial acts. (Bradley, v. Fisher,
20 Law. 4d. 647, 652)
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination
to the courts is essential to the orderly
administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion
of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted
with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their
tempers.
The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler
or more learned lawyer than the judge, and it may
tax his patience and temper to submit to rulings
which he regards as incorrect, but discipline and
self-respect are as necessary to the orderly
administration of justice as they are to the
effectiveness of an army. The decisions of the judge
must be obeyed, because he is the tribunal
appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times
be the foremost in rendering respectful submission.
(In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481)
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. (Per
Justice Sanchez in Rheem of the Philippines vs.
Ferrer, L-22979. June 26, 1967)
In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not
divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one
time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, statements
made by an attorney in private conversations or
communications
16
or in the course of a political,
campaign,
17
if couched in insulting language as to
bring into scorn and disrepute the administration of
justice, may subject the attorney to disciplinary
action.
Of fundamental pertinence at this juncture is an
examination of relevant parallel precedents.
1. Admitting that a "judge as a public official is
neither sacrosanct nor immune to public criticism of
his conduct in office," the Supreme Court of
Florida in State v. Calhoon, 102 So. 2d 604, 608,
nevertheless declared that "any conduct of a lawyer
which brings into scorn and disrepute the
administration of justice demands condemnation
and the application of appropriate penalties," adding
that:
It would be contrary to, every democratic theory to
hold that a judge or a court is beyond bona fide
comments and criticisms which do not exceed the
bounds of decency and truth or which are not aimed
at. the destruction of public confidence in the
judicial system as such. However, when the likely
impairment of the administration of justice the
direct product of false and scandalous accusations
then the rule is otherwise.
2. In In Re Glenn, 130 N.W. 2d 672, an attorney
was suspended for putting out and circulating a
leaflet entitled "JUSTICE??? IN OTUMWA,"
which accused a municipal judge of having
committed judicial error, of being so prejudiced as
to deny his clients a fair trial on appeal and of being
subject to the control of a group of city officials. As
a prefatory statement he wrote: "They say that
Justice is BLIND, but it took Municipal Judge
Willard to prove that it is also DEAF and DUMB!"
The court did not hesitate to find that the leaflet
went much further than the accused, as a lawyer,
had a right to do.
The entire publication evidences a desire on the part
Of the accused to belittle and besmirch the court
and to bring it into disrepute with the general public.
3. In In Re Humphrey, 163 Pac. 60, the Supreme
Court of California affirmed the two-year
suspension of an attorney who published a circular
assailing a judge who at that time was a candidate
for re-election to a judicial office. The circular
which referred to two decisions of the judge
concluded with a statement that the judge "used his
judicial office to enable -said bank to keep that
money." Said the court:
We are aware that there is a line of authorities
which place no limit to the criticism members of the
bar may make regarding the capacity, impartiality,
or integrity of the courts, even though it extends to
the deliberate publication by the attorney capable of
correct reasoning of baseless insinuations against
the intelligence and integrity of the highest courts.
See State Board, etc. v. Hart. 116 N.W. 212, 17
LRA (N.S.) 585, 15 Ann Cas 197 and note: Ex parte
Steinman 95 Pac. 220, 40 Am. Rep. 637. In the first
case mentioned it was observed, for instance:
"It may be (although we do not so decide) that a
libelous publication by an attorney, directed against
a judicial officer, could be so vile and of such a
nature as to justify the disbarment of its author."
Yet the false charges made by an attorney in that
case were of graver character than those made by
the respondent here. But, in our view, the better rule
is that which requires of those who are permitted to
enjoy the privilege of practicing law the strictest
observance at all times of the principles of truth,
honesty and fairness, especially in their criticism of
the courts, to the end that the public confidence in
the due administration of justice be upheld, and the
dignity and usefulness of the courts be maintained.
In re Collins, 81 Pac. 220.
4. In People ex rel Chicago Bar Asso. v. Metzen,
123 N.E. 734, an attorney, representing a woman
who had been granted a divorce, attacked the judge
who set aside the decree on bill of review. He wrote
the judge a threatening letter and gave the press the
story of a proposed libel suit against the judge and
others. The letter began:
Unless the record in In re Petersen v. Petersen is
cleared up so that my name is protected from the
libel, lies, and perjury committed in the cases
involved, I shall be compelled to resort to such
drastic action as the law allows and the case
warrants.
Further, he said: "However let me assure you I do
not intend to allow such dastardly work to go
unchallenged," and said that he was engaged in
dealing with men and not irresponsible political
manikins or appearances of men. Ordering the
attorney's disbarment, the Supreme Court of Illinois
declared:
... Judges are not exempt from just criticism, and
whenever there is proper ground for serious
complaint against a judge, it is the right and duty of
a lawyer to submit his grievances to the proper
authorities, but the public interest and the
administration of the law demand that the courts
should have the confidence and respect of the
people. Unjust criticism, insulting language, and
offensive conduct toward the judges personally by
attorneys, who are officers of the court, which tend
to bring the courts and the law into disrepute and to
destroy public confidence in their integrity, cannot
be permitted. The letter written to the judge was
plainly an attempt to intimidate and influence him
in the discharge of judicial functions, and the
bringing of the unauthorized suit, together with the
write-up in the Sunday papers, was intended and
calculated to bring the court into disrepute with the
public.
5. In a public speech, a Rhode Island lawyer
accused the courts of the state of being influenced
by corruption and greed, saying that the seats of the
Supreme Court were bartered. It does not appear
that the attorney had criticized any of the opinions
or decisions of the Court. The lawyer was charged
with unprofessional conduct, and was ordered
suspended for a period of two years. The Court said:
A calumny of that character, if believed, would tend
to weaken the authority of the court against whose
members it was made, bring its judgments into
contempt, undermine its influence as an unbiased
arbiter of the people's right, and interfere with the
administration of justice. ...
Because a man is a member of the bar the court will
not, under the guise of disciplinary proceedings,
deprive him of any part of that freedom of speech
which he possesses as a citizen. The acts and
decisions of the courts of this state, in cases that
have reached final determination, are not exempt
from fair and honest comment and criticism. It is
only when an attorney transcends the limits of
legitimate criticism that he will be held responsible
for an abuse of his liberty of speech. We well
understand that an independent bar, as well as
independent court, is always a vigilant defender of
civil rights. In Re Troy, 111 Atl. 723. 725.
6. In In Re Rockmore, 111 NYS 879, an attorney
was suspended for six months for submitting to an
appellate court an affidavit reflecting upon the
judicial integrity of the court from which the appeal
was taken. Such action, the Court said, constitutes
unprofessional conduct justifying suspension from
practice, notwithstanding that he fully retracted and
withdrew the statements, and asserted that the
affidavit was the result of an impulse caused by
what he considered grave injustice. The Court said:
We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a
growing habit in the profession of criticising the
motives and integrity of judicial officers in the
discharge of their duties, and thereby reflecting on
the administration of justice and creating the
impression that judicial action is influenced by
corrupt or improper motives. Every attorney of this
court, as well as every other citizen, has the right
and it is his duty, to submit charges to the
authorities in whom is vested the power to remove
judicial officers for any conduct or act of a judicial
officer that tends to show a violation of his duties,
or would justify an inference that he is false to his
trust, or has improperly administered the duties
devolved upon him; and such charges to the tribunal,
if based upon reasonable inferences, will be
encouraged, and the person making them
protected. ... While we recognize the inherent right
of an attorney in a case decided against him, or the
right of the Public generally, to criticise the
decisions of the courts, or the reasons announced
for them, the habit of criticising the motives of
judicial officers in the performance of their official
duties, when the proceeding is not against the
officers whose acts or motives are criticised, tends
to subvert the confidence of the community in the
courts of justice and in the administration of justice;
and when such charges are made by officers of the
courts, who are bound by their duty to protect the
administration of justice, the attorney making such
charges is guilty of professional misconduct.
7. In In Re Mitchell, 71 So. 467, a lawyer published
this statement:
I accepted the decision in this case, however, with
patience, barring possible temporary observations
more or less vituperative and finally concluded, that,
as my clients were foreigners, it might have been
expecting too much to look for a decision in their
favor against a widow residing here.
The Supreme Court of Alabama declared that:
... the expressions above set out, not only transcend
the bounds of propriety and privileged criticism, but
are an unwarranted attack, direct, or by insinuation
and innuendo, upon the motives and integrity of this
court, and make out a prima facie case of improper
conduct upon the part of a lawyer who holds a
license from this court and who is under oath to
demean himself with all good fidelity to the court as
well as to his client.
The charges, however, were dismissed after the
attorney apologized to the Court.
8. In State ex rel. Dabney v. Breckenridge, 258 Pac.
747, an attorney published in a newspaper an article
in which he impugned the motives of the court and
its members to try a case, charging the court of
having arbitrarily and for a sinister purpose
undertaken to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
The Court suspended the respondent for 30 days,
saying that:
The privileges which the law gives to members of
the bar is one most subversive of the public good, if
the conduct of such members does not measure up
to the requirements of the law itself, as well as to
the ethics of the profession. ...
The right of free speech and free discussion as to
judicial determination is of prime importance under
our system and ideals of government. No right
thinking man would concede for a moment that the
best interest to private citizens, as well as to public
officials, whether he labors in a judicial capacity or
otherwise, would be served by denying this right of
free speech to any individual. But such right does
not have as its corollary that members of the bar
who are sworn to act honestly and honorably both
with their client and with the courts where justice is
administered, if administered at all, could ever
properly serve their client or the public good by
designedly misstating facts or carelessly asserting
the law. Truth and honesty of purpose by members
of the bar in such discussion is necessary. The
health of a municipality is none the less impaired by
a polluted water supply than is the health of the
thought of a community toward the judiciary by the
filthy wanton, and malignant misuse of members of
the bar of the confidence the public, through its duly
established courts, has reposed in them to deal with
the affairs of the private individual, the protection
of whose rights he lends his strength and money to
maintain the judiciary. For such conduct on the part
of the members of the bar the law itself demands
retribution not the court.
9. In Bar Ass'n of San Francisco v. Philbrook, 170
Pac. 440, the filing of an affidavit by an attorney in
a pending action using in respect to the several
judges the terms criminal corrupt, and wicked
conspiracies,," "criminal confederates," "colossal
and confident insolence," "criminal prosecution,"
"calculated brutality," "a corrupt deadfall," and
similar phrases, was considered conduct
unbecoming of a member of the bar, and the name
of the erring lawyer was ordered stricken from the
roll of attorneys.
10. In State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W.
215, the erring attorney claimed that greater latitude
should be allowed in case of criticism of cases
finally adjudicated than in those pending. This
lawyer wrote a personal letter to the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court of Minnesota impugning both
the intelligence and the integrity of the said Chief
Justice and his associates in the decisions of certain
appeals in which he had been attorney for the
defeated litigants. The letters were published in a
newspaper. One of the letters contained this
paragraph:
You assigned it (the property involved) to one who
has no better right to it than the burglar to his
plunder. It seems like robbing a widow to reward a
fraud, with the court acting as a fence, or umpire,
watchful and vigilant that the widow got no undue
advantage. ... The point is this: Is a proper motive
for the decisions discoverable, short of assigning to
the court emasculated intelligence, or a constipation
of morals and faithlessness to duty? If the state bar
association, or a committee chosen from its rank, or
the faculty of the University Law School, aided by
the researches of its hundreds of bright, active
students, or if any member of the court, or any other
person, can formulate a statement of a correct
motive for the decision, which shall not require
fumigation before it is stated, and quarantine after it
is made, it will gratify every right-minded citizen of
the state to read it.
The Supreme Court of Minnesota, in ordering the
suspension of the attorney for six months, delivered
its opinion as follows:
The question remains whether the accused was
guilty of professional misconduct in sending to the
Chief Justice the letter addressed to him. This was
done, as we have found, for the very purpose of
insulting him and the other justices of this court;
and the insult was so directed to the Chief Justice
personally because of acts done by him and his
associates in their official capacity. Such a
communication, so made, could never subserve any
good purpose. Its only effect in any case would be
to gratify the spite of an angry attorney and
humiliate the officers so assailed. It would not and
could not ever enlighten the public in regard to their
judicial capacity or integrity. Nor was it an exercise
by the accused of any constitutional right, or of any
privilege which any reputable attorney,
uninfluenced by passion, could ever have any
occasion or desire to assert. No judicial officer, with
due regard to his position, can resent such an insult
otherwise than by methods sanctioned by law; and
for any words, oral or written, however abusive,
vile, or indecent, addressed secretly to the judge
alone, he can have no redress in any action triable
by a jury. "The sending of a libelous
communication or libelous matter to the person
defamed does not constitute an actionable
publication." 18 Am. & Eng. Enc. Law (2d Ed.) p.
1017. In these respects the sending by the accused
of this letter to the Chief Justice was wholly
different from his other acts charged in the
accusation, and, as we have said, wholly different
principles are applicable thereto.
The conduct of the accused was in every way
discreditable; but so far as he exercised the rights of
a citizen, guaranteed by the Constitution and
sanctioned by considerations of public policy, to
which reference has been made, he was immune, as
we hold, from the penalty here sought to be
enforced. To that extent his rights as a citizen were
paramount to the obligation which he had assumed
as an officer of this court. When, however he
proceeded and thus assailed the Chief Justice
personally, he exercised no right which the court
can recognize, but, on the contrary, willfully
violated his obligation to maintain the respect due to
courts and judicial officers. "This obligation is not
discharged by merely observing the rules of
courteous demeanor in open court, but it includes
abstaining out of court from all insulting language
and offensive conduct toward the judges personally
for their official acts." Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall.
(U.S.) 355, 20 L. Ed. 646. And there appears to be
no distinction, as regards the principle involved,
between the indignity of an assault by an attorney
upon a judge, induced by his official act, and a
personal insult for like cause by written or spoken
words addressed to the judge in his chambers or at
his home or elsewhere. Either act constitutes
misconduct wholly different from criticism of
judicial acts addressed or spoken to others. The
distinction made is, we think entirely logical and
well sustained by authority. It was recognized in Ex
parte McLeod supra. While the court in that case,
as has been shown, fully sustained the right of a
citizen to criticise rulings of the court in actions
which are ended, it held that one might be
summarily punished for assaulting a judicial officer,
in that case a commissioner of the court, for his
rulings in a cause wholly concluded. "Is it in the
power of any person," said the court, "by insulting
or assaulting the judge because of official acts, if
only the assailant restrains his passion until the
judge leaves the building, to compel the judge to
forfeit either his own self-respect to the regard of
the people by tame submission to the indignity, or
else set in his own person the evil example of
punishing the insult by taking the law in his own
hands? ... No high-minded, manly man would hold
judicial office under such conditions."
That a communication such as this, addressed to the
Judge personally, constitutes professional
delinquency for which a professional punishment
may be imposed, has been directly decided. "An
attorney who, after being defeated in a case, wrote a
personal letter to the trial justice, complaining of his
conduct and reflecting upon his integrity as a justice,
is guilty of misconduct and will be disciplined by
the court." Matter of Manheim 133 App. Div. 136,
99 N.Y. Supp. 87 The same is held in Re Griffin
(City Ct.) 1 N.Y. 7 and in Re Wilkes (City Ct.) 3
N.Y. In the latter case it appeared that the accused
attorney had addressed a sealed letter to a justice of
the City Court of New York, in which it was stated,
in reference to his decision: "It is not law; neither is
it common sense. The result is I have been robbed
of 80." And it was decided that, while such conduct
was not a contempt under the state, the matter
should be "called to the attention of the Supreme
Court, which has power to discipline the attorney."
"If," says the court, "counsel learned in the law are
permitted by writings leveled at the heads of judges,
to charge them with ignorance, with unjust rulings,
and with robbery, either as principals or accessories,
it will not be long before the general public may
feel that they may redress their fancied grievances
in like manner, and thus the lot of a judge will be
anything but a happy one, and the administration of
justice will fall into bad repute."
The recent case of Johnson v. State (Ala.) 44 South.
671, was in this respect much the same as the case
at bar. The accused, an attorney at law, wrote and
mailed a letter to the circuit judge, which the latter
received by due course of mail, at his home, while
not holding court, and which referred in insulting
terms to the conduct of the judge in a cause wherein
the accused had been one of the attorneys. For this
it was held that the attorney was rightly disbarred in
having "willfully failed to maintain respect due to
him [the judge] as a judicial officer, and thereby
breached his oath as an attorney." As recognizing
the same principle, and in support of its application
to the facts of this case, we cite the following: Ex
parte Bradley, 7 Wall (U.S.) 364, 19 L. Ed. 214;
Beene v. State, 22 Ark. 149; Commonwealth v.
Dandridge, 2 Va. Cas. 408; People v. Green, 7 Colo
237, 244, 3 Pac. 65, 374, 49 Am. Rep. 351; Smith's
Appeal, 179 Pa. 14, 36 Atl. 134; Scouten's Appeal,
186 Pa. 270, Atl. 481.
Our conclusion is that the charges against the
accused have been so far sustained as to make it our
duty to impose such a penalty as may be sufficient
lesson to him and a suitable warning to others. ...
11. In Cobb v. United States, 172 F. 641, the court
affirmed a lawyer's suspension for 18 months for
publishing a letter in a newspaper in which he
accused a judge of being under the sinister influence
of a gang that had paralyzed him for two years.
12. In In Re Graves, 221 Pac. 411, the court held
that an attorney's unjustifiable attack against the
official acts and decisions of a judge constitutes
"moral turpitude." There, the attorney was disbarred
for criticising not only the judge, but his decisions
in general claiming that the judge was dishonest in
reaching his decisions and unfair in his general
conduct of a case.
13. In In Re Doss, 12 N.E. 2d 659, an attorney
published newspaper articles after the trial of cases,
criticising the court in intemperate language. The
invariable effect of this sort of propaganda, said the
court, is to breed disrespect for courts and bring the
legal profession into disrepute with the public, for
which reason the lawyer was disbarred.
14. In State v. Grimes, 354 Pac. 2d 108, an attorney,
dissatisfied with the loss of a case, prepared over a
period of years vicious attacks on jurists. The
Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that his acts
involved such gross moral turpitude as to make him
unfit as a member of the bar. His disbarment was
ordered, even though he expressed an intention to
resign from the bar.
The teaching derived from the above disquisition
and impressive affluence of judicial
pronouncements is indubitable: Post-litigation
utterances or publications, made by lawyers, critical
of the courts and their judicial actuations, whether
amounting to a crime or not, which transcend the
permissible bounds of fair comment and legitimate
criticism and thereby tend to bring them into
disrepute or to subvert public confidence in their
integrity and in the orderly administration of justice,
constitute grave professional misconduct which
may be visited with disbarment or other lesser
appropriate disciplinary sanctions by the Supreme
Court in the exercise of the prerogatives inherent in
it as the duly constituted guardian of the morals and
ethics of the legal fraternity.
Of course, rarely have we wielded our disciplinary
powers in the face of unwarranted outbursts of
counsel such as those catalogued in the above-cited
jurisprudence. Cases of comparable nature have
generally been disposed of under the power of
courts to punish for contempt which, although
resting on different bases and calculated to attain a
different end, nevertheless illustrates that universal
abhorrence of such condemnable practices.
A perusal of the more representative of these
instances may afford enlightenment.
1. In Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724, where
counsel branded the denial of his motion for
reconsideration as "absolutely erroneous and
constituting an outrage to the rigths of the petitioner
Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will
expressed at the polls," this Court, although
conceding that
It is right and plausible that an attorney, in
defending the cause and rights of his client, should
do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is
capable, but it is not, and never will be so for him to
exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or
proceeding without the propriety and respect which
the dignity of the courts requires. The reason for
this is that respect for the courts guarantees the
stability of their institution. Without such guaranty,
said institution would be resting on a very shaky
foundation,
found counsel guilty of contempt inasmuch as, in its
opinion, the statements made disclosed
... an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the
court and an intentional contempt of its dignity,
because the court is thereby charged with no less
than having proceeded in utter disregard of the laws,
the rights to the parties, and 'of the untoward
consequences, or with having abused its power and
mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco's client ... .
2. In In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, counsel, a senator and
the author of the Press Freedom Law, reaching to,
the imprisonment for contempt of one Angel Parazo,
who, invoking said law, refused to divulge the
source of a news item carried in his paper, caused to
be published in i local newspaper a statement
expressing his regret "that our High Tribunal has
not only erroneously interpreted said law, but it is
once more putting in evidence the incompetency or
narrow mindedness of the majority of its members,"
and his belief that "In the wake of so many blunders
and injustices deliberately committed during these
last years, ... the only remedy to put an end to go
much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme
Court," which tribunal he denounced as "a constant
peril to liberty and democracy" and "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." He there also announced that one of the
first measures he would introduce in then
forthcoming session of Congress would have for its
object the complete reorganization of the Supreme
Court. Finding him in contempt, despite his avowals
of good faith and his invocation of the guarantee of
free speech, this Court declared:
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 consideration 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 number of Justices from eleven, 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 ... .
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 Que 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.
Significantly, too, the Court therein hastened to
emphasize 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.)
3. In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer: In re
Proceedings against Alfonso Ponce Enrile, et al.,
supra, where counsel charged this Court with
having "repeatedly fallen" into ,the pitfall of blindly
adhering to its previous "erroneous"
pronouncements, "in disregard of the law on
jurisdiction" of the Court of Industrial Relations,
our condemnation of counsel's misconduct was
unequivocal. Articulating the sentiments of the
Court, Mr. Justice Sanchez stressed:
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 which counsel
labelled as "so called" the "rule against splitting of
jurisdiction."
Similar thoughts and sentiments have been
expressed in other cases
18
which, in the interest of
brevity, need not now be reviewed in detail.
Of course, a common denominator underlies the
aforecited cases all of them involved
contumacious statements made in pleadings filed
pending litigation. So that, in line with the doctrinal
rule that the protective mantle of contempt may
ordinarily be invoked only against scurrilous
remarks or malicious innuendoes while a court
mulls over a pending case and not after the
conclusion thereof,
19
Atty. Almacen would now
seek to sidestep the thrust of a contempt charge by
his studied emphasis that the remarks for which he
is now called upon to account were made only after
this Court had written finis to his appeal. This is of
no moment.
The rule that bars contempt after a judicial
proceeding has terminated, has lost much of its
vitality. For sometime, this was the prevailing view
in this jurisdiction. The first stir for a modification
thereof, however, came when, in People vs. Alarcon,
20
the then Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran dissented
with the holding of the majority, speaking thru
Justice Jose P. Laurel, which upheld the rule above-
adverted to. A complete disengagement from the
settled rule was later to be made in In re Brillantes,
21
a contempt proceeding, where the editor of the
Manila Guardian was adjudged in contempt for
publishing an editorial which asserted that the 1944
Bar Examinations were conducted in a farcical
manner after the question of the validity of the said
examinations had been resolved and the case closed.
Virtually, this was an adoption of the view
expressed by Chief Justice Moran in his dissent in
Alarcon to the effect that them may still be
contempt by publication even after a case has been
terminated. Said Chief Justice Moran in Alarcon:
A publication which tends to impede, obstruct,
embarrass or influence the courts in administering
justice in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes
criminal contempt which is 'summarily punishable
by courts. A publication which tends to degrade the
courts and to destroy public confidence in them or
that which tends to bring them in any way into
disrepute, constitutes likewise criminal contempt,
and is equally punishable by courts. What is sought,
in the first kind of contempt, to be shielded against
the influence of newspaper comments, is the all-
important duty of the courts to administer justice in
the decision of a pending case. In the second kind of
contempt, the punitive hand of justice is extended to
vindicate the courts from any act or conduct
calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy
public confidence in them. In the first there is no
contempt where there is no action pending, as there
is no decision which might in any way be
influenced by the newspaper publication. In the
second, the contempt exists, with or without a
pending case, as what is sought to be protected is
the court itself and its dignity. Courts would lose
their utility if public confidence in them is
destroyed.
Accordingly, no comfort is afforded Atty. Almacen
by the circumstance that his statements and
actuations now under consideration were made only
after the judgment in his client's appeal had attained
finality. He could as much be liable for contempt
therefor as if it had been perpetrated during the
pendency of the said appeal.
More than this, however, consideration of whether
or not he could be held liable for contempt for such
post litigation utterances and actuations, is here
immaterial. By the tenor of our Resolution of
November 17, 1967, we have confronted the
situation here presented solely in so far as it
concerns Atty. Almacen's professional identity, his
sworn duty as a lawyer and his fitness as an officer
of this Court, in the exercise of the disciplinary
power the morals inherent in our authority and duty
to safeguard and ethics of the legal profession and
to preserve its ranks from the intrusions of
unprincipled and unworthy disciples of the noblest
of callings. In this inquiry, the pendency or non-
pendency of a case in court is altogether of no
consequence. The sole objective of this proceeding
is to preserve the purity of the legal profession, by
removing or suspending a member whose
misconduct has proved himself unfit to continue to
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
belonging to the office of an attorney.
Undoubtedly, this is well within our authority to do.
By constitutional mandate,
22
our is the solemn duty,
amongst others, to determine the rules for admission
to the practice of law. Inherent in this prerogative is
the corresponding authority to discipline and
exclude from the practice of law those who have
proved themselves unworthy of continued
membership in the Bar. Thus
The power to discipline attorneys, who are officers
of the court, is an inherent and incidental power in
courts of record, and one which is essential to an
orderly discharge of judicial functions. To deny its
existence is equivalent to a declaration that the
conduct of attorneys towards courts and clients is
not subject to restraint. Such a view is without
support in any respectable authority, and cannot be
tolerated. Any court having the right to admit
attorneys to practice and in this state that power is
vested in this court-has the inherent right, in the
exercise of a sound judicial discretion to exclude
them from practice.
23

This, because the admission of a lawyer to the
practice of law is a representation to all that he is
worthy of their confidence and respect. So much so
that
... whenever it is made to appear to the court that an
attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and
confidence of the public and of the courts, it
becomes, not only the right, but the duty, of the
court which made him one of its officers, and gave
him the privilege of ministering within its bar, to
withdraw the privilege. Therefore it is almost
universally held that both the admission and
disbarment of attorneys are judicial acts, and that
one is admitted to the bar and exercises his
functions as an attorney, not as a matter of right, but
as a privilege conditioned on his own behavior and
the exercise of a just and sound judicial discretion.
24

Indeed, in this jurisdiction, that power to remove or
suspend has risen above being a mere inherent or
incidental power. It has been elevated to an express
mandate by the Rules of Court.
25

Our authority and duty in the premises being
unmistakable, we now proceed to make an
assessment of whether or not the utterances and
actuations of Atty. Almacen here in question are
properly the object of disciplinary sanctions.
The proffered surrender of his lawyer's certificate is,
of course, purely potestative on Atty. Almacen's
part. Unorthodox though it may seem, no statute, no
law stands in its way. Beyond making the mere
offer, however, he went farther. In haughty and
coarse language, he actually availed of the said
move as a vehicle for his vicious tirade against this
Court. The integrated entirety of his petition bristles
with vile insults all calculated to drive home his
contempt for and disrespect to the Court and its
members. Picturing his client as "a sacrificial victim
at the altar of hypocrisy," he categorically
denounces the justice administered by this Court to
be not only blind "but also deaf and dumb." With
unmitigated acerbity, he virtually makes this Court
and its members with verbal talons, imputing to the
Court the perpetration of "silent injustices" and
"short-cut justice" while at the same time branding
its members as "calloused to pleas of justice." And,
true to his announced threat to argue the cause of
his client "in the people's forum," he caused the
publication in the papers of an account of his
actuations, in a calculated effort ;to startle the
public, stir up public indignation and disrespect
toward the Court. Called upon to make an
explanation, he expressed no regret, offered no
apology. Instead, with characteristic arrogance, he
rehashed and reiterated his vituperative attacks and,
alluding to the Scriptures, virtually tarred and
feathered the Court and its members as inveterate
hypocrites incapable of administering justice and
unworthy to impose disciplinary sanctions upon him.
The virulence so blatantly evident in Atty.
Almacen's petition, answer and oral argumentation
speaks for itself. The vicious language used and the
scurrilous innuendoes they carried far transcend the
permissible bounds of legitimate criticism. They
could never serve any purpose but to gratify the
spite of an irate attorney, attract public attention to
himself and, more important of all, bring ;this Court
and its members into disrepute and destroy public
confidence in them to the detriment of the orderly
administration of justice. Odium of this character
and texture presents no redeeming feature, and
completely negates any pretense of passionate
commitment to the truth. It is not a whit less than a
classic example of gross misconduct, gross
violation of the lawyer's oath and gross
transgression of the Canons of Legal Ethics. As
such, it cannot be allowed to go unrebuked. The
way for the exertion of our disciplinary powers is
thus laid clear, and the need therefor is unavoidable.
We must once more stress our explicit disclaimer of
immunity from criticism. Like any other
Government entity in a viable democracy, the Court
is not, and should not be, above criticism. But a
critique of the Court must be intelligent and
discriminating, fitting to its high function as the
court of last resort. And more than this, valid and
healthy criticism is by no means synonymous to
obloquy, and requires detachment and
disinterestedness, real qualities approached only
through constant striving to attain them. Any
criticism of the Court must, possess the quality of
judiciousness and must be informed -by perspective
and infused by philosophy.
26

It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the
exercise of our authority in ;the premises, that, as
Atty. Almacen would have appear, the members of
the Court are the "complainants, prosecutors and
judges" all rolled up into one in this instance. This
is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion,
not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but
also of our role therein.
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary
proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither
purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is
not and does not involve a trial of an action or
a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court
into the conduct of its officers.
27
Not being
intended to. inflict punishment, it is in no sense a
criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a
plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein It may be initiated
by the Court motu proprio.
28
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.
29
In such posture, there can
thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a
prosecutor.
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a
certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against
the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably
as much so against the individual members thereof.
But in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the
Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the
individual personalities of its members.
Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate
court, the individual members act not as such
individuals but. only as a duly constituted court.
Their distinct individualities are lost in the majesty
of their office.
30
So that, in a very real sense, if
there be any complainant in the case at bar, it can
only be the Court itself, not the individual members
thereof as well as the people themselves whose
rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives,
would be placed at grave hazard should the
administration of justice be threatened by the
retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the
solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal
fraternity.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the
practice of law is but a necessary incident of the
power to admit persons to said practice. By
constitutional precept, this power is vested
exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot
abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally
renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it.
31
So
that even if it be conceded that the members
collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that
fact alone does not and cannot disqualify them from
the exercise of that power because public policy
demands that they., acting as a Court, exercise the
power in all cases which call for disciplinary action.
The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined
anomaly of the merger in one entity of the
personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge
is absolutely inexistent.
Last to engage our attention is the nature and extent
of the sanctions that may be visited upon Atty.
Almacen for his transgressions. As marked out by
the Rules of Court, these may range from mere
suspension to total removal or disbarment.
32
The
discretion to assess under the circumstances the
imposable sanction is, of course, primarily
addressed to the sound discretion of the Court
which, being neither arbitrary and despotic nor
motivated by personal animosity or prejudice,
should ever be controlled by the imperative need
that the purity and independence of the Bar be
scrupulously guarded and the dignity of and respect
due to the Court be zealously maintained.
That the misconduct committed by Atty. Almacen is
of considerable gravity cannot be overemphasized.
However, heeding the stern injunction that
disbarment should never be decreed where a lesser
sanction would accomplish the end desired, and
believing that it may not perhaps be futile to hope
that in the sober light of some future day, Atty.
Almacen will realize that abrasive language never
fails to do disservice to an advocate and that in
every effervescence of candor there is ample room
for the added glow of respect, it is our view that
suspension will suffice under the circumstances. His
demonstrated persistence in his misconduct by
neither manifesting repentance nor offering apology
therefor leave us no way of determining how long
that suspension should last and, accordingly, we are
impelled to decree that the same should be
indefinite. This, we are empowered to do not alone
because jurisprudence grants us discretion on the
matter
33
but also because, even without the
comforting support of precedent, it is obvious that if
we have authority to completely exclude a person
from the practice of law, there is no reason why
indefinite suspension, which is lesser in degree and
effect, can be regarded as falling outside of the
compass of that authority. The merit of this choice
is best shown by the fact that it will then be left to
Atty. Almacen to determine for himself how long or
how short that suspension shall last. For, at any time
after the suspension becomes effective he may
prove to this Court that he is once again fit to
resume the practice of law.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS THE SENSE of the Court
that Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen be, as he is hereby,
suspended from the practice of law until further
orders, the suspension to take effect immediately.
Let copies of this resolution. be furnished the
Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the
Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.
Concepcion,. C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal,
Zaldivar, Sanchez, Teehankee, Barredo and
Villamor JJ., concur.
Fernando, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. AC 4762 June 28, 2004
LINDA VDA. DE ESPINO, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PEPITO C. PRESQUITO, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
PUNO, J .:
On June 9, 1997, Linda Vda. de Espino wrote a
letter-complaint
1
with the then Court Administrator
Alfredo Benipayo, charging respondent Atty. Pepito
C. Presquito, a member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), Misamis Oriental Chapter, for
"having employed fraud, trickery and dishonest
means in refusing to honor and pay [her] late
husband Virgilio Espino, when he was still alive,
the sum of P763,060.00." According to complainant,
respondents unlawful refusal and dilatory tactics
partly triggered the death of her husband, who died
"disillusioned and embittered."
2
The letter-
complaint and affidavit also alleged that
notwithstanding the numerous oral demands by Mr.
Espino and complainant (after the death of Mr.
Espino), respondent still refused to pay the amount
represented by the eight checks which had all been
dishonored. Complainant surmised that Atty.
Presquitos refusal to pay may be due to his reliance
on the influence of his father-in-law, a former
Executive Judge of the RTC (Cagayan de Oro), and
of his uncle, an RTC judge (Cagayan de Oro).
The records show that sometime in September 1995,
respondent was introduced to complainants late
husband, Mr. Virgilio M. Espino. Mr. Espino, a
resident of Davao City, had sought the assistance of
respondent, a resident of Cagayan de Oro, regarding
the sale of his piece of land with an area of
11,057.59 sq.m. situated in Misamis Oriental. The
discussion between Mr. Espino and the respondent
resulted in the sale of the property to respondent.
3

Under the terms of the agreement between Mr.
Espino and respondent,
4
the purchase price of the
land was P1,437,410.00, payable on a staggered
basis and by installments.
5
Pursuant to the terms of
payment in the agreement, respondent issued eight
post-dated checks, totaling P736,060.00.
6

Respondent then entered into a joint venture or
partnership agreement with Mrs. Guadalupe Ares
for the subdivision of the land into home-size lots
and its development, with a portion of the land
retained by respondent for his own use.
7
The land
was eventually titled in the name of respondent and
Mrs. Ares, and subdivided into 35 to 36 lots.
Meanwhile, the eight post-dated checks issued by
respondent were all dishonored. Mr. Espino made
repeated demands for payment from respondent but
the latter refused. Mr. Espino died in December
1996. His widow, complainant, then tried to collect
from respondent the value of the eight checks.
When complainants numerous pleas remained
unheeded, she filed the complaint in June 1997.
In his comment dated September 22, 1997,
respondent denied any wrongdoing, and said that
the allegations that he had employed "fraud,
trickery and dishonest means" with the late Mr.
Espino were totally false and baseless. The
complaint, according to respondent, stemmed from
complainants lack of knowledge as to "the real
story" of the transaction between complainants
husband and respondent. He also vehemently took
exception to the imputation that he was banking on
the influence of his father-in-law and uncle-in-law.
Respondent does not deny the issuance of the eight
checks. What respondent claims, however, is that
the nonpayment was justified by the unresolved
problems he and Mrs. Ares have with respect to the
right-of-way of the land. He alleged that Mr. Espino
had made assurances that the land had a right-of-
way required for its development, but respondent
later found out that such road-right-of-way required
the consent of four other land owners, and the
expense would be considerably more than he was
made to believe. According to respondent, he and
Mr. Espino had agreed that the latter would not
encash the checks or demand the equivalent of the
same until the right-of-way problem of the land had
been resolved.
8
Respondents position is that until
the problem of obtaining a right-of-way to the land
has been resolved, nothing has yet accrued against
him or Mrs. Ares (his partner), as it would be "very
unfair and unjust" for them to pay Mr. Espino when
the land could not be developed and sold.
9

Respondent also alleged that he was entitled to set-
off against the amount he owes Mr. Espino or his
heirs from the purchase of the land, the advances he
made to Mr. Espino, and the cost he incurred when
he defended Mr. Espinos son in a criminal case. He
later on manifested that he has fully paid the portion
of the land which had been titled in his name
through the same advances and incurred expenses.
10

In a resolution dated November 26, 1997,
11
the case
was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation/decision, and assigned to the IBP-
Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD).
In the IBP-CBD report dated November 12, 2002,
12

Investigating Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay found
that "the facts and credible evidence made available
in this case indubitably establish respondents
failure to live up to the demands of the Lawyers
Code of Professional Responsibility and the Canons
of Professional Ethics." For having failed to act
with candor and fairness toward complainant,
Commissioner Dulay recommended that respondent
be suspended from the practice of law for six (6)
months, and ordered to immediately account with
complainant regarding the sale of the piece of land
which had been subdivided in the name of
respondent and his business partner. On June 21,
2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed a
Resolution adopting/approving the Report and
Recommendation of Commissioner Dulay, finding
that "respondents lack of fairness and candor and
honesty [was] in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility."
After a careful consideration of the record of the
instant case, we agree that respondent was wanting
in fairness, candor and honesty demanded of him by
the Lawyers Code of Professional Responsibility
and the Canons of Professional Ethics. We find,
however, the recommended penalty of six (6)
months suspension too light considering
respondents gross misconduct.
Complainants testimony and exhibits have clearly
established that: (1) there was an agreement
between respondent and complainants late husband
for the sale of the latters land; (2) respondent had
issued the eight checks in connection with said
agreement; (3) these checks were dishonored and
remain unpaid; and (4) the land sold had an existing
road-right-of-way. Complainants exhibits were
formally offered as early as January 6, 1999,
13
and
were admitted without objections from
respondent.
14

In the face of these uncontroverted facts, it was
incumbent upon respondent to prove a legal excuse
or defense for nonpayment of the eight checks.
Respondent utterly failed in this regard.
From the termination of complainants presentation
of evidence on December 1998 until Commissioner
Dulays report on November 12, 2002, the records
show that respondent was unable to present
evidence - either testimonial or documentary - to
prove that he had legal cause to refuse payment, or
that he was entitled to legal compensation. Even
respondents own statements - which, without
corroborating evidence, remain mere self-serving
allegations - fall short of testimony, as he failed to
submit to cross-examination by opposing counsel or
for clarificatory questions by the IBP-CBD. Worse,
respondent attached eighteen documents to his
comment, but only went so far as to mark
(without a formal offer) the agreement between him
and Mr. Espino (for the sale of the land), and the
partnership agreement between him and Mrs. Ares.
Thus, respondent had no evidence other than his
own allegations.
Respondents failure to present evidence is a breach
of Rule 12.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility,
15
especially in the light of the
numerous postponements and resettings he
requested for and was granted with, on the ground
that he needed more time to prepare his evidence.
We note that respondent was first scheduled to
present his evidence on December 14, 1998. Two
years - five resettings, and three orders submitting
the case for resolution - later, respondent still had
not proffered testimonial or documentary evidence.
Respondent claims that his failure to present
evidence was due to his financial difficulties, i.e., he
could not afford to spend for travel expenses of his
witnesses.
16
We are not persuaded. First, it boggles
the mind how financial constraints could have
prevented respondent from presenting the originals
of the documents attached to his comment, proving,
among others, the alleged advances and costs on Mr.
Espinos behalf. The originals of these documents
are presumably in his possession. Second, with
respect to the absence of testimony, respondent
could have submitted the affidavits of his witnesses
- the taking of which he could have done himself in
Cagayan de Oro to keep down the cost. The records
are clear that he was allowed this option.
17
But he
did neither.
All these circumstances lead us to the ineluctable
conclusion that respondent could not present
evidence because there really was none to justify
his nonpayment.
18

Even if we were to excuse respondents procedural
lapse and consider his written pleadings as
testimony, we agree with Commissioner Dulay that
respondents problems with respect to the right-of-
way or his partnership with Mrs. Ares do not excuse
his nonpayment. As stated in the IBP-CBD report:
[T]he solution to the right-of-way problem however
clearly lies in the hands of respondent.We note
that respondent has already taken title over the
property together with Guadalupe Ares by making
complainants late husband, sign over the property
by way of the Deed of Sale. We therefore find
respondents position vis--vis the widowed
complainant sneaky and unfair. We reiterate that
respondent has assumed responsibility for the
negotiations on the road-right-of-way and was
aware of the problem. To [sic] our mind he has used
the alleged road-right-of-way problem only as an
afterthought and a reason to delay and in fact deny
the complainant payment of what is due her.
Respondent also alleges and blames the deceased
husband of complainant for the failed project but
the facts show otherwise. They are just bare
allegations and remain unsubstantiated. Besides,
respondent and Ares took risks in the business
venture and are now the titled owners of the
property. The seller cannot be blamed for any
failure in the project. Respondents actuations in the
whole transaction is [sic] not at par with the
standards demanded of him as a member of the bar.
Respondent is lacking in fairness and candour [sic]
and honesty. The fact that he has unreasonably
delayed and failed to account with complainant for
a long time and the fact of his having allowed the
checks he issued to bounce is [sic] unacceptable and
censurable behavior for a member of the bar.
19

[citations omitted]
Having no legal defense to refuse payment of the
eight dishonored checks, respondents indifference
to complainants entreaties for payment was
conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar and an
officer of the court. Respondent violated the Code
of Professional Responsibility by his unlawful,
dishonest and deceitful conduct towards
complainant and her late husband,
20
first by
allowing the eight (8) checks he issued to bounce,
then by ignoring the repeated demands for payment
until complainant was forced to file this complaint,
and finally by deliberately delaying the disposition
of this case with dilatory tactics. Considering that
the property of complainant and her late husband is
already in respondent and Mrs. Ares name, the
injustice of respondents different maneuvers to
evade payment of the eight checks - due and unpaid
since 1996 - becomes more manifest.
It should be stressed that respondent issued eight (8)
worthless checks, seemingly without regard to its
deleterious effects to public interest and public
order. We have already declared, most recently in
Lao v. Medel,
21
that the issuance of worthless
checks constitutes gross misconduct, and puts the
erring lawyers moral character in serious doubt,
though it is not related to his professional duties as a
member of the bar.
22
He not only sets himself liable
for a serious criminal offense under B.P. Blg. 22,
but also transgresses the Code of Professional
Responsibility, specifically the mandate of Canon 1
to obey the laws of the land and promote the respect
for law.
It behooves respondent to remember that a lawyer
may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct,
even if it pertains to his private activities, as long
as it shows him to be wanting in moral character,
honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of
good moral character is not only a good condition
precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing
qualification for all members of the bar.
23
A lawyer
may be disciplined for any conduct, in his
professional or private capacity, that renders him
unfit to continue to be an officer of the court.
24
Thus,
the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
x x x x x x x x x
Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in
a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.
Given the foregoing, and in line with jurisprudence
involving lawyers who issued worthless checks -
Lao v. Medel,
25
Co v. Bernardino,
26
and Ducat v.
Villalon, Jr.,
27
- we find respondents reprehensible
conduct warrants suspension from the practice of
law for one (1) year.
WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. PEPITO C.
PRESQUITO is found guilty of gross misconduct
and is hereby suspended from the practice of law
for one (1) year, and ordered to immediately
account with complainant regarding the sale of the
piece of land, which has been subdivided in the
name of respondent and his business partner.
Let a copy of this decision be spread in his file at
the Office of the Bar Confidant and of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
Quisumbing
*
, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and
Tinga, JJ., concur.

EN BANC
[A.C. No. 5469. August 10, 2004]
RICARDO A. FORONDA, complainant, vs. ATTY.
ARNOLD V. GUERRERO, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
The instant disbarment case arose when Ricardo A.
Foronda, acting as attorney-in-fact for Ramona
Patricia Alcaraz and Concepcion D. Alcaraz, filed a
verified Letter-Complaint dated June 29, 2001 with
the Office of the Bar Confidant charging Atty.
Arnold V. Guerrero with abusing procedural rules
to defeat the ends of substantial justice by filing
appeals, complaints and petitions to frustrate and
delay the execution of a judgment.
The Antecedents
The complainant alleged that his principals,
Ramona and Concepcion Alcaraz, filed Civil Case
No. Q-44134 entitled Concepcion Alcaraz, et al. v.
Romeo Coronel, et al. for specific performance
and damages before the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 83. The case involved a
parcel of land which the defendants therein sold to
the Alcarazes, and, thereafter, while the case was
pending, to Catalina Balais-Mabanag. Assisted by
her husband Eleuterio Mabanag, and with the
respondent as their lawyer, Catalina intervened in
the case.
On March 1, 1989, the RTC rendered a Decision in
favor of the plaintiffs, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment for specific performance
is hereby rendered ordering defendant to execute in
favor of plaintiffs a deed of absolute sale covering
that parcel of land embraced in and covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 327403 (now TCT
No. 331582) of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon
City, together with all the improvements existing
thereon, free from all liens and encumbrances and
once accomplished, to immediately deliver said
document of sale to plaintiffs, and upon receipt
thereof, the plaintiffs are ordered to pay defendants
the whole balance of the purchase price amounting
to P1,190,000.00 in cash. Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 331582 of the Registry of Deeds of
Quezon City in the name of intervenor is hereby
cancelled and declared to be without any force and
effect. Defendants and intervenor, and all other
persons claiming under them, are hereby ordered to
vacate the subject property and deliver possession
thereof to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs claim for damages
and attorneys fees, as well as the counterclaims of
defendants and intervenors, are hereby dismissed.
No pronouncement as to costs.
So ordered.
The Mabanag Spouses, through the respondent as
their counsel, appealed the decision to the Court of
Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 23000. In
its Decision promulgated on December 16, 1991,
the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the
RTC in toto. Unsatisfied with the judgment of the
appellate court, the respondent elevated the matter
to this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 103577. The
petition for review was dismissed, and the judgment
appealed from was, likewise, affirmed in toto in the
Courts Decision dated October 7, 1996. The Court
found that the questioned sale of the parcel of land
between therein petitioners and Mabanag on
February 18, 1985 was correctly upheld by both
courts below.
Thereafter, according to the complainant, the
respondent, acting for and in behalf of his clients,
the Mabanag Spouses, filed several cases
questioning the ruling of the Court in G.R. No.
103577. The complainant contended that the
multiple pleadings and actions pursued by the
respondent indicate that he violated his oath as an
officer of the court and breached the Code of
Professional Responsibility for Lawyers. The
complainant thereafter prayed that the instant
complaint be referred to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for proper investigation and action.
The Respondents Defense
The respondent, for his part, filed a Motion to Cite
Complainant and Counsel in Contempt Without
Prejudice to Disciplinary Action Against Counsel,
alleging that in an attempt to cause disrepute,
dishonor and to cast aspersion on him, the
complainants counsel virtually published and
made known publicly the instant administrative
case against him by filing a Manifestation in Civil
Case No. Q-01-43396 before the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, Branch 80. According to the
respondent, this grossly violated the confidentiality
in administrative proceedings.
In his Comment, the respondent did not deny that
the decision in Civil Case No. Q-44134 was already
final and executory, as it had already been affirmed
by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in
their respective decisions. The respondent put forth
the following arguments to justify the dismissal of
the instant complaint:
A. THE SUBSEQUENT CASES FILED
INVOLVED LEGITIMATE AND VALID
RESORT TO JUDICIAL PROCESSES AND
REMEDIES; HENCE, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR
THE CHARGE THAT THE RESPONDENT
COUNSEL HAS ABUSED PROCEDURAL
PROCESSES TO DEFEAT THE ENDS OF
SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE.
B. THE COMPLAINT MUST AND SHOULD
BE DISMISSED ON THE GROUND OF FORUM
SHOPPING AND VIOLATION OF SECTION 5,
RULE 7 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
PROCEDURE.
C. THIS ADMINISTRATIVE CASE IS
PREMATURE CONSIDERING THAT THE
MATTERS RAISED THEREIN ARE STILL
ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED IN PENDING
CASES; HENCE, ITS OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL
IS APPROPRIATELY CALLED FOR AND
WARRANTED.
The respondent was vehement in denying that he
abused legal processes and remedies, as the issues
raised in the subsequent actions he filed were valid
and meritorious, the resolution of which were
indispensable for the orderly administration of
justice. Thus:
It is basic that a counsel may resort to all legal
reliefs and remedies available and to invoke all
pertinent provisions of the law and rules, to protect
the interest of a client in order that justice may be
done and duly administered. In fact, it is not only
the right of a counsel to do so but rather, it is his
bounden and sacred obligation as an officer of the
court and as an advocate who is tasked to protect
the interest of a client within the bounds of law.

Thus, in Civil Case No. Q-91-31268, with the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which is
the first complaint, what was challenged therein is
the eligibility of Ramona Patricia Alcaraz, to own
urban commercial lands, within the ambit of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 185, considering that she is not a
Filipino citizen or at least, she does not appear nor
was she alleged to be so. Evidently, therefore, this
is not intended to forestall the execution of the
judgment which must be executed, pursuant to the
rules that is, in accordance with the dispositive
portion thereof. Otherwise stated, the execution, if
it must be undertaken, must be made in accordance
with and consistently (sic) the dispositive portion
thereof. It is well settled that execution must
conform to that ordained or decreed in the
dispositive portion of the decision.
As shown in the earlier narrations, the foregoing
case is presently on appeal with the Honorable
Court of Appeals and is still pending thereat, up to
the present.
With regards to the petition for certiorari filed with
the Honorable Court of Appeals, docketed thereat as
CA-G.R. SP No. 4770 (sic), whereby a decision was
already rendered and such decision is already final
and executory, the issues therein disposed as raised,
pertinently pertained to the questioned and assailed
Orders of the trial court which granted the writ of
execution, upon motion of parties who are
purportedly the principals of the complainant and
his counsel. After the denial of the said petition and
the finality of the judgment of such denial, partial
execution ensued and was not of course, even
attempted to be forestalled by the herein respondent
counsel and his clients.
However, the execution being undertaken later on
was shown to have been exceeded when, despite the
fact that there is no showing that the parties who
were supposed to execute a deed of absolute sale
pursuant to the dispositive portion of the subject
decision being sought to be implemented, had
refused or at least failed, after demand, to so
execute and perform the foregoing acts, the trial
court ordered its branch clerk of court to perform
the said acts. In fact, it was pointed out that it does
not even appear that the other parties whose acts are
sought, were already served with the writ of
execution; hence, the trial courts act was without
basis and/or premature. Nevertheless, the trial
courts branch clerk of court notwithstanding,
proceeded as in fact, executed the deed of absolute
sale in favor of the Alcarazes. This act of the trial
court, with due respect, unduly created chaos and
confusion, which are antithetical to its function for
an orderly administration of justice and the fair
approximation thereof.
The matter was, thereafter, complicated further,
when despite the fact that the citizenships of the
Alcarazes were not indicated in the deed of absolute
sale which appears to have been presented with the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City, the said Register
of Deeds cancelled the title of the client of the
herein respondent counsel and issued a new title
over the subject property in favor of the Alcarazes
and in order to validate and to give a semblance of
legality or color to the validity of the issuance of the
said title, by making it appear that the Alcarazes are
Filipino citizens, ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO
INDICATION OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP IN THE
SUBJECT DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE,
nevertheless, indicated in the new title that the
Alcarazes are Filipinos.
Thus, the herein respondent counsel, in behalf of his
client and to protect their interest, this time, was
constrained to institute a petition with the
Honorable Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R.
SP No. 55576, whereby they assailed the
jurisdiction of the trial judge in decreeing the
foregoing execution of acts not included in the
disposition portion of the decision being sought to
be executed and to perform acts within the
exclusive competence and direction of the Register
of Deeds pursuant to Providential Decree No. 1529,
otherwise known as the Board Registration
Decree. This case is still pending with the
Honorable Court of Appeals up to the present;
hence, it is misleading for the complainant to even
insinuate that a decision thereon is already final,
which, of course, as shown in the earlier discussions,
are farthest from the truth.
While all of the foregoing issues were still pending
as they are still pending up to the present, the
complainant and counsel, purportedly sold and
transferred the subject property, using the title being
assailed and questioned in CA-G.R. SP No. 55576,
to a third person, one Emelita Mariano, with the
purported deed of absolute sale being notarized by
the same counsel of the herein complainant, Atty.
Oscar R. Ferrer, who is representing the Alcarazes
in the abovesaid cases; hence, he cannot feign
ignorance of the pendency of the said cases and the
issues involved therein which cast questions on the
said title and, thus, rendered the purported transfer
or sale fatally defective.
True to his duty to his client and as an officer of the
court and in order to maintain the integrity, dignity
and orderliness in the administration of justice,
herein respondent counsel, filed in behalf of his
client, the Complaint in Civil Case No. Q-01-43396,
on February 15, 2001, with the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, for the annulment of the
title issued in favor of the third person, Emelita L.
Mariano, for the annulment of the Deed of Absolute
Sale to her and Damages with prayer for a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of
preliminary injunction.
When no temporary restraining order and/or writ of
preliminary injunction were issued by the trial court,
herein respondent counsel, in behalf of his client,
availed of the legally available remedy of a special
civil action of certiorari, assailing on
jurisdictional/grave abuse of discretion grounds, the
refusal and/or failure of the trial court to issue the
prayed for preliminary injunctive reliefs, among
others. Thus, respondent, as counsel for his client,
filed with the Honorable Court of Appeals, on July
24, 2001, a petition for certiorari and prohibition
with prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or
writ of preliminary injunction, docketed as CA-G.R.
SP No. 65783, which is still pending resolution of
the said Honorable Court up to the present.
The respondent also alleged that the complainants
failure to disclose the pendency of Civil Case No.
Q-01-43396 in the certification against non-forum
shopping in the case at bar was in gross violation of
Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure. Because of this, the respondent
reasoned, the complaint should be dismissed.
Finally, the respondent averred that the instant
administrative case is premature, considering that
there are still issues to be resolved in the pending
cases. As such, no cause of action could accrue
against him. The respondent prayed that the
complaint be dismissed for utter and palpable lack
of merit.
In his Compliance and Comment, the complainant
asserted that there was no malice nor inaccuracy
resorted to in the filing of the complaint against the
respondent. The complainant averred that he was
constrained to file the instant complaint out of
exasperation, if not desperation, upon the
instruction of his principals, so as to stop the
respondent from continuing with his dilatory and
obstructionist strategies to deprive them of their
rights already confirmed by the courts, from the
RTC to the Supreme Court. Thus:
In order to stall the execution of the favorable
decision obtained by my principals Concepcion
Alcaraz and her daughter Ramona Patricia Alcaraz
as early as March 1, 1989, in Civil Case No. Q-
44134, respondent acting in behalf of his clients,
went to this Court three (3) times in said case and
several times also to the Court of Appeals on
appeals, petitions for certiorari, etc.
Although respondent admits the fact that the
subject decision of the court a quo is already final
and executory, he insists that the issues in the other
cases are indeed different. He argues in his
comment that the issue in his petition (Annex 2 to
Comment) pertained to the issuance of a writ of
execution to implement the abovesaid final and
executory decision. This is plain hair-splitting
aimed to muddle the issues and ultimately mislead
the Honorable Court.
The Recommendation of the Integrated Bar Of The
Philippines (IBP)
Commission On Bar Discipline
On October 25, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors
passed Resolution No. XVI-2003-237, finding that
the foregoing recommendation of the Commissioner
was fully supported by the records, as well as the
applicable laws. The Board found that the
respondent violated Rule 12.02 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and recommended his
suspension for one (1) year.
The Courts Ruling
At the outset, the Court would like to stress that
administrative cases against lawyers belong to a
class of their own. As we held in the leading case of
In re Almacen:
Neither purely civil not purely criminal, they do
not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are
rather investigations by the Court into the conduct
of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict
punishment, [they are] in no sense a criminal
prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff
nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by
the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their]
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 prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be
entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
pertaining to the office of an attorney. .
As such, the instant complaint cannot be dismissed
as prayed for by the respondent.
We agree that the respondent is administratively
liable.
The respondent, by his own admission, filed
multifarious petitions, motions and actions
concerning the sale of the property in question, after
the Court already ruled in G.R. No. 103577 that the
said sale was correctly upheld by both the trial and
appellate courts. He, thereafter, filed two other
initiatory pleadings before the RTC of Quezon City,
namely, Civil Case No. Q-97-31268 and Civil Case
No. Q-01-43396. The same matter subject of the
original complaint was elevated to the Court of
Appeals no less than four (4) times: CA-G.R. CV
No. 65124, CA-G.R. SP No. 65783, CA-G.R. CV
No. 75911, and CA-G.R. SP No. 55576. And from
there, the matter was again brought before this
Court twice: G.R. No. 135820 and G.R. No. 153142.
We concur with the following observations made by
IBP Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala in
her Report and Recommendation dated October 3,
2003:
The issue being raised by the respondent on behalf
of his clients in all the complaints, appeals, petitions
and motions he has filed is the question of non-
eligibility of Ramona Alcaraz to acquire property in
the Philippines and the nullity of the sale between
Alcaraz and the Coronels. These issues have already
been passed upon and upheld by both the Court of
Appeals and the Supreme Court. In the case
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65783, the First
Division of the Court of Appeals observed that
Mabanags counsel, (respondent herein) has
questioned the non-eligibility of Ramona Alcaraz to
acquire property in the Philippines for the nth time
although as early as 30 July 1998, the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 47710 had already
affirmed the lower courts ruling that the petitioner
is not the proper party to question the eligibility of
Alcaraz to own property in the Philippines. The
petition for review on certiorari before the Supreme
Court in G.R. No. 135820 upheld the right of
Ramona Alcaraz as one of the vendees in the deed
of sale. The Supreme Court passed judgment on her
capacity to buy the property. The issue was recycled
in CA-G.R. SP No. 55576, Entry of Judgment was
already issued by the Supreme Court on 2 January
1997. However, petitioner has succeeded for
more than five (5) years now to hold at bay the
full implementation of the judgment in point.
Likewise, in dismissing the complaint filed by
respondent on behalf of his client before RTC QC
Branch 83 docketed as Case No. Q-97-31268
entitled Mabanag vs. Patricia Ramona Alcaraz, et.
al. to declare Patricia Alcaraz ineligible to acquire
real property, the court observed that for failure
of the plaintiffs to get a favorable decision of the
earlier case, they tried to prevent the execution
by disqualifying herein defendant. (Emphasis
ours).
In the case docketed as CA-G.R. SP [No.] 65783, a
pertinent portion of the Court of Appeals decision
reads While lawyers owe (sic) entire devotion to
the interest of their clients right, they should not
forget that they are officers of the court bound to
exert every effort to assist in the speedy and
efficient administration of justice they should not,
therefore, misuse the rules of procedure to defeat
the ends of justice or unduly delay a case, impede
the execution of a judgment or misuse the court
processes (Eternal Gardens Memorial Park
Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 293 SCRA 622).
It has, thus, been clearly established that in filing
such numerous petitions in behalf of his client, the
respondent thereby engaged in forum
shopping. 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 the existence of forum shopping is the
vexation caused to the courts and the parties-
litigants by the filing of similar cases to claim
substantially the same reliefs.
Indeed, while a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of
his client, it should not be at the expense of truth
and the administration of justice. Under the Code
of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer has the
duty to assist in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice, and is enjoined from
unduly delaying a case by impeding execution of a
judgment or by misusing court processes. Such
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 add, 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.
We note that while lawyers owe their entire
devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal in
the defense of their clients right, they should not
forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of
the court, bound to exert every effort to assist in the
speedy and efficient administration of justice.
In filing multiple petitions before various courts
concerning the same subject matter, the respondent
violated Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall
exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in
the speedy and efficient administration of
justice. He also violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04
of the Code, as well as a lawyers mandate to delay
no man for money or malice.
We find that the IBPs recommended penalty of one
years suspension from the practice of law is not
commensurate to the respondents
transgression. He shall thus be meted a two-year
suspension from the practice of law, effective
immediately.
WHEREFORE, for trifling with judicial processes
by resorting to forum shopping, respondent Atty.
Arnold V. Guerrero is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for a period of Two (2)
Years. The respondent is DIRECTED to inform the
Court of the date of his receipt of this Decision. Let
a copy of this Decision be included in the
respondents files which are with the Office of the
Bar Confidant, and circularized to all courts and to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing,
Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona,
Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario,
JJ., concur.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., on leave.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 5653 February 27, 2006
JOHN SIY LIM, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. CARMELITO A. MONTANO,
Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
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,
Caloocan City 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.lavvph!1.net
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 pendentia are 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.

EN BANC

ATTY. ILUMINADA M. VAFLOR-
FABROA,
Complainant,



A.C. No. 6273

Present:

PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO,

- versus -


ATTY. OSCAR PAGUINTO,
Respondent.
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:
March 15, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO MORALES, J .:
An Information for Estafa was filed on June 21,
2001 against Atty. Iluminada M. Vaflor-Fabroa
(complainant) along with others based on a joint
affidavit-complaint which Atty. Oscar Paguinto
(respondent) prepared and notarized. As the joint
affidavit-complaint did not indicate the involvement
of complainant, complainant filed a Motion to
Quash the Information which the trial court
granted. Respondents Motion for Reconsideration
of the quashal of the Information was denied

Respondent also filed six other criminal complaints
against complainant for violation of Article 31 of
Republic Act No. 6938 (Cooperative Code of the
Philippines) before the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor, but he eventually filed a Motion to
Withdraw them.

On October 10, 2001, complainant, who was
Chairperson of the General Mariano Alvarez
Service Cooperative, Inc. (GEMASCO), received a
Notice of Special General Assembly of GEMASCO
on October 14, 2001 to consider the removal of four
members of the Board of Directors (the Board),
including her and the General Manager. The notice
was signed by respondent.

At the October 14, 2001 Special General Assembly
presided by respondent and PNP Sr. Supt. Angelito
L. Gerangco (Gerangco), who were not members of
the then current Board, Gerango, complainants
predecessor, as Chair of the GEMASCO board,
declared himself Chair, appointed others to replace
the removed directors, and appointed respondent as
Board Secretary.

On October 15, 2001, respondent and his group
took over the GEMASCO office and its premises,
the pumphouses, water facilities, and
operations. On even date, respondent sent letter-
notices to complainant and the four removed
directors informing them of their removal from the
Board and as members of GEMASCO, and advising
them to cease and desist from further discharging
the duties of their positions.

Complainant thus filed on October 16, 2001 with
the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-
Calamba a complaint for annulment of the
proceedings taken during the October 14, 2001
Special General Assembly.

The CDA Acting Regional Director (RD), by
Resolution of February 21, 2002, declared the
questioned general assembly null and void for
having been conducted in violation of GEMASCOs
By-Laws and the Cooperative Code of the
Philippines. The RDs Resolution of February 21,
2002 was later vacated for lack of jurisdiction of
CDA.

In her present complainant against respondent for
disbarment, complainant alleged that respondent:

X X X PROMOTED OR SUED A GROUNDLESS,
FALSE OR UNLAWFUL SUIT, AND GAVE AID
AND CONSENT TO THE SAME

X X X DISOBEYED LAWS OF THE LAND,
PROMOTE[D] DISRESPECT FOR LAW AND
THE LEGAL PROFESSION

X X X DID NOT CONDUCT HIMSELF WITH
COURTESY, FAIRNESS AND CANDOR
TOWARD HIS PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUE
AND ENGAGED IN HARASSING TACTICS
AGAINST OPPOSING COUNSEL

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

X X X RUINED AND DAMAGED NOT ONLY
THE GEN. MARIANO ALVAREZ SERVICES
COOPERATIVE, INC. (GEMASCO, INC.) BUT
THE ENTIRE WATER-CONSUMING
COMMUNITY AS WELL

Despite the Courts grant, on respondents motion,
of extension of time to file Comment, respondent
never filed any comment. The Court thus required
him to show cause why he should not be
disciplinarily dealt with, but just the same he failed
to comply.

The Court thus referred the complaint to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report, and recommendation.

It appears that during the mandatory conference
before the IBP, complainant proposed the following
issues:

1. Whether or not the acts of respondent
constitute violations of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, particularly the following:

1.1 Canon 1 A lawyer shall uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for law and legal [processes].

1.2 Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself
with courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing
tactics against opposing counsel.

1.3 Canon 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness
and good faith to the court.

1.4 Canon 19 A lawyer shall represent his
client with zeal within the bounds of the law.

1.5 Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after
obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings,
memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without
submitting the same or offering an explanation for
his failure to do so.

2. Whether or not the above acts of respondent
constitute violations of his lawyers oath,
particularly the following:

2.1 support the Constitution and obey the laws
as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
authorities therein

2.2 will do no falsehood, nor consent to the
doing of any in court

2.3 will not wittingly or willingly promote or
sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give
aid nor consent to the same

2.4 will delay no man for money or malice

3. Whether or not the above acts of [respondent]
complained of are grounds for disbarment or
suspension of attorneys by the Supreme Court as
provided for in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised
Rules of Court.


Respondents counsel who represented him during
the conference proposed the issue of whether, on
the basis of the allegations of the complaint,
misconduct was committed by respondent.

After the conclusion of the conference, both parties
were ordered to submit position
papers. Complainant filed hers, but respondent,
despite grant, on his motion, of extension of time,
did not file any position paper.

In her Report and Recommendation, Investigating
Commissioner Lolita A. Quisumbing found
respondent guilty of violating the Lawyers Oath as
well as Canons 1, 8, 10, and Rule 12.03 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. Noting that
respondent had already been previously suspended
for six months, the Commissioner recommended
that respondent be suspended for two years.

The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
Board of Governors opted for the dismissal of the
complaint, however, for lack of merit.

On Motion for Reconsideration, the IBP-CBD
Board of Governors recommended that respondent
be suspended from the practice of law for six
months.
The Court finds that by conniving with Gerangco in
taking over the Board of Directors and the
GEMASCO facilities, respondent violated the
provisions of the Cooperative Code of the
Philippines and the GEMASCO By-Laws. He also
violated the Lawyers Oath, which provides that a
lawyer shall support the Constitution and obey the
laws.

When respondent caused the filing of baseless
criminal complaints against complainant, he
violated the Lawyers Oath that a lawyer shall not
wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid or
consent to the same.

When, after obtaining an extension of time to file
comment on the complaint, respondent failed to file
any and ignored this Courts subsequent show cause
order, he violated Rule 12.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which states that A
lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time
to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the
period lapse without submitting the same or
offering an explanation for his failure to do
so. Sebastian v. Bajar teaches:

x x x Respondents cavalier attitude in repeatedly
ignoring the orders of the Supreme Court
constitutes utter disrespect to the judicial
institution. Respondents conduct indicates a high
degree of irresponsibility. A Courts Resolution is
not to be construed as a mere request, nor should it
be complied with partially, inadequately, or
selectively. Respondents obstinate refusal to
comply with the Courts orders not only betrays a
recalcitrant flaw in her character; it also underscores
her disrespect of the Courts lawful orders which is
only too deserving of reproof.

Lawyers are called upon to obey court orders and
processes and respondents deference is
underscored by the fact that willful disregard
thereof will subject the lawyer not only to
punishment for contempt but to disciplinary
sanctions as well. In fact, graver responsibility is
imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the
integrity of the courts and to show respect to their
processes. (Citations omitted).


The Court notes that respondent had previously
been suspended from the practice of law for six
months for violation of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, he having been found to have
received an acceptance fee and misled the client
into believing that he had filed a case for her when
he had not. It appears, however, that respondent has
not reformed his ways. A more severe penalty this
time is thus called for.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Oscar P.
Paguinto, is SUSPENDED for two years from the
practice of law for violation of Canons 1, 8, 10, and
Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and the Lawyers Oath, effective
immediately.

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; and all courts in
the country for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 6252 October 5, 2004
JONAR SANTIAGO, complainant,
vs.
Atty. EDISON V. RAFANAN, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
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.
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.
EN BANC
[A.M. No. P-03-1690. April 4, 2003]
JUDGE ESTRELLITA M. PAAS, petitioner, vs.
EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ, respondent.
[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363. April 4, 2003
EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ, petitioner, vs. Judge
ESTRELLITA M. PAAS, respondent.
[A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC. April 4, 2003]
[In Re: Use by Atty. Renerio G. Paas as an Office
in His Private Practice of His Profession the Office
of His Wife, Pasay City MeTC Judge Estrellita M.
Paas.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC),
Branch 44 Presiding Judge Estrellita M. Paas
administratively charged Court Aide/Utility Worker
Edgar E. Almarvez with discourtesy, disrespect,
insubordination, neglect in performing his duties,
disloyalty, solicitation of monetary consideration
and gross violation of the Civil Service Law. The
case was docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P.
In her complaint, Judge Paas alleged that Almarvez
is discourteous to his co-employees, lawyers and
party litigants; has failed to maintain the cleanliness
in and around the court premises despite order to do
so, thus amounting to insubordination; was, and on
several instances, habitually absent from work or
made it appear that he reported for work by signing
the logbook in the morning, only to stay out of the
office the whole day; asked from detention
prisoners P100.00 to P200.00 before he released to
them their Release Orders; asked for amounts in
excess of what was necessary for the purchase of
stamps and pocketed the difference; once failed to
mail printed matter on July 11, 2000 and kept for
his own use the amount given to him for the
purpose; and divulged confidential information to
litigants in advance of its authorized release date for
a monetary consideration, thus giving undue
advantage or favor to the paying party, in violation
of Rep. Act No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act).
Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 Clerk of Court Pedro
C. Doctolero, Jr., by his Affidavit, and members of
the court staff, by a Joint Affidavit, attested that
Almarvez failed to maintain the cleanliness in and
around the court premises, and had shown
discourtesy in dealing with Judge Paas and his co-
employees. Doctoleros affidavit also corroborated
Judge Paas allegation that Almarvez would merely
sign the logbook in the morning and thereafter stay
out of the office.
Pasay City Postmaster Emma Z. Espiritu, by
Certification dated August 2, 2000, attested that the
alleged printed matter intended to be mailed on July
11, 2000 was not included in the list of registered
mails posted in the Pasay City Post Office on said
date.
Jail Escort Russel S. Hernandez and Jail Officer II
Rosendo Macabasag, both assigned to the Pasay
City Jail, by their respective affidavits, attested that
on several occasions, they saw Almarvez receive
from detention prisoners P100.00 to P200.00 in
consideration of the release of their Release Orders.
Almarvez, by Answer of September 25, 2000,
denied Judge Paas charges, and alleged that the
real reason why Judge Paas filed the case against
him was because she suspected him of helping her
husband, Atty. Renerio G. Paas, conceal his marital
indiscretions; since she failed to elicit any
information from him, she resorted to calling him
names and other forms of harassment; on
September 6, 2000, she hurled at him the following
invectives before the other employees of the court:
Walang kuwenta, ahas ka, driver lang kita,
pinaasenso kita, walang utang na loob,
pinagtatakpan mo pa ang asawa ko, ulupong; and
she insisted that he sign a prepared resignation letter,
a copy of which he was not able to keep.
Almarvez added that he had been subjected by
Judge Paas to the following incidents of oppression
and abuse of authority: On July 28, 2000, he was
called by the Judge to her chambers where she
berated him as follows: Sinungaling ka, ang dami
mong alam, hindi ka nagsasabi ng totoo sa akin,
gago, tanga, pirmahan mo itong resignation letter,
kung hindi kakasuhan kita ng estafa at falsification;
the next day, the Judge, on seeing him, told him
Bakit ka nandiyan, mag-leave ka sa Lunes; and
on July 31, 2000, the Judge called him again to her
chambers and told him Ang kapal ng mukha mo,
pumasok ka pa dito, gago, kaya kita ipinasok dito
dahil driver kita.
Continuing, Almarvez claimed that on July 31,
2000, he reported the foregoing incidents to Pasay
City MeTC Executive Judge Maria Cancino Erum
who advised him to report the same to the Office of
the Clerk of Court; and on August 1, 2000, he
executed a sworn statement-complaint against
Judge Paas and went to the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) to file it, but he was advised
to try to talk the matter over with her who then told
him that they should forget all about it.
On the merits of the charges, Almarvez denied ever
requesting for money in exchange for the release of
court orders and alleged that both Hernandez and
Macabasag executed their respective affidavits
because Judge Paas was a principal sponsor at their
respective weddings; Hernandez was in fact
indebted to the Judge for helping him cover-up the
escape of a detainee under his charge; the courts
mail matters were always sealed whenever he
received them for mailing and he never tampered
with their contents; the alleged unmailed printed
matter was actually posted on June 28, 2000, not on
July 11, 2000, via ordinary instead of registered
mail, because the money given to him for the
purpose was insufficient; and on the days when he
was out of the office, he was actually performing
personal errands for the judge and her husband,
Atty. Paas, who treated him as their personal driver
and messenger.
As further proof of Judge Paas oppressive behavior
towards him, Almarvez claimed that she ordered
him to undergo a drug test per Memorandum dated
September 7, 2000, even if he had no history of
drug abuse on a periodic or continuous basis as
shown by the test results of his examination.
The Court treated respondents Answer as a
counter-complaint against Judge Paas and docketed
it as A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363.
The two administrative cases were consolidated and
referred for evaluation to the OCA, which assigned
them to Executive Judge Vicente L. Yap of Pasay
City RTC, Branch 114 for investigation.
In a separate case for inhibition of Judge Paas in a
criminal case, it was revealed that Judge Paas
husband, private practitioner Atty. Paas, was using
his wifes office as his office address in his law
practice, in support of which were submitted copies
of a Notice of Appeal signed by Atty. Paas, notices
from Pasay City RTC Branch 109 and from the
Supreme Court with respect to the case of People vs.
Louie Manabat, et al. (GR Nos. 140536-37) which
indicated Atty. Paas address to be Room 203, Hall
of Justice, Pasay City, the office assigned to Pasay
City MeTC, Branch 44.
Pursuant to Sec. 1 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of
Court which allows the Supreme Court to motu
proprio initiate proceedings for the discipline of
attorneys, this Court resolved to docket the matter
as A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC and to consolidate it with
A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P and AM No. MTJ-01-
1363.
In compliance with the December 4, 2001
Resolution of the Court en banc, Judge and Atty.
Paas submitted their January 16, 2002 Joint
Affidavit wherein they vehemently denied the
charge that the latter was using Room 203 of the
Pasay City Hall of Justice as his office address, they
claiming that Atty. Paas actually holds office at 410
Natividad Building, Escolta, Manila with his partner
Atty. Herenio Martinez; Atty. Paas would visit his
wife at her office only when he has a hearing before
the Pasay City courts or Prosecutors Office, or
when he lunches with or fetches her, or when he is a
guest during special occasions such as Christmas
party and her birthday which are celebrated therein;
and Judge Paas would never consent nor tolerate the
use of the court for any personal
activities. Attached to the Joint Affidavit were the
separate sworn statements of Atty. Paas law partner
Atty. Herenio E. Martinez and secretary Nilda L.
Gatdula attesting that he is holding office at the
above-said address in Escolta, and the Joint
Affidavit of the Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 court
personnel attesting that Atty. Paas visits to the
court are neither routine nor daily occurrences, and
he never used the court in the practice of his
profession.
On January 24, 2002, Judge Paas executed a
Supplemental Affidavit wherein she admitted that
Atty. Paas did use her office as his return address
for notices and orders in Crim. Case Nos. 98-1197
to 98-1198, People vs. Louie Manabat y Valencia
and Raymond dela Cruz y Salita, (now docketed in
this Court as G.R. Nos. 140536-37), lodged at the
Pasay City RTC, Branch 109, but only to ensure
and facilitate delivery of those notices, but after the
cases were terminated, all notices were sent to his
office address in Escolta.
By Resolution of February 12, 2002, the Court
referred the matter to the OCA for evaluation,
report and recommendation.
After the completion of his investigation of A.M.
OCA IPI No. 00-956-P and A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363,
Judge Yap submitted his Report/Recommendation
dated February 28, 2002.
On March 11, 2002, the OCA submitted its Report
on A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC dated March 1, 2002.
I. OCA Findings and Recommendations
A. On the charges against Almarvez:
The OCA, for lack of evidence, recommended the
dismissal of the charges against Almarvez of
exacting money from detainees, violating
confidentiality of official communication, absence
without official leave, discourtesy and
insubordination. Given Almarvez unsatisfactory
performance ratings for three rating periods
covering January to June 2000, July to December
2000, and January to April 2001, however, the OCA
recommended that he be duly penalized for
inefficiency in the performance of his official
duties with One (1) Month suspension without pay,
instead of dismissal as warranted under
Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. 1994, his
supervisor having failed to observe the procedure
thereunder for dropping of employees from the rolls,
which procedure is quoted at the later portion of this
decision.
B. On the charges against Judge Paas:
With respect to the complaint of Almarvez against
Judge Paas, the OCA, for lack of supporting
evidence, recommended the dismissal of the
charges of maltreatment, harassment and verbal
abuse. It found, however, that Judge Paas had used
her administrative power of supervision and control
over court personnel for her personal pride,
prejudice and pettiness when she issued her
September 7, 2000 Memorandum ordering Alvarez
to undergo a drug test after she had already filed an
administrative case against him. It thus concluded
that, in all probability, the purpose of Judge Paas in
ordering Almarvez to undergo a drug test was to
fish for evidence to support the administrative case
she had already filed against him.
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that Judge
Paas be found guilty of simple misconduct in
office, and be penalized with reprimand with a
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts
shall be dealt with more severely.
II. This Courts Findings:
A. On the charges against Almarvez:
Indeed, this Court finds that there is no sufficient
evidence to support the charge of violation of
confidentiality of official communication against
Almarvez. The charge against Almarvez in Judge
Paas complaint-affidavit which reads:
That said ALMARVEZ being in charge of the mails
had divulged informations which is confidential in
nature to party litigants in advance of its authorized
release date before the release of Court Order and
Decision for consideration of a sum of money thus
giving undue advantage or favor to the paying party
detrimental to the due administration of justice,
in fact lacks particularity. It is devoid of material
details to enable Almarvez to intelligently meet the
same.
As for the charges of neglect of duty, discourtesy
and insubordination which were echoed in the
affidavits of court personnel, they are also too
general to support a conviction and are contrary to
what is reflected in his performance rating that he
cooperated willingly, even wholeheartedly, with his
fellow employees.
On the charge of violation of Rep. Act No. 3019
(Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act): Absent any
evidence to support the charge, the affiants-jail
officers who claimed to have witnessed Almarvez
receive money from detention prisoners in exchange
for the release of their Release Orders not having
been presented, hence, their claim remains hearsay,
Almarvez categorical denial and counter-allegation
that these affiants executed their affidavits only out
of fear of or favor to Judge Paas gain light.
As for the charge that Almarvez would merely sign
the logbook and would thereafter leave the office,
again Judge Paas failed to present the affiant-Clerk
of Court Atty. Pedro C. Doctolero, Jr. While she
submitted in evidence a copy of her October 6, 2000
memorandum requiring Almarvez to explain why
he was not in the office on September 8, 11, and 13,
and October 5, 2000, despite his affixing of his
signature in the logbook on those dates indicating
that he reported for work, Almarvez satisfactorily
explained that on September 8, 11, and 13, 2000, he
submitted himself to drug testing as required by her
in her September 7, 2000 memorandum, which
explanation is supported by the September 14, 2000
letter of Dr. Rosendo P. Saulog, Medical Specialist
II of the Dangerous Drug Board. As to his
whereabouts on October 5, 2000, Almarvez
explanation that he was actually present in the
morning but left in the afternoon for the Supreme
Court was not controverted.
On the charge of inefficiency, this Court concurs
with the following findings of the OCA that he
should be faulted therefor:
The performance ratings of respondent Almarvez
for three (3) rating periods covering January to June
2000, July to December 2000 and January to April
2001 evidently shows that he failed to perform his
official duties. The fact that respondent Almarvez
never disputed the performance ratings given him is
tantamount to an implied acceptance thereof
pursuant to Sec. 5 Rule IX Book V of Executive
Order No. 292, quoted as follows:
Sec. 5. An employee who expresses
dissatisfaction with the rating given him may appeal
through the established Grievance Procedure of the
Department or Agency within fifteen (15) days after
receipt of his copy of his performance
rating. Failure to file an appeal within the
prescribed period shall be deemed a waiver of such
right.
The performance ratings of respondent for the said
periods are valid grounds to drop him from the
Rolls. However, considering that his
superior/supervisor failed to comply with the
requirements set forth in Memorandum Circular
No. 12, Series of 1994 of the Civil Service
Commission, which is hereunder quoted, and that
he was able to make up and cure his inefficiency
after he was given the opportunity to improve his
performance in his detail to Branch 11, MeTC,
Manila, as shown by his performance rating for the
period April to June 2001 with a very satisfactory
rating, dropping him from the roll will no longer be
appropriate (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
Par. 2.2 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12, s.
1994 referred to in the above-quoted findings of the
OCA reads:
2.2 Unsatisfactory or Poor Performance.
(a) An official or employee who is given two (2)
consecutive unsatisfactory ratings may be dropped
from the rolls after due notice. Notice shall mean
that the officer or employee concerned is informed
in writing of his unsatisfactory performance for a
semester and is sufficiently warned that a
succeeding unsatisfactory performance shall
warrant his separation from the service. Such
notice shall be given not later than 30 days from the
end of the semester and shall contain sufficient
information which shall enable the employee to
prepare an explanation. (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied.)
The suspension of Almarvez for One (1) Month
without pay, as recommended by the OCA, is thus
in order.
B. On the charges against Judge Paas:
Regarding the charges of abuse of authority and
oppression against Judge Paas, Almarvez failed to
substantiate the same.
Judge Paas order for Almarvez to undergo a drug
test is not an unlawful order. Per Civil Service
Commission Memorandum Circular No. 34, s. 1997,
public employees are required to undergo a drug
test prior to employment to determine if they are
drug-free. To be drug-free is not merely a pre-
employment prerequisite but is a continuing
requirement to ensure the highest degree of
productivity of the civil service. However,
considering that the order was issued after Judge
Paas filed the administrative case against Almarvez,
it elicits the suspicion that it was only a fishing
expedition against him. This is conduct
unbecoming of a member of the judiciary, for which
Judge Paas should be duly reprimanded.
C. On the charges against Judge Paas and Atty. Paas:
By Judge Paas own admission in her January 24,
2002 Supplemental Affidavit, she was aware that
her husband Atty. Paas was using her office to
receive court notices and orders in a case lodged in
a Pasay court. As the OCA puts it, [w]hile the
same appears to be innocuous, it could be
interpreted as a subtle way of sending a message
that Atty. Paas is the husband of a judge in the same
building and should be given special treatment by
other judges or court personnel.
The following are instructive in the disposition of
these charges against the judge and her spouse, Atty.
Paas:
SC Administrative Circular No. 01-99, Enhancing
the Dignity of Courts as Temples of Justice and
Promoting Respect for their Officials and
Employers reads:
As courts are temples of justice, their dignity and
sanctity must, at all times be preserved and
enhanced. In inspiring public respect for the justice
system, court officials and employees must:
1. In general: (a) avoid committing any act which
would constitute grounds for disciplinary action
under, as the case may be, the Canons of Judicial
Ethics, Code of Judicial Conduct; and Section 46,
Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the
Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No.
292); and (b) faithfully comply with the norms of
conduct and perform the duties prescribed in the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Officials and Employees (R.A. No. 6713);
2. Zealously guard the public trust character of their
offices;
x x x
6. Never use their offices as a residence or for
any other purpose than for court or judicial
functions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides
that A judge should avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all
activities. Specifically, Rule 2.03 thereof provides
that:
Rule 2.03. A judge shall not allow family, social, or
other relationships to influence judicial conduct or
judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not
be used or lent to advance the private interests of
others, nor convey or permit others to convey the
impression that they are in a special position to
influence the judge. (Emphasis supplied.)
SC Circular No. 3-92, dated August 31, 1992, of
this Court reads:
SUBJECT: PROHIBITION AGAINST USE OF
HALLS OF JUSTICE FOR RESIDENTIAL OR
COMMERCIAL PURPOSES
All judges and court personnel are hereby reminded
that the Halls of Justice may be used only for
purposes directly related to the functioning and
operation of the courts of justice, and may not be
devoted to any other use, least of all as residential
quarters of the judges or court personnel, or for
carrying on therein any trade or profession.
Attention is drawn to A.M. No. RTJ-89-327 (Nellie
Kelly Austria vs. Judge Singuat Guerra), a case
involving unauthorized and improper use of the
courts premises for dwelling purposes by
respondent and his family, in which the Court, by
Resolution dated October 17, 1991, found
respondent Judge guilty of irresponsible and
improper conduct prejudicial to the efficient
administration of justice and best interest of the
service, and imposed on him the penalty of
SEVERE CENSURE, the Court declaring that such
use of the courts premises inevitably degrades the
honor and dignity of the court in addition to
exposing judicial records to danger of loss or
damage. (Underscoring supplied.)
By allowing her husband to use the address of her
court in pleadings before other courts, Judge Paas
indeed allowed [him] to ride on her prestige for
purposes of advancing his private interest, in
violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and of
the above-stated Supreme Court circulars, which
violation is classified as a less serious charge under
the Rules of Court and is punishable under the same
Rule.
A judges official conduct should indeed be free
from the appearance of impropriety; and his
behavior not only in the performance of judicial
duties, but also in his everyday life should be
beyond reproach. This is premised on the truism
that a Judges official life cannot simply be
detached or separated from his personal existence
and that upon a Judges attributes depend the public
perception of the Judiciary.
On his part, Atty. Paas was guilty of using a
fraudulent, misleading, and deceptive address that
had no purpose other than to try to impress either
the court in which his cases are lodged, or his client,
that he has close ties to a member of the judiciary,
in violation of the following rules of the Code of
Professional Responsibility:
Canon 3A lawyer in making known his legal
services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified
and objective information or statement of facts.
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use
of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or
claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.
Canon 10A 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.
Canon 13a LAWYER SHALL RELY UPON THE
MERITS OF HIS CAUSE AND REFRAIN FROM
ANY IMPROPERITY WHICH TENDS TO
INFLUENCE, OR GIVES THE APPEARANCE
OF INFLUENCING THE COURT.
Canon 15A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE
CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL
HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH
HIS CLIENTS.
Rule 15.06. A lawyer shall not state or imply that
he is able to influence any public official, tribunal
or legislative body.
The need for relying on the merits of a lawyers
case, instead of banking on his relationship with a
member of the bench which tends to influence or
gives the appearance of influencing the court,
cannot be overemphasized. It is unprofessional and
dishonorable, to say the least, to misuse a public
office to enhance a lawyers prestige. Public
confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by
such reprehensible and improper conduct.
This Court does not subscribe to the proffered
excuse that expediency and a desire to ensure
receipt of court orders and notices prompted Atty.
Paas and Judge Paas to allow him to have his court
notices sent to office of Judge Paas, especially
given the fact that for his other cases, Atty. Paas
used his office address but there is no showing that
he failed to receive the notices sent to that
address. While a lawyer should make the necessary
arrangements to ensure that he is properly informed
of any court action, these should not violate his
lawyers oath or the Code of Professional
Responsibility, nor provide an opportunity for a
member of the judiciary to breach his or her
responsibilities under Supreme Court circulars and
the Code of Judicial Conduct.
WHEREFORE, this Court finds:
(1) In A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P, respondent
Edgar E. Almarvez GUILTY of inefficiency and is
hereby SUSPENDED for One (1) Month without
pay;
(2) In A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, respondent Judge
Estrellita M. Paas GUILTY of conduct unbecoming
of a member of the judiciary and is hereby
REPRIMANDED, with warning that repetition of
the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more
severely;
(3) In A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC,
(a) Judge Paas GUILTY of violating SC
Administrative Circular No. 01-99, SC Circular No.
3-92 and Canon 2, Rule 2.03 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct and is hereby ordered to pay a FINE of
TWELVE THOUSAND PESOS (P12,000.00), with
warning that repetition of the same or similar acts
shall be dealt with more severely; and
(b) Atty. Renerio Paas GUILTY of SIMPLE
MISCONDUCT and is hereby SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for a period of THREE (3)
MONTHS, with warning that repetition of the same
or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
This Decision shall take effect immediately.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office
of the Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and appended to respondents personal
record.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza,
Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez,
Corona, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

A.M. No. 1769 June 8, 1992
CESAR L. LANTORIA, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. IRINEO L. BUNYI, respondent.

PER CURIAM:
This is an administrative complaint filed by Cesar L.
Lantoria, seeking disciplinary action against
respondent Irineo L. Bunyi, member of the
Philippine Bar, on the ground that respondent Bunyi
allegedly committed acts of "graft and corruption,
dishonesty and conduct unbecoming of a member of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and corruption
of the judge and bribery", in connection with
respondent's handling of Civil Case Nos. 81, 83 and
88 then pending before the Municipal Court of
Experanza, Agusan del Sur, presided over by
Municipal Judge Vicente Galicia
1
in which
respondent Bunyi was the counsel of one of the
parties, namely, Mrs. Constancia Mascarinas.
Respondent Bunyi alleged that Mrs. Constancia M.
Mascarinas of Manila was the owner of d farm
located in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, and that
herein complainant Lantoria was the manager and
supervisor of said farm, receiving as such a monthly
allowance.
2
It appears that the complaint in Civil
Case Nos. 81, 83 and 88 sought to eject the
squatters from the aforementioned farm.
3
These
cases were assigned to the Municipal Court of
Esperanza, Agusan del Bur, the acting municipal
judge of which was the Honorable Vicente Galicia
(who was at the same time the regular judge of the
municipal court of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur).
4
The
defendants in the mentioned civil cases were, in due
course, declared in default.
In relation to the same three (3) civil cases, the
records of the present case show that complainant
Lantoria wrote a letter to respondent Bunyi, dated
23 April 1974, which reads as follows:
Butuan City
23 April 1974
Atty. Ireneo Bunye
928 Rizal Avenue
Santa Cruz, Manila
Dear Atty. Bunye:
xxx xxx xxx
Upon informing him of your willingness to prepare
the corresponding judgements (sic) on the 3
defaulted cases he said he has no objection in fact
he is happy and recommended that you mail the
said decisions in due time thru me to be delivered to
him.
xxx xxx xxx
I will communicate with you from time to time for
any future development.
My best regards to you and family and to Mrs.
Constancia Mascarinas and all.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) CESAR L LANTORIA
Major Inf PC (ret)
Executive Director
5

On 01 June 1974, respondent Bunyi wrote to the
complainant regarding the said three (3) cases, in
this wise:
June 1, 1974
Dear Major Lantoria,
At last, I may say that I have tried my best to
respond to the call in your several letters received,
which is about the preparation of the three (3)
Decisions awaited by Judge Galicia. The delay is
that I have been too much occupied with my cases
and other professional commitments here in Manila
and nearby provinces. Not only to Mrs. Mascarinas
I would say that I am so sorry but also to you. Mrs.
Mascarinas has been reminding me but I always
find myself at a loss to prepare these Decisions at an
early date sa (sic) possible. So also with my
calendar as to the dates for the next hearing of the
remaining cases over there.
Herewith now, you will find enclosed the three (3)
Decisions against the (3) defaulted defendants. I am
not sure if they will suit to satisfy Judge Galicia to
sign them at once. However, it is my request to
Judge Galicia, thru your kind mediation, that if the
preparation of these Decisions do not suit his
consideration, then I am ready and willing to accept
his suggestions or correction to charge or modify
them for the better. And to this effect, kindly relay
at once what he is going to say or thinks if he signs
them readily and please request for each copy for
our hold.
xxx xxx xxx
Please excuse this delay, and thanks for your kind
assistance in attending to our cases there. Regards
to you and family and prayer for your more vigor
and success.
Brotherly yours,
(SGD.) IRINEO L. BUNYI
6

Counsel
It also appears that respondent Bunyi wrote an
earlier letter to complainant Lantoria, dated 04
March 1974, the contents of which read as follows:
928 Rizal Ave., Sta. Cruz, Manila
March 4, 1974
Dear Major Lantoria,
This is an additional request, strictly personal and
confidential. Inside the envelope addressed to Judge
Vicente C. Galicia, are the Decisions and Orders,
which he told me to prepare and he is going to sign
them. If you please, deliver the envelope to him as
if you have no knowledge and information and that
you have not opened it. Unless, of course, if the
information comes from him. But, you can inquire
from him if there is a need to wait from his words
about them, or copies to be furnished me, after he
signs them, it could be made thru you personally, to
expedite receiving those copies for our hold.
According to him, this envelope could be delivered
to him at his residence at No. 345 M. Calo St.,
Butuan City, during week end. or, at Bayugan if you
happen to go there, if he is not in Butuan City.
Thanking You for your kind attention and favor.
Truly yours,
(SGD.) L. BUNYI
7

Three years after, that is, on 11 April 1977,
complainant filed with this Court the present
administrative case against respondent Bunyi,
predicated mainly on the above-quoted three (3)
letters dated 04 March, 23 April and 01 June, 1974.
Complainant contends that respondent won the said
three (3) cases because to (respondent) was the one
who unethically prepared the decisions rendered
therein, and that the preparation by respondent of
said decisions warranted disciplinary action against
him.
By way of answer to the complaint, respondent, in a
motion to dismiss 8 the administrative complaint,
admitted the existence of the letter of 01 June 1974,
but explained the contents thereof as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
b) In the second place, the said letter of June 1,
1974, is self-explanatory and speaks for itself, that
if ever the same was written by the Respondent, it
was due to the insistence of the Complainant thru
his several letters received, that the decisions in
question be drafted or prepared for Judge Galicia,
who considered such preparation as a big help to
him, because he was at that time holding two (2)
salas one as being the regular Municipal Judge
of Bayugan and the other, as the acting Judge of
Esperanza, both of Agusan del Sur, with many
pending cases and it was to the benefit of the
Complainant that the early disposition of the cases
involved would not suffer inconsiderable delay. But,
the intention to draft or prepare the decisions in
question was never spawned by the Respondent.
Instead, it came from the under-standing between
the Judge and the complainant who, from his
several letters, had demonstrated so much interest to
eject at once the squatters from the farm he was
entrusted to manage. Furthermore, the
Complainant's conclusion that the said decisions
were lutong macao is purely non-sense as it is
without any factual or legal basis. He himself knew
that Judge Galicia asked for help in the drafting of
said decisions as at any rate they were judgments by
default, the defendants lost their standing in court
when they were declared in default for failure to file
their answers and to appear at the place and time set
for hearing thereof (See first paragraph, letter of
June 1, 1974)
c) Thirdly, in the same letter, the decisions as
prepared were in the form of drafts, as in fact, the
letter mentioned subject to suggestion or correction
to change or modify for the better by Judge Galicia
(Second paragraph, Ibid);
d) Fourthly, in the some letter, Responding (sic)
even apologized for the delay in sending the same
to the Complainant and expressed his gratitude for
his assistance in attending to the cases involved
(Last paragraph, Ibid.)
In its resolution dated 28 November 1977, this
Court referred the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.
9
On 21
July 1980, the Solicitor General submitted his report
to the Court, with the following averments, to wit: 1)
that the case was set for hearing on April 12,
September 29, and December 18, 1978, but in all
said scheduled hearings only respondent Bunyi
appeared; 2) that in the hearing of 16 January 1979,
both respondent and complainant appeared; 3) that
at the same hearing, the Solicitor General reported
the following development
Atty. Mercado submitted a letter of complainant
dated January 16, 1979 sworn to before the
investigating Solicitor, praying that the complaint
be considered withdrawn, dropped or dismissed on
the ground that complainant "could hardly
substantiate" his charges and that he is "no longer
interested to prosecute" the same. For his part,
respondent manifested that he has no objection to
the withdrawal of the complaint against him. At the
same time, he presented complainant Lantoria as a
witness are elicited testimony to the effect that
complainant no longer has in his possession the
original of the letters attached to his basic complaint,
and hence, he was not prepared to prove his charges.
10
(emphasis supplied)
In his aforesaid report, the Solicitor General found
as follows: a) that the letters of respondent Bunyi
(dated 4, March and 1 June 1974), addressed to
complainant, showed that respondent had indeed
prepared the draft of the decisions in Civil Case Nos.
81, 83 and 88 of the Municipal Court of Esperanza,
Agusan del Sur, which he submitted to Judge
Vicente Galicia thru the complainant; b) that those
letters indicated that respondent had previous
communications with Judge Galicia regarding the
preparation of the decisions; c) that the testimony of
complainant to the effect that he had lost the
original of said letters, and complainant's
withdrawal of the complaint in the case at bar are of
no moment, as respondent Bunyi, and his motion to
dismiss filed with the Supreme Court, admitted that
he prepared the draft of the decisions in the said
civil cases, and be affirmed the existence of the
letters.
Hence, in his report, the Solicitor General found
that respondent is guilty of highly unethical and
unprofessional conduct for failure to perform his
duty, as an officer of the court, to help promote the
independence of the judiciary and to refrain from
engaging in acts which would influence judicial
determination of a litigation in which he is counsel.
11
The Solicitor General recommended that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for a period of one (1) year. He filed with the Court
the corresponding complaint against respondent.
In his answer
12
to the complaint filed by the
Solicitor General, respondent manifested that in the
future he would be more careful in observing his
duties as a lawyer, and in upholding the provisions
of the canons of professional ethics.
On 10 December 1980, the date set by this Court for
the hearing of this case, the hearing was postponed
until further notice. On 9 March 1981, respondent
filed a manifestation
13
alleging that no hearing was
as yet set in the case since the last setting on 10
December 1980, and he requested that the next
hearing be not set until after six (6) months when be
expected to return from the United States of
America where he would visit his children and at
the same time have a medical check-up.
On 28 October 1981, the date set by this Court for
bearing in this case, respondent Bunyi and the
Solicitor General appeared, and respondent was
directed to submit his memorandum. Respondent
Bunyi filed his memorandum on 16 November 1981.
In said memorandum,
14
respondent submitted that
although he prepared the draft of the decisions in
the civil cases, he did not offer Judge Galicia any
gift or consideration to influence the Judge in
allowing him to prepare the draft decisions.
15
He
also offered his apology to the Court for all the
improprieties which may have resulted from his
preparation of the draft decisions.
We agree with the observation of the Solicitor
General that the determination of the merits of the
instant case should proceed notwithstanding
complainant's withdrawal of his complaint in the
case, the respondent himself having admitted that
the letters in question truly exist, and that he even
asked for an apology from the Court, for whatever
effects such letters may have had on his duty as a
lawyer.
With the admission by respondent of the existence
of the letters upon which the present administrative
complaint is based, the remaining issue to be
resolved is the effect of the acts complained of on
respondent's duty both as a lawyer and an officer of
the Court.
We find merit in the recommendation of the
Solicitor General that respondent, by way of
disciplinary action, deserves suspension from the
practice of law.
The subject letters indeed indicate that respondent
had previous communication with Judge Galicia
regarding the preparation of the draft decisions in
Civil Case Nos. 81, 83, and 88, and which he in fact
prepared. Although nothing in the records would
show that respondent got the trial court judge's
consent to the said preparation for a favor or
consideration, the acts of respondent nevertheless
amount to conduct unbecoming of a lawyer and an
officer of the Court.
Clearly, respondent violated Canon No. 3 of the
Canons of Professional Ethics (which were enforced
at the time respondent committed the acts admitted
by him), which provides as follows:
3. Attempts to exert personal influence on the court
Marked attention and unusual hospitality on the part
of a lawyer to a judge, uncalled for by the personal
relations of the parties, subject both the judge and
the lawyer to misconstructions of motive and should
be avoided. A lawyer should not communicate or
argue privately with the judge as to the merits of a
pending cause and deserves rebuke and
denunciation for any device or attempt to gain from
a judge special personal consideration or favor. A
self-respecting independence in the discharge of
professional duty, without denial or diminution of
the courtesy and respect due the judge's station, is
the only proper foundation for cordial personal and
official relations between bench and bar.
In the new Code of Professional Responsibility
16
a
lawyer's attempt to influence the court is rebuked,
as shown in Canon No. 13 and Rule 13.01, which
read:
CANON 13 A lawyer shall rely upon the merits
of his cause and refrain from any impropriety which
tends to influence, or gives the appearance of
influencing the court.
Rule 13.01 A lawyer shall not extend
extraordinary attention or hospitality to, nor seek
opportunity for, cultivating familiarity with judges.
Therefore, this Court finds respondent guilty of
unethical practice in attempting to influence the
court where he had pending civil case.
17

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Irineo L. Bunyi is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of one (1) year from the date of notice hereof.
Let this decision be entered in the bar records of the
respondent and the Court Administrator is directed
to inform the different courts of this suspension.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
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.

In an Order dated August 30, 2002, 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, 2003 issue 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.

x x x

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.


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. 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.

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. 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.

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 and Rule 13.02
of Canon 13.

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 respondents actions 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.


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.)

x x x

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 disbarment niining 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 . . . .)

x x x

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 mahi
balo 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.)

x x x
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. . . . )

x x x

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. . . .)

x x x

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 . . . .)

x x x

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.




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 not promote 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 for any of
the causes mentioned in Sec. 27 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, Rule
138 and Sec. 9, 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. 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.
Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain
obligations. 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 Surigao judge 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 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.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
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.
R E S O L U T I O N

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.
Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-
Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.
Gancayco, J., is on leave.